How most girls feel about designer shoe boutiques is how I feel about bakeries.
I gawk at the artistry, I’m enchanted by the selection and it’s hard to settle on a single item. There should be a fifth member of the Sex and the City crew who’s a foodie searching out places like the Big Gay Ice Cream and Prune for the best eats in NYC. In stilettos no less.
On this dreadful Monday I would give a pair of Jimmy Choos for a Chocolate Almond Croissant and cappuccino. I’ve been fantasizing about La Boulangerie.
La Boulangerie is a french bakery located Uptown in the heart of Magazine street among trendy, quirky shops. A welcome respite from Creole and Cajun food (although not necessarily lighter) they offer sandwiches, breads, soup, quiche, coffee and of course, pastries.
During our annual New Orleans trip, despite having eaten a continental breakfast at Avenue Inn, my mom and I fueled up for a day of shopping with a snack at La Boulangerie. Stumbling upon it’s pretty gold and blue awning, we popped in and took our place in line. Pouncing on an open table, I sat while my mom ordered so I have no opinion about the service.
We split a Chocolate Almond Croissant and I soaked up each bite accompanied by sips of a single shot cappuccino. The croissant was filled with sweet almond paste and chocolate, which I would have preferred more of, but then again who doesn’t like more chocolate. The substantial pastry was tender, flaky and strewn with almond slices.
Much like Sucre and other area bakeries, they offer special King Cakes during Mardi Gras season, both a traditional and French version. I was tempted to buy one, but the thought of lugging around a cake box and then five extra pounds post-consumption was a strong deterrent. Needless to say, everything looks and smells heavenly.
I believe La Boulangerie now accepts credit cards and cash, but I didn’t pay for this round. Get there early because like a secret sample sale, the good stuff runs out fast.
Don’t just take my word for it, New Orleans food bloggers Foodographer and The Hungry Nomad have also written about their experiences, in addition to the Cynical Cook. If you liked this post, read more of my Restaurant Stories.
4600 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
To conclude our weekend trip (yes, back in November) my friend and I went out for one final meal, which started out innocently enough. Two hours later we settled on a restaurant.
We had befriended a local couple, and per their recommendation, went to explore the downtown Five Points area. Stepping out of the car we encountered a handful of homeless men, but no trace of the lively crowd we were expecting on a Saturday night. Peeking into Surin West, we passed because they allegedly specialize in Thai food and sushi (doubtful). Retracing our steps we spotted Highlands Bar and Grill but we were under dressed and it looked overly busy.
Hopping back into the car we drove to Bottega, but found out both the restaurant and cafe were closed for a private party. Back in the saddle, we headed to Giuseppe’s Cafe & Espresso Bar because they’re the best kept secret in town (according to their website). Sadly we went in, got a table, glanced at the menus, opted out and moved on.
From there we headed back to Five Points, destination Highland Grill, but were sidetracked when discovering Chez Fonfon next door. It might have been easier to drive to Paris.
Having never been to France, I can only imagine that Chez Fonfon emulates the same cozy, intimate feeling as a bistro underneath the Eiffel tower. The lights were dim, the quarters close and wine bottles lined a wall.
While musing over our options we torn into a basket of bread and soaked in the glow. To begin, my friend and I split the Little gem bib salad with apples, tomme and tarragon-cider vinaigrette. It was a simply dressed salad, tangy from the dressing and sweet from the fruit.
Craving a healthy reprieve and saving room for dessert, I chose the salmon with lentils du Puy and niçoise olive butter for my entree. The generous portion of fish and lentils were perfectly cooked and complimented by the salty sharpness of the olives. My friend equally enjoyed the Coq au Vin which was tender and moist.
Reluctant to select just one, I settled on the Pear Almond tart for dessert but almost ordered the Chocolate Pot de Creme my friend had. Luckily, she’s the sharing type and let me scoop up a spoonful of the silky smooth rich chocolate mousse. Charmed by the flaky, buttery tart, I savored my dessert with a cappuccino leaving no crumb behind.
I imagine that the croque monsieur and steak frites are delightful, and wish I had room to taste the cheese plate. Chez Fonfon is as enchanting as Birmingham and a fairly inexpensive way to experience the allure of Paris. Just try to avoid the two hour tour to get there.
2007 Eleventh Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35205
The only thing unpalatable at Succotash is the art.
For Christmas we stayed in Mississippi, which means I went home to Kansas City for Thanksgiving. While in the Midwest, I had the rare luxury of spending one whole day with my little brother. We had a complete Joey and Janice-esque day of fun, except we actually like each other and neither of us have that annoying accent.
Having a shared passion for both eating and cooking, brunch was the natural choice to start the day. Moving beyond our usual First Watch family obsession, we decided to go somewhere new and ended up at Succotash.
Succotash is an eccentrically decorated diner, kitschy objects are strewn about and the chairs are painted a combination of Smurf and royal blue. You won’t be able to avoid an odd painting of a woman eating blood red soup dribbling from her mouth. The image is creepy, I was glad it was out of sight and hung upside down.
Now, this post might not be helpful because a over a month has passed. When reviewing their menu online, I noticed the dishes are different from what we ordered in the restaurant.
Succotash serves Cafe du Monde coffee but I chose to sip on a cappuccino while reading the three page menu.
I had a vegetarian version of the Kitchen Sink, but requested sausage gravy instead of mushroom gravy. My brother ordered a version of Eggs Benedict with crab meat; the only version online includes smoked salmon. To round out the meal we split a single blueberry pancake on the side.
Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and the pancake was bigger than our heads.
I was presented a platter of home fries layered with spinach, vegetables, eggs, cheese and smothered with gravy. All of those vegetables felt deceptively healthy despite the gravy blanket. The Eggs Benedict featured a rich Hollandaise sauce covering a fresh mound of crab meat. Surprisingly, the spinach was raw in both dishes, simply an interesting decision. The blueberry pancake almost exceeded the edges of the plate, was perfectly sweet and golden brown.
While stuffing ourselves we caught up on life, marriage, culinary aspirations and talked a lot about nothing. We ate leisurely and I don’t know what was more delightful, brunch or spending time with my brother. The painting is another story.
2601 Holmes Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
Ever since I can remember, my brother and I receive a new ornament from our parents each year for Christmas.
Our family tradition has endured, which has also expanded to include our spouses, and now I have quite a collection. Fittingly, the newest additions are a miniature El Camino for my husband and gingerbread baking scene for me. My mom hit the ornament jackpot.
Although the holidays are sometimes stressful and I miss my family, it’s heart warming to be able to look at our little tree proudly commemorating various moments and milestones. Even if our newlywed ornament still displays the stock photo.
This Christmas morning I made pancakes and sipped on a cappuccino (God bless the mukka) while we opened up packages from our stockings. In these small moments I am very thankful for our many blessings and the gift this seasons brings.
However you celebrate and whomever you’re with, may you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Well, for me at least.
Following a recommendation, we wandered into V Richards looking for breakfast on Saturday morning. V Richards is a neighborhood establishment, part specialty food market, part cafe. The cafe isn’t expensive and is rather reasonably priced, but I love exploring items in markets – the chocolate tea biscuits! the fig jam! oooh the cheese case! – and have a habit of spending a pretty penny on culinary treats.
Ah, but I was there for a meal, bypassed temptations and focused on the task at hand.
Above the prepared foods case, a large board is displayed on the wall explicitly outlining the three step ordering procedure. I was amused that step one is to look at the menu. They must have frequent problems with confused customers.
The breakfast menu is served from 8-11 a.m. and I was having trouble deciding between the basic two egg plate, daily special and famous salad sampler. Then, I spied another special and was sold on the Breakfast Casserole with ham, peppers, cheese, eggs and bread cubes (I want to say it was brioche). Per step two, I placed my order and paid at the register.
Subsequently, you are given an number and if eating in, seat yourself. There are two dining choices, a small indoor area or tables with umbrellas scattered about on an outdoor patio. We chose the latter option and enjoyed the morning sunshine.
We sat for awhile waiting for water and beverages, but observantly deduced you are responsible for retrieving your own water, drinks, utensils and condiments. No one mentioned this protocol so we were sitting ducks – let this be a helpful tip.
Shortly after figuring this out, my cappuccino was deliver as well as our food. V Richards is a food market, not a coffee shop, so the drink was mediocre at best. I’d pass on the espresso drinks.
My friend and I both ordered the breakfast casserole, which came towering on our plates, accompanied by a cup of fresh fruit and plain grits. Bread pieces were the main binder and there was scarcely any egg, it was more like a bread pudding than breakfast egg casserole. It started out tasting pretty good due to the crispy crust, but grew tiresome, too dense and too thick.
A passing waitress kindly let me switch out the pale white grits for the cheese variety which were okay. As a Yankee, grits are hard to enjoy without being doctored up somehow and Primo’s Cafe has really spoiled me. The fresh fruit was a nice ordinary cup of cut fresh fruit.
The cafe was busy and many others were enjoying their dishes. I would go back and simply ordered something else next time. Unlike Paris Hilton, the famous salad trio must be famous for a reason.
Nevertheless we did our best to comply with step three, enjoy our meal and have a great day.
3916 Clairmont Ave
Birmingham, AL 35222