South Florida's Best French Treats
SheriW via Flickr Creative Commons
Perhaps it's because it's been nearly two weeks since the Mad Men season opener and we still can't get that damned "Zou Bisou Bisou" song out of our heads. Or maybe it's the anticipation of sweet treats for Easter feasting. Whatever the cause, macaron, croissant, and all manner of flaky pastry are on the agenda. Here's a look at ten places in Broward and Palm Beach counties to satisfy your inner Francophile. Know of a great place to say oui to a custard-filled pastry? Let us know in the comments section.
1. Croissan-Time French Bakery
Practicing moderation? Good luck with that here. One look at row upon
row of beautifully arranged desserts in the display cases and all
self-control will dissolve like sugar stirred in the bottom of a café au
lait. Petite apple pies, Linzer tortes, and dozens of other treats vie
for your attention. The tuxedo strawberries are not to be missed. Plump
and juicy and roughly the size of a fist, these berries put the
mail-order chocolate-covered impostors to shame.
Quiche, flatbread pizza, and lovely little sandwiches constructed on crusty, fresh-baked baguette are a lead-up to the real payoff of dessert: flaky croissant, petite macaron in a variety of flavors, and an array of cream- and custard-stuffed pastry. With its evening hours and outdoor patio, this café is an ideal postwork stopover for a predinner glass of wine and sugar-laced appetizer.
Serving three squares a day with a decidedly French focus, Rendez-Vous still knows how to cater to customer's desires for buttery croissants of the melt-in-your-mouth variety. Order a croissant ($3) as a side for your breakfast of crepes or Nutella-drizzled Belgian waffle, or get truly indulgent and take your pick from the rotating selection available in the pastry section. Beer and wine available.
French expat and Le Vinois owner Francis Modina is a third-generation baker whose jovial nature is likely familiar to those drawn to tables of baked goods in open-air farmers' markets throughout South Florida. But while Modina regularly takes his offerings -- almond croissant, breads, and his much-celebrated rugulah -- on the road, his storefront in Fort Lauderdale is the home-base from which these delectable treats emerge.
With two locations to serve Boca Raton bakery lovers, French expats Claudine and Jean Francois serve decadent desserts in addition to light lunch fare like sandwiches and salads. Selections can vary based on location and the day, but keep a lookout for items like the fruit tart, mousse cake, almond croissant, or basically any other tempting pastry on display.
Like so many of Broward and Palm Beach counties' finest, this petite café is hidden in the confines of an overpowering shopping plaza, making it all too easy to overlook the rainbow of macarons available. Choices span the gamut from red (raspberry) to yellow (lemon) to green (Sicilian pistachio or fresh mint) and even to purple (black currant or crème brûlée), with plenty of flavors in between. In addition to traditional French macarons, the café sells artisan chocolates that are as beautiful to behold as they are to ingest.
A downtown West Palm Beach Saturday brunch destination with an unusually long list of crepe options and a few breakfast sandwiches built atop croissant. Go for a baked, carb-heavy Parisian breakfast basket (a little less than $10) with orange juice, coffee or tea, baguette, plain croissant, and chocolate croissant. Or peruse the French "baker's corner" with its almond croissant, cookies, meringue, and guava turnovers.
Francophiles in Broward County have sworn by the selection of viennoiseries at this Fort Lauderdale haunt for years. Viennoiseries, for those who slept through second-year French class, are pastry - typically croissant, brioche, and anything requiring else requiring layers of flaky crust. Most individual treats are priced less than $3 each, with choices ranging from the almost-savory cheese croissant to the decidedly sweet chocolate twist.
9. Café Boulud
This is not for your "run to the corner bakery for a box of macarons or a baguette" kind of scenario. Snagging a table at Café Boulud for your French treat is an investment, both in culinary attentiveness and finances. The dessert menu draws inspiration from various cultures with French-inspired fusion desserts like upside-down chocolate soufflé with pistachio ice cream ($12) and a guava crème brûlée ($10). Always decadent and a favored spot when someone else is picking up the bill.
10. Saquella Café
While technically offering cuisine infused with Italian/Mediterranean flair, this busy breakfast and brunch spot in Boca Raton is no slouch when it comes to representing its French neighbors. Desserts are made on premises daily with choices changing out as frequently as the tables on a slamming Sunday morning. Croissant is a constant, and it will likely not let you down, nor should the tiny fruit tarts and other assorted pastry.
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