It’s one of the first days of spring, and a couple of us from The Starving Sailor are making our way over to Rousseau Chocolatier to start our day off with some caffeine and fresh sweets. Upon arriving, we realize we couldn’t have come in at a better time. Grabbing a seat at the bar by the window, we have a charming morning view of Cornwallis Park, while the sun is shining brightly into the shop. A perfect way to start the day in downtown Halifax.
After we make our way to the counter and place our drink orders, we stare into the display case filled with freshly made chocolates and baked goods, completely fixated on all the sweets.
Once my hot chocolate arrives and our photographer gets her coffee, we make our way back to our seat to await which treats were chosen for us.
The house hot chocolate is a stand out drink; deeply creamy and rich, perfect to have with a light pastry on the side as a pair. We are told that the beverage gained a huge following after WestJet featured it in their magazine.
Aside from beverages, the shop’s specialties include handmade chocolates, French macarons, gourmet brownies, and madeleines that are all produced daily in-house. Shortly after we sit down again, an arrangement of chocolates and macarons chosen by co-owner Nathalie Morin arrives at our table.
The chocolates Nathalie chose for us include feuilletine praline, raspberry ganache, hazelnut gianduja praline, salted butter caramel milk chocolate, espresso ganache, and maple cream ganache, to name a few.
Each chocolate is a uniquely crafted treat; some bursting with sweet flavours, while others are nutty or bitter. The beauty of the shop is the versatility provided through the different options. There is a taste for every chocolate lover.
As for macarons, plated for us are five brightly coloured and perfectly structured options. Chocolate, mango, raspberry, coconut, and passion fruit. Raspberry is a personal favourite.
Nathalie tells us that the chocolatier creating all the treats is Julien Rousseau, who uses all real fruits and ingredients for his recipes. Everything is handmade in small batches and the flavours are added seasonally. On top of seasonally alternating flavours, Rousseau Chocolatier also tries their best to stay true to local; sourcing their lavender buds from Seafoam Lavender Farm, rose petals from FD WildFoods, maple from Acadian Maple, haskap berries from Haskapa, espresso from Sissiboo Coffee Roaster, and their croissants from LF Bakery.
Nathalie says their main philosophy has always been the same: “To produce fresh, high quality handmade chocolates and products for our customers to enjoy year-round.”
From 2014 until recently, Rousseau Chocolatier was located on Hollis street until the modest shop made its way over to its new location on the corner of South and Hollis. Nathalie explains: “We knew right away that we wanted this new location as soon as we found out that a new building was being built on the corner of South and Hollis street. The new corner unit offers much more visibility and is ideally located across from Cornwallis Park and the Westin Hotel.”
Since the move, customers have been happy and excited too: “With its bright and large frontage, the new Rousseau is everything we hoped for! Summer months will be busy with visitors from all over but we’ve always catered to the local community by offering our quality confections year-round. What’s really exciting is that we don’t just appeal to a specific demographic. It’s really nice to serve customers of all ages on a daily basis!”
The new space has a modern industrial look to it, very minimalistic while also clearly having been specifically designed by an artistic eye. Nathalie shares with us how the design plan came to be: “My dear friend Sophie Roy and her team at Rubik Design in Montreal really came through with our vision! We wanted to create a space where people who walk in say: ”Wow!” I wanted to elevate the cafe atmosphere here in Halifax by combining chic and cozy, with a hint of industrial design.”
Combining the new location, trendy design, and praiseworthy house-made treats, Rousseau Chocolatier is a top destination for both those with a sweet tooth and those who simply crave a freshly brewed coffee and a good view. This summer Rousseau will also be opening a patio and will be serving ice cream – a must-try addition to their already delicious menu. Regardless of whether you’re coming in to pick up sweets to go, or stopping to enjoy a coffee with a gourmet baked good, you know that the folks at Rousseau Chocolatier put care into all of their homemade treats; a quality that will truly make you come back for more.