The newly opened Cocoa Bar (228 7th Avenue) in Brooklyn's Park Slope area is a triple threat, offering high end chocolates, wine and coffee for every kind of New York connoisseur in a cozy neighborhood cafe setting. It has the typical trendy artwork, from local area artists, hung on the latte colored walls and of course comfy sofas and the extras we've all come to expect like books, wi-fi and board games. Cocoa also offers specialty desserts like a dense individual truffle cake or a spongy and moist hazelnut rum cake ($6), which arrives on a ceramic plate with chocolate syrup dots spread in random formations or cinnamon dust shapes sprinkled around the generous chocolate slabs of cake. But what makes Cocoa Bar especially unique is that it's not just a coffee and dessert shop, but also a wine bar.
Daily recommended parings of a cocoa dessert and complementing international wines are available for $12. Their menu consists of over 10 pairings picked by the owner Liat Cohen, but her favorites are the Sparkling Shiraz paired with their "I like it spicy" chocolate bar as well as the Muscat paired with a caramel centered dark chocolate. She says, "The sparkling shiraz is fun, festive, chilled and unique. Most of all it has spice to it. Our 'I like it spicy' chocolate bar is also fun and unique in that it has peppers and cayenne using single origin Venezuelan cocoa beans. And, of course, it is spicy and paired together they bring out conversation, laughter and enjoyment, which is what we want people to experience while they're here."
Unfortunately wine can be very intimidating, and so can chocolate these days. Liat and her husband and business partner Yaniv, try to encourage people to try new wines and chocolates and boast monthly coffee “cuppings” and wine tasting sessions. Those used to having their coffee at scalding temperatures though might be disappointed by the bar’s foaming coffee brewed drinks, creamy white hot chocolate, creative flavored latte's and rich roasted espressos being served tepid. The bar has a counter top for takeout, and tables and a modern backyard garden where their personable staff will serve and offer suggestions.
The other night when eating Mac and Cheese at Cafeteria (17th and 7th) with K, our pleasant waitress with a silk scarf tied around her head kept saying weird statements when she came to check in on us. Instead of asking how is everything? Or are you enjoying your meal, she asked, "Are you happy?" I joked to my friend that I should have said, well, lately I've been depressed and feeling kind of fat. If she only said "are you happy with your meal," then that requires a 'yes' or 'no' answer and then she could be on her way to the next table. "Are you happy?" though left me confused and wondering.
When we were leaving and waved goodbye to her she replied "Be well." I felt like I just left Ghandi's temple.