When You Need The Reminder That Coffee and Chocolate Pair Perfectly, Head To Neuhaus Cafe.
Welcome to Unfiltered, our weekly feature that explores the Dallas coffee scene — and how it often manages to thrive in the most unusual places. Given that we live in a time when Starbucks locations are about as prevalent as the golden McDonald's arches, when new coffee shops seem to open every other week and when almost everyone uses a ChemEx to brew their coffee, we're here to show you some alternatives — for when your coffee shop routine becomes monotonous or when you're just looking for something different in your caffeine endeavors.
5959 Royal Lane.
Before society became obsessed with instant gratification and the conveniences that chains, drive-through windows and gas stations bring, coffee was considered a luxury item. Entire morning routines were built around sipping and savoring hand-crafted drinks for extended periods of time.
It's with this mentality that food pairings became such hot commodities among cafes and coffee aficionados alike. And while most coffee shops are inundated with starchier options — from donuts to croissants — we often overlook one of the simplest and sweetest pairings to round off the taste of coffee.
That would be chocolate.
But there's more to pairing coffee with chocolate than just grabbing a last-minute Hershey's bar to munch on. There's actually a subtle artistry to the mash-up that's best reserved for lazy Sunday afternoons — or whatever precious moments you can set aside to truly enjoy the two without the rush of the outside world distracting from the task.
Neuhaus Cafe in North Dallas specifically provides an ideal setting for this experience. Owner Mervyn Sacher has served the area luxury coffee and chocolates since here 1980, and while coffee has been an integral part of the cafe since its beginnings, it was his love for chocolate that actually first inspired Sacher to leave his corporate background for a sweeter calling in America.
“Coming back from South Africa, there was a chocolate shop I would've liked to have owned, but I was the director of a public company — a family business — and I couldn't leave that to own a little chocolate shop,” says Sacher. “One day, I woke up in the morning and said, 'I know what I’m going to do in America. I'm going to open up a chocolate shop.' Just like that. And I did it. If you give me a challenge of any sort, I'll take it on and win.”
The coffee menu at Neuhaus reflects a European-style cafe, consisting of simple espresso fare and drip made with Lavazza coffee. Black coffee and cappuccinos are the popular drinks of choice here, whether they’re ordered by those drawn to the cafe for the pairing of coffee and chocolate or by patrons whom stumbled across the combination through happy coincidence.
“It’s about 50/50,” says Sacher.
From the selection of Belgian chocolates, one of the recommended pairings are the Pailettes — or dark chocolate covered orange peels — with a cappuccino. The dark chocolate brings out the nuttier and bolder flavors of the espresso, while adding a touch of bitterness to the sweet cream. The orange adds the right amount of citrus to the mixture, highlighting any brightness in the espresso. The chocolate also pairs well with the drip coffee — specifically when served black — by adding a touch of sweetness without adding cream or sugar.
Another recommended chocolate is called Astrid, a softer chocolate made with finely ground nuts and topped with powdered sugar. Still, the glass case filled with brightly colored and ornately designed chocolates might inspire you to find a match to suit your personal tastes.
Along with coffee and fine chocolates, Neuhaus has served a six-page menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner fare for the past decade, ever since moving locations from NorthPark to its current Royal Lane space. In other words: If chocolate isn't your thing, a perfectly golden Belgian waffle or breakfast plate isn't too far out of reach.
But for those looking to add a little bit of decadence to their coffee routine, a small piece of one of the world's more opulent substances isn't a bad way to do it.
Says Sacher with a smile: “[Belgian chocolate] is the gift to give for the person that has everything.”