Review of Choc – O – Pain French Bakery & Cafe
By Chef Vincent Tropepe
Many successful businesses start because their founders’ identify a problem or an absence to something they need or want and also feel other people need or want the same thing. Clemence Danko, identified an absence for an authentic French croissant or a good baguette when she moved from France to Hoboken, New Jersey in 2009 with her husband. She decided to leave her pharmaceutical job behind and pursue her passion of French food and culture.
Pairing her New York City culinary school education with her entrepreneurial spirit Danko opened Hoboken’s first French bakery and café in January 2012 called Choc –O- Pain. With so much success, Danko has opened three more locations.
Having lived in Jersey City, I am very familiar with Choc- O-Pain and so is my waist. My assistant at the time and I every morning would take a ride from Jersey City to Hoboken to grab something and eat it on the way back before we started what would be an intense day of meetings, calls and email corrospondences. And trust me, there have been many days, I knew what my agenda would be like and did not want to leave my bed, but knowing a crispy flaky expertly crafted croissant would soon be in hand was my morning motivation to get my day started. When the Jersey City location opened, the drive was shorter, but still whatever we selected would never see the inside of the office.
Having a great appreciation for French food, as well as being fluent in French cooking and baking and having been fortunate enough to having been the understudy to Alaine Ducasse at his restaurant Aline at The Essex House, need less to say, I know when food is at it’s best and Choc – O – Pain is not only the epitome of the nucleus of French baking and culture, with one single bite it would make any French grandmother shed a tear of happiness.
Recently, I went to the Jersey Avenue location on a Sunday morning, to no surprise their was a line. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic no patron are allowed inside, but no matter how many people there were I know its worth the wait. In my first order, I purchased a chocolate croissant, and then a plain and vegan croissant to have a side by side taste test, as well as a bacon and cheese quiche. There is nothing less then amazing things to say, the freshness, quality and taste are just as I remembered them. And the side by side tasting of a regular and vegan croissant was absolutely astounding. Danko and her team hit home run after home run with each tasting I did. My second tasting consisted of the deliberate selection of Petite Boule au Chocolat, Lemon Pistachio cake and Raspberry Sourdough, all three demonstrated a superb and very important balance of taste, texture and mouth feel.
I can write paragraph after paragraph about Choc-Co-Pain, but the words to describe what they offer even to the most seasoned of writers and chefs can’t properly justify the Choc-Co-Pain experience. All I do know for certain is that when it comes to the rich tradition of French baking Choc-Co-Pain is simply Choc-Co-Perfection!
157 1st Street Hoboken, NJ 07030
1500 Hudson Street Hoboken, NJ 07030
530 Jersey Avenue Jersey City, NJ 07302
330-332 Palisades Avenue Jersey City, NJ 07307