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Le Marais Bakery & Bistro | San Francisco

Flan-with-fruit-at-Le-Marais-Bakery-and-Bistro-in-San-Francisco

 

Well, it is November already, and almost Thanksgiving, so it was time I shared with you another fabulous bakery/bistro/coffee shop in my extended neighborhood. This little no-longer-so-hidden gem is located on bustling Chestnut Street, in the Marina area of San Francisco.

Le Marais Bakery & Bistro had been on my ‘go-to’ list for a while, ever since I happened to see a photo of their fabulous desserts on…. where else? Facebook, of course! I had almost made it there on several occasions, but almost doesn’t quite cut it. Then I saw a photo of their vanilla custard-filled beignets and I just could not wait any longer. The bakery shot straight to the top of my go-to list.

 

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A few days later, when Valerie asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, my answer was: drive into the city and have brunch and dessert at Le Marais!

She asked me about it, so I showed her the photos, then sent her to the website, and her comment was: “Oh my! I think we should just stay there for a while and just keep eating till either we have tasted everything or we are totally stuffed!”

 

Because Le Marais Bakery is that kind of place: you know to expect something wonderful just by looking at the photos, even before tasting anything. Seeing a long line of people patiently waiting for their turn also tells you that something good is happening here. Then you take a bite, and your expectations are not just satisfied, but surpassed.

 

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The place was pretty full as we walked in, but we trusted that a space would open up, and we joined the line, ogling the dessert counter almost with tunnel vision. I don’t know if it happens to you, but when I walk into a new bakery or other establishment filled with wonderful things (edible and non edible), my eyes and attention are everywhere at the same time, and when I get asked “What will you have?” I am lost in la-la-goodie-land and, had I actually heard their question, my answer would be: “Everything!”

 

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Though super busy (the photo above is from later, during a momentary lull), they found us a place to sit, as a very kind and friendly lady, who happens to be a regular, let us share the table with her. She even let me photograph her breakfast! At Le Marais it is not just the employees who are friendly, but the patrons as well. Don’t you just love San Francisco?

 

We started off with lattes, which were perfection – so much so that we are still talking about them two months later – and perused the menu for our brunch order. Make no mistake, Le Marais is not an American bakery with a French twist, but a Parisian bakery with a touch of American.

Once our order was placed, I headed to the dessert counter to select the ones we wanted to taste before they were gone. I later noticed that, as the bakery is open till 7pm, the desserts get replenished throughout the day as needed.

 

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What would you choose? As you can see in the images, everything looked not just tempting, but beautiful as well. Somehow I managed to contain the selection to five.

Just as I was completing the process, Kumi, one of the very talented pastry chefs, walked out of the kitchen with a “replacement tray” (image below), and I lavished her with compliments. As we talked she found out that it was my birthday, and a moment later a pistachio macaron showed up at our table. Thank you Kumi!

 

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I agreed that the desserts should go in a box, in case we were to take some to go, and walked back to our table holding the precious cargo. Valerie had been chatting with our new table friend, whose order had just arrived: a Fresh Fruit Salad ($7) and the Bacon & Gruyere Toast with over-easy Egg and Onion Jam on a Croissant ($7/$14), which looked scrumptious!

 

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Not long after, our order arrived: Cr’Q Monsieur ($12) and Lobster Roll, which we shared so we could each have a taste of both. Oh so delicious! And of course, the bread was baked in house, which made things even more perfect. Both sandwiches were served with a lightly dressed green side salad.

This was my second Croque Monsieur experience, my first having been at The Girl and The Fig in Sonoma, and each one has been excellent, and also different, which I like. I have yet to have one in France, so that will be on my to-eat list for my next trip out there.

 

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The time came to open the dessert box…. One of my choices had been the Flan/Creme Caramel ($6), which they prepare topped with fresh seasonal fruit. It is my favorite dessert over all my favorite desserts, so that was a no brainer. I have already had it twice since, as I have been back to get desserts to go.

 

Flan-with-fresh-fruit-at-Le-Marais-Bakery-Bistro-in-San-Francisco

 

Valerie’s pick was the Lemon Meringue Tart ($5.50), which also had some fresh strawberries between the lemon curd and the meringue, making the whole experience even more delicious than it usually is. She ate most of the Lemon Meringue, just like I ate most of the Flan, exchanging taste bites. Then we shared a Choux À la Crème ($5), which is not your regular eclair, but one with vanilla custard, fresh whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruit.

 

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All that was left in the box was the Kouign Amann that I could not not order. Though a recent discovery, this Breton pastry was love at first bite. There was no way I was not going to get one, though somehow I managed to save it for later and take it to go.

 

The temptation had been to pick up more desserts to take home, but our plan for the rest of the day would take us all over the city, and I had not thought to bring a cooler. Desserts + car + hot sun for a whole afternoon do not go too well together. Still, the Kouign Amann looked lonely in the bakery box without the desserts, so, to keep her company, we picked up a couple of cinnamon rolls that had just come out of the kitchen. And because it looked so good, we also purchased a loaf of Levain bread for sandwiches the next day.

 

Kouign-Amann-pastry-at-Le-Marais-Bakery-Bistro-in-San-Francisco

 

In the middle of all of the above, we had a chance to talk to Le Marais owner and creator, Patrick Ascaso, and discovered that he is soon to open a new and bigger bakery/bistro in the historical Ghirardelli Building, not far from the current location, for which he has very special plans. I can’t wait to see what he is going to do, and taste all the new creations, too!

 

Patrick also shared with us how all the ingredients used in the bakery are carefully selected, and the produce comes from the local farmers’ markets. He said he was looking forward to the following week, when pears and other end-of-summer fruits would find their way on the menu and in the desserts. If you check their Facebook page, or Instagram profile, you can see the tempting images that are posted daily by Patrick’s wife.

 

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In spite of all the goodies tasted and purchased to go, our ‘thirst’ was not quite quenched, and a couple of days later I made another run to Le Marais to pick up a selection of twenty-four mini desserts to take to a birthday party as our gift, plus a couple of spare ones for me. They were oohed and aahed and mmmm-ed by everyone, and were gone in no time. Good thing I had my spare ones waiting in the refrigerator at home!

 

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There is only one glitch at Le Marais Bakery & Bistro: I think they are trying to do too much while not being quite ready. This is sometimes reflected in problems in the services provided, like ordered pies not ready when they were promised, cappuccinos that never show up and things like that. I hope they will get all of this straightened out, as the quality of their food, desserts and baked goods is otherwise excellent.

 

 

LE MARAIS BAKERY & BISTRO

2066 Chestnut Street – San Francisco, Ca 94123   |   415-359-9801   |   map   |   website

 

 

LeMaraisStrip

 

 

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