October 18, 2007
Night Owl Drunk On Chocolate By Stephanie Nolasco
On the eve of Valentine's Day, Jon Payson and Naomi Josepher opened their brown doors to anxious addicts roaming Fifth Avenue in search of...SUGAR! Although that was two years ago, the husband and wife duo continue delighting Brooklynites in their Park Slope café, The Chocolate Room, where everything, including beer and popcorn, contains the sweet, oozing morsels that'll intoxicate you enough to lick the bowls bone dry.
The Chocolate Room, petite in size, bears exposed bricks aligned with brownie brown and cake batter walls. Around are praline wooden chairs and green mint marble tables. The bar, located on the opposite side of the room, is luminous ruby, like red velvet cake with windows overlooking a not-so-secret garden. Guests happily sip on Brooklyn's own crisp, light lager as Frank Sinatra croons behind a hidden speaker. Up front is a glass display revealing delicately wrapped ganaches made by famed European chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt of Denmark. These little handcrafted treats, commonly made with heavy cream, butter, sugar and chocolate, also include unusual ingredients. The heart-shaped Antoinette is made with rosewater and the passion fruit flavored La Femme is molded white chocolate dusted with edible gold. However, why gorge on palm-sized candy when creamy butterscotch, fresh brownies and booze await you at the table?
Be prepared for The Chocolate Room's complimentary sample scoops of Valrhona sorbet. This delicious dessert contains thick, silky textures with bursting, flavors of lightly sweetened chocolate that doesn't dry your mouth. You'll be quickly tempted to order the warm Brownie Sundae ($7.50) with drizzling fudge, whipped cream and a black rum-tasting cherry on top. A cooler choice would be the Not Hot ($5.50), an icy-cold hot chocolate that's more accessible than Serendipity's in Manhattan. Lovers will appreciate the elegant Chocolate Fondue for two ($13.00), which has 60% Belgium chocolate, ripe fruit, soft pound cake and marshmallows. Save the best for last and order a slice of their award-winning Chocolate Layer Cake ($5.50), a moist, fudge-coated masterpiece that slowly melts on your tongue, but quickly fills your belly with euphoria. Leisurely wash it down with the beloved Bonny Doon Framboise ($7.50), a syrupy, sweet wine with a slight raspberry scent.
Chocoholics of New York City must make a pilgrimage to The Chocolate Room and catch up on all the latest city gossip with friends over drinks and sweets. If rehab is for quitters, then chug all the chocolate stout you want without ever admitting you have a problem.
Stephanie Nolasco is having a hard time breaking her addiction to chocolate since she found this little BK brownie. email@example.com
Summer 2005 issue
There’s Always Room for Chocolate: Park Slope’s New Chocolate Room
By Jillian Lubow and Nicholas Taylor
In addition to the delectable table menu, the Chocolate Room also boasts a spectacular display case filled with the amazing confections of their off-site chocolatier, Fritz Kripschildt.
Before they were small business owners, Jon Payson and Naomi Josepher were both once struggling artists, he a drummer and she a dancer. They met, fittingly, how many struggling artists meet: while waiting tables at the same Manhattan bistro. They married after six years of dating, and after another six they were brought back into the restaurant business, working together this time as owners rather than servers.
“The process of opening the store helped us rediscover the romance of the city,” Naomi reminisces. Naomi, a modern dancer and personal trainer, found the whole experience - from searching for a location to open their café to purchasing the plates and silverware from merchants in the Bowery - to be “a gift from the world.” They met many unusual characters and discovered corners of the city they never knew existed. In addition, they found corners of each other’s personalities they never knew existed.
Jon had wanted to start his own business for a long time. After moving to Park Slope from the Upper East Side, Jon and Naomi were eager to get involved with the Fifth Avenue renaissance, hearing that it was the “new Smith Street.” At first he was thinking of a small café or dessert place, but after thumbing through a book about chocolate one day, a different idea took hold of him. Manhattan boasts excellent chocolate cafés, like the Chocolate Bar, but Brooklyn does not. Although neither Jon nor Naomi had ever been a chocolate connoisseur, like most of us he always had a love for chocolate. Sensing that he had found his niche in the market, he began to learn more and more about chocolate. As he learned more, he found that he was becoming passionate about well-made, hand-crafted chocolate. After a while, his enthusiasm rubbed off on Naomi, and in September 2003 they purchased a storefront on lower Fifth Avenue. In early February 2005, the Chocolate Room opened its doors, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Jon was looking to create a fun dessert shop, with a little fanciness but nothing pretentious. Most importantly, he aimed to create a “total chocolate experience,” providing not just chocolates and cookies, but a wide range of chocolates, cakes, and other desserts. The finely crafted menu offers sweet-tooth staples like chocolate layer cake, but also updated classics like chocolate flan. The menu has recently been expanded to include homemade ice creams as well as dessert wines. The menu at Chocolate Room is small, but somehow there’s something for everyone.
In addition to the delectable table menu, the Chocolate Room also boasts a spectacular display case filled with the amazing confections of their off-site chocalatier, Fritz Kripschildt. At ten dollars for a quarter pound, Fritz’s mind-boggling variety of subtle yet exciting chocolates is well worth the price. All these wonderful chocolates are also available in gift packages and sets, so you can share the beauty of Fritz’s creations with your friends and family.
Given the space’s cool and calm air, it’s amazing to consider that only a few months ago it was a dingy, dirty wreck of a storefront. Jon and Naomi completely renovated the space themselves, refurbishing the brick wall and salvaging the classic tin ceiling from under layers of plaster. Prior to its incarnation as the Chocolate Room, 86 Fifth Avenue had also been diner, a car shop, and a video store. Jon said that even though it hadn’t been a diner in many years, amazingly there were still grease stains on the walls that he had to remove. It is Jon’s hope that his business, along with a lot of the other new business entering the neighborhood, will end this cycle of constantly revolving stores and institutions. The Chocolate Room, Total Wine Bar, Surreal Café, and the countless other new businesses in the area hope to help build a sense of community and continuity in a section of Park Slope that has for too long been in a constant state of flux. In that spirit, Jon and Naomi report that the growing community of committed small-business owners on lower Fifth Avenue has been very supportive of their endeavor, offering help and guidance at every turn. The entrepreneurial couple is optimistic about the prospects of the neighborhood, convinced that the activity and prosperity of upper Fifth Avenue is already working its way north toward Flatbush. “That’s part of the thrill,” said Naomi, “diving into the unknown.” Whether you’re a young couple interested in seeing and tasting the chocolate handiwork of another young couple, or just a regular old chocolate freak, be sure to take a dive into the wonderful pleasures available at the Chocolate Room.
The Chocolate Room
86 Fifth Avenue
718 783 2900