Guilt set in while I was scrolling an e-mail from my friend Lin about a gluten-free crumb cake. Then I started my car and drove off towards Beverly Hills, for a visit to Bouchon Bakery.
Bouchon Las Vegas has been my only Thomas Keller dining experience so far, one I enjoyed but that I didn’t feel was memorable (I am still waiting for the opportunity to visit the French Laundry one day). What was memorable though, was the ham sandwich and the small stash of pastry I had bought from Bouchon Bakery in New York, at Columbus Circle. Which is why, when I heard Bouchon recently opened a bakery in Beverly Hills, I wanted to repeat the experience.
Bouchon Beverly Hills, located inside the lobby of the Brasserie, which is on the same block of the Meritage Hotel on Canon Drive, is a small hole in the wall, clean and simple, with a pastry case, a few packaged salads for sale, yogurt parfaits, granola cups and a much smaller pastry selection than their NY counterpart (definitely no ham sandwich…).
Coffee and cappuccinos made with the exquisite blend that Equator Coffee supplies to all Keller’s restaurants, can be ordered, but there is nowhere to sit, other than the Meritage garden. The pastries they do have, though, are worth their exorbitant prices.
Croissants and pains au chocolat are light and flaky and they have no close comparisons anywhere else in the city. Their signature cake is Kouig amman, a butter cake from Brittany that is layer upon layer of butter and caramelized sugar – don’t be deceived by its humble appearance and order it with your coffee.
The macarons that are all the rage in LA right now are spectacular: chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, salted caramel and passion fruit – the outside is light and ethereal with just a hint of chewiness and the buttercream fillings have a recognizable taste, instead of being a flavored sugary concoction, which seems to have become the norm.
Bouchons, little chocolate corks, are sold individually or in packages of 10, and they are moist French versions of our brownies, made with lovely, dark, deep chocolate and a melted core. For our four-legged friends, there are bone shaped treats which, at $2 each, I left on the counter. Ottie does not need to be introduced to French cuisine just yet.
Other offerings include muffins, oatmeal, chocolate chip, peanut butter and a version of Oreo cookies that looked delectable.
Bouchon’s confections are in the purest French style and I do hope, in time, they will expand their choices to include the excellent eclairs I tasted in New York, breads and chocolates. For now, it might just become my sin of choice, whenever I feel the need to pad my hips.