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Who has the BEST baked (read desserts, cakes, pastries) goods within 100 miles of Boston?

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cornFusion Jun 19, 2007 05:38 PM

Don't post your neighborhood bakery either - I mean - when I take a walk in some european city like Brussels or Frankfure, or Nice, or even Geneva .... there seems to be no lack of exceptional pastries - baked fresh daily and well - and presented in wonderfularrays in windows. Where is one here????
I ran into "Popover's" in Portsmouth in NH because of their wonderful display - when they first opened - and was disappointed in the baked goods (cold popovers - and they would not heat them). Popovers has subsequently plummeted to being yet another corner version of au bon pain!

Flour in Boston appears to be a candidate for this list - but they too appear to have a VERY regimented display (although the dacquoise is TDF - and would be a star in any firmament)! Overall though, flour appears to me to be "exec chic" instead of "luminescence in pastry".

The "after theater" places are VERY lame - stuff cooked the previous day (or was it last week?) .... for those who don;t know their food, isuppose.....

Your thoughts for excellence in the supreme art of bakery?

PS - there seem to be very very talented individual bakers in the area ... for example, the wedding of a very close friendhad a cake which was extraordinary - AND - strwen with rose petals all over (may have had about a 100 roses on that sublime cake).... so they are out there - maybe just out of ones reach?

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  1. MC Slim JB Jun 19, 2007 06:39 PM

    I just got another extraordinary cake from Konditor Meister in Braintree, still my favorite for weddings and other big occasions (this was a milestone birthday). Delicious and quite beautiful to look at, they always make a big impression. We were eating the leftovers, guiltily, for breakfast the next day.

    I've tried a bunch of flavors, haven't found a weak one yet. Some of my favorites: Cognac truffle torte with gold cake and Cognac-laced white chocolate mousse filling; strawberry Grand Marnier with gold cake, white chocolate mousse and fresh strawberries; carrot torte with walnuts, cream cheese and apricots; lemon torte with gold cake and lemon mousse; and Black Forest torte with chocolate cake, whipped cream, cherries and chocolate-cherry liqueur.

    I'm not a huge cake eater, but I can't resist these.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      c
      cornFusion Jun 20, 2007 01:03 PM

      Just my 2 cents... Konditor Meister is definitely a good place - but its cakes have no WOW factor. I have tried it several times and thought ... good effort ... but personally, I would give it a solid B. Thanks for the posting!

    2. s
      Scruffy The Cat Jun 19, 2007 07:07 PM

      I'm so fond of Seven Stars Bakery on Hope Streeet in Providence that every time I go back there I get a huge bag of things to bring back and freeze. Exceptional items are the almond croissants and the outstanding scones. They have excellent bread, better than Iggy's imho and until B&R came around, better than everyone else too. The only thing they don't do well is their concession to lunch food: a sort of difficult -to-eat foccacia with roasted veggies. And they don't do cakes. It's not a patisserie, it's a boulangerie... of the best sort.

      1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 19, 2007 08:13 PM

        You're asking for one bakery that does exceptional desserts AND cakes AND pastries?

        Yeah, you're not gonna find that.

        As for pastries, you told us not to post our neighborhood bakeries, but my neighborhood bakery is Clear Flour, and there isn't a better place for variations on the themes of croissant and brioche in the city, and probably in the state. There's a very good reason why the line extends down the block on warm weekend mornings.

        Cakes, second MC Slim JB on Konditor Meister.

        I don't understand what you mean by "desserts" as opposed to cakes and pastries, but I'm assuming you're thinking of filled things. Can't help you there, because when I get a hankering for something filled, I just go to Modern for a half-dozen cannoli.

        4 Replies
        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
          Dr.Jimbob Jun 20, 2007 03:50 AM

          Clear Flour isn't my neighborhood bakery, but it's a bakery that I'll drive or bike an extra half hour to get to. Best darned croissant in Boston, the closest I've seen to an authentic Parisian baguette and all manner of other interesting baked treats. If you show up around a big holiday, they'll often have specialty breads and treats geared towards the holiday (but also be prepared for an extra long line). They also have a presence at the Coolidge Corner farmer's market on Thursdays (also identifiable by the long line in front of it).

          And in addition to the other fine suggestions, I'd pitch for Rosie's for cakes.

          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
            Joanie Jun 20, 2007 05:04 AM

            And I'll have to go with my somewhat neighborhood bakery, Canto 6. Excellent. I don't care about creamy things most of the time, prefer Canto 6 style. Which is also Clearflour style but better IMHO, and yes I know the bread is from CF.

            1. re: Joanie
              t
              twentyoystahs Jun 20, 2007 08:39 AM

              Second Canto 6. Their pain au raisin reminds me of Paris everytime I indulge. mmm.

            2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
              t
              Tamaralas Jun 26, 2007 03:40 AM

              I'm another who will drive up from the South Shore to go to Clear Flour. Closer to home, though, I like French Memories in Duxbury.

            3. limster Jun 19, 2007 08:51 PM

              The Milk Tea Cake at Cafe Cakes. Classic French technique, and elegantly pretty in a a Japanese way.

              1. f
                fullbelly Jun 20, 2007 06:36 AM

                Pastiche in Providence.

                1 Reply
                1. re: fullbelly
                  s
                  Scruffy The Cat Jun 20, 2007 06:50 AM

                  Yes, I'll second the Pastiche vote, for cakes and things with icing that is. They don't do bread.
                  And fwiw, I don't really trust anyone who tries to do both. They're really such different species.

                2. l
                  lexpatti Jun 20, 2007 07:01 AM

                  Mirabella's (of course) in Tewksbury. I have the pleasure of being close by too but I would travel for their biscotti and pastries and holiday pies are to die for. Everything is wonderful.

                  http://www.mirabellasbakery.com/home....

                  1. ChefJune Jun 20, 2007 07:05 AM

                    The minute I saw this thread title two places jumped into mind -- oops, three!
                    In no particular order, because they are so different...

                    1. Modern Pastry, Hanover Street, North End. Oh my! The cannoli, Quaresemale, Parigina, all the cakes... so wonderful! not to mention Sarah's world-famous Torrone! Do NOT confuse with Mikes, which has the worst pastry I've ever experienced. EVER!
                    2. Delphin's Gourmandise, Marblehead. The best croissants this side of Paris. and all the rest of his offerings are amazing. beautiful and delicious.
                    3. Konditormeister, Quincy. the best and most wonderful wedding cakes around.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ChefJune
                      Allstonian Jun 20, 2007 07:49 AM

                      Does Delphin's in Marblehead still exist? I thought it had long since closed and that he'd even moved all of his teaching to Cambridge.

                      1. re: Allstonian
                        k
                        kate used to be 50 Jun 20, 2007 01:24 PM

                        Delphin has closed his retail shop. I know he had plans to expand the school at the Marblehead location, but I have a feeling he abandoned those plans after he started teaching at CCI.

                        And, while on the subject. I love the baked goods at Sweet Tooth in Melrose. My compliant is they always have the same items. She used to make a cranberry/oatmeal bar that was just unbelieveable, but no longer does and won't give up the recipe. SIGH

                    2. Allstonian Jun 20, 2007 07:47 AM

                      I'll go along with others here who have said that most bakeries who try to be both boulangerie and patisserie don't do both very well. Even Clear Flour, which has branched out into a wide variety of fine sweet items over the years, tends to stick with simpler goods such as brioche- or pastry-based items, some very nice cookies, and the occasional pound cake. They did some wonderful cream puffs for a while, but I haven't seen them in some time. The rustic fruit tarts are excellent.

                      Sadly, there are very few good patissiers in town anymore. (Why IS that? I still miss Delphin's in Coolidge Corner after all these years, but why aren't his students at Cambridge Culinary picking up the baton and opening shops of their own?) Japonaise Bakery in Brookline and Cafe Cakes in Watertown both seem to be good examples of French-inspired Japanese patisserie, and there seem to be several bakeries that specialize in special-occasion cakes (BFP has already seconded MC Slim JB on Konditor Meister - I will only note that we liked them enough that they did our wedding cake, which included layers of both the strawberry Grand Marnier and the lemon torte. However, Braintree is too far away for us to be able to patronize them except for the most special of special occasions, particularly since we don't have a car.)

                      You might also check out some of the Italian bakeries such as Modern in the North End or Antoine's in Newton, or the Chinese bakeries - Yi Soon Bakery in Allston has several big fans on this board, and Eldo Cake House in Chinatown used to be great but I haven't been there in years so I don't know if they're still up to par.

                      1. StriperGuy Jun 20, 2007 07:50 AM

                        - Clear Flour
                        - Modern Pastry (North End and Medford) just top notch.
                        - Lyndells (not for pastries but their cakes are great.)
                        - Hi Rise (Bread and some desserts)
                        - Rosie's really good cakes and cookies.
                        - Danish Pastry House (good for some things not for others as they don't use butter in everything) Medfor and Watertown.
                        - Athan's in Brookline and Brighton (their Jamaica pastry is my favorite chocolate dessert in Boston) other stuff is only so so.
                        - Never been a big fan of Konditor Meister I think they make a waxy, old fashioned butter cream frosting that never really did it for me. They do some excellent wacky decorating jobs is you like that though.
                        - Tabrizi Bakery Watertown Square. Amazing cream puffs, some pastries, and very tasty, exotic Persian cookies that I have seen nowhere else.
                        - Yi Soon. One of my all around favorites. Emphasis on Taiwan style goods, but also just great all around sweets.
                        - Gotten give Iggy's honourable mentions, but really just bread and crossaints.
                        - I think Flour in the South End is overated. Their stuff just doesn't TASTE that good. Likewise for Cafe Vanille and Finale.

                        As a rule, in Boston their is nothing on the level with Paris or Vienna (I just had a hazlenut mousse and Gerard Mulot in Paris not too long ago). But if you pick and choose at the places above you will have some tasty stuff.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          c
                          cornFusion Jun 20, 2007 07:25 PM

                          Thanks for the list! In return, I offer .... decadent Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte (aka black forest cake) - authentic and well made, at Lala's Hungarian in Manchester, NH. Haven't seen one like it anywhere (including at the so called German Bakery known as Riverwalk)... ;) ... a masterpiece

                        2. b
                          Buddernut Jun 20, 2007 10:30 AM

                          I have three must tries in the southern New Hampshire area. I'm in the Burlington Mass. area and work and hob-nob in Boston. Sometimes, the bakeries just don't work for me because I get sick of the same Crisco laden items that area dominent in our "Italian" bakeries. Sometimes the"gourmand" style bakeries fall short for me. I don't know why but the Nashua/Amherst area has attracted some great bakery talent. These in particular:

                          Frederick's Pastries: www.frederickspasries.com
                          Outstanding cakes, Euro-style small pastries. He's been around a while and I've ordered many a cake that never disappointed. His nut diamonds and smaller items are all five star.

                          Dutchepicurebakery.com - Another Amherst NH bakery with very fine quality. They also supply bread and desserts to local epicurean shops and high-end restaurants. In particular the group of restaurants under the "Michael Timothy" moniker.... Superior restaurant. So that should speaks volumes of the quality of this bakery.

                          Third... and this is my favorite little-known place. The Riverwalk Cakery and Coffee House. www.riverwalk.com. I don't think their website features what I feel is their exquisite assets. Cakes. pastries. They are a coffee house... roasting their own beans and they've recently added panninis. But the star of the show is the Mrs. who is Euro trained in pastries. Mr. is from Germany or Vienna or Austria. Mrs. makes surreal cakes, wedding cakes like you'd see on foodtv. But in the cafe' they feature squares, cheesecakes, cookies, and the most authentic and amazing apple studel that I have had since last in Europe 20 years ago. Just Amazing. And she makes an Apple Coffe Cake that if I got married again.... a stack of these would do find for a wedding cake. The place itself is immaculate .. in downtown Nashua. Very fine quality. Some of The best products I've had in New England. If I could persuad these folks to franchise... it would be killer in Harvard Sq., Brookline or Copley.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Buddernut
                            c
                            cornFusion Jun 20, 2007 01:06 PM

                            Dutch Epicure ...another good one! I get their almond croissants .... very very good - and this is one place I would say is a solid good bakery. Their cakes seem to have a ways to go though. For example, he knows how to make a good almond croissant - but an almond cake is another thing altogether ....

                          2. s
                            sugarmamie Jun 20, 2007 11:16 AM

                            Just out of curiosity - do you remember where your friend's wedding was (with the rose-petal cake)? I did one like that last fall!
                            I'm sorry that I can't really answer your question - I've not been wowed by a bakery in a long time. I have a great one in my head, though, so stay tuned, North Shore!
                            As far as desserts go, EVOO in cambridge has some excellent ones. Their molten chocolate cake with toasted marshmallow cream is probably the best I've ever had.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: sugarmamie
                              c
                              cornFusion Jun 20, 2007 01:01 PM

                              Its been about 5 years now ... the wedding was in Newbury, MA. That cake will never leave my memory! Thanks for your contribution - I agree that Boston needs a bakery (and let me say that Modern and other "italian" cafes have given up on quality - have you seen where their fresh-frozen pastry comes from??? .... BINDI .....ugh!!!!! )

                            2. e
                              emilief Jun 20, 2007 12:20 PM

                              Vikki Lee (Boyajian) is a wonderful baker. She had a shop in Needham for many years, and recently, after a few years hiatus, opened a shop in Belmont. I have not been there but her pastries are out of this world as are her cookies and cakes. I understand she makes a fabulous wedding cake also.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: emilief
                                h
                                hoplover Jun 20, 2007 12:44 PM

                                La Scala on Federal Hill in Providence is magnificent. It looks like something you would see in Europe. Mario Batali did a piece on them for the food network a few years ago so I went. The pastries and cakes are simply beautiful to look at and taste. What I love most that they make are the almond biscotti. They are very very crunchy and hard. I love really hard biscotti. They take the crumbs from the last batch that they bake to start the next batch ( like using a mother) in vinegar making. Federal hill has lots of great places especially Venda Ravioli but La Scala is the best bakery.

                                1. re: emilief
                                  c
                                  cornFusion Jun 20, 2007 01:09 PM

                                  Once upon a time (and a very long time ago it was), Vikki Lee's in Newton WAS a place I would have rated "A". Divine dacquoise, First-of-the-season Strawberry cake with buttercream TDF and the staff were willing and able to meet requests (such as making a gateau St. Honore) .... alas .... the place is no longer at that caliber and I would be hard pressed to give it a B rating

                                2. MichaelB Jun 20, 2007 02:01 PM

                                  I don't think anyone has mentioned Burdick's - it's a limited selection, largely but not exclusively chocolate, but what I've had there has been excellent (with the occasional exception of stale macaroons). Note that the Harvard Square store has been closed for renovations, I'm not sure if it's reopened yet.

                                  Other than that, I agree with the general sentiment that few places do everything well and almost none do both bread and pastry well. I think that Flour does some things very well -- their short-crust pastry is superb -- but the one time I had a brioche-like bun there it was terrible - doughy, heavy, and sodden, with a sour edge. Hi-Rise is a mixed bag as well - the chocolate and vanilla loaf cakes are excellent, as are the breads, but some stuff is just so-so, and they're probably more rustic than you're seeking. There's the little place on Cypress street outside Brookline Village - I can't recall the name but I recall their cream puffs being excellent; don't know if anything else stood out there. I'd also be curious about Cafe Cakes based on Limster's recommendation of the milk tea cake and some thin almond cookies I had there that were subtle and excellent.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: MichaelB
                                    BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 20, 2007 02:13 PM

                                    Burdick's is still closed as of last Tuesday, which was the last time I walked past.

                                    1. re: MichaelB
                                      g
                                      ginnyhw Jun 20, 2007 02:24 PM

                                      The New Paris Bakery is the little place on Cypress St. They have been there for years and for a long time were the only decent patisserie in that neighborhood.

                                      1. re: ginnyhw
                                        Allstonian Jun 20, 2007 03:29 PM

                                        New Paris has indeed been there forever, and they have the vintage baker's boxes to prove it. My own experience with them goes back to 1974, and they were an old neighborhood institution even then. I haven't tried the cream puffs, but the last time I bought a dozen of their famous mini-eclairs (3-4 months ago) they were just terrible. The pastry cream had an overthickened texture that was quite unpalatable.

                                        1. re: Allstonian
                                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jun 20, 2007 03:41 PM

                                          Also, the glaze was that nasty, waxy fake chocolate. Utterly horrendous, and the start of our nearly unbroken recent streak of seeing just how many ways an eclair can suck. (See also: Truly Jorg's and Modern, even though we still stand up for the cannoli there.)

                                          1. re: Allstonian
                                            j
                                            JemB Jun 25, 2007 07:18 AM

                                            My mother told me that, when she was in high school--a private school for rich Irish-American debs on Rte. 9--in the mid to late 1950s, a bunch of girls would all pile into one girl's VW Bug (a brand, new novelty then) and drive down to New Paris for all the cream puffs they could afford, then bring them back for all their friends. Love that story.

                                        2. re: MichaelB
                                          s
                                          Scruffy The Cat Jun 20, 2007 03:23 PM

                                          I was just going to mention Burdicks. You beat me to it. Very limited selection, but what they do they do honestly and very well. Very European.

                                          Has anyone had any of the cakes from Bakers Best in Newton? They look pretty, but I haven't tasted them yet.

                                        3. MC Slim JB Jun 20, 2007 02:09 PM

                                          I don't know much about baked goods, but I'll chime in again with some delicious things I regularly buy in the North End: the macaroons (both with pignoli and without) at Modern Pastry, and the sfogliatelle at Maria's Pastry. Also, the mini-cannoli at Domenic's Italian Bakery in Waltham.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                            b
                                            Buddernut Jun 20, 2007 06:02 PM

                                            Slim, about two weeks ago, the "ladies" at Dominics made some furiously delicious homemade ricotta pie. As a life long Modern ricotta fan (with a relative in the establishment to boot) ... I have to say the Domenics' pie was da' BOMB. Thin base crust, very thick ricotta filling, very creamy and luscious, and a lattice type top. But the filling was surreal. If they made this on a regular basis, I'd kiss off my North End jaunts in a nanno. Also in March, their zeppoli are about the best anywhere. My only lament on Domenics is they are no longer doing veal cutlets, except by special order. So mo more veal parm. sandwiches.

                                            PS: To keep with the post, I agree 110% about Burdick's pastries. Outstanding !

                                          2. m
                                            marchperson Jun 20, 2007 02:16 PM

                                            I visit Boston regularly (2 or three times a year) and love to get desserts in the North End. I think the name of the place is Mike's. People stand in line for the cannolis there. I also like Athans at Washington Square in Brookline (green line) Then there is Finale. Love the chocolate items there.

                                            Also, not a bakery, but Petit Robert (Kenmore Square) has pastries baked each day. Sometimes we go there for dessert and coffee.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: marchperson
                                              s
                                              SA70077991 Jun 24, 2007 07:36 PM

                                              There is A&J King Artisan Baker in Salem on the north shore, they've been open for about a year and are a boulangerie, they have wonderful crusty bread and croissants among other things.
                                              more info on their website: http://www.ajkingbakery.com/

                                            2. w
                                              winedude Jun 25, 2007 01:01 PM

                                              Actually, if it's up to me and I'm driving 100 miles, I'd keep going for another 100 or so and go to Montreal. There are bakeries there (Patisserie Gascogne) that are the equivalent of any in Paris (the croissants and pain au chocolat are better than any I've ever had anywhere, and the pastries are amazing, as good as Gerard Mulot in Paris). Also Fromentier for breads that would make anywhere in Boston (or Paris) jealous. I just went and brought home bags and boxes full, they freeze great and customs let's you bring them in.

                                              Around here, the best bread I've had is at Clear Flour, and the best cakes (by far!) at Pastiche in Providence, both already mentioned.

                                              1. b
                                                bostonmeg Jun 25, 2007 03:23 PM

                                                Hard pressed to think of a great all-around bakery in Boston.

                                                I have a few favorites for specific items though:

                                                Beardpapa's in Quincy Mkt for cream puffs - exceptional.
                                                Modern for cannoli, torrone.
                                                Mike's for Lobster Tails
                                                PartyFavors for cupcakes - I know the frosting isn't everyone's favorite but sometimes I just crave it.
                                                Petsi Pies for any type of pie - just incredible and Renee is the nicest woman on the planet.
                                                Crown Bakery in Worcester for Cardamom braids and Raspberry Jelly Rolls.

                                                I am always looking for a great cake - haven't found it yet and since I don't drive can't attest to Kondieter Meister (sp?).

                                                Clear Flour has the best bread and cinnamon rolls going.

                                                On my list to try are Truly Jorg's in Kenmore and Athan's in Brookline.

                                                Meg

                                                1. r
                                                  RudyH Jun 25, 2007 03:25 PM

                                                  Kays Bakery in Holyoke Massachussetts- Little Polish Bakery- the best in the world open to the public. The best overall is my sister, but she only supplies to family and close friends :-)

                                                  1. t
                                                    taxi Jun 25, 2007 05:56 PM

                                                    Lulu's in the North End. So so tiny but yummy cupcakes and biscotti and unusual-flavored mini=cheesecakes.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: taxi
                                                      s
                                                      Scruffy The Cat Jun 25, 2007 07:23 PM

                                                      I haven't been that impressed with Lulu's cupcakes. Sort of dry and expensive. I think they think they're cute, but I wouldn't make the trip again.

                                                      1. re: Scruffy The Cat
                                                        c
                                                        cornFusion Jun 30, 2007 03:52 AM

                                                        perhaps another case of "my neighborhood place is best because I have been going there ..." ,,,, lol

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