Chocolate lovers everywhere likely felt a shiver down their spines when Coco Rouge opened its doors on Division Avenue. The edgy storefront lounge is a veritable shrine to the beloved bean.
Just don't expect to find the same old truffles: Jeremy Brutzkus and Erika Panther, the husband-and-wife team behind the award-winning chocolate company, both spent time concocting savory dishes before moving to the sweeter side of the kitchen. That sensibility shows up in their beautifully handcrafted chocolates, which feature unexpected ingredients like sea salt and roasted corn (one of their most popular recipes even calls for caramelized bacon) alongside slightly more traditional ganache fillings and flower-petal garnishes.
The space is a rehabbed repo garage boasting a cement floor, table seating for 16 and cool architectural relics, including fixtures from the Bismarck Hotel circa 1910. The glow from red bulbs and a bevy of black chandeliers sets the mood for decadence. Step up to the display case and do your worst...choose an array of chocolates, and they'll be plated sushi-style on a skinny white dish and ready to savor. Or warm up to this writer's favorite: the "chocolate emulsions," which consist of either a single- or double-shot of all the ingredients that go into a truffle, bathed in hot milk and served in a chic suspension glass.
With individual pieces around $2.50 and drinks $3-$8, Coco Rouge is a luxury within reach. The shop is also a great stop for gift items for the connoisseur on your list. Plans are underway for plated desserts and a small food menu.
Centerstage Reviewer: Julia Steinberger