What’s good here? Chocolate Nirvana has created a following in Columbia for the cupcake and cake flavor of which it is named; it is a rich, flourless cake topped with chocolate ganache. Be sure to also try these flavors: white chocolate pistachio, chocolate raspberry, hazelnut, Irish cream, and others.
Cheesecake flavors range from chocolate Grand Marnier to lemon blackberry; selections also include petit fours, layer cakes with whipped cream fillings and/or purees. A sought-after cupcake flavor is the chocolate Godiva with a whipped cream filling; yet, there are other favorites such as caramel pecan, carrot, coconut, and caramel pecan. Buy items directly from the bakery case or order ahead for special occasions.
Chocolate Nirvana is also offering lunch at its café with such interesting menu items as the Turkey Apple Brie or the Ham and Apple Butter sandwiches; there is also a quiche of the day, sliders, homemade soups, salads and familiar and unique sides – including Apricot Slaw with apricots, walnuts, mustard and “secret” ingredients.
For Valentine’s Day events, there are special six-inch Godiva and Nirvana couples’ cakes, chocolate dipped strawberries, homemade candies, and the extensive selection of other baked goods.
How did the place get its start? What started 20 years ago as a small wholesale cake bakery in downtown Columbia has grown into a multi-faceted business that includes a bakery, café, catering, corporate boxed lunches, and custom-order baked items. Phil and Lisa Waddell purchased the business six years ago and combined two other businesses into it before recently moving to a larger location. Pastry Chef Susan Kennedy, with Chocolate Nirvana for 16 years, works with a trained staff to create hundreds of cakes, cupcakes, and other sweet, beautiful treats each week.
What does the place look like? Treats greet customers as they walk in; they are displayed in a glass case. The café seats 80. Local for-sale art decorates the walls. When lunchtime ends, the venue is often used for meetings and other events.
Who eats here? Located just outside an entrance to Ft. Jackson, and next to the busy Cross Hill Mall shopping area, Chocolate Nirvana Bakery & Café is attracting a wide range of demographics. Manager Jon Rogers believes that the opening of Marshall’s and Michael’s across the street – where a Kmart once stood – will result in even more people discovering the café and the bakery.
Deena C. Bouknight, Special to The State