Two sisters opened Café Deux at 307 Halstead Avenue on March 22 to much fanfare. The all-day café is yet another jewel in the crown of Harrison’s revitalized central business district.
The contemporary French American eatery, which serves food all day long, is a restaurant and bar, as well as a chocolaterie. Co-owners Charlotte and Carrie Denoyer have infused it with warmth and charm. The French influence is undeniable in the café’s décor and menu.
“We want to be known as a staple that people can feel comfortable coming into multiple times a day,” said Carrie. “We have so much to offer.”
The daughters of Jean Denoyer, one of the masterminds behind L’Escale in Greenwich, Charlotte and Carrie worked there from the time they were 15 and 14, respectively. The successful patriarch opened Manhattan’s La Goulue in 1972 and currently runs La Goulue Palm Beach.
“We were strongly encouraged by our parents to find other hobbies, but the restaurant always pulled us back,” said Charlotte with a smile. “A restaurant is the setting we’re most comfortable in. When I go out to eat, I almost want to be working.”
Jean, too, was firmly ensconced in the hospitality business from childhood. He grew up in that hotel that his grandfather built and that his father operated.
“Our father was Eloise at the Plaza, except that he was growing up in a hotel in Paris during World War II,” related Carrie. “He remembers being introduced to Hershey bars by American soldiers when they occupied the hotel. Chocolate was precious at that time, and he fell in love with it.”
It’s no surprise that the young, entrepreneurial sisters became passionate about it, too. Encouraged by their mother, Diane Marshall, Charlotte began making chocolates at home, holding bake sales in high school, and eventually running a fudge company in college. She joined forces with Carrie, who established a social media presence. Both conceptualized flavors and produced small batches in a commercial kitchen. They began selling their “Cupped Desserts” — named after their initials, CD, like the restaurant — and delivering them in brown paper bags.
“We wanted to expand our chocolate business and, at the same time, dreamed of having a café. Why not both? We took the plunge,” said Carrie about opening up Café Deux, complete with a temperature-controlled production kitchen for their chocolates.
Having grown up in Rye and Harrison, the sisters welcomed being part of downtown Harrison’s renaissance. Perhaps destiny played a role in the fact that Café Deux is across the street from the Harrison train station, just as their great-grandfather’s Hôtel Terminus Est was across from the Gare de l’Est station in Paris.
“We wanted to have a space that felt like it was a piece of us,” remarked the restaurateurs, who completely transformed the site with an artsy, cool vibe aesthetic using local female artists and artisans. Their slogan is “from coffee to cocktails” and their logo is two fingers raised in a “v”, the peace sign.
“There’s a strong emphasis on the quality of our ingredients, on the flavors, and on traditional French cooking’s care and slow-cooking method,” explained Charlotte. “Our talented team makes everything from scratch, down to our hand- powdered peppercorn.”
Their menu boasts escargot, tuna Niçoise, steak frites, a Croque Madame, and hand-cut French fries. In addition, acclaimed Chef Alex Aparicio has incorporated a varied selection of global dishes: poulet roti masala with chickpeas and haricots vert; rigatoni with spicy tomato sauce and eggplant; cauliflower elote with corn and pickled jalapeños; tuna sashimi noodles; rice bowls; seasonal salads and sandwiches; and a winning wagyu burger.
Breakfast and brunch selections include quiches; scrambled eggs with gruyere; avocado toast; bacon, egg, and cheese croissants; and parfaits.
Sweets rule at the café, from sundaes and tarts to a black and white soufflé available at dinner Sunday through Thursday. Pastry Chef Jessica Craig, who hails from New York City’s L’Artusi, makes them all in-house, and every morning, she whips up the pastries, croissants, and those delectable Cupped Desserts. Among the best sellers are cookies and cream cup, peanut butter, Speculoos sprinkle, vegan double dark sprinkle, and fruity cups.
Additionally, Charlotte and Carrie invite the community to wake up with their great coffee every morning and enjoy specialty cocktails in the evenings. They host a Spritz-O-Clock Happy Hour on weekdays from 3-5.
Café Deux is open Tuesday-Friday starting at 8 for pastry and coffee, with full breakfast beginning at 8:30. On weekends, it opens at 9 for pastry and coffee, 10 for breakfast, and 10:30 for brunch.