The Coach House Famous Chocolate Cake Recipe | Pre-Babbo, Greenwich Village Restaurant was There for 44 Years

A Tale of Two Recipes from Acclaimed Village Eatery Located Around the Corner from the Park, Owner Considered Recipe Worth $3000 — Instructions Vary

Greenwich Village’s acclaimed Coach House restaurant off Washington Square Park was run by restaurateur Leon Lianides for 44 years until the eatery closed in 1993. The Waverly Place space sat vacant for five years until 1998 when it became Babbo.

The Coach House was known for many dishes – restaurant critic and neighbor James Beard was a regular – one of note was its Chocolate Cake.

Previously at the location was a restaurant called The Lane. Per The New York Times’ obituary: “Mr. Lianides would often pass by the Lane Restaurant, a tearoom at 110 Waverly Place, a site that had been a carriage house and hayloft for Wanamaker’s. ”He told me, ‘I have so many ideas about that place,’ ‘ his wife said. Mr. Lianides, with a group of backers, bought the Lane, renamed it, and set about creating a warm, elegant restaurant. Retaining the heavy beams and brick, he added red leather banquettes, spindly brass chandeliers and 19th-century paintings.”

When Vivian Kramer was putting together her Greenwich Village Cookbook (1969), Mr. Lianides would not divulge the Chocolate Cake recipe to her. He did, however, provide 12 others among 400 recipes. (A reviewer at goodreads said it’s great to have the listing of restaurants “many long gone” but admitted the recipes were “hit or miss.”)

Mr. Lianides priced the Chocolate Cake recipe at $3,000, which, he said, was about what it had cost him to spend ten days in Paris perfecting his master recipe for the cake

Per Bon Appetit, “Mr. Lianides likes to experiment and changes his menu frequently. He can be protective about his special creations, and once, when asked for his recipe for chocolate cake, declined to give it. When offered money, Mr. Lianides priced it at $3,000, which, he said, was about what it had cost him to spend ten days in Paris perfecting his master recipe for the cake.”

This was circa 1969. Two years later, in 1971, The New York Times ran the Chocolate Cake recipe amidst its pages.

Online, there is a Bon Appetit version of the Chocolate Cake and a New York Times version. However, the two recipes do not quite match up.

Do you think Leon Lianides was playing them after all?

Bon Appetit’s Version of the Coach House Chocolate Cake:

Coach House Chocolate Cake

Contributed by: NAPSA

From Bon Appetit

Prepare 2 or 3 days before serving.


  • Cake
    • 4 C. all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 C. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate
    • 1/4 C. water
    • 2 tsp. salt


  • Filling
    • 1 qt. whipping cream
    • 1 1/2 lb. bittersweet chocolate
    • Powdered sugar and chocolate curls (for decoration)


For cake:

Combine flour and butter in large bowl and mix with fingertips until consistency of coarse oatmeal; do not let butter melt and become oily.

Melt chocolate in saucepan over very low heat. Add water and salt and beat until smooth. Make well in flour mixture. Pour in chocolate and mix lightly but thoroughly. Divide dough into 3 parts and wrap each in waxed paper. Refrigerate dough until firm, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 1 piece of dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper and roll into large circle about 1/8 inch thick. Lift off top sheet of paper and use sharp knife to cut circle 9 to 10 inches in diameter; remove excess dough. Carefully invert circle onto ungreased baking sheet and remove remaining paper. Bake 15 to 18 minutes. Working carefully, loosen pastry with spatula and slide onto heavy duty foil to cool. Repeat with rest of dough.

For filling:

Place cream in large bowl and set in larger bowl or sink on bed of ice. Melt chocolate in heavy saucepan over very low heat or hot water. Whip cream until stiff, then fold in chocolate, mixing gently but thoroughly.

To assemble:

Carefully slide one cake layer onto serving plate. Spread l/2 filling over top. Repeat with second layer and remaining filling. Top with last layer. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 days.

About 2 hours before serving, remove cake from refrigerator; while still cold, slice with serrated knife.


You can change the flavor of the filling by adding your favorite liqueur to it.

The New York Times Version:

NYT article Coach House Chocolate Cake 1971

A Maxicalorie masterpiece, New York Times, May 30, 1971

Once in awhile certain dishes in well‐known restaurants gain an eminence all their own. This is true of the incredibly rich chocolate cake of New York’s Coach House restaurant. It took a good deal of persuasion to get the recipe, and calorie‐counters may not thank us for our efforts. Note well, however, it takes a skilled hand— and several hours—to make this seductive masterpiece.


4 cups flour
1½ cups butter
½ pound Maillard Eagle sweet chocolate (see note)
⅛ cup warm water
½ teaspoon salt


2 cups heavy cream
1 pound Maillard Eagle sweet chocolate (see note) Confectioners’ sugar Chocolate curls.

To make the cake layers, place the flour in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, two knives or the finger tips, work the butter into the flour as though making pastry until the mixture resembles coarse oatmeal. Do not allow the butter to become oil.

2. Melt the chocolate very slowly over hot water. Beat in the water and salt until smooth. Fold the chocolate mixture into the flour and butter.

3. Divide the dough into three, wrap each part in wax paper and chill 20 minutes in the refrigerator or until firm.

4. Roll each third of the dough in turn, between sheets of wax paper, into a rectangle about 8 by 12 inches. Peel off the top paper, fold into three, peeling the bottom paper off as you go. Wrap in fresh wax paper and chill about 20 minutes. Repeat the rollings between wax paper, folding and chilling twice more.

5. Wrap each third of dough in wax paper and chill until very firm, about two hours.

6. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

7. Roll out each third, between wax paper, into a circle and remove the top sheet of wax paper. Cut a 9 ‐ to ‐ 10 ‐ inch circle with a sharp knife, leaving a round of wax paper beneath the layer. Place the circle, wax paper side down, on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until done. Cool on the sheet. Repeat with the other two thirds of the dough.

8. Alternately, the dough can be rolled into 4-by-18 inch rectangles and baked as above.

9. When the layers are completely cold, place the cream in a chilled bowl set in ice.
Melt the chocolate very slowly over hot water. Whip the cream until it is stiff. When the chocolate is melted, but still only lukewarm, fold it into the whipped cream.

11. Spread the chocolate cream filling between the round or rectangular layers; it will be quite thick. Sprinkle the top with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with chocolate curls. Chill well.

12. The cake should be removed from the refrigerator at least an hour before it is to be served. Use a sharp, serrated knife for cutting. The cake freezes well.

Yield: 12 to 16 servings.

Note: Maillarol Eagle sweet chocolate is available at Altman’s, Bloomingdale’s, Charles & Co. and some supermarkets.

Note: Maillarol Eagle chocolate is no longer available.

Readers, if you end up making one or both, please report back!

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Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

Pre-Babbo, Remembering The Coach House Restaurant on Waverly, and How Babbo Came to Be


Gone But Not Forgotten Restaurants: Coach House Hungry Gerald (Lots of raves for the Chocolate Cake in the comments)

New York Times Obituary (1998): Leon Lianides, 81; Opened Fine Restaurants to U.S. Cuisine

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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