A day without French pastries
is a waste of time
I guess that means I’ve had a really productive summer.
Bonjour Café Bakery is one of Chicago’s best French pastry shops. Here’s our review: (5 / 5)
So, I’ve already told you that I had a Five-Tier Cheese Wheel “Cake” at my recent wedding, and quite some time ago I told you about the menu in general. I would’ve been fine having cheese for dessert, except for two things:
- I love pastries.
- A lot of our guests were coming from out of town, and we wanted to show them a bit of Chicago awesomeness.
I like to go on long bike rides. I also love bakeries. So, I pedal my way to the best, far-away croissant I can find, and back. I live on the north side. Bonjour is on the south side, twelve miles away, right down the gorgeous lakeshore. I’m there fairly often. It’s not just that it’s a great bakery. Nor is it just because almost the entire staff speaks only French. It’s because their pastries are arguably the best and most authentically French in all of Chicago, and yet there’s a certain old-school hominess to them. Their pastries are out-of-this-world delicious and perfectly executed, but they all manage to look like they belong in a pâtisserie française, not in a modern art museum. Exquisite and charming, all wrapped up together. I asked, in my horribly imperfect French, if they’d cater my wedding by providing mini versions of all my favorite of their items. Some of these are breakfast pastries, but I wanted all my favorites, regardless.
Here’s what we agreed upon:
- Pain au raisin: a spiral breakfast pastry of the pâtisserie viennoise sort
- Morning roll: there is nothing like this in the typical American repertoire. It’s a flaky, buttery pastry dough, wound up into a spiral, with a generous, crunchy coating of cinnamon sugar. It has three distinct textures: chewy; dense and moist; and on the very bottom, thick, sticky, and caramelized. I know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong; this is not a cinnamon roll – at least not the way we think of them.
- Pecan roll
- Chocolat croissant
- Eclairs, four types: coffee, chocolate, rose water, and pistachio
- Opera: layers of coffee-soaked almond sponge cake, ganache, and coffee buttercream. Covered in a chocolate glaze
- Milles feuilles (aka Napoleon): puff pastry, vanilla custard, powdered sugar
- Lemon square
- Expresso tart: an absolutely unbelievable pièce de résistance. About the size of a small brownie. A delicate, crumbly, crust on the bottom and sides. Filled with a ganache so perfectly chocolatey, and with an indescribably luscious texture. Un véritable tour de force culinaire.
Yes, we had all of those! This was no time for restraint. It was a time to live, live, live!
I guess my French is better than I give it credit for, because I successfully negotiated the order – and they filled it perfectly. I could not have been happier, and our guests were through the roof in their appreciation. On top of all of this, the chef, through the process, was nothing but humble and adorable – yes, adorable. And madame, who runs the shop, is a Marie Desbons illustration come to life. If you live in Chicagoland, but weren’t invited to the wedding – wait, what? We just paid off the last of the bills, and it sure feels like we must’ve invited an entire city. Or if you plan to visit, you should check out Bonjour Café. It’s in Hyde Park, home of many of my other favorite Chicago things: University of Chicago, the Fountain of Time, the Museum of Science and Industry, and Robie House. (There’s also a Treasure Island grocery right nearby – bonus!)
You’ll find Bonjour Café Bakery at 1550 E 55th St, about a block west of the Metra overpass, in Hyde Park, Chicago.
Credit for images on this page: Make It Like a Man! This content was not solicited, nor written in exchange for anything.
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