Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pain Un Chocolat, S'il Vous Plait

Over the weekend, I joined my friends Jill and Ryan for a nice breakfast of patisseries at La Baguette, which recently relocated to Madison from the north woods of Minocqua, and prior to that, France. The bakery is now located in a strip mall near West Town mall on Mineral Point Road. While the owners make a solid effort to create the atmosphere of a French cafĂ©, the location and strip mall vibe thwart all attempts. But here’s a case in which food trumps atmosphere, and the declisous pastries and breads more than made up for what La Baguette lacks in atmosphere.

I met Jill and Ryan for breakfast on Saturday at 9am. By then, the place was bustling, and there was already a sizable line at the counter, which only continued to grow during our time there. Luckily, Ryan was able to save us one of the 10 or so tables for dining in, and Jill and I stood in line and salivated over the beautiful baguettes, croissants, brioches, ciabatta, and quiches. I decided on an apple turnover for breakfast and a chocolate-chip scone to go. Why is it that I can never decide on just one of something? Jill and Ryan each enjoyed a chocolate croissant and shared a goat cheese quiche.

As I’ve mentioned before, Jill was my roommate my freshman year in college in the dorms, and has been a close friend ever since. Jill studied abroad in Paris her junior year in college (with our mutual friend Emily) and is pretty much obsessed with anything French. She is quite the connosuier of chocolate croissants (I love how she confidently marches up to the counter and orders a “Pain un Chocolat” in a beautiful French accent. I also have to add that when Ryan proposed to Jill a few years ago, he learned a bit of French so he could ask her to marry him in the “language of love”. Now that deserves a drawn-out awwww…

Back to the patisseries. They are wonderful, and from what I’ve been told, very genuine. They’re light and flaky, and very fresh. I was most impressed with the sheer number of options. Prices are also very reasonable. We all agreed, however, that service is still a work in progress. While the staff is attentive and friendly (and very French), they need to come up with a better strategy to get the line moving a bit quicker. It seems like a second cash register would speed things up significantly.

Other than that, I was very impressed, and it’s already clear that La Baguette will be very successful in Madison. Jill and Ryan claim the’ve been there every weekend since it’s openend.

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