West Chicago’s newest bake shop hits all the right “notes”

Find out just how wondrous this new local bakeshop happens to be, with delicious pastries and quick, welcoming service.
The Wiant House is a historic building in West Chicago; renovating the building for the bakeshop took over a year.
The Wiant House is a historic building in West Chicago; renovating the building for the bakeshop took over a year.
Photo by Melanie Ballines

 

 

Cocoa Notes Bakeshop, 151 W Washington St. West Chicago, Illinois 60185 (630.412.1787). Pastries $3-$4; Drinks $2-$3.

For those who want to unwind from all the school stress, but do not want to go straight home, downtown West Chicago now has the answer: stop by Cocoa Notes to get a delicious pastry and drink. It is just a five-minute walk from West Chicago Community High School.

On a warm Wednesday after school in March, my best friend, Melanie Duran, my sister, Valeria Ballines, and her best friend, Alina Ortiz, and I, walked from WCCHS to Cocoa Notes to try “Neela’s very good banana bread,” sophomore Valeria said. Once we arrived at the bakeshop, we had to go in through the side door because, at the front door entry, there is a seating area. This gave the shop a very homey touch because we did not enter through the front door like guests normally do.

We were greeted by Neha Myers, one of the owners of the restaurant, with a nice, warm smile. Immediately, we noticed there was a beautiful big display of all the pastries they offer like the butter croissant, banana bread, and chocolate chip cookies. Neha attended to us right away, and some of our pastries even came out of the oven warm, which was nice.

The restaurant itself is a triumph after over a year of renovations. The rooms are clean and bright, with lots of picture windows that allow natural light to filter through. There were multiple seating areas where guests could sit on comfortable and colorful chairs. Cocoa Notes has a huge connected floor in one room. They have even thought about small details, like kids, and offer a child-size table with chairs and entertainment.

The main seating area of the bake shop has comfortable and colorful seating.
(Photo by Melanie Ballines)

The bathrooms were spacious. Cocoa Notes offers a women’s and men’s side, and they even have feminine products on the women’s side.

When we first entered, the bake shop felt relaxing and it was quite welcoming. Opening the door and seeing Neha’s warm smile right away was very comforting, that we could not help but feel right at home. The service was amazing. We got a quick rundown of what they had available and once we ordered it was served right there in front of us at the counter. Pastries were ready right away: the minute I said I wanted a muffin, it was right in front of me. For customers dining in at the bakeshop, pastries are presented on a small, lightweight white plate that allows the star of the show, the pastry, to stand out.

We then had a variety of options to choose where to sit. Cocoa Notes is not a restaurant, where one orders and pays at the counter. One takes their baked goods to the table of their choice. Once ones is done they then take one’s dishes to the black bins they have outside the bathrooms. Despite the fact that others have to clean up after themselves the shop is very pristine and organized, the decorations are unique and give the place a warm touch.

We ordered a total of six pastries to try and review, and at this time, did not purchase any drinks, as we wanted to focus on the food, which is what Cocoa Notes is known for.

The cinnamon chip scone is displayed on the front counter of the bake shop.
(Photo by Melanie Ballines)

To start, we got banana bread, which was served at room temperature. The slice was about an inch and a half in thickness. With the first bite, it just disintegrated in my mouth – which is honestly a wonderful and delicious feeling. The bread was so moist and soft, unlike the dense banana bread at places like Starbucks. Cocoa Notes’ banana bread did not feel cakey, but was as smooth as bread can be. Best of all, the pastry also has a hint of chocolate inside.

The second item we ordered was the regular croissant, which was served warm. It was pretty sizable, and the shop offered Nutella on the side for customers who desired a condiment. We first tried the pastry without the Nutella. Immediately upon biting into the croissant, I felt the flakes of the pastry crumbling away. Then I was hit with this buttery but warm and doughy consistency that is just so flavorful. The next bite I tried was with Nutella, which gave it such a good, thick chocolatey taste.

Later on, I tried the Vegan carrot muffin, also served at room temperature. It was a pretty small muffin, but not bite-sized, it is also not the size of a cupcake – just the right size. Peeling off the wrapper, I could – right away – see the texture and ingredients the muffin has. I was hit with a blast of delicious and mysterious spices when I dug in. The muffins were so sweet and flavorful, it was hard to believe they were even Vegan. Best of all, the cake was very gooey and soft and melted in my mouth. I highly recommend it.

We then ordered the chocolate chip cookie, which, as well, was served at room temperature. Size-wise, I would describe it as a medium to large cookie, but what set it apart was that this particular pastry looked like it just came out of a grandma’s oven. It did not look bought or packaged but was homemade and smooth on the top. This cookie was the right mixture of crunchy and chewy. It was not too crunchy where one could not bite it, but it was also not so chewy as to where it gets stuck in one’s teeth. The word “perfect” might describe the texture. Inside, the cookie was filled with so many chocolate chips, and the moment these morsels hit my tongue, they dissolved, filling my mouth with such rich and creamy chocolate. That being said, the cookie was also not that sweet: the chocolate was a perfect mix with the cookie dough.

The butter croissant is one of the items customers can get and it is served warm.
(Photo by Melanie Ballines)

In the end, when my older sister picked us up, she wanted to come in and get something to go. She ordered the chocolate croissant and they gave it to her in this cardboard/paper-style to-go box with a cute little sticker to top it off. This chocolate croissant was served warm, and was described as “very buttery with a mix of chocolate goodness.” The croissant was flaky, and just so good

Ultimately, this bakeshop is amazing, and definitely what the West Chicago community needed. Cocoa Notes is recommended for anyone and everyone: the moment customers walk in, it feels like they are at home. Between the hot, homemade pastries, and the beautiful and comfortable space, it is hard to pass on Cocoa Notes.

 

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