“Oh, I love this place,” sighs a little girl as her parents try to lead her out of Kollar Chocolates in Yountville.
Colorful chocolate owls stare back at her from their perches on the wall. Nearby, rows of jewel-like truffles beckon in a glass case. When this chocolate store opened in 2011, it attracted tourists en route to the town’s famous restaurants — the French Laundry, Bistro Jeanty, Redd and Ad Hoc all reside within walking distance. Very quickly, though, Kollar has become a culinary destination in its own right.
Tucked inside the V Marketplace, which houses several other high-end shops, Kollar Chocolates first entices visitors with the scent of melting chocolate wafting from a glass-enclosed display kitchen. According to owner and chief chocolatier Chris Kollar, he wanted to “make it an open kitchen like you’d see in a restaurant.” That way, visitors can interact with the chocolatiers and ask them questions.
It’s fitting that a black-and-white portrait of Willy Wonka hangs on the wall. From this small kitchen emerge not only Kollar’s famous truffles but all the decorations that adorn his shop. Yet this is Napa County, not Wonka’s factory world, so the whimsy often skews upscale. For instance, trays of chocolate “sushi” cradle blood orange pâte de fruit and cubes of 72 percent dark chocolate wrapped in crispy rice ($29). Kollar calls them California Kollar Chocolate Rolls.
“I don’t want to do something old fashioned that’s been done,” Kollar says. “I want to do what’s present and moving forward into the future.”
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