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Pretty is as Pretty Does at Chocolate Pink
It’s tempting to settle in at Chocolate Pink with a cappuccino and my laptop while I write this review. I suppose that could be perceived as disingenuous. Rather, a simple coffee at my desk accompanies my account while I recall one of the finest, frothiest, perfectly tinted and flavored cappuccinos in town. I confess that I’m also a sucker for their cups and saucers. It’s not just the tasteful adornment of their china; I love the way it sounds when the cup touches the saucer, reminiscent as it is of the same sound in a Parisian café – melodic and mindful of simple pleasures in life.
Chocolate Pink and Executive Pastry Chef, Christian Balbierer, present a wealth of not-so-simple pleasures as well. This is a true pâtisserie in every sense of the definition: a place where (exclusively) pastries are made, a place where the art of pastry making is practiced, and a place where pastries are sold. This is not a bakery. You will not find bread, scones, or even, croissants. You will, however discover treasures that bring joy to every feature of your face: your eyes will be infatuated with the pure prettiness of the pastries; your nose will scent something exquisite to come, and your mouth will water.
As the saying goes, “pretty is as pretty does,”and these pastries definitely are — and do. My personal favorite is the Fleur de Sel Caramel, a chocolate custard tart with salted caramel and Georgia pecans set in a chocolate cookie crust. The menu description reads, “lightly” salted caramel, whereas, I would describe it as “perfectly” salted caramel. (4”/$7 – 8”/$27) One can taste the good French salt. The tart is rich and intense, but not too sweet. Balbierer also has just the right touch with citrus as evidenced by the Key Lime Tart with its triple lime custard. (4”/$7 – 8”/$27) The German Chocolate Layer Cake (4″/$7 -8”/$15), is as divine as one might expect from a chef of German origin, with its chocolate genoise sponge cake, chocolate ganache, and a buttery coconut pecan filling, notably absent of sugary aftertaste. The namesake cake: Chocolate Pink Mousse Cake with hazelnut cookie bottom, chocolate truffle mousse, chocolate buttermilk cake and chocolate ganache is worthy of its signature status. Delicious choices abound – but not so much variety as to leave one with the impression that Chocolate Pink is indiscriminate. I get the sense that every pastry in the place has worked hard to claim a coveted spot in their pastry case. They test new offerings through their “dessert” of the month; not all of them make it to the menu. My only faint disappointment to date was the Apple Frangipane Tart. Almond lover that I am, even I found the almond flavor overpowering. My palate wanted the apple to dominate; yet I suspect this was purely a matter of personal taste.
The café is pristine, which I always find to be especially appetite enhancing. Pastry cases glisten (remarkably without a hint of Windex scent), floors sparkle, and small café tables are adorned with petite, perfectly proportioned fresh flowers in simple vases. Magically, the Chocolate Pink ambiance is not aloof, despite the immaculate environment. It is inviting and all in good taste, from the décor and music, to the pastries and Illy coffee.
I’ve whiled away never enough time at Chocolate Pink, and have “taken out” from there on many occasions. At times, the place seems too good to be true, especially given what seems an overt absence of in-store customers. My imagination takes off. How do they do survive? Clearly, they are using expensive and fresh ingredients. So, what’s the back-story here? Is this some kind of front? The answer is yes. It’s the physical front and face of a growing and diverse food enterprise.
Chocolate Pink President, Michael Goodrich says, “We want the café and the ambiance to help deliver the brand.” Goodrich, whose pre-pink background includes years of product management and IT/human capital experience, teamed up with Balbierer in 2005 along with a whopping 18K investment. Today, Chocolate Pink sells wholesale desserts to restaurants, ships around the country from their online store, prepares pastries for large events (take out or delivered), customizes cookies for corporate promotions and charity galas, designs custom wedding cakes and hosts on-site soirees for 30-50 people upstairs in the Chocolate Pink event space. They have also recently added the full-service Chocolate Pink Catering in tandem with Executive Chef, Patti Rogers. (Think shaved proscuitto panini with champagne roasted peaches and brie, for example). You would never know any of this based on the discreet and easy atmosphere of the cafe. If the servers are under any kind of pressure at all, they hide it well.
Goodrich’s explanation of Chocolate Pink’s behind the scenes success gives me comfort, (as do their coconut cupcakes). My neighborhood patisserie is more successful than I knew and will be there when I’m in need of a Pink Lemonade Cupcake pick-me-up, and the crisp chime of their china. This could happen most any moment.
905 Juniper Street NE, Unit 108, Atlanta, Georgia 30309 Phone: 404.745.9292 Fax: 404.745.9299
Tuesday-Wednesday: 10am-7pm; Thursday-Friday-Saturday: 10am-11pm; Sunday: 10am-8pm Parking: On-street parking available on Juniper Street, both outside lanes from 9:30am-3:30pm and after 6:30pm, Monday through Friday. On-street parking available anytime on Saturday or Sunday. Complimentary valet service available in front of Chocolate Pink after 6:30pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Limited spaces also available in building parking entrance off 8th Street.