BY CHRISTINE BARBOUR
The BLU Boy Chocolate Café and Cakery sells sweet fantasies and chocolate dreams. On Friday and Saturday nights the “Boys” are hopping as people line up in the tiny dessert restaurant for a little sugary something to top off the dinner they have eaten somewhere else. Perhaps they’ll have a slice of owner/chef David Fletcher’s sinful and velvety chocolate cake, or a wedge of hummingbird cake dense with pineapple and bananas and layered with lemony butter cream. Or maybe they’ll order a tart filled with chocolate ganache and studded with fat red raspberries or an ice cream sundae garnished with chunks of chocolatey brownie and drizzled with rich, salty caramel. Or maybe they’ll “just” have a plate of cookies, or pastel-hued macarons, or a single, perfect BLU Boy chocolate—a chocolate caramel sprinkled with fleur de sel or an ancho chile/cinnamon morsel of decadent goodness—and a cup of hot-brewed locally roasted Brown County Coffee.
Whatever it is, it is sure to be good. BLU Boy has been turning out sweet delicacies in its downtown location next to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater since 2007, continuing the wedding-cake and artisanal-chocolates business that Fletcher, a physician turned pastry chef, and his partner Scott Jackman started in 2003. In their new digs they added seats for a dozen patrons (with more outside on nice days) and expanded the business to include pastries, cookies, and other good things.
BLU Boy’s growth has been organic, one thing following from another with a perfect Fletcherian logic. For instance, BLU Boy cakes are made with local eggs, but while they use many egg whites they used to have bowls and bowls of “all these beautiful golden yolks” left over, says Fletcher. “The obvious thing was to add cream and chill it,” he continues, and next thing you knew, the BLU Boys were in the ice cream business.
And what ice cream it is. Rich with those lovely yolks, flavored with local fruits and honey and vanilla and spice from carefully chosen suppliers, they are extraordinary hand-crafted wonders. The premium ingredients and small-batch production raise the price tag, but it’s well worth the cost in both calories and cash.
But it’s not only the ice cream or the chocolates or the pastries that make dessert dining at BLU Boy such a perfect Bloomington experience. Fletcher’s sardonic wit and refreshing lack of guile hit you as soon as you walk through the door, whose sign proclaims “Open” when the café is open, and “Shut” when it is not. Tell him you are thinking of ordering, say, a brownie on a day when he doesn’t think it meets his exacting standards and he’ll think for a minute and suggest you have the chocolate cake instead. If the ancho-cinnamon flavor in the chocolates is spicier than he thinks you’ll like, he’ll tell you so.
Says Fletcher, “The cool part is that if you pay attention to your customers and get to know them as well as one can in this setting, there is an added value to the relationship.”
Something called trust, perhaps. A rare treat, and how very sweet it is.