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Jacques Torres vs. Other Chocolatiers

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I'm glad that Jacques Torres opened up a store in Manhattan, if for no other reason than I can finally talky about it on this message board.

I am a big fan of JT's chocolate, but I've read two national reviews lately about the best chocolates to order and in both he ranked quite low.

The first was from Consumer Reports, and I'm sorry but I can't remember anything else about their ratings other than that JT scored somewhere in the middle of the pack.

The latest review is from Slate.com. They rate JT 2nd to last, better than See's, but worse than Purdy's, Richart, Gearharts, Leonidas, Godiva, Bernard Callebaut, Lindt, MarieBelle and La Maison du Chocolat (that's in ascending order with La Maison being their highest rated).

Now, I'm automatically suspicious because I'm a fan of the low-scoring Richart (even though I can't afford it), and dislike the higher-scoring Godiva and Lindt (actually, I disdain Lindt).

So, what gives? Is Jacques Torres really that bad? And more importantly, is La Maison du Chocolat (which I've yet to visit) really that good?

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  1. I think La Maison is amazing, and I do find JT to be not-that-great, so I guess I should read the article. Are the ones you listed the only ones they rated? No Pierre Marcolini or Debauve & Gallais (two recent amazing chocolatier openings in NYC).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Peter Cuce

      "Teuscher" champagne truffles are my fave.

      1. re: Peter Cuce
        t
        The Turtle (Bay) Dove

        Took advantage of Marcolini having just opened up (my boyfriend's favorite chocolatier from having lived in Brussels) and Valentine's Day to compare Marcolini with La Maison du Chocolat (my previous favorite in NY although I haven't tried all the top chocolatiers in the city).

        They were both fabulous, of course, but we slightly preferred the Marcolini - subtler but more interesting flavors in the infused chocolates (for instance, we had a citrus infused and a tea infused from both places) and a fresher deeper richer taste to the chocolate. That freshness despite the fact that I bought the Marcolini's last week and kept them (in a ziplock) in my fridge over the weekend and bought the Maison's yesterday morning.

        FWIW, the Marcolini chocolates were more expensive. The smallest box of assorted chocolates I could choose for myself was a five piece - $13. The Maison box was twelve pieces - $18.

        Marcolini in NY could be a serious problem for my wallet and weight!! Now I have to try Debauve (and Teuscher champagne truffles, although that would be a slightly different type of chocolate than the infused or marzipan/ganache/etc. filled pieces I got from Marcolini and Maison).

        1. re: The Turtle (Bay) Dove

          Would love to read your impressions of Debauve when you finally get there. Start saving up! Got some of their ganache/coffee/praline types yesterday; came out to about $3 a piece, tho I did get a tasting in the store. FWIW, my wife was not blown away (for reference, her fave is Maison, and she likes the 72%+ Cluziel blends). Marcolini is on Park, right? What cross-street? (not that I can afford to go there right now; I'm back to Hershey's Kiss level after yesterday).

          1. re: Andy T.

            If you go to Debauve and you feel like dropping $9, ask for them to make you some hot chocolate. It takes about 10-15 minutes, but it's well worth it. They gave you a lot for the money, easily enough for two people.

            1. re: Andy T.
              t
              The Turtle (Bay) Dove

              Pierre Marcolini is on Park at 58th.

          2. re: Peter Cuce

            Absolutely nothing compares to Paula's choco covered marshmallows and fudge.

          3. I've actually heard decent things about Godiva's recent high-end, limited-edition offering (I forget what title they gave it), but their regular stuff is fairly wretched. And unless Lindt is putting out something new that I am unaware of, I agree that they are to be disdained.

            That said, I'd rather munch on a bar of Michel Cluizel single-estate chocolate (Hacienda Los Ancones is my favorite) than bother with gussied-up versions of a food best taken as plain as possible.

            Incidentally, I bought a stale bar of Cluizel at Dean and Deluca recently, but since I mentioned it, that particular section of the store looks noticeably better taken care of.

            1. I would advise you to trust your own palate - food scoring is a very subjective matter. I used to only buy wine based on rankings published by the Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator before realizing I preferred a different lighter stye that gets much lower scores. Wrt chocolate I prefer Lindt I can buy at my corner korean bodega to a lot of the artisanal European stuff at Zabar.

              1. Well I've only had Jacques Torres once and I did enjoy my selection of chocolates.

                However, imho, Kee Tong and her Kee's Chocolates (at 80 Thompson in SOHO), blows his stuff away. I do beleve she studied under JT, so he gets my thanks for that

                YMMV

                1. I have to join you in your skepticism of any review that places Godiva and Lindt (both of which in my opinion are the McDonald's of the chocolate world)in any sort of "best chocolate" category.

                  My favorites are Newhaus for white chocolates and Maison for dark truffles.

                  Years ago, a friend of mine brought me some chocolates from Paris (dark blue box with some interesting goldish? sort of pre-columbian line drawing designs) which had some heat to them. I was very hesitant to try them at first, but found them to be quite good. I understand this chocolate boutique has a store in NYC but I didn't save the wrapper and I don't remember the name of the brand anymnore.....does anyone which chocolates/store I'm talking about?

                  --Maria

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Maria

                    Agree that Godiva and Lindt are overrated, but perhaps not McDonalds level.

                    I'd put it more in the Outback Steak category of food. Outback is a fine meal and enjoyable. But once you have been to a great steakhouse, Outback no longer measures up.

                    FWIW, I am not big fan of boutique chocolates, but Christopher Norman's seem great to me. Maybe their freshness has soemthing to do with it, being made here. Woman I've bought them for have liked them too.