Current Obsession: Beautifully Designed, SoCal-Inspired Chocolate Bars
Call us nitpickers or details people, but it's the little things in life—and in the food world—that get us excited. Whether it be an off-the-wall menu item, a particularly stylish bathroom or a restaurant's signature scent, we get stoked on the minutiae that makes our dining scene unique. Consider this the sacred space where we feel safe to express our current obsessions and openly explore our favorite things.
What it is: Compartes Chocolatier recenty opened their small, but mightily design savvy shop behind Albert Coffee on Melrose Place. Though the business has been around in Beverly Hills for over 50 years, the new outpost really embodies the flare of their chocolatier, Jonathan Graham. Most of the chocolates are made with quality cocoa coming from South America, and all of their wares are made from scratch, using no artificial additives or preservatives. What's more is that Graham uses locally sourced fruits and spices from local Los Angeles farmers markets, making the bars and truffles a truly unique L.A. product that also happens to be a great hostess gift around the holidays—or a sweet treat for yourself during this chaotic season.
Why it's rad: Graham started making chocolates at the age of 19 with the goal of giving customers a round-the-world trip through the unique flavors used in his sweets. In addition to exotic flavor combos, he also makes them presentable in a style like no other. The fusion of art, fashion, design and culinary art is perfect for the discerning clientele of the area.
And while we've always been a fan of Compartes chocolates, the offerings at the new Melrose Place shop offer some unique L.A.-centric flare, like the Donuts and Coffee bar made from milk chocolate spiked with donuts from some of the city's best shops and organic coffee grounds from local third wave roasters. There's also a bar called the Drive-In, made with a mix of crushed caramel, kettle and classic popped corn and milk chocolate, that's a tribute to Old Hollywood. Then there's the Trail Mix flavor, featuring California grown raisins, almonds, pecans, walnuts and dried persimmons from the Santa Monica Farmers Market mixed with dark chocolate.
The design of the bars is clearly intensive. The packaging for the Trail Mix bar, for instance, is a composite of over 100 separately drawn graphics. The new shop is also a piece of artwork in itself, with a kaleidoscope of colorful bars painting the walls. There's also a cute Dan Flavin-esque neon sign that reads "Chocolate Is Art," sitting above the small seating area where you and a friend can indulge in your purchases. And there are cool monochromatic diamonds and triangles throughout, making you feel like you're just as much in a mod gallery as a sweets shop.
To top it all off, Graham sells something he calls Love Nuts, which are basically roasted nuts, caramelized with Tahitian Vanilla that are then sprinkled with sea salt, then topped with 14 layers of raw cacao powder. They are utterly delicious—definitely one of our favorite locally made treats in the city. And what's more is that they allow you to make salty balls jokes all night with whoever you bring them to.
How much it'll cost you: The chocolate doesn't come cheap, but it's worth it. They do make great presents and host gifts. Bars are $9.95. Compartes also does custom truffle design for holiday parties and businesses.
Where to find it: Compartes is located at 8428 Melrose Pl, Los Angeles; (323) 475-898; Monday-Sunday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.