If you've ever enjoyed a praline—the European chocolate confection with a paste made of nuts and sugar, not the New Orleans praw-leehn—you have Neuhaus to thank. Though the Belgian company (which celebrated its sesquicentennial a few years ago) has had a presence in New York for a while now, the new Madison Avenue location is their proud flagship.
And a flagship it is: an everything-on-display, chandelier-lit, part-store-part-museum temple to Old World chocolate. Like the Upper East Side branch of Ladurée, the staff at Neuhaus carefully guide customers through the whole chocolate buying experience: choosing specific chocolates to their tastes and packaging it in boxes of their choice. This is, in large part, geared towards gift giving, but it's also a display of earnest desire to share the chocolate love with a new crop of New Yorkers. One staffer, who has worked with the company for four years, explained why he loves his work: "it's one of the few jobs that's solely based on making people happy."
Neuhaus specializes in filled chocolates: pralinés (hazelnuts and/or almonds blended with chocolate and sugar), nougatines (chocolate-coated rolls of nougatine toffee with assorted fillings, which are still made by hand), and manons (hard chocolate shells around a cream or ganache center). But they also offer truffles, solid dark and milk chocolates, creamy confections of pure gianduja, the chocolate-hazelnut paste that puts Nutella to shame.
Pralines and chocolates can be purchased from pre-assembled boxes (either from the general line or from special collections) or é la carte. Most cost $57 per pound—about 30 pralines—with no minimum per order.