Chew On This 

Sharon’s opens; coming soon: the Dublin House.

Few things rival the smell of bread baking or the visual treat of chocolate truffles lined up in a display case. Sharon's Chocolates & Bread Café in Chickasaw Crossing has brought together this power couple.

You may remember owners Michael and Sharon Fajans from local farmers markets — particularly the one at the Botanic Garden. Now the two have put their roots down in a permanent location.

Each morning, Michael makes specialty breads, such as bulgur wheat and rosemary, multigrain and dried fruit, or Guinness and fennel. He also makes the croissant dough from scratch, as well as all the pastry creams and the pâte à choux. His farmers market favorite, focaccia, will be available in a variety of flavors, in addition to wonderful chewy baguettes (European-style with a strong crust), Italian bread, Sicilian-style pizzas, and ciabatta. Sandwiches with homemade meatballs and sausage (made from Donnell Farms beef and locally sourced pork), salads, and lasagna will make up the lunch menu.

Sharon's serves Memphis-roasted Ugly Mug coffee and will offer a small number of teas from Stash. Sweets include éclairs, cannolis, cheesecakes, brownies, tiramisu, Boston cream pies, cupcakes, baked donuts, and, of course, Sharon's chocolates.

What makes Sharon's chocolates unique is the tempered chocolate she uses to make a crisp shell for the truffle, which plays nicely off the smooth filling. Tempered chocolate also gives the truffles their smooth sheen, making them all the more irresistible in the display case. Although the flavors will change, original dark chocolate truffles (roughly shaped like real rooted truffles and dusted with cocoa), a strawberry champagne truffle topped with a candied lilac petal, and a dark chocolate passion-fruit truffle were a few I tasted on my visit. They also have a number of different chocolate barks with nuts and fruit.

Sharon and Michael met in Manhattan and worked together in a pizza joint there in the early '90s. Michael has been baking bread for 35 years, and Sharon has worked as a chocolatier for 15-plus years. They make their products without preservatives and with as many local ingredients as possible. And just like any good, old-fashioned bakery, Michael says, "When we run out of bread, we'll be out of it."

Since the café is still fairly new, the hours are subject to change, but for now Sharon's is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Sharon's Chocolates & Bread Café, 2881 Poplar (324-4422)

The building at 2021 Madison near Overton Square hasn't been occupied for almost 10 years, so Memphians were understandably excited about the prospect of a new tenant. On February 16th, an Irish pub will take up residence in the corner spot. The Dublin House will be as authentic an Irish pub as possible, says owner Jody Clark. "My bar manager and another bartender are actually from Ireland," she says.

Besides the wall décor (much of it from Ireland), the Dublin House will serve Magners Cider, Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks on tap for $3.75. Domestics will be available by the bottle for $2.75 (or $1.75 during happy hour, 4 to 7 p.m.). As for Irish food, they'll offer a variety of roasted meats — chicken, pork, beef, and lamb — and an open-face Reuben sandwich. More traditional bar food will include beef, chicken, and portabella sliders and other American-style appetizers.

Clark says the entire space was renovated, leaving only the walls from the former restaurant, Melos Taverna.

The Dublin House will be open from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. during the week and from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Food prices range from $8 to $12, and the kitchen will serve food from open to close every day.

The Dublin House, 2021 Madison (278-0048)

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