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Mar 19, 2003 01:23 PM

best east bay bakery

  • k

I have recently moved from SF to the East Bay and I am in search of the best bakery. Specifically, I'm looking for french pasteries and desserts. Any recommendations?


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  1. La Farine on College between Alcatraz and Claremont is good for pain au chocolat and the like, and gets chowhound raves.

    Noe Valley Bakery has recently come to Solano (near San Pablo) and is reputed to be good for breads and pastries. (Haven't been yet myself.)

    Masse's Pastries on Shattuck between Vine and Rose is my personal favorite. Friendly atmosphere, good coffee, and excellent pear tarts, mini cheesecakes, fruit tarts. Not to mention all those wonderful 50 cent cookies, like financiers and almond crinkle cookies! I believe they're closed Tuesdays.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Alexandra
      Nathan Landau

      La Farine is good, Masse's is good, Toots Sweet is a good (non-French) pastry bakery. I am most underwhelmed by Noe Valley Bakery, it is a big fall in quality from Grace Baking which used to occupy the site.

    2. Don't forget Neldams. Old fashioned, but they make good cake and wonderful petit fours.


      2 Replies
      1. re: Donna

        Of all the Bay Area bakeries, Neldam's may be the one I miss most. I've NEVER been able to find a bear claw that's even remotely comparable.

        1. re: a_and_w

          i second that. Try the strawberry shortcake, chocolate dream?or cloud cake and the sweet potato pie.

      2. La Farine on College is good. The bread is nice but the cupcakes and frosting horrible!! I've been on the hunt for the perfect crossiant. I feel everything is too big and under cooked here in the states. Seriously can't a girl get a well made crispy flaky crossiant? heh


        5 Replies
        1. re: PateBriseej

          Feel Good Bakery in Alameda makes a good crisp, flakey croissant. Except on Wednesday, which must be the main baker's day off. But the one I just had for breakfast was great: nice deep brown color, shattering crisp crust and tender, stretchy interior. Delessio in San Francisco and Acme at the Ferry Building also make good croissants of the "not flabby, puffy and beige" variety.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            What time do they pull their bread in the morning? I stopped in one morning about 7:30 and all that was in the case were sweet things ~ I was looking for bread but a croissant would have worked.

            1. re: foodfan

              Good question. I've never seen a pattern, so I'll have to ask. I think on the weekends (Friday/Saturday) they actually bake some of their bread in the evening for the next morning (they do a couple of farmers' markets). I got ambushed when I walked by there a couple of Fridays ago and the current walnut bread was coming out of the oven.

          2. re: PateBriseej

            Here's the delayed (but wholly worthwhile) gratification path to crispy flaky croissant: bring home a well-made croissant, e.g. from La Farine or Masse's, pre-heat convection oven to 325F, heat croissant on rack placed on top of a cookie sheet (to allow better heat circulation) for 10-15 minutes, have sweet butter or apricot preserves ready to slather when croissant comes out of the oven. Warm flaky is so much better than room temperature flaky.

            1. re: PateBriseej

              Croissants: Bistro Liaison. They only do them between 7-10 in the morning. Every time I've popped in they've still been warm.

            2. French, La Farine.

              Crixa Cakes is equally good, but their stuff is more Eastern European.

              Bakesale Betty is also first-rate, though totally American.

              Noe Valley Bakery, some good stuff, but at the SF Ferry Plaza farmers market they have to compete with Downtown Bakery, which beats them on both quality and price.


              10 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Noe Valley Bakery has been gone from Solano for a while now.

                Bakesale Betty's is partly American and quite a bit Australian as Betty herself is 'strine and her Lamingtons and plum pudding and occasional sticky toffee pudding are very not American.

                Again, Sweet Adeline's is great though totally American. Best lemon meringue pie ever. Good quick breads. Sweet potato pie!

                1. re: lintygmom

                  I've found Sweet Adeline's stuff disppointing.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Robert, what did you have? I recently had their Princess Cake, which was amazing, and their chocolate cake, which my family loved.

                    1. re: Missmoo

                      Some of my friends are big fans of the place so I've had various things at their houses and potlucks. Not sure exactly what.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I've got to side with Missmoo here, I know it's not terribly French-y, but Sweet Adeline's has excellent breakfast pastries, especially the fruit filled ones, and the service is so friendly. I also support it since it's in an area that needs more nice businesses.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            But sometimes the Crixa (and I've only had two of their offerings) are too fancy. And since this posting I've had Sweet Adeline make a giant brownie/cake for my husband's birthday and everyone loved it. I would definately say it's a matter of fancy versus comfort style baking.

                            1. re: Missmoo

                              Not true at all, some of Crixa's cakes are quite fancy, but as you can see from the photos on the Web site, most of their pastries are extremely simple, just like homemade.

                              Crixa Cakes
                              2748 Adeline St, Berkeley, CA 94703

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                There' times you need Crixa and other you need Sweet Adeline. I find them too different to compare. Also, Sweet Adeline is one of the few bakeries opne on Monday.

              2. Why? I did have a quince/almond paste ring piece today that didn't measure up but in general it's like very good homemade.

                Crixa disappoints me--all whippy-cream without flavor.

                9 Replies
                1. re: lintygmom

                  Have you tried the non-whippy-cream items like the rugelach and the apple cake? The Boston Cream Pie is a take it or leave it for me.

                  1. re: lmnopm

                    I had an actual Frenchman to dinner (with my "boyfriend will gladly spend $500 for dinner for two" daughter) and so I got the European smash-ending-to-a-chateaubriand-dinner dessert and got the whippy-cream stuff sans flavor. It didn't inspire me to go back and now, for hearty bakery flavor, I have Sweet Adeline's so close to Crixa.

                    1. re: lintygmom

                      That's not typical of Crixa's stuff. The cream cakes tend to be strongly flavored with citrus or chocolate and booze, and they're a minority among dense, rich, Eastern European items.

                      1. re: lintygmom

                        Crixa is Eastern European and not French. They do better stuff in their baked buns, cookies and coffee cakes. Seriously, the rugelach is some of the best ever. And no one beats those biscuits (Pogácsa) they make. I have my moments with their pies which are open top and almost like deep-dish gallettes. The pumpkin is excellent. I see they have maple walnut pie on the menu today which sounds interesting, but a few of the pies have been a miss.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Deep-dish galette is an excellent description of their somewhat eccentric pies.

                          1. re: rworange

                            I wasn't quite aiming for French, as I feel he can probably get better in Paris, but for rich Eastern European. My grandparents had a bakery when I was young, full of refugees from Europe who loved teaching me to bake. Many of them had lost their families and missed having children in their lives so they'd stand me on a stool and help me roll out pie crust and such for tiny tartlets. Lots of flavored whipped cream items. Lots of sampling the kirsch.

                            I wanted a knock them on their asses dessert for a great but fairly easy to make dinner.

                            On your recommendation, I'll go back and try the rugelach. About weekly I stop into Adeline's and get something like their absolutely magnificent lemon meringue pie for my office staff. I could try the rugelach or such from Crixa if they open early enough.

                            1. re: lintygmom

                              Nope, the lazy sods at Crixa don't open until 9. I'm in the middle of my morning by then.

                              1. re: lintygmom

                                Even worse than that ... they open at 10. Not all their buns are equal either. I don't like the saffron buns and the Fatima's thighs are only ok, IMO. When the hit though, Crixa makes me lose my mind it is so good ... speaking of whipped creamy things, you have to try one of Masses mini black forest yule logs ... single serving ... they have these knock-out boozy cherries in them.

                                1. re: lintygmom

                                  and they close at 6. what happened to bakers hours.