Pastry / Baked Good / Confections
I'll be in Chicago in a few weeks and would like to take a personal pastry tour. I'm interested in all kinds of baked goods from doughnuts to layer cakes to ethnic to fine French and Viennoisserie, etc. Your recommendations would be appreciated. But only the best of the best, please. Quality wins over quantity every time.
As a frequent visitor to New York, I disagree. There are some things that New York does better - e.g. bagels, and black and whites - there are other things Chicago does better - e.g. pizza, the marzariners at Swedish Bakery, and the cinnamon twists at Fox and Obel - and there are many baked goods which are just as good here as they are there, including croissants (I can assure you that our best are DEFINITELY just as good here as the best there) and most of the items listed above.
If you visit the aforementioned Swedish Bakery, the chocolate almond petit-fours are wonderful, and if you like marzipan, either the 'rum roll' or the 'pink triangle' are a must.
Sweet Mandy B's has great cupcakes.
At Fox & Obel, the chocolate-covered macaroons are the best I have ever had.
I have to second Sweet Mandy B's for cake. We've gotten cakes there for Christmas and just a few weeks ago for my daughter's birthday party and they are always wonderful.
My mom is Swedish so a trip to the Swedish bakery around Christmas time is a must. Anything with marzipan there is so good it's almost a crime and their limpa (Swedish bread) is very good too, espcially if you go across the street to Wickstrom's deli and get their meatballs and make a cold Swedish meatball sandwhich with a little butter. Uff Da!
If your travels take you to the south side, I recommend stopping by at Bon Jour Cafe in Hyde Park. While I am typically not very enthusiastic about patisseries, I enjoy their offerings. Their croissants are outstanding.
Bonjour Cafe Bakery
1550 E 55th St
Chicago, IL 60615
Start with croissants. See this topic for discussion:
In Andersonville, Swedish pastries at Swedish Bakery (I love their marzariners and their marzipan slices):
and, one block north, Sicilian pastries (everything there is outstanding):
Nearby, on Argyle Street, French and Asian baked goods:
Also Vanille Patisserie for French pastries (I love their entremets) as well as great croissants:
Fox and Obel does a great job with so many baked goods - their cinnamon twist rolls (best in the world), bran muffins (ditto), chocolate brut (a chocolate bread pudding), panna cotta (which they don't always have), brioche bread, and lots and lots more.
For great whole wheat bread:
1124 W Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(also available at Marketplace on Oakton in Skokie, www.marketplaceonoakton.com )
In the suburbs, Three Tarts Bakery in Northfield does a fine job with small cookies and individual-sized cakes, also has a wickedly good pear almond tart. www.threetartsbakery.com And Gourmet Frog, the carry-out adjunct of Froggy's restaurant in Highwood, has a lot of good things, including French macaroons, a large number of French pastries and cakes available by the slice as well as whole, also good soups, onion quiche, etc. They also have plainish rich butter cookies that are wonderful.