Where to find the best chocolates?
Everything from gooey old fashioned hand-rolled truffles to precious little high-end bites.
What's your favorite?
For something different, I really enjoy the exotic chocolates at Vosges (olive oil, curry, bacon, etc.). Also, another unique chocolate source, often overlooked, is RICHART Design et Chocolat- the name really says it all: this is the most beautifully artistic chocolate you will ever see/eat. For classic chi chi NY chocolate shops, you cannot go wrong with champagne truffles from Teuscher (as well as their chocolate with marzipan), and La Maison du Chocolat. For a whimsical, fun atmosphere (complete with demonstrations and life size painted chocolate farm animals/holiday symbols/novelties made of chocolate), there is Jacques Torres. Finally, for the ultimate luxury in fancy traditional European chocolates, there is Debauve & Gallais. Their shop is really more like a Cartier showroom!
My shortlist would be:
1. Kee's (truffles and the like, macarons). A smaller selection and no chocolate bars or dipped things but it's very well edited and super fresh. Must be consumed within a day or two. Nowhere to sit though.
2. La Maison du Chocolat (they're from Paris, though) (hot chocolate, ice cream, macarons). The truffles, etc. are from Paris but they make the ice cream on site. There are some tables and chairs here to enjoy your treats as well as an espresso/hot chocolate bar.
3. Jacques Torres (hot chocolate, cookies, bars, lots of chocolate dipped treats). It looks like Willy Wonka inside with lots of machinery and glass windows. They also have a espresso/chocolate bar. It's fun to hang around Jacques Torres for a little while. Very, very large selection of chocolate items and his other stuff keeps longer, and is well packed (perfect to give as gifts back home).
I like but do not love Richard. Same with Vosges -- like the concept but rarely the execution of the exotic truffles. I want to like Li-Lac but it's usually too homey / not high quality enough for me.
I have been meaning to go back to Michel Cluizel in the ABC Home and Carpet store now that Will Goldfarb (ex Room 4 Dessert) is in the kitchen.
Kee's would be my #1 go-to chocolate shop.
I love the design of Vosges (both the shop and the packaging) but I think the actual chocolates have a mass-produced flavor. They remind me of Godiva in a way. Every time I visit I want to like everything but it just doesn't happen. I'm down to only the bars now and even those have become somewhat disappointing. I feel like they tried to do too much all at once by releasing so many new combinations.
Definitely Kee's for quality and taste. Her chocolates are made fresh daily, on-premises. AND she has some fantastic flavors you won't find anywhere else like Mango Green Tea and Thai Chili. Her macarons are even more to-die-for. Vosges, Marie Belle, Torres pale in comparison in terms of freshness, richness, vibrancy and balance of flavors.
I really love Vosges and have been visiting them since they first opened in Chicago. I do think, though, that some of the more exotic flavors can be a little *too* exotic for most chocolate lovers (i.e. balsamic and white chocolate), though many are superb (e.g. salt, almonds and dark chocolate).
Maison du Chocolat is good. Jacques Torres wasn't my cup of tea. The chocolate was a bit too "bitter" for my tastebuds.