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Aug 3, 2009 08:25 PM

Albany: Cafe Saint Honore- The mating of the French pastries ... Visitadine, canneles, Congolaise and absurdly amazing beignets

Cafe Saint Honore had a sign in the window "new patisserie".

Dropping by they are still using the same baker, but have expanded the selection. They have always been vague about who does the pastries ... Cafe Saint Honeore, I kow you secret.

It is Artisan Bakers who has been making the great canneles and macarons sold at Berkeley Bowl West. What is better here is that unlke BBW they don't refrigerate the pastries which I feel dulls the flavors.

I know this because that is the same beignet I've been eyeing at BBW and the other day at BBW I noticed the visitadine (black butter reduction, almond meal, powdered sugar) which I haven't seen elsewhere in the Bay Area).

That is the French version of a beignet which is like a soft, pillowy, yeasty donut mated with an eclair. The custard inside is decadantly delicious and the chocolate on top ... oo-la-la !!!

The Congolaise is like a coconut macaroon (not the macron) had a menage a trois with a financier and a canneles finishing with a dip in a chocolate hot tub.

The moist little pyramids, half dipped in chocholate are wonderful. There's a mention and photos of Congolaise in this blog from Paris. The Cafe St Honere version is a little different ,.. as the blog says, every bakery is a little different, but this is the idea

There are lots of other pastries such as blueberry financiers and these lovely puffy looking sweet brioche dusted with powdered sugar.

They are also selling bread now, but it is just La Brea.

The mystery for me is if this is the same Artisan Bakers of Sonoma. The Berkely Bowl is specific that it is Artisan Bakers of Berkeley.

Cafe Saint Honore
862 San Pablo Aven, Albany

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  1. I had canneles there once that came right out of the fridge, in a plastic-wrapped industrial-looking box, served cold and without much flavor.

    Here's an article of where things come from.

    7 Replies
    1. re: lmnopm

      Ah, thanks for solving my mystery of Artisan Bakers. I wonder if these people also do the desserts at Sea Salt as well as Fonda and Lalime's. I dunno, my cannelle from BBW was good, but the refrigeration killed the crispiness of the crust.

      I didn't try the cannelle from the cafe because once I recognized this was the same baker as BBW, I already tried that.

      Thanks again for the link

      1. re: rworange

        "I noticed the visitadine (black butter reduction, almond meal, powdered sugar) which I haven't seen elsewhere in the Bay Area"
        visitandines are made with brown butter and are nothing more then another name for financier. They may have a different mold .

      2. re: lmnopm

        Is Artisan Foods really one of the Krikorians' dbas / corporations? I've never heard of it before and none of their liquor licenses are registered under that name.

        I'm skeptical of the facts in that article, given "baguettes are crafted by Cordon Bleu-trained Nancy Silverton, cofounder and head baker at Los Angeles' trendy La Brea Bakery" and "sunshine pouring through the windows from Gilman Street."

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I don't know, but I am curious of the same. I do know they opened up their own baking facility in the past year to service their restaurants (the bread is great.) I believe it is in West Berkeley somewhere.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Last week, I had some fleur de sel cookies from Berkeley Bowl and said "These are the same cookies that Lalime's serves. I asked at Lalime's last night, and indeed, they are the same item.

            1. re: lmnopm

              This seems quite brilliant to me. So many restaurants are hurting for business and this seems like an excellent way to generate extra income.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston

              To follow up on Robert's post, yet, it is. Artisan Foods of Berkeley is an Alameda County registered Fictitious Business Name for a Krikorian corporation. I'm curious to know their complete product line, because the stuff at Berkeley Bowl looks great, and the desserts at their restaurants (all now made there) usually are great, as well as the bread. The Lalime's bread is really good, as well as what I had at Fonda today with brunch. Today, I scooped up all the Fleur de Sel Cookies at Berkeley Bowl to bring to a party.

          2. I would like to confirm that the custard beignets (which I tried for the first time at Berkeley Bowl) really are insanely delicious. Forget the waiting game as to whether Hopkins Bakery will make their custard donut again.......just go here!

            Combined with the congolaise (which was also quite good)'d be hard-pressed to find so much dessert happiness in a single box for just $4, anywhere.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Agent 510

              Hmm, I asked for the beignets today at BBW and the people working behind the counter didn't seem to know what I was talking about. They instead steered me toward the chocolate eclaire, which I decided to buy. Are they called beignets or the "visitadine" that rworange mentioned in her original post? (Don't think I saw that either.)

              They also didn't have the congolaise. I bought a tasty looking apple pastry with brie cheese instead; it was excellent. The eclaire is sitting in my fridge for later.

              1. re: abstractpoet

                There are two separate bakery counters at in the main store and one in the cafe (which is open even after the cafe stops serving lunch). The beignets are in the cafe.

                1. re: Agent 510

                  Ah! Well, I guess I'll just have to make another trip for those then. Not that you really need to twist my arm.

                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    I have stopped in there twice recently. The good the bad and the ugly.

                    (1) A few evenings ago, when driving by, I decided to get a cup of decaf, and indeed, I saw several selections from Artisan Foods of Berkeley in the case. This was exciting. As I had previously said, the canneles they used to have were industrial blah, now they are the good ones. I got a cup of decaf, to go. It was lukewarm at best, so much so that I finished it about the time I got home, just several minutes in the car. With the dog in the back seat asking me "Why are you stopping, I want to go home," I didn't ask them to brew any fresh coffee.

                    Today, I returned, for an afternoon cup-o-something. It was a lovely day outside, maybe 70 degrees. It was HOT in there, and the beautiful Artisan Foods goods were-a-melting. The fleur-de-sel cookies were sliding apart and filling was dripping onto the display plate. I asked for a small drip coffee to go. The poor dear didn't understand what I wanted. I had to explain to her what a small drip coffee was. I also bought a congolais to go. There were no coffee lids out, and although the cup seemed warm when I poured it, the coffee came out at barely drinking temp (too cold). I ate the congolais when I returned to work (5 minutes later) and it was way too warm, with the chocolate pretty much melted.

            2. Sadly, I was walking by there today and the windows are papered up with a sign on the door "Closed Indefinitely". :O(

              I don't get it, every time I've been by it has appeared busy. I've been by a couple of times and everyone I spoke to thought highly of the place.

              6 Replies
              1. re: nicedragonboy

                That is a major shock. Maybe illness? Really, don't know. I can't imagine it has to do with lack of business. I wonder if they will show up at the El Cerrito Farmers Market on Saturday.

                1. re: rworange

                  I did not see him at the El Cerrito Farmers Market this morning.

                  1. re: lmnopm

                    this is heartbreaking. was so happy in there. 6am coffee cannot mean peetbucks now.

                2. re: nicedragonboy

                  I found your posting after seeing the store all closed up today. Looks like they were painting inside, but I didn't stop to check the inside out.

                  Called their phone number and it says the subscriber has temporarily blocked this number from accepting calls (paraphrasing). Looks like it must've been really quick cause I could've sworn they were open just last week.

                  1. re: robertjm

                    it was very quick. my friend was there on Tuesday last week and I found it closed on Friday.

                    1. re: nicedragonboy

                      quicker than that. it took 1 day, and the first day closed there had been a pen and paper attached to the door where one could leave a message for Paul, etc. But then that swiftly disappeared, signs came down and paper went up on the windows.

                3. A sign on the door says "Opening tomorrow: Four Corners Cafe." (I think that was the name.) I saw a guy in chef's whites inside, as well as some other people setting up. No menu posted, and it didn't really look ready to open tomorrow, but who knows.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Glencora

                    Maybe they will have Ici ice cream. It was nice not having to wait in line.

                    1. re: rightstar

                      Whatever is there was open this evening.

                      1. re: lmnopm

                        Here you go

                        Albany: Four Corners Cafe

                        Farewell, my sweet Cafe St. Honore

                  2. Today, I discovered their coffee is available for order online! For those that miss their morning cup of Holy Cow or Frog Fuel you should check it out: