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Flour Bakery and Cafe Coming to Cambridge

According to the Dishing blog at the Globe, Joanne Chang has chosen to open Flour3 near Central Square in the same building as Central Bottle. The hope is to open in June. I'm happy to no longer have to cross over the river for some of the best treats in the Boston area.

http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/...

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  1. Yeah only Flour stuff is not that tasty pretty much across the board in my book. I'd way rather go to Crema in Harvard Square, Hi Rise, Burdick's for sweets or even that other bakery in Central Square.

    I've never had a single thing from Flour that really tasted special or worth a trip. If anyone has any data to the contrary please enlighten me.

    64 Replies
    1. re: StriperGuy

      Huh ? Well I don't have hard number stats on the "tastiness" @ Flour, but my 5 inch toungue says whoooaaa, when we going back for Oreos, poptarts; dacquoise; bfast sandwiches, coffee, raspberry lime rickies; etc. etc. I don't like to contradict the tongue as it can really lash out on me at times. Flour is one of the best in Boston.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        SG, I'm stunned - usually I agree with you, but not here. I think Flour's outstanding - I like all those others you mentioned, but I think that Flour is right up there w/those. I'm psyched for this news!

        GG
        http://www.semisweetonline.com

        1. re: StriperGuy

          have to agree with StriperGuy, never been overly impressed with Flour.

          1. re: rchudy

            3rd that. Now if it was Clear Flour, that'd be something to be very excited about.

            1. re: Gabatta

              Thank god it's not Clear Flour. Between stuffing my face with the sticky buns from Clear Flour and ice cream from Toscanini's, I'd have a heart attack by 40.

          2. re: StriperGuy

            I'm looking forward to this thread.

            I like the pop tarts - honestly tender and flaky, with acidic/sweet fruit inside. The pastry has a nice amount of salt.

            I like the brioche au sucre - it's a classic and I've never found a technical error in the dough, cooking, browning or flavor.

            I really like the lamb sandwich with tomato chutney and chevre; two bright flavors combined with sweet meat and chewy bread. (I'd use a chewier, saltier bread, but I like it just fine).

            I didn't like the dacquoise so much - I didn't think it had much texture to it. I like dacquoise chewy, and this just disappeared in my mouth.

            1. re: enhF94

              I have to second that lamb sandwich- out of this world. Though Ive had some misses with some of the other sandwiches. I have enjoyed their cornmeal lime cookies- but haven't tried too much else of the bakery menu -for fear of addiction :-)

            2. re: StriperGuy

              In my (limited) experience, Flour's sandwiches are terrific; I was especially impressed by the BLT. But the other stuff is somewhat uneven. People I know rave about the sticky bun in particular - I thought it was good, but not outstanding.

              Of all the bakeries you mentioned, I think the best comparison in terms of vibe and array of offerings is probably Hi-Rise, which is even more expensive, but to my taste has better and more consistent breads and sweets.

              1. re: StriperGuy

                I think the replies to my post, jibe with my experience regarding the PRODUCT.

                I am not at all a sandwich guy so that may explain some of my reaction.

                Pop tarts, oreos, none of that is real baking.

                A good dacquoise gets my attention. I'll confess I have not tried that at Flour.

                Hi Rise is pricey, but they deliver on the quality in a way that I have never felt Flour does on a consistent basis.

                To Gabatta below, if it was Clear Flour I'd be jumping up and down, and up and down again...

                1. re: StriperGuy

                  I have no business posting on this thread as I am not a sweets fan, but I love the sandwiches at Flour. The chicken with jicama and avocado and the BLT are just great.

                  Plus Joanne is just good people ... I'm happy to see her succeed.

                2. re: StriperGuy

                  Sorry StriperGuy, but I find that basically everything I've tried at Flour is tasty, while I've yet to have any pastry I really enjoyed at Crema or Burdick's, although I do love Hi-Rise. I recently had really mediocre green tea macaroons at Crema, and abyssmal linzer cookies at Burdick's. (Excellent ginger lemonade at Crema though made up for it!)

                  However, everything I've had at Flour (with the exception of their occaisonal pizza specials and their raspberry soda that just doesn't do it for me) has run the gamut from great to extraordindary.

                  And in particular, the hazelnut dacquoise cake is just amazingly extraordindary. It is the best cake I've ever had and I haven't yet tired of it.

                  So as far as I'm concerned, a Flour in Cambridge can't happen soon enough!

                  1. re: lipoff

                    Alrighty, I guess the gantlet has been thrown. I'd better check out the hazelnut dacquoise.
                    ;-)

                    1. re: lipoff

                      I didn't mention that it was, in fact, the hazelnut I referred to earlier.

                      Not sure what you mean by real baking on the pop tarts? Note they make the dough themselves; these aren't the kind from the box.

                      1. re: enhF94

                        I understand that it is a made from scratch / reinvented version, I still just find that underwhelming/gimmicky, whatever. Heck make me a good fruit turnover.

                      2. re: lipoff

                        Gotta agree with you lipoff on the pastry at Burdick's. As much as I LOVE their hot chocolate (& the food at the Walpole, NH restaurant), gotta say I'm not crazy about their pastry. I think it's just because of the style of pastry - it's more of a European type (not as sweet) while I prefer either an Italian-type (with fresh whipped cream) or American-type (more sugar & frosting). I prefer Fratelli's in Quincy for American-type pastries or Guarino's in Norwood for Italian-type pastries to Burdick's. I've only had Canto 6 & Clear Flour from the farmer's market but think they're good too. But, that's what makes this board great - everyone has their own likes/dislikes & you get great info on new places to try to find what you like, so everyone wins. : )

                      3. re: StriperGuy

                        well, sg, we seem to either completely agree or completely disagree. This time I am on your bus about Flour. However, i have not had their dacquoise (my very fav dessert when made w/ a nut meringue), but even if it is great, that would make only one great thing there. .imo, boston does not have a great sweets bakery, but we are lucky that we have several great bread bakeries.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          I agree there is no single great sweets bakery, but I get by with particular items from: Modern, Athan's, Tabrizi Bakery, Yi Soon, Japonaise, Rosies, Burdicks, Arax, Sevan.

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            i think the idea that there is no good bakery in the boston area for sweets is completely absurd. the # of bakeries, and very good ones at that, relative to the size of the population is really quite tremendous in boston. it's one of the area's comparative strengths, at least in the US.

                            1. re: autopi

                              Name one, that is solid across the board, where you can go in and get a world class pastry no matter what you order. Name one.

                              Have you been to NY, Paris, Vienna? Though even in NY they are getting scarce.

                              There is no single world class sweeet bakery in Boston. I take my sweets VERY seriously.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                as do i. i would put clear flour, canto 6, a&j king and annarosa up against any (similar) kind of pastry i've had anywhere in the world.

                                and yeah, that includes a lot of time spent travelling and living abroad, including some of the places you mention.

                                i actually think some of the bakeries you mention are completely unremarkable. i don't have a lot of experience at yi-soon, for instance, but i found them not very good (had much better in taipei); japonaise is good at a few things, but a lot of it is ok not exceptional; i didn't find the baked goods i got at sevans (or was it arax? don't recall) to be standouts, nor do i care for much at modern, except for the ricotta pie which i'm really into. and the one or two things i've had from rosies have been terrible.

                                it doesn't bother me if you disagree, but you may want to consider toning your rhetoric down a notch. silly and ill-informed ad hominems and fist pounding ("for I am the king of pastry!") don't really help make your case, you know.

                                1. re: autopi

                                  Ha ha, king of pastry. I was once told you could track me thru Europe by following the pastry crumbs. I thought Striperguy was mostly referring to those fancy cream filled pastries. I agree with you on Canto, Clearflour, etc. That's my preference for sure, so I can't help pointing out the places with lots of custard, whipped cream, ganache, etc.

                                  1. re: autopi

                                    Let's be clear, I am talking a Patisserie. Like what Joanie said below, fancy cream filled pastries and the like. A place that specializes in sweets. Spend 10 minutes in Gerard Mulot, or any of a half dozen of the top Patisseries in Paris and I guarantee you will change your tune.

                                    I LOVE Clear Flour, think it is an exceptional BAKERY, but it is not even close to a Patisserie or sweets-bakery by their own admission. Neither is AJ King which I also love. My SO lived in Salem and it was our local.

                                    I've only been two Canto 6 and Annarosa once each so can't really comment with authority, but at that one glance, they are BAKERIES, not Patisseries. In fact, technically, if they make bread they are a Boulangerie, not a Patisserie though some do both.

                                    I brought a friend to Gerard Mulot and her comment was: "I thought I new what a (sweets) bakery was, I have never in my life eaten anything like this, it blows my mind how good this is."

                                    If you go to Paris, eat 5-6 pastries at Gerard Mulot, and swear to me on whatever you hold sacred that ANYONE in Boston even comes close, I will contribute $100 to your plane ticket. This is NOT a joke. All grandstanding aside.

                                    Pastries are my food passion above all other, and as anyone who knows me I am a fairly passionate person. When I am in Paris I often forgo lunch and have 2-3 pastries instead. There are places in Boston that have a good sweet or two, or even 3-4, but none that deliver cases loaded with amazing creamy goodness. Nothing in Boston even comes close to a proper Parisian Patiserrie.

                                    http://a1.vox.com/6a00c22527b0f0604a0...

                                    http://www.marilyn.com.au/wp-content/...

                                    http://www.gmjames.com/paris2001/imag...

                                    Not every one in Paris is great. I would say 9 out of ten are only passable, but the really amazing ones shine. Do yourself a favor, go to Paris, hit Gerard Mulot, you'll be happy that I keep my $100.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      Striperguy,

                                      Have you been to Quebec? You should check out Le Croquembouche in Quebec City. It was mind blowing! I felt it was like the first time I ate real pastries and crossiants. Since I ate there everything else taste like crap or too sweet in the States.

                                      Where do you like your 2 or 3 sweets in Boston?

                                      1. re: Torolover

                                        Have not been to Quebec City, but you can be sure not that if I hit it Le Croquembouche is on my list.

                                        I have posted my best of pastry list a dozen times on this board, but here we go again:

                                        - Athan's Chocolate Jamaica (best chocolate mouse dessert in Boston in my book)
                                        - Japonaise Adzuki cream puff
                                        - Modern: Cassata, Napolean, Torrone, Ricotta Pie, Zeppoli di San Giuseppe once a year just before lent.
                                        - Place on main street in Gloucester. Best Lobster Tail evar.
                                        - Jim's bagle shop Gloucester, Rasberry whipped cream thingie
                                        - Tabrizi Bakery: walnut macaroons, cream puffs when they are fresh
                                        - Rosies Soho glob chocolate chip cookie
                                        - Yi Soon - Walnut chocolate chip cookies, delicate not too sweet cheese cake, Moon cakes, Sweet potato roll, Wallnut coffee sponge cake which they never seem to make any more.
                                        - Ohlin's Belmont (mostly lame but) Apple Fritter, Cider Donuts, Butter Crunch Donuts.

                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                          Well SG, I guess this thread just exposes all our differences. Ohlin's for doughnuts? Really? When Linda's is right down Trapelo/Belmont St.? I never set foot in Ohlin's for ANYTHING, despite the fact that I live closeby and walk by it at least 2x/week.

                                          GG
                                          http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                          1. re: gansu girl

                                            Gosh do I do something such that people only selectively read my posts.

                                            I like Linda's, in fact, I probably posted about Linda's before anyone on Chowhound. for chocolate glazed, and plain, Ohlins for butter crunch and cider (fall only) and for the apple fritter. I ain't messin' around. 3 Ohlin's Donuts on me, if the butter crunch and apple fritter don't meet your approval.

                                            Most everything else at Ohlin's is forgettable.

                                            If we really want decent donuts, Linda's and Ohlin's don't even rate compared to Verna's Mass. Ave. Cambridge, assuming they are keeping it up under the new owners (which they were 8 months ago). Only jelly donut anywhere that I will eat, and everything else is good to excellent.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              Mmmm, you're on. Right after I finish "detoxing" from Christmas/New Years/Valentine's Day/Chinese New Year . . . so . . . May? Agreed re Verna's, with same caveat. I grew up over there - so as you can see, haven't strayed far from either the 'hood or a good doughnut shop. Explains the need for occasional abstention! I happen to LOVE Linda's butter crunch, so trying Ohlin's will be "good" for me. Right.

                                              GG
                                              http://www.semisweetonline.com

                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                            If you like the Soho Globs, you should get (from the library maybe) the Rosie's Bakery Cookbook and make them. They are great and MUCH cheaper than buying them.

                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                          Well, the reason for the lack of great patisseries in Boston (and I agree there is such a lack) is that it is not our local tradition. So right off the bat you would expect there to be fewer good ones here and/or not a really outstanding one. Baking traditions in the U.S. are much different, and (in my experience) the bakeries here seem to aspire more to elevated home baking, with a mix of breads and sweeter items, than to fine patisserie. No doubt this reflects (and then reinforces) the preferences of the average consumer here, but of course not all consumers. Of course, as Boston has become more cosmopolitan, more bakeries are aspiring to "old-world" style breads, and you'd think that patisseries would be right behind that trend, and there are some valiant efforts at Clear Flour, Canto 6, and some other places mentioned. But the style here just seems more informal, less exacting. It's a cultural difference that will probably persist for a long time. You wouldn't expect to find certain things in Paris that we Bostonians specialize in, like lobster rolls, clam chowder, etc., so I don't see why people are shocked at the lack of a Parisian-caliber patisserie.

                                          1. re: bella_sarda

                                            Exactly. I bet our choc. chip cookies and brownies are better than in Paris, if you can even find such a thing.

                                            1. re: Joanie

                                              I love Chocolate chip cookies, particularly at Rosie's and I love a good Brownie, but to compare them to the best Patisserie is just silly.

                                              I agree with Bella Sarda that there are cultural differences, but there is also the issue that real, serious patisserie is SERIOUS work, usually done in the middle of the night so pastries are fresh for the day, and I am not sure the economics of it are even workable in most U.S. cities with costs of labor etc.

                                              NYC used to have many old school German, French, Viennese style bakeries, but as that generation moved on 80% of them closed. If baking artisanal bread is endless hours of hard work, which it is, Patisserie is 2X or 3X the work. Also getting really fresh really straight from the farm cream, eggs, etc. is harder and much more expensive here.

                                              Then as you elude, the market here is not quite so strong for this type of thing. Though the fact that Finale exists gives me some hope. If someone made pastries half as pretty that actually tasted like something we might be getting somewhere...

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                I'm not really comparing them. Just saying that as someone who has a wicked sweet tooth, I could usually give a flying F about the creamy stuff and want baked goods as perhaps a lot of people in the US do. Thus, why you can't find your perfect patisseries.

                                                1. re: Joanie

                                                  Heck, at Gerard Mulot they also made a buttery sugary glazed brioche that was quite noteworthy. With the risk of sounding like a broken record, if you are in Paris, and you likes sweets, give it a whirl, creamy stuff and all, you will not be disappointed.

                                                2. re: StriperGuy

                                                  I found better pastries in the subways of Berlin than anywhere in Boston. And cheap - somehow they still manage to deliver good pastry at a very reasonable price. I highly doubt these were "fresh from the farm" ingredients, either, but still a huge leap over most of what can be found here. Overall, I think it's a matter of demand, and hence taste. People want dunkin donuts and panera. The bar is so, so low.

                                                  sniffle

                                                  sigh

                                                  1. re: lisa13

                                                    So funny, I was out with friends last night and one said he found better pastries in a German airport kiosk then anything in Boston.

                                              2. re: bella_sarda

                                                you are so right about it not being in our local tradition. Our local tradition is dunkin donuts...freakin' FEH but we (collectively, that is...you wouldn't catch me dead there) line up at every location on every corner for their foul coffee and stale pastries.

                                                The closest thing we have to a french patisserie is that place on Beacon Hill....cafe vanille? I think that's its name.

                                                1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                  Cause I am stuck in a rut, Cafe Vanille is also MEH. Pastries just have no flava. Don't think I haven't tried...

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    this is not a taunt! but have you tried making some of your favorite pastries yourself? I ask as I am seriously thinking about getting more into baking as what I can buy around these parts is not very satisfying.

                                                    But I can't be trusted to dispose of these experiments responsibly - I need to pass them off onto someone else lest I expand in ways I don't desire. So, is anyone interested in a baking swap meet, or some kind of baking club where we aim to assemble lovely, delicate, luscious and perhaps challenging sweets to fill the pastry void?

                                                    1. re: lisa13

                                                      Hmmmm, that's not a half bad idea. Honestly, I love to cook but am not much of a baker. I do know some other hounds that are though. I would suggest posting a new post to the main Boston board. I bet you get some serious takers. I would certainly help you eat some ;-) and lend moral support. Heck, I'd bring along really good sherry, sauternes, or port to go with...

                                              3. re: StriperGuy

                                                "Nothing in Boston even comes close to a proper Parisian Patisserie"....... What's amazing is that each of those pastries requires very different and labor intensive techniques--pate frisee, pate a choux, brioche, puff pastry, genoise, etc not to mention all the fillings and creams and glazes--and yet you can find a couple of very good patisseries in just about every town in France. Even many of the boulangeries offer a couple of very nice tartes.

                                                  1. re: cassis

                                                    That would be pate brisee, not frisee (which is a type of lettuce). Add to that pate sucree, pate sablee, etc. It's not so amazing to me that there are great pastries all over France: the French have been making (and revering) fine pastry for hundreds of years.

                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                    Hi, there. I live in the South End in Boston, and this is my first time posting to this board. I was just in Paris, and spent several days in Bordeaux too. I know of Gerard Mulot; I've eaten at Pierre Hermé's temple to sweets, I've waited in line at Ladurée. I've had macarons at Pierre Hermé that were so good I wanted to cry. But I think you are underrating Boston.

                                                    I can say with good authority, for example, that the cannelé at Canto 6 in JP is as good, if not better, than the famed cannelés of Bordeaux, where it was invented. Also, Canto 6 does not make their own bread; the bread loaves they sell there are from Clear Flour. They do make brioche, but that is not the focus. Canto 6 is all about sweets, not bread. It may look humble and rustic - without the glossy rows of perfect, colorful squares behind glass that you see in Paris - but their wares are fantastic, the best I've had here. And Clear Flour's baguettes, when bought fresh in the morning, are as good as any I've had in France.

                                                    I don't rate Flour that much. I eat there quite a bit (because it's just around the corner) but find it very inconsistent and a bit too precious, and I don't like the coffee much either. However, their homemade granola - with coconut flakes, cranberry, oats, honey, etc - is ace.

                                                    1. re: theoriginalsoundtrack

                                                      Cannelé are tasty, but barely qualify as patisserie; it's a little sweet roll, delicious yes, a bit tricky to make, sure, but nothing in terms of the complex technique that some of the more involved pastries require. In fact it is exactly the type of thing Boston bakeries make, nice rustic stuff, perfect for a cup of coffee, but not the high art of dessert.

                                                      As I said above, I am not a good source of data when it comes to Canto 6. But if it is humble and rustic, then it is, by definition not really patisserie which is the opposite of that. You say you know "Of" Gerard Mulot but have obviously never been there.

                                                      So I guess you are just generally defending Bostonian pastry, but have little data to offer.

                                                      What other than the "rustic" baked goods at Canto 6 do you think Boston has to offer that competes with the refined sweets of Paris, Vienna, Turkey, Morocco, or elsewhere where the art of dessert is taken to a very high level.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        have you ever tried making cannelé? it is quite a difficult recipe to perfect. the batter needs to be chilled for 24 hours. you have to have proper copper molds to do them right, and brush them with a mixture of beeswax and oil. they are easy to burn. the difference between a good one and a really good one is big. it is an art. and like i said, canto 6 does them so well.

                                                        perhaps you should open your own patisserie in boston and show us what you're made of.

                                                        1. re: theoriginalsoundtrack

                                                          ah this beeswax treatment is really interesting.

                                                          I used to buy honey with the comb, and loved to spread the wax on hot toast - it made it soooo crunchy and delicious.

                                                          I definitely need to try these.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              I don't think Canto6 aspires to be a patisserie. I think they just like to make what they want to make. The things they do well, they do REALLY REALLY WELL. Obviously a cranberry oat bar is not patisserie fare, but it their's is DELICIOUS. Same for the tappo - those oversize-thimbles of dense, moist dark-chocolate cake. The perfect indulgence. I've had sublime tarts there, the most memorable being a dark chocolate caramel tart with sea salt. Amazing brownies, cookies, tarts, and that monkey bread! Really terrific stuff. Is it patisserie? No. But who cares? Is it humble and rustic inside? Yeah, but who cares about that either -- decor shouldn't make a patisserie; the wares should. The point is, Canto6 is the best bakery in Boston, not Flour. And I agree no one should knock a place they haven't really sampled.

                                                              1. re: astrid

                                                                Never knocked it. But it ain't what I was discussing which is good serious patisserie.

                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                  Hey StriperGuy,

                                                                  Have you tried the desserts or pastries at L'espalier? I'm thinking of going there just for desserts.

                                                                  Where is the best Patisserie in New York? Have you been to Bouchon Bakery?

                                                                  1. re: Torolover

                                                                    I've only been to L'Espalier 2-3 times and don't really remember the desserts. In NYC I don't even remember the names of the places I go to I just stumble on them when I am in a particular neighborhood. Would like to try Bouchon.

                                                                    Nice Jewish bakery on like 3 street and 2nd. Veniero's for decent Italian.

                                                                    Couple of places on the East side that are really good I'm just blanking on names. One is at 82 or so and Madison, very French, very pricey, pretty good.

                                                                    The lost German Jewish bakery of my youth was was up in Washington Heights and was called Gideon's. The bakery still exists, but in name only. There was a place up at Dykman too that was way old school and made the most amazing Charlotte Russe's.

                                                                    Some of the new fangled cake places (Magnolia?) in NYC make pretty amazing stuff as well. Honestly it is kinda shameful how hard it is just to get a decent slice of cake in Boston, seriously.

                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                      A friend who lives elsewhere has a pied-a-terre a block away from Bouchon, so we went there when I visited a few years ago. We had individual slices of I-can't-remember-what, and I bought a few different slices to take home. Sadly, I was underwhelmed. Everything was on the dry side, though that could be the result of the pre-slicing. Nothing was as good as the tortes and other pastry to be had at any number of German-Jewish bakeries on Long Island 40-50 years ago. What the remaining ones are turning out these days, I do not know as I have not lived there since.

                                                                      The best cake I have had in MA has been some of the coffee cakes and cupcakes at Petsi Pies in Somerville.

                                                  3. re: StriperGuy

                                                    And Tokyo for that matter where world-class French pastry (not to mention traditional Japanese) is everywhere.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        It's very simple, no grandstanding whatsoever>>
                                                        < There is no single world class sweet bakery in Boston.>
                                                        is absolutely true. Heck, we don't even have a Regionally Best sweets bakery here. That prize would go, no contest, to Mirabelle in Burlington VT. And don't even THINK about Providence or Portland ME.

                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                          Hah, if anything my opinion that most sweets in Boston aren't worth the calories has gotten even stronger since this thread started 3 years ago.

                                                          Heck, there's Petsi's but it's pretty hard to get a decent pie in this town, never mind actual patisserie. Verill farm is pretty good as well. But so so many pies here have lousy vegetable shortening crust and gloppy filling. Heck we can't even make good. Boston creme with the possible exception of Flour's rendition.

                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                            I'd recommend trying a Lyndell's boston cream pie before saying that.

                                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                              Hmmm, never had it at Lyndell's and I do give them some credit. Some of their items are very good. Not Paris good, but certainly very good for Boston. I was recently very impressed by their donuts.

                                                  4. re: StriperGuy

                                                    What's "that other bakery in Central Square"? Carberry?

                                                    1. re: Blumie

                                                      No, I think he means the one on Mass. Ave. up near the firehouse. I've known it under a couple of different names; not sure which is the current one - Mariposa? Cezanne or something like that?

                                                      1. re: Allstonian

                                                        Mariposa. I doubt SG would consider the Au Bon Pain a bakery. :)

                                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                                      After reading the book and looking at the recipes and pics on www.gesine.com, I am seriously thinking of schlepping to Montpelier when the business reopens in its new and larger digs. SG, wanna carpool?

                                                    3. The lime cornmeal cookie is pretty interesting. For my money, I prefer Canto6 in JP... I wish they could expand instead!

                                                      1. I am glad that Flour is expanding to Central Square as I am very much a fan of their products. For example, I think their banana bread is exceptional, so moist and flavorful. Today, I had an excellent blueberry muffin from there.

                                                        1. Finally, I'll get to try the sticky buns! I would never have made it across the river early enough. Also, I've heard so much about that hazelnut dacquoise that I hope it lives up to the hype!

                                                          15 Replies
                                                          1. re: voodoocheese

                                                            Until the Cambridge location opens simply call and ask them to save you some buns. I've done it a couple of times as it's a journey for me too. No problem taking the order and they are packed and ready when you arrive.

                                                            1. re: tweetie

                                                              For those who want to try the dacquoise, I must make an important point. There are usually slices available in the case....at a chilled temperature. I say dacquoise should be eaten room temp....not chilled. And I do base my opinion on its excellence on the fact that I order a whole dacquoise. Maybe 2x year for Xmas...and a special dinner occasion. So, it may therefore be a very fresh version. Although I have never had a stale product from Flour. I just don't know how "old" or young the slices in the case may be. I'm not a huge pecan/sweet roll fan, but I love the sugared pain de "something". Basically a sweet brioche rolled in sugar. There are some products that I don't order; only as a matter of personal tastebuds. But overall, I do detect great quality buttery flavor, with fine ingredient usage. PS: For a non-pecan roll fan, I get a sweet roll at Pete's in Lexington, that I think is made at Carberry's that is the bomb. They also offer a lowfat orange choco chip muffin that defies the odds. And Pete's offers a Carberry's choco-chip shortbread cookie that is one of the best cookies I've tasted. So I guess the long and short of opinions points toward all of these fine places offering something for everyone. I go by the 80% rule. If I basically like 80% of the products offered, I'd say its a good bakery. It is so hard to please the masses of tastebuds and keep product rotated/fresh/natural and original.

                                                              1. re: Buddernut

                                                                I enjoy Flour myself - the banana bread is something wonderful! But should they expand again? The original Flour to me falls short to the 2nd location. Does anyone else find this to be true? With any plans to expand one must take into account whether you are spreading yourself to thin…

                                                                1. re: Buddernut

                                                                  Speaking of Carberry's, when we were in Lyndell's Bakery in the NE the other day, the first time for me, I saw they had three locations X'd on the map, on in Central Square, and the guy behind the counter told me that Lyndell's had bought Carberry's.

                                                                  He couldn't really tell me any more!

                                                                  1. re: dulce de leche

                                                                    I'm one of the few who likes Carberry's so that makes me sad. I think the panini are good and like the heath bar cookies. oh well.

                                                                    1. re: Joanie

                                                                      That makes me semi-sad, too. I loved their chocolate chip scones, and I'm not a Lyndell's fan.

                                                                      1. re: pollystyrene

                                                                        Plus there are no sandwiches at Lyndell's are there?

                                                                        1. re: pollystyrene

                                                                          I love Carberry's cinnamon chip scone. It's crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and full of cinnamonny goodness. I stopped by today to get one for breakfast. Everything is still Carberry's goods. However, they did have a few trays of Lyndell's baked goods sitting on top of the display counter (cupcakes, brownies, black and white cookies, etc.)

                                                                      2. re: dulce de leche

                                                                        huh. carberrys vs lyndells. i used to think that pretty much anything in that space would be better than carberry's. i guess i was wrong.

                                                                          1. re: dulce de leche

                                                                            I completely missed this discussion, but when I was in Carberry's yesterday, I noticed a stack of Lyndell's business cards on display by the cash register.

                                                                          2. re: Buddernut

                                                                            I completely agree on room temp for the dacq. It's because of the buttercream and its velvety texture when it is not cold and solid. Btw, dacquoise freezes very well.

                                                                            1. re: Buddernut

                                                                              be careful with the dacquoise at room temps-- if you put it on your car seat to drive it home and the car seat is not level, you may find when you get home that the upper layers of the dacquoise have slid off the lower layers-- not a pretty sight!

                                                                          3. re: voodoocheese

                                                                            VCheese, if you're still managing a particular store, I'll trade you my secret fast route to Flour Bakery for a dollar off Year of the Tiger. Or you can just twiddle your thumbs awaiting the new opening. :D

                                                                          4. I'll strongly second the thumbs up for the lamb sandwich and banana bread, and add the vegan sandwich (grilled tofu, grilled veg, olive tapenade, panini'd bread) and the craquelin (brioche dough rolled up and filled with candied orange peel), which is one of the best filled-brioche/croissant-type items I've had in Boston (and possibly even beyond). The sticky buns are great when eaten fresh in the morning. Later in the day they're a bit leaden. The soups can be excellent as well. Haven't had the dacquoise but they make a delightful lemon raspberry cake. Some are fans of the carrot cake, but it's a bit too dense for me, although the frosting is addictive. The scones are quite good too, especially the low-fat, dried fruit scone, surprisingly.

                                                                            I go to the Fort Point location and can't compare to the South End location. Happy to have a Cambridge Flour.

                                                                            1. I used to live a block away from the original Flour in the South End. Now, I work across the street from the Fort Point Channel location. I have to say that their baked goods are tasty, but certainly they do not stand head and shoulders above any number of good bakeries in this area. I am also continually horrified by the prices they have the nerve to charge.

                                                                              It was a colleague's birthday last week, and we wanted to get a cake to feed about 15 people. Naturally, we walked across the street to Flour to get the cake. However, when we were told it would be $75 for the cake, we walked right out and went to Rosie's at South Station, where we paid $40 for a delicious and huge chocolate cake. If we had wanted to go a bit further, we could probably have gotten a delicious cake from Eldo Cake House or one of the other Chinatown bakeries, for even less.

                                                                              I'm sorry, but $75 for a cake?? That's just obscene.

                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                              1. re: mwk

                                                                                Particularly when they are not even THAT good.

                                                                                1. re: mwk

                                                                                  Yeah, the whole-cake pricing is a bit odd. Basically, they multiply the retail price for one portion of whatever cake it is by the number of servings you've requested. So when I got Barmy a birthday cake of their Boston Cream Pie, the price was 6x the price they charge for a single slice of the Boston Cream Pie.

                                                                                  But we do really like their Boston Cream Pie. I also used to love the Pain aux Raisins, and the sandwiches really are excellent.

                                                                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                    Allstonian, used to love? The pain aux raisins and the similar cinnamon cream brioche are my favorite items at Flour (except for the fresh doughnuts, but I hardly ever get there on a Sunday). Have you found something you love more, or did you get over it for some other reason?

                                                                                    1. re: Pia

                                                                                      No, it's just that I haven't worked at BMC since 2005, so I never get over to Flour for breakfast pastry anymore. (You should have seen me carting that cake home on the bus...Silver Line to the 66, and it DID make it home intact!)

                                                                                    2. re: Allstonian

                                                                                      Finally got to try the Boston Cream Pie at Flour... it is delicious, but it's not like any Boston Cream Pie I've ever head. It looks the part, more or less, but tastes exactly like tiramisu.

                                                                                      1. re: Pia

                                                                                        Interesting thread here, I can add some perspective from experience.
                                                                                        I served a 7 year apprenticeship with a Parisien pastry chef, very talented guy.

                                                                                        I made french pastry in Boston for years but there is a lack of appreciation, I could literally sell a cupcake full of trashy filling from a bucket for $3 but couldn't get $2 for napoleons. People are simply more comfortable with homey pastry methinks.
                                                                                        Considering the difference in labor between cupcakes that any dishwasher can taught how to make in 15 seconds vs french pastry it takes a certain stubborness to continue with real pastry. So I retired from french pastry .
                                                                                        After 30 years I don't need to keep banging my head against the wall to prove what I already know. I have some pics.
                                                                                        http://s261.photobucket.com/albums/ii...

                                                                                        Striperguy is right on, if you haven't been to Paris you really don't know what you don't know. Other places I visited with superb pastry, Hong Kong, Poland, Ukraine, Belgium but France stands above all.

                                                                                        Boston, nah. My mum could make most of the junk being passed off as pastry.

                                                                                        1. re: jonesg

                                                                                          Your post made me laugh, and cry...

                                                                                          Nice pics. The croquembouche look insane.

                                                                                          Next time you hit Paris really give Gerard Mulot a whirl, the creme de la creme so to speak.

                                                                                  2. How is parking in this location? Going to Boston this weekend and want to stop by before we do some sightseeing..thanks.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: petuniafromhell

                                                                                      Plenty of metered street parking. If all else fails there is a parking garage on Green Street (2 blocks away).

                                                                                    2. I was at flour3 the other day at peak time (lunchtime). No seats to be had, line out the door. Woman not eating or drinking, typing on her laptop, taking up valuable table space. I spoke to a staff person who says there is "nothing" they can do about people who hog tables. Note that flour does have signs posted asking people not to do this (and the woman was sitting immediately next to one).

                                                                                      I was disappointed and it made me want to eat there less (and I probably eat there once a week). Not the woman's behaviour, while that was unacceptable, but the fact that the staff wouldn't do anything about it.

                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: donlan

                                                                                        i don't really fault them for not enforcing: i think the policies/signs are good for the expressive force of establishing a norm, and getting good people to do the right thing, but ultimately 'enforcing' policy poses a lot of potential costs and few benefits on an individual basis. for example...

                                                                                        1. how do you do it fairly? and more importantly, what do you do if the customer calls you out for trying to boot them but not others (whom you may or may not know have been loitering as well)
                                                                                        2. what's the likelihood the scene will escalate, getting the attention of a lot of customers, which in turn may leave a lot more customers with a negative impression of the restaurant than the handful who noticed the loitering
                                                                                        3. what kind of training is necessary to make sure that, when trying to enforce this policy, all employees have the tact/sensitivity to a. pull it off b. handle an escalated situation (maybe i think that, if you're a table hog, you're just likely not to be great about handling confrontation over it..)
                                                                                        4. somewhat tongue in cheek: correlation between people who have bad table etiquette and people who would subsequently flame you on yelp for trying to boot them? just saying... ;)

                                                                                        personally, i'm all about 'nudge' systems that would encourage the customer to leave. eg in cafes, i like wifi codes with purchase that give you say an hour of internet, therefore forcing you to either buy a second drink, or leave, without needing the staff to enforce the norm. or just train servers to actually be super attentive and ask if they need anythign to make them feel guilty.

                                                                                        1. re: valcfield

                                                                                          I find that a squirt gun works great on my cats when they park places they shouldn't. Of course, there's a risk of damaging the offender's laptop that way, so maybe just hit them with a blast of aerosol keyboard cleaner to give them the hint?

                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                            i support. even better, can we do it old school nyc-style and just blast the keyboard with cleanser and then demand a quarter in exchange after?

                                                                                          2. re: valcfield

                                                                                            "how do you do it fairly? and more importantly, what do you do if the customer calls you out for trying to boot them but not others (whom you may or may not know have been loitering as well)"

                                                                                            Flour has people walking the floor all the time, wiping down tables, clearing trash. They know who is loitering and who isn't.

                                                                                            "what's the likelihood the scene will escalate, getting the attention of a lot of customers, which in turn may leave a lot more customers with a negative impression of the restaurant than the handful who noticed the loitering"

                                                                                            What about those of us who get annoyed by the loiterers and don't want to return?

                                                                                            "personally, i'm all about 'nudge' systems that would encourage the customer to leave."

                                                                                            Flour could do what other places do and shut off their WiFi during peak times. Of course that doesn't help if you have a cell modem.

                                                                                            "train servers to actually be super attentive and ask if they need anythign to make them feel guilty."

                                                                                            The best option yet!

                                                                                            If it had been 6 in the evening, when flour is quiet, I wouldn't have quibbled. But taking up a table when there was a line nearly out the door and many people roaming for seats was too much. Heck, she could have sat at the bar facing Mass Ave and only taken up one seat, but instead she occupied a table taking up four chairs.

                                                                                          3. re: donlan

                                                                                            People practically live at the back bay location.

                                                                                            1. re: donlan

                                                                                              This reminds me of one of my favorite yelp reviews:

                                                                                              http://www.yelp.com/biz/dwelltime-cam...

                                                                                              This line sums it up, "In my opinion a coffee shop is a place to sit for a while, whether or not you order"

                                                                                              This is the world we live in.

                                                                                              1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                oy- you can see a review from them 2 days later about how much they love diesel cafe because they can sit there forever, and even specifically says they've been by before and not ordered anything, and how great that is.

                                                                                              2. re: donlan

                                                                                                Joanne Chang has asked for suggestions on how to solve this problem on Twitter on more than one occassion. If you have a suggestion, I'm sure she'd love to hear it. She clearly knows there's an issue.

                                                                                                1. re: mkfisher

                                                                                                  Why is this such a difficult topic? Limit the amount of time you can connect to their free Wi Fi. If it times out after an hour, then most of the "hogs" will get up and leave.

                                                                                                  1. re: mwk

                                                                                                    I think even a sign that has a gentle reminder that during peak business hours to please be mindful of incoming customers who need a seat would help. I find once it's put out there, most reasonable customers/freeloaders aren't likely to put up a big fuss if asked to give up a seat or will be more thoughtful when the crowds come. In the absence of a sign, I find most people will default to staying forever.