26 Astor Place, near Lafayette Street, (212) 260-2220
Getting There: 6 to Astor Place
Blog: Tasting at Bahr Che
No pairing works better collaboratively than a good bottle of wine and some savory chocolates to match. In that same vein, Tuesday night’s complimentary tasting event at the recently opened bahr che in Noho appropriately matched a burgeoning new wine bar with the delectable, exotic truffles of the established chocolatier, Vosges Haut-Chocolat. While finding the place on a rainy spring evening was no easy task, the wait was worth the reward.
bahr che officially opened its doors for business in January. Disguised with an Astor Place address, the quaint, dimly lit establishment actually sits on Cooper Square with minimal signage, so you really need to be on the lookout for where you’re going. Once inside however, you’ll find a tastefully understated ode to the wine bottle, almost as if you’re inside the cellar of a collector. The décor is ideal for intimate settings- long bouquets in vases lining the windows, small candles sitting atop each of the two person tables, and the use of the wine bottles themselves as the attention grabbing centerpiece, which force their way into any conversation. bahr che also offers assorted cheeses, charcuterie, foie gras, and chocolates from some of the finest sources in Manhattan, with a menu of delicious sandwiches and plates to suit any budget or pallet for that matter.
On Tuesday, the restaurant was pouring seemingly endless glasses of the French “Petit Caprice,” a 2010 rose that held up capably when intermittently swished between truffle tastings. The two hour event kicked off at 6:30pm, giving some additional time for patrons to come in from the rain. Vosges Chocolate representative Maggie Marion welcomed everyone inside and provided a thorough table-to-table analysis about the history of the chocolatier, and the flavors behind each of the five truffles. The Chicago based purveyor has local boutique stores in Soho and on the Upper East Side, with additional availability at many of the Food Emporium and Whole Foods stores in Manhattan. Conceptually the brand aims to “create a luxury chocolate experience rooted in a sensory journey of bringing about awareness to indigenous cultures through the exploration of spices, herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, nuts, chocolate, and the obscure.” They truly stand by the belief that chocolate can change the world.
Marion brought with her five distinct chocolates, some working better than others at pairing with the rose. But at a free event, beggars can’t be choosers- and this one was top notch. We sampled “Mo’s milk chocolate bacon bar,” a sweet white chocolate “ambrosia” with macadamia nuts, a rich, 85% dark chocolate, enveloped in cocoa powder, a creamy caramel and peppercorn spiced piece, and our favorite an exotic creamy coconut truffle topped with curry powder. Each truffle was tasted in two bites, with whispers of each of the flavors manifesting themselves with each breath. The atmosphere inside bahr che was filled with a quiet contentment, as the patrons’ collective eyes rolled back simultaneously as the chocolates and rose danced on our tongues, and the evening concluded as a complete success.
- Jane Van Arsdale