TheLab: the Evolution of a Savory & Sweet Café by Recchiuti
The inspiration for a café to accompany our Recchiuti Confections retail store in the Ferry Building came to us after publishing our cookbook Chocolate Obsession. The realization that we needed to highlight Michael’s years as a pastry chef by expanding our repertoire, to incorporate chocolate and caramel oriented plated desserts, cookies, fruit breads & cakes, custards, pies & tarts, ice-creams and even hot & cold chocolate drinks that’s a natural segue for us next to our day-to-day truffle making. We also wanted more to offer those much less inclined to sweet-things than our “obsession” with sweets.
We found innovation at Poilâne in the 6th Arrondissement of Paris…Tartines! We never leave Paris without a leisure lunch at their café which resides next to the boulangerie; house-baked bread grilled with local cheeses and topped with a variety of fresh choices; cured meats, farmstead herbs, vegetables & fruits – our menu emulates these savory open-faced sandwiches or tartines. We wanted to bring a little bit of adventure from our travels to our tiny village of Dogpatch in the southeast corner of San Francisco. As homage to our hamlet, we wanted to coalesce the character of this neighborhood with the alchemy of what we do, thus the name Chocolate Lab. It speaks of the laboratory in which we’ll concoct delectable desserts and the tongue-in-cheek nature of the areas namesake. We opened our doors in November of 2012.
Fast forward to 2014 to assay our yearlong effort in Dogpatch we found the community embracing our initial concept of Parisian-inspired tartine & dessert café, but also needing much more. In the true spirit of being a somewhat of a “Laboratory”, we’ve been experimenting with various concepts – prix fixe menu and dinner specials, happy hour and the evolution of the “Lab Cake”, expanding our wine cocktails and fortified wines. Where we’ve landed is a hybrid of the original Parisian-style café and a neighborhood bistro …. with a twist, quaint, intimate and warm. We have a Chef de Cuisine to devise the savory menu, incorporating the same attitude of playfulness and lateral thinking that Michael does; who approaches the sweet side with the same commitment to quality and experimentation, creating soulful approachable food that people can come and enjoy without pretension. We have a Café manager who conspires with the chef’s with similar humor and mischievous wine based cocktail recipes that matches the approach of our savory + sweet menus.
Presenting a more entrée and drink oriented menu, we’ve decided to shed “Chocolate” from our name; to simplify, be more direct to what we’ve grown into. We’ll still be true to chocolate oriented desserts, opening the possibilities to concocting further adventures in dining. Our nomenclature and brand evolution gives us further opportunities in experimentation of food + wine = theLab.