Faisons le déjeuner (Let’s Do Lunch)—Le Chocolat du Bouchard

June 2015 View more


Depending on one’s perspective, the drive-thru window is either the single greatest convenience ever devised or the portal to the end of civilized human interaction as we know it.

NMAG0615_TableforTwo_Chocolat-046_800pxThere are likely more than a few gradations of opinion to consider between those two poles, of course, but as far as the midday repast known as suburban lunch is concerned, let’s be frank—its death warrant was dictated into a scratchy speaker box and delivered through one of those very windows. In other words, for all of its perceived expedience, the drive-thru effectively killed the leisurely sit-down lunch by encouraging diners to remain locked into hustle-bustle mode within their solitary confines, treating their moveable feasts as more or less the same anonymous fuel they pump into their gas tanks.

NMAG0615_TableforTwo_Chocolat-046_800pxBut the French know a little something about both dining and making the most of leisure time (as proponents of extended sabbaticals over compressed “vacations” for example). So leave it to the French—or at least a French-inspired dessert shop—to try and restore some sense of sanity and respect to the lunch hour here in Naperville.

Have a Seat

NMAG0615_TableforTwo_Chocolat-063_800pxLong a purveyor of only decadent sweets and rich coffee and cocoa drinks—not that there was ever, for one moment, anything even remotely wrong with that—Le Chocolat du Bouchard recently expanded its menu to include a number of lunch options. While both the hours (Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and selections are somewhat limited, it is nevertheless a small gesture of graciousness amid the gridlock and exhaust, and a welcome addition to a dining scene that is dominated by those places catering to meals behind wheels.

To reiterate, and this must be fully understood upfront, there is no drive-thru window at Le Chocolat. C’est la vie. A potential deal-breaker for some prospective customers. Many a suburban restaurateur has gone out of business for such a deficiency, after all, this is actually the key to the whole endeavor. Because no drive-thru means folks have to actually come through the door and sit down at a table and take in the surroundings of the place to have a proper meal.

Don’t Spoil Your Lunch

NMAG0615_TableforTwo_Chocolat-031_800pxWe opted for a spot upfront on an anonymous Wednesday afternoon, dividing our attention between the pedestrian and vehicular traffic on Washington Street before us and the ever-present nutritional siren song of the ridiculous pastry case over our shoulders. We’d get to that calorie-laden treasure trove in due time, but we felt compelled to follow that classic motherly advice to first finish our meal. Fair enough.

As noted, this is not an enormous lunch menu. Those seeking a Cheesecake Factory-style hardcover page-turner are likely to be disappointed, but if a deliciously simple crock of French onion soup, a well-appointed Cobb salad or a straightforward chicken salad croissant tickles your fancy, there’s more than enough here to satisfy. We split the aforementioned Cobb, then traded bites of the flaky chicken pot pie and the cheesy, crusty, open-faced croque monsieur. For dessert, we took way too long to narrow down our choices to two wedges of cake that wouldn’t have been out of place in Las Vegas for their shameless representation of irresponsible indulgence—a mile-high chocolate mousse number and a dense carrot cake slathered in a thick coat of cream cheese frosting. 

It would be tempting to say that these sweet exclamation points were the highlight of our meal, but in fact the real treat was just the act of settling in for a quiet, relaxing—and remarkably immobile—lunch. Imagine that. 

Le Chocolat du Bouchard
127-129 S. Washington Street Naperville


Photos by Greg Shapps