This past weekend I took a break from the baking and got out of my kitchen to venture to a new bakery in San Francisco that I’ve been hearing about. Actually, it was an excuse to get together with friends, enjoy a day in the city, and get a taste of what the professionals can really do (my own very amateur baking skills can only go so far–making croissants and kouign amann are unchartered territory). Stepping into B. Patisserie is like a space warp, transporting me away to Paris–spacious and open, bistro marble tables and chairs line up on one side, with an open kitchen to watch the pastry chefs and workers haste about to prepare the delectable pastries for the steady stream of customers, and displays of glorious French pastries fill up the marble countertop only separated from eager patrons by glass.
B. Patisserie is refined and elegant though still serving up traditional baked goods that defines the classic French patisserie. There are no twists or new inventions–their pastries (at least the ones we tried) were pure and expected, though uncommonly amazing. Their emphasis seems to be on the flaky, buttery, yeast doughs–varieties of croissants, brioche, kouign-amann; though they also make sure that those looking for something more elaborate are not disappointed, with their selection of tarts, mousse, millefeuille, of course including at least one flavor of the quintessential macarons. However, their menu is not purely pastries. If craving something savory, they also offer tartines (open-faced sandwiches) served with a side salad. The bread is crusty and rustic, topped with flavorful topping combinations that make you forget you are really eating toast. It is no wonder that B. Patisserie has received so many glowing reviews since their opening earlier this year.
The hardest part of visiting this bakery was deciding what to order. Thankfully our helper waited patiently, and we came away with: quiche, chocolate almond croissant, kugeloph, kouign amann, and an order of the wild mushroom, kale, goat cheese and braised leeks tartine. Oh, and of course I had to pick up a cherry chocolate macaron for a snack later. The quiche, to be honest, was good but not exceptional. Everything else, however, made me light up with delight–and this is not normally the type of thing I would say so I really mean it. I’d never had a kouign amann before (wouldn’t even know how to pronounce it, except my friend taught me so I wouldn’t embarrass myself when ordering), and if you haven’t had one either, you are missing out. Something like a cross between a croissant and puff pastry, the dough is buttery, flakey, soft and chewy all together with a sweet syrupy filling. The kugeloph was like a chic cinnamon roll (I hope I’m not disparaging it by making this comparison!) topped with almonds and without the extra excessive icing to detract from the flavors. Out of the pastries, the chocolate almond croissant was the highlight. Also buttery and flakey, without collapsing from its own weight and not the least bit soggy, the almond paste was perfectly smooth without being too custard-like and the chocolate was the right amount to complement the almond and butter flavors.
With this one visit, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface, and I hope to be able to come back here again soon to get a taste of even more. B. Patisserie is a wonderful place to enjoy the sweet life, as they do in Paris. Bring a friend and make a memory out of it.
B. Patisserie is located at 2821 California Street in San Francisco.