HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Berkeley: La Bedaine - Fabulous classic Buche de Noel and croquembouche $12 ... twelve dollars

The yule log will serve six and is letter-perfect classic buche. Wonderful buttercream with meringue mushrooms and little surprises in the frosting ... a juicy cranberry, a raisin, a nut. Absolutely perfect cake with the lovliest background of vanilla.

I asked if there were any other special holiday desserts and that's when the croquembouche was mentioned. The price varies with the size.The start at either $10 or $12, IIRC. He said he wouldn't make them too large because they are very delicate. Call ahead to place an order for these. The yule logs are in the case already.

Fabulous ,... fabulous ... fabulous.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. How much is the Buche for 6? Not exactly classical flavors.

    13 Replies
    1. re: celeryroot

      Twelve dollars ... twelve dollars Any other decent bakery is charging $20 - $30 for something not as good. I think even Safeway charges more for their drek.

      Other than a bit of cranberry or raisin in the frosting, it is as classic as one can get. By bit, I mean as a decoration to look like a bump on the log

      1. re: rworange

        I am very dubious...... the materials alone cost me more to make a small one . Plus the time to make a real buttercream , ganache, glacage etc . If I dont have time ill get one at Downtown bakery for I think 28/6..... which is about standard for price.

        1. re: celeryroot

          Have you been to La Bedaine or been following the threads about it? I have to imagine someday this all will be a wonderful memory price-wise. Everything is way underpriced and fabulous ... fab-u-lous.

          1. re: rworange

            No I have not been there, and no I do not spend my life reading food threads.
            But there is no way they can put out a great product at that price,so something is wrong.

            1. re: celeryroot

              It is unfair to pass judgement on a restaurant without trying it ... especially in light of my not reading one single negative thing about the place from people who do live nearby and are familiar with the place.

              If you don't even want to read links provided in this thread then let's go another route. Discounting skill, I could make a Buche for $5 tops using this recipe for Jaques Torres ... and I'm talking using ingrediants with mainstream supermarkets like Safeway

              BUT you have to factor the ACTUAL cost. This is for a log more than double the size at La Bedaine so ... 4 eggs ... at $4 a dozen we are talking about $1.33, less than 1/2 lb butter $1 and those are the most pricy ingrediants.

              I'm not counting bulk costs that a bakery would pay.

              Have you considered every other place is overcharging?

              Why make an issue of this? This is a nice,hard-working chef who does everything himself. Why would you want to cast suspicion on his business without having been there or even reading about it? Economic times are tough and no business deserves to be kicked without reason ... especially this man who puts out the type of food this site seeks... the best of the best.

              He's not putting money into press and self-promotion like some place like Tartine. I've never seen the word organic in the place.

              It is just delicious. Period. That is what is supposed to count.

              If you are in the area, stop by. Then post if you think there is something wrong. Get the amazing smoked sausages.

              1. re: rworange

                It is possible you got the price wrong
                Also the chocolate I use costs more then 12 for a small Buche , the high fat butter I use is much higher etc.

                1. re: celeryroot

                  I bought one so I know for a fact the price is $12. It was the sole reason I bought it. I usually don't buy a Yule Log before Christmas.Eve.

                  It wasn't a mistake in change because it was the sign for $12 that caught my eye.

                  Listen, I imagine one day the pricing will all change. Currently he has very little overhead. It is just him in the kitchen with a woman at the counter. When she goes on lunch, he takes over for a while at the counter.

                  I hope he is pricing himself incorrectly. But for this brief shining moment it is soooo refreshing to get stunningly delicious food that you don't have to think twice about buying. It is what would expect in France here in Berkeley ... that little corner French neighborhood shop.

                  I probably should have just left this in the longer thread but the value was so terrific I wanted to call attention to that for people in the nabe. Unfortuantely it got this attention.

                  BTW, for locals, there were some lovely boudin noir in the case yesterday.

                  1. re: celeryroot

                    I guess if you don't believe RW you could try one for yourself, If she's lying please report back.

                2. re: celeryroot

                  Something may indeed be wrong, but don't you think people who've actually eaten at the place (or at least taken the time to read about it) might be better judges of that?

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    I agree. In particular someone who takes the time like RW to keep others informed. It is also not hard to imagine in today's economy when one is trying to build a new business that prices might be lower than they will be in the future.

                  2. re: celeryroot

                    Also, I would imagine the chef is able to purchase his ingredients at a discount by buying in bulk, or using discounts or sources not available to us not in the profession.

                    His wife is charming, the food is very good (I had the brioche, oxtail pastry, sugar cookie, among other items) and if RW says the bouche noel is $12, it certainly sounds like both a bargain and a delightful treat to me.

                3. re: celeryroot

                  I tried a bunch of things at La Bedaine and the quality was exceptional:


                  The prices are crazy, the guy is just throwing money away. He might be breaking even but I doubt it. I expect one day soon he'll either raise his prices or go out of business.

                  La Bedaine
                  1585 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                  1. re: celeryroot

                    Um ... Today I bought a sensational croquembouche at La Bedaine for $1.50 ... One dollar and fifty cents.

                    Now this is the first time I've ever had a croquembouche, so I can't compare it to any other. It was like a fantasy of biting into a cloud ... soft, etheral and heavenly ... a cloud covered in crackly caramelized spun sugar ... truly divine .

                    I was going to let this thread get buried and not respond again, but the thought of reporting about a $1.50 croquembouche has me giggling as I type this.

                    He made individual croquembouche today ... just two profiteroles. So that was very nice to be able to buy this dessert without a major commitment.

                    This is someone who really loves what he is doing. It is the second time he's said how much fun it is to make the holiday desserts. He said the same of the yule log. His face lights up talking about it.

                    However, I may start turning down the stylish packaging. This chef needs to make some profit. The croissants and other breakfast pastries I bought the other day were in a white box that had a doily in it. Today a few items were in a lovely mint green shopping bag that I could easily use as a gift bag.

                1. re: sydthekyd

                  Aqui ... or shouldn't that be ici?

                  1585 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                  It's in the space once occupied by Lola's.

                  Seriously, twelve years of grammar school and high school French and I can't remember how to say "Where is it" in that language.

                2. The buche in the case this evening (already sold) was tan-colored and apparently coffee flavored. I ordered one of those ($12) and one hazelnut-chocolate ($15) for Christmas Eve. My SO thought the coffee-colored one was too pale. But trees come in different colors, right? His dad (a French guy) used to make a Buche de Noel for Christmas Eve every year. He's not up to it anymore, so we're looking forward to contributing these. They look homemade, in a good way.

                  1. We need to check out La Bedaine. We just got back from a short holiday in Paris and would love to find a local equivalent of a good boulangerie-patisserie-cafe. The quality of baked goods in Paris is knock-your-socks-off great. Your description of La Bedaine and their Buche de Noel sounds wonderful. We'll check it out and report back.

                    1. How long do you think the buche will last in the fridge?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Cindy

                        Based on the one I took to work 2 days. Oh, you mean without being eaten.

                        1. re: wolfe

                          Funny! :D Was wondering how far in advance I could pick it up, to be eaten Christmas Day (if it'll last that long...)

                          1. re: Cindy

                            I asked at the store and was told one week. Probably best to call and reserve one. There was only one on display. Monday pick up should be fine.

                      2. Several favorable comments about Le Bedaine are being hidden in a GO thread.

                        1. They will be open today. All sold out of Yule logs last night.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            They were sold out of a lot today. I liked the mocha log better than the chocolate-hazelnut. Maybe if it had just been labeled hazelnut. It was choc full of hazelnut and had a tasty splash of raspberry something on top, but it was the same color as the mocha and the chocolate taste was very subtle.

                            I sure hope he made some money off those yule logs. He looked like he had not slept last night. I'll bet he'll be happy not to see another Yule log for a year.

                            1. re: rworange

                              I think the chocolate taste was very subtle because it was nonexistent. When I picked up our two buche this afternoon, the chef's wife just called them coffee and hazelnut. So maybe there was a change of plan? It didn't matter to me; they were happily received -- though I did make a last minute stop at the Monterey Market for a Semi-Fredi apple pie because the logs seemed a bit smaller than they were before.

                              1. re: rworange

                                I decided to check them out today and was in about noon. He was selling out fast. The woman behind me got the last of the individual quiches. I told him he was going to have to close early and he smiled wearily and said he would just make more.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Don't know what you got, but hope you stop by on a day that isn't so off in terms of being busy.

                                  I do have to say he did well in not crashing and burning. He probably got a lot more business for Christmas than he could have anticipated when he opened a few weeks earlier. I've found it interesting watching him handle it well. Other than the yule log not being dark chocolate ... or any chocolate ... the quality really didn't slip despite the holiday spike. .

                            2. Let me start by saying that I am a fan of this place. I live two blocks from the place and has been a regular customer since i discovered it.
                              Few observations i would like to make.
                              - Being originally from Europe i noticed that people in America are so used to the average quality of food that anything of higher standard is expected to be found only in high priced restaurants. When i first came here i was shocked how most people are accustomed to eating non delicious and non fresh food. Of course, Berkeley is sort of an exception.
                              - So, why is everyone screaming that prices are so low? Personally, I do not think the prices are terribly low. They are low compared to the similar prices of the similar lower quality mass produced items. But if you shift the paradigm and think that people should not be paying arm and leg for a delicious food then the prices are not too low.
                              If they raise the prices I will definitely think twice before buying.
                              I think if they raise prices the products will not sell as fast and will be left on the shelves and will get old. The beauty of this place is that it is locally owned, small, freshly made, people oriented business and not some high end snobbish profit only driven faceless business. Living off Solano I can only name few places (unfortunately) like that.
                              Maybe it is too low for someone who is not counting his money (like many people living on the higher hills east of Bedaine) but for some folks like me the price is right.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: apple_tree

                                I'm happy to pay so little for such top-quality food. I'm just afraid he's going to go broke and close.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  i agree with you that such top quality work should be rewarded and actually do not mind paying extra for higher quality freshly made food, In fact before coming here i used to spend higher percentage of my disposable income on food.
                                  But if they raise the prices above reasonable i will not be as motivated. I stopped going to Whole Foods often since I can go to Berkeley Bowl and buy same or better staff for cheaper.
                                  But if we buy more and spread the word he will have a higher turnover and will be financially ok. Let's say you sell 2 items for $5 each. Your cost basis is $3.
                                  So you profit on 2 items is $4. If you raise the price to $6 you might sell two items with a profit of $6. But if you keep the same price and sell 3 items your profit will be $6 as well. In fact his costs per item will go down bcs of the economy of scale and you might sell even more than 3 since people will buy more at lower prices.

                                  1. re: apple_tree

                                    La Bedaine would have to raise its prices *to* reasonable.

                                    If his margins are solid then it'll be great if he can keep this up, but it's hard for me to imagine that he has some magic formula that lets him make money at a price point where he's undercutting Trader Joe's.

                                2. re: apple_tree

                                  I think Apple Tree makes some fair points. Certainly the low prices are a big part of the appeal for me as well--if the prices were much higher, I don't think I'd be as likely to go pretty far out of my way (as I do now) to buy their stuff.

                                  I don't know if they would get away with raising the prices on their prepared dinners too much higher than they are right now. But if they sold their pastries/desserts/smoked items for $.50 or $1.00 more than they are currently? That'd still be extremely reasonable, in my opinion. And maybe more sustainable from a business perspective...

                                  1. re: abstractpoet

                                    I agree that the price is a big pulling point for me and my visits would be fewer otherwise. I've been annoyed a few times when customers in the shop had said the prices are too low.

                                    Even a dollar or two more would make me think twice. Six dollars for a boar pate sandwich ... I'm there. Affordable lunch that competes with fast food. Eight dollars ... even seven, uh, maybe not.

                                    There's no pr or advertising going on, so no costs for that. I have to think that Miette would not have been in business very long had they not been so media-savy. That gets reflected in the price.

                                    There's nothing organic going on here, AFAIK. That reduces prices in comparison to other local business ... and organic doesn't necessarily transplate to flavor.

                                    The servings are reasonable sizes. I really love it. The buttery, light wonderful brioche is half the size ... and price ... of other local bakeries. Ditto on the croissants, etc. What is not to like about a $1 tasty brioche.

                                    I don't know if he is catering or not as someone guessed, but he must be smart about buying things. I have yet to see anything with lobster that is not a sauce or bisque, so he could be purchasing lobster carcases for that.

                                    Right now the overhead is low. He seems to have someone helping him in the last week or two, but still, there's not a big payroll there.

                                    1. re: abstractpoet

                                      I served his smoked salmon to some friends the other night, and they were dumbfounded when I told them it had cost only $8.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Did they have larger packages? The smoked salmon was $4.

                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          I stopped in the other day and got a small package of that smoked salmon, for $4 and some of the wild boar rillette for $6. That rillette was out of this world, really flavorful and rich, and the $6 piece would have been a perfect appetizer for a dinner party (though I ate most of it myself as a reward for finishing my Christmas shopping). Something of that size from Fatted Calf would have probably been more than twice the price.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            My new diet is: Berkeley Bowl Salad + Bedaine Smoked Salmon.
                                            [BTW, I weighed the $4 package and it came it at about 4.65oz inside the plastic ... I was to lazy to do a tare measurement.]

                                      2. It looks like he's catering and the stuff in the front is only a small part of his business. How else could he have trays and trays of pastries and non-stop entree preparation? There's too much food for the front. I'm guessing he's probably doing pretty well. Whenever I stop by there's always someone ahead of me in line and the stuff just keeps on selling.

                                        I had the chocolate buche and it was good. Everyone liked it and I would get it again next year.

                                        If he does raise his prices, I will definitely slow down the pace at which I've been buying his stuff so I hope he doesn't do that.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: rightstar

                                          The entrees last two weeks ... except for a few new items he added that are only good for 2-3 days. So he's probably cooking up a large batches. I'm not sure when you saw all that food, but if it was Christmas Eve, he had a lot of orders for those yule logs and other items, so they were pre-ordered items.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Two weeks ago I came in to buy his chocolate croissants. It was around 11:30. His wife had told me they would be ready then. When I came in, they weren't. He moved a cart with several racks of uncooked pastries and said it wasn't time for them to go in the oven because he had a whole bunch cooking already. On each rack, it looked like there were at least a dozen pastries. There is no way all of those could be for the front. There were just too many. I am guessing most of them were for catering.

                                            1. re: rightstar

                                              The way stuff flies out of there, I'm sure he goes through many dozens of pastries a day. He seems to have trouble keeping up with demand.

                                              How could he cater? He's there all the time. I haven't seen any big orders packed up to go, either.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                You are right rworange and Robert Lauriston. I asked him today. He said he can cater but only the type where he drops off the food. I asked him if he's able to sell everything by the end of the day and he said it's not a problem for him since he has almost no overhead.

                                                I asked him if he's open on Monday. He said he doesn't bake pastries on Monday as he uses that day to prep for the rest of the week. However, if he has anything left over in the refrigerated case, he will be more than happy to sell it.

                                        2. I agree with you. I love the buche de noel (and other food) there. This is a yearly tradition for us! The coffee flavor buche is amazing!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: bythebay

                                            No one has reported on them for a while. Thanks for the reminder!