Note: Jersey Bites was invited to visit Choc·O·Pain and our writer received a complimentary meal.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to lunch at the popular Choc·O·Pain in Hoboken. The French bakery, restaurant and retail shop is the brainchild of the owner, Clémence Danko. Danko moved to the USA from France in 2009 and quickly realized it was difficult to find a truly authentic French bakery with proper croissants and baguettes in northern New Jersey. She switched careers from the pharmaceutical industry, received the necessary pastry arts training and opened Choc·O·Pain in 2013 in Hoboken. After two years of hard work and dedication to her craft, Clémence opened her second location, in Jersey City.
When I visited, I enjoyed the atmosphere immediately. Patrons stopped by the café at their leisure, bought pastries and bread to go, ordered savory lunch items to eat in at the café’s downstairs dining room and upstairs lounge area, which has a children’s play area.
CHOC-O-PAIN crafts all of its sourdough-based breads in traditional European fashion using 4 simple ingredients: water, flour, salt, and leaven. Signature breads include the traditional miche, baguettes, pain d’autrefois, bordelais boules, and multigrain pain au levain aux céréales.
Pastries and Sweets
Popular pastries and sweets include the fabulous petit kouign, seasonal tartes, croissants, macarons, bread pudding, financiers, flourless chocolate heaven cake and, of course, the chocopains.
Savory Café Classics
The café’s savory favorites include dishes made using seasonal, locally-grown ingredients. Signature dishes include the classic croque monsieur (sourdough, homemade béchamel, D’Artagnan French ham and Swiss cheese), quiche Lorraine and seasonal quiches (goat cheese, leek, collard greens), sandwiches, salads and vegan soup du jour. In addition to the tasty food, the café serves lattés (hot and cold) and cappuccino by La Colombe coffee.
While I was at CHOC-O-PAIN, I sampled the vegan black bean soup that I was told would taste very “meaty.” Being from south Florida where Cuban black bean soup is pork-laden and delicious, I was skeptical—but my skepticism was unfounded—the rich soup was indeed porky in flavor and completely satisfying. Perhaps one of the best black bean soup I’ve had. I also enjoyed the quiche Lorraine, with its perfect, buttery crust and good-quality cheese and a side of salad dressed with a zesty vinaigrette that made me feel as though I was eating sort of healthy.
Dessert, of course, couldn’t be missed. Our party sampled the petit kouign, a croissant-like mini pastry with a touch of raspberry that has a caramel-like exterior: think ultra-flaky croissant with a slightly sticky outer crust…delectable and a must-try menu item. We also had the aptly-named flourless chocolate heaven cake with its deep chocolate flavor and dense-yet-light-texture. Simply decadent.
There are expansion plans in the works for Clémence and CHOC-O-PAIN that will be announced in the coming months. Based on my experience during this calorific visit, I’m looking forward to what’s next and so should you.
157 First Street
530 Jersey Avenue
Weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Weekends 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.