Originally uploaded by illewminator.
who would ever expect to find a lovely little french cafe and gourmet chocolatier in the middle of gritty, urban LA? picholine is an unexpected find in the very non-pedestrian-friendly area near the weird intersection west of downtown where temple, beverly, first and virgil all sort of converge while the 101 freeway roars overhead.

picholine is a casual french lunch spot that offers freshly made sandwiches with quality ingredients. we shared the smoked salmon sandwich, the grilled vegetable with cheese, and the chicken salad -- all of which were excellent. along with your sandwich, you get a choice of green salad, pasta salad, or a curried couscous salad (pictured above). i also had a lovely sparkling lemonade that seemed a perfect accompaniment to my lunch, which came out somewhere in the neighborhood of $10.

but the BEST part is stepping next door after your meal for some beautiful and deliciously fresh, handmade chocolates with interesting, but very subtle, flavor infusions. everything is sold by the weight, so you just select whatever individual pieces strike your fancy and the very friendly, very french shop owner/chocolate maker will put your selections on a tiny scale and ring you up. he also proudly tells you how everything is handmade and that he uses a different process to prepare the chocolate -- one that uses less sugar and thus imparts a more pure chocolate flavor. i sampled 3 pieces: a lavender infused chocolate, a jasmine tea infused number, and an espresso truffle. yum, yum, and YUM! just heavenly. and not too extravagantly priced, either -- my total was less than $3... an affordable luxury that everyone should indulge in once in awhile.

picholine is only open for lunch, M-F. it's located on first, just west of virgil. i think the chocolate place next door is open as long as the cafe is open, since it's the same people who run both places. check it out the next time you're feeling like treating yourself.


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