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May 9, 2012 09:09 PM

Where to buy a chocolate Kouign Amann in San Francisco on Sunday?

The chocolate Kouign Amann from Starter Bakery sounds like the dessert of my dreams.

My husband is visiting San Francisco this weekend (we live in Seattle) and is willing to bring me back one, if I can figure out where to get one.

The Starter website has a list of places where the pastries are sold, but I'm not sure which places are open on which days, and how far they are from Forest Hill neighborhood (where my husband will be staying).

Any tips on which places would be closer and/or more likely to have a chocolate Kouign Amann on Sunday would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Bi-Rite might have them on Sunday--call them and ask. It's a gourmet grocery store that is extremely customer oriented. If they have them, I'm sure they'd save one with a phone call. That's in the Mission on 18th near Guerrero. Also in the Mission is Four Barrel Coffee. They sell b. Patisserie's kouign amman, also really good. Chocolate not guaranteed, however. (I like Starter's best, but some people like b.'s best.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Atomica

      I should add that parking in the Mission on a very sunny Sunday will not be easy at all. For a visitor, it might be best to find a close-ish parking garage (such as Valencia & 21st) and walk to Bi-Rite.

      1. re: Atomica

        Clearly you should park near 4 BARREL and walk toward BI-RITE and not the other way. In my experience, parking a bit north or east of 4B shouldnt be too bad ... and I take MUNI like 1/year, so I have a pretty refined Parking Probability Gradient for that area.

        BTW, this should not be considered an endorsement of 4B ... because it isnt. I dont find MINT BLUE BOTTLE an especially comfortable venue [you cant slouch and work on your computer, read comfortably etc], but I think the coffee is terrific and the 'show' aspect interesting. And parking is easy if you avoid the Metreon. I do appreciate in this context 4B is just instrumental to the Kouign Amann ... but I just wanted to get that in there.

        [Also for not-entriely-relevant additions: the La Bedaine Kouign Amann isnt bad ... a little rich for me and you have to heat it up, so not convenient to eat at any time. I used to really like La Boulange but have also been dissatisfied with many of their offering lately even though I go to the Noe Valley operation to work now and then. The canele is pretty good tho, as is the Tropezienne.]

    2. Starter Bakery is @ the Temescal Farmer's Market Sunday, 9 AM-1 PM, in Oakland. Not impossible, but definitely a hike (and a bridge) from Forest Hill. And don't know what flavors they'll have any particular Sunday.

      1. Farm:Table in SF sells Starter Bakery's kouign amann, they don't answer their phone so don't know if you'll get chocolate kouign amann, but I've gotten it there on Sundays open 9-3.


        1. Starter Bakery's KA is definitely the standard by which others are judged, but I had one at La Boulange recently that was nicely done. Not sure if they're doing chocolate.

          La Boulange has some locations that might work from Forest Hill--e.g., Cole Valley & Hayes Valley--and you can order in advance.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Rapini

            Another opinion--I feel the La Boulange version is a DISTANT third in quality. I would not recommend going out of your way to get one.

            1. re: Atomica

              I'd agree with this statement, though I've only had their version once, and that was from Whole Foods, so who knows how long they'd been sitting around before I bought it.

              Does the Four Barrel cafe still sell Belinda Leong's product? (I've never gone there, mainly because I don't like Four Barrel coffee.) Her KA was superior to Starter's, judging from the one time I'd had hers, though I have no idea if she does a chocolate variation.

              1. re: Spatlese

                They do still sell Belinda Leong's pastries, and other bakeries' stuff as well.

                I want to be clear that I am generally a big fan of La Boulange and feel they do a lot of things really well. I am never sad to have La Boulange as a breakfast or lunch option wherever I might be. I just thought their kouign amman was totally subpar, not the tight, compact, caramelized goodness I have come to love.

                1. re: Atomica

                  I agree with you in generally enjoying La Boulange, but that it's KA is not top tier. However, it's reasonably good, and given the OP's time and geographical restrictions, I think it's a decent option.

                  1. re: Rapini

                    I had a chocolate ka from the La Boulange on California at about 2 in the afternoon. If that was the only ka I'd ever had, I'd never seek one out again. Maybe it had been sitting around too long but I've had kas from other bakeries that I've toted around all day and eaten later in the afty and they've been yonks better. Could be a one-off of course but I'd hold out for Starter or B. Leong's in SF if the OP's hubs can pull it off.

                    1. re: Rapini

                      I'm thinking more like "go big or go home." She wants to try the Starter one specifically, so I personally would steer against getting a less than stellar example. Then she might think kouign ammans in general are unremarkable. :)

                      1. re: Rapini

                        just want to mention that I sampled the La Boulange version earlier this week (Fillmore street about 9 am) on my lightning visit to SF and it was a totally forgettable routine pastry, like any old commercial puff pastry product, no noticeable carmelization or buttery/salty quality. Not worth the investment, at all. Im still waiting to have a "real" kouign amman .

                1. re: buoncibo

                  That is the article that steered me toward Coffee Bar, where I first tried ka in November 2011. The plain one from Starter was my favourite, till I tried their hazelnut in April. I wasn't as much a fan of the strawberry one which I sampled at farm:table but it was still better than any croissant I've tried yet. I know Coffee Bar isn't open Sundays but farm:table is, according to Tablehopper, though they don't answer their phone as mentioned above and there aren't any times on their website, so that might be tricky for the OP's quest.