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I have passed their cafe on occasion, but never been early enough for a visit. With pre planing and a google search, I made a point to stop in before they closed at 5:30p daily. I also took advantage of their complimentary underground parking at the back. On previous visits I paid for spots by meters not knowing such a service existed.

The day was fairly warm, the sun was out and the covered patio was well seated. I walked in to a shaded room, the blinds were drawn to shield eyes and avoid the blooming of chocolate from the exposure to heat. As explained by Wikipedia, Chocolate bloom is a whitish coating that can appear on the surface of chocolate. Either fat bloom, arising from changes in the fat in the chocolate; or sugar bloom, formed by the action of moisture on the sugar ingredients. Chocolate that has “bloomed” is still safe to eat, but may have an unappetizing appearance and surface texture.

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Chocolate was the central theme to this cafe. Its presence was not only pronounced in the desserts offered, but it played a heavy hand in the decor as well. The colour of chocolate was pronounce in the dark brown serving counters, the round tables for dining on, and on the chairs that matched the cocoa that they sold. The ceiling was patterned in honey combs with light bulbs hidden in every odd one. The same hexagonal combs also appeared in a pattern that resemble a string of DNA. They seemed to be the cafe’s trademark design, along with a pencil sketch of a wasp-like orchid. Both made several appearances on the walls in decoration, along the sides of their dish wear in elegance, and again on several of their packaging for trademark.

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As for the actual edibles, chocolate was covered across is various platforms: from centre pieces to bars, to chocolate in cakes and chocolate in cookies, chocolate topping pastries and chocolate flavoured macarons. Danishes, strudels, muffins, croissants, and even puddings were also on the menu. And for those looking for something more filling: salted pastries and savoury sandwiches were available with a cup of artisan coffee or tea. Freshly made bread sandwiching gourmet ingredients make a perfect in between meal snack, followed by a square of chocolate of course.

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As for myself, there was just too much for me choose from, I wanted it all and was overwhelmed by my options. How can you just have one? But before I could even decide on my “just one”, I had to battle the debate over savory or sweet, small bites or small cakes. Do I pick what sounds the best, looks the best, or maybe even the one I thought tasted the best? With suggestions from the gentleman working behind the counter my decision was made.

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The “Berry cheesecake” was deemed as one of their more popular, individual sized cakes. It was a striking round of whipped fluffy cheesy cream, over a buttery crumb crust, under a very berry and vanilla flavoured gel, all encased in a thin coating of soft coconut flakes. The perfect layers of purple, yellow, and brown were a visual treat. And it all tasted as good as it looked. We were most surprised that the blueberry, raspberry, and gooseberry fruit that topped this cake was as fresh as it was, especially considering they were out of season. And the shard of patterned white chocolate was the cherry on this cake, an homage to their brand and nod to their skills in chocolatier-ing.

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The “Sour cherry pistachio tart” was a unique combination of ingredients that you figured wouldn’t be this complimentary to one another. But together they covered all the flavours and gave you all the textures you would want in a cake. Shortbread crust, pistachio cream, sour and cognac cherries, and light kirsch chantilly. A chewy tart cherry centre with a couple of whole cherries; a light and airy, sweet pistachio cream, blanketing the crisp and crumbly salted crust. This was definitely our favourite of the day, something so special that it is worth going back for.

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The “Parfait special” was best described as “unique” by the host. It was enough to have me choosing it over my original plan of creme burlee. It was certainly interesting and something I have never tried, nor would I need to again. Not your traditional desert, or what you would think to find at a French style cafe. From several tastes I discerned that this was a black sesame and tapioca parfait flavoured in either lychee or rambutan fruit. Both sweet and juicy seeded fruits found in South East Asian. The shot glass portion is topped with a single raspberry, some pineapple pulp, and a crisp fluff of dried black sesame breading. This was an Asian inspired desert with its tropical flavour, that wasn’t very sweet. A light desert that would be wonderful followed by a heavy Chinese meal with its multiple courses and use of oil.

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My guest took a “pear almond tart” home. It was packaged in box boasting their trademark colours of deep red and darker brown. The package was as artistically conceived as the tart it carried. Shortbread crust, tender poached pears, almond cream and a hint of cinnamon. The tart was sweet enough without actually tasting sweet. Each bite produced a satisfying mouthful of texture. The crust was soft and moist enough that it held together well. And the filling was dense with a solid amount of pear slices and pear jam filling.

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I took a six pack of macarons home. How could I not when I was given a full lemon macron to try as I waited for my guest, and they brought out a plate of other flavours cut in half for everyone to sample. Both were very generous gestures considering the average price of one macaron is $2. Though at the same time it was a clever strategy, they would soon be closing and macarons are not the same a day after. Trying one is enough for you to want several, and in my case several did come home with me.

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Their current flavours included chocolate, coffee, lemon, passionfruit, pistachio, mango coconut, mocha, earl grey, caramel, and their seasonal offering that included tangerine this month. The macarons were fresh, with that tell tale snap on first bite. My partner (who I brought them home for) loved them so much that he deemed them his new favourite place for macarons. I was sent back a few days later for more, only to discover they keep their doors closed on Sunday and Monday.

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Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I will have to be back for more macarons, but in general they have so much to offer that several visits are necessary to try most of it. On top of a rotating list of confectionaries, they also create seasonal pieces. Solid chocolate fixtures beautiful enough for display and deliciously built to be eaten. Our visit was in February and they had heart shaped structures painted in pinks and reds for valentines, edible black and white sheep with chocolate oranges and gold foiled coins for Chinese lunar new year; and pastel coloured chicks and spotted eggs on a bed of edible grass for Easter. They also have an impressive and equally delicious line of tea flavoured chocolate bars. Your favourite teas like matcha and rooibos redone to mildly sweetened chocolate bars. Have your tea with chocolate in an on the go bite. Don’t deny your cravings.

THOMAS HAAS
2539 West Broadway Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6K2E9
604-736-1848
Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie on Urbanspoon