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Beaucoup Praise for Beaucoup Bakery

r
reiney Jan 4, 2013 09:59 PM

I know it's been mentioned in the Kits Happenings thread, but thought this new spot deserved its own discussion.

WOW. I wandered into the bakery and ended up indulging in a whole lot more than I expected - all of it incredibly high quality.

The croissant is without a doubt the best I've had in the city - perfectly baked, properly proofed, well shaped, delicious. After being really disappointed by Thomas Haas, Faubourg, etc, I was excited to find a place that knows what they're supposed to look like.

There was an apple tart ($5.50) - sliced apples on top of pastry cream and a pate sucre base. The apples almost looked like a giant caramel: sliced on a mandoline, stacked like mille feuille and cooked to a caramel brown. Really well balanced with acid from the apples, delicious if a bit too large for one serving.

I also sampled the apricot and almond scroll, which was great - *very* apricot-y - and the peanut butter cookie (just sweet enough, with not a hint of that bitter, rancid flavour you can often get in them).

Very excited to see how this place develops - but it's a gorgeous spot and absolutely impressive start.

  1. el_lobo_solo Jan 4, 2013 11:36 PM

    reiney is spot on about the croissants, and if reiney also got the filled peanut butter cookie, there'd be no need to eat for a few hours. That thing was so huge, rich and good. They'll have sandwiches very soon too. I'd like to try their salted caramel blondie next and gradually work through all their sweets.

     
    6 Replies
    1. re: el_lobo_solo
      c
      carameleyes Jan 5, 2013 12:00 AM

      That pb cookie gets a lot of raves but I found the cookie itself pretty unremarkable and the filling too greasy. Also, the consistency of the filling is thin so it just squirts out the sides when you try to eat the sandwich (I ended up pulling the two cookies apart).

      The marcona almond bar reminded me of a chocolate bar (not sure which one), only without the chocolate coating. Really way too sweet. I was hoping for more almond flavour in the bar itself but it's more of a sweet "candy bar" with almonds on top. I guess that's just a personal pref thing, though.

      Tried a bit of my friend's chocolate chip cookie and that was also pretty average.

      I'd still go back. Just would lower my expectations a bit.

      1. re: el_lobo_solo
        r
        reiney Jan 5, 2013 10:11 AM

        Hehe, true: perhaps I should have mentioned that my goodies were shared, and spread out over the course of a day :)

        I can see where carameleyes is going with the PB cookie - the thin consistency didn't bother me because I was eating it by tearing off a bite, rather than biting into it directly. I wonder if the greasiness is owing to using real crushed peanuts instead of a commercial peanut butter, which would have all kinds of additives to keep the fats and proteins together? Just speculating.

        Can't comment about the almond bars - but anyone who bakes croissants like that knows what they're doing. And no one bakes croissants like that in Vancouver.

        1. re: reiney
          grayelf Jan 5, 2013 11:41 PM

          That is great news about the croissants. Here's hoping they use them to make some of the sandwiches -- how I love croissant sandwiches, especially with shrimp and avocado. And so close to work, woot!

          1. re: reiney
            c
            carameleyes Jan 6, 2013 12:22 AM

            I'll definitely be trying the croissants next time!

            1. re: carameleyes
              Sam Salmon Jan 6, 2013 09:30 AM

              The croissants are somewhat small for making a sandwich.

              They're certainly a quality product but not something I could eat regularly and a caution-eating one in a car is a poor idea unless you have Staff to clean up afterward-enjoy them @ home while wearing a bib.

              I see they have a big new red sign on the north side of the building-a great idea given all the traffic on Fir St.

              1. re: Sam Salmon
                grayelf Jan 6, 2013 10:03 AM

                Heh, kind of like eating a good banh mi in the car -- cleanup in aisle one! I suppose they could make larger ones for sandwiches but that might throw off the balance. Having never been to France, alas, I do understand that the smaller size is de rigeur. And prolly the idea of croissant sandwiches would horrify a true Francophile.

        2. c
          clutterer Jan 6, 2013 11:42 AM

          I tried the croissant based on your high praise and have only gratitude in my heart.

          1 Reply
          1. re: clutterer
            LotusRapper Jan 6, 2013 12:52 PM

            And happiness in the tummy ;-)

          2. y
            YVRChow Jan 6, 2013 07:45 PM

            I've been back a few times. The highlights so far have been the kouign amann with seasalt, and the simple yet warm from the oven and delicious Valrhona chocolate chip cookie.

            The espresso also was decent - 49th Parallel Beans, and served with a little cardamom biscuit on the side - nice touch!

            A bit too crowded for comfortable seating though - so likely will become a take-out only spot for me.

             
             
             
             
            3 Replies
            1. re: YVRChow
              grayelf Jan 6, 2013 11:33 PM

              Okay, I am so there on Tuesday if they have kouign amann (even funny looking ones). Thanks for the tip.

              1. re: grayelf
                y
                YVRChow Jan 7, 2013 01:33 PM

                Yes, they are a really different shape than I've seen before. I agree.

                1. re: YVRChow
                  grayelf Jan 7, 2013 05:10 PM

                  Shape, schmape, as long as they taste like ka, right?

            2. LotusRapper Jan 10, 2013 01:43 PM

              Dropped by there this morning. Parking was somewhat elusive, had to park a block away. I was actually just hoping for a plain croissant, but they were out of 'em (I was in around 10:20). I didn't feel like a pain au chocolat, so I settled for a chausson aux pommes (apple turnover) and a petit brioche as its companion.

              Place was packed with no seating for my lonesome tummy (small space, somewhat awkward layout in a narrow "L" shape), like YVRChow said, the seating don't look all that comfy. So I went right home to savour with my obligatory earl grey tea.

              The chausson was very flaky and very crispy, even the layers deep in. About as good as the ones I had at St. Honore in Portland, if maybe a bit "too crunchy", because I like my puff pastries with a soft almost moist interior. But the apple ..... more like a teaspoon's worth of purple-ish sauce that tasted tart, almost like a rhubarb sauce. No chunks of apple in sight. That was the disappointment.

              The petite brioche .... was a let-down. Rather dry inside & out. Any other person might have thought this was a day-old brioche. I could only eat 1/2 of it and felt the rest wasn't worthwhile.

              Service ...... fairly friendly but lacked the alacrity required for such a busy place.

              Overall, based on what I ate and on my brief moment in the store, and value for money, I give them a 5.75/10. I will try again later to see how things might evolve.

              17 Replies
              1. re: LotusRapper
                e
                eatrustic Jan 10, 2013 02:31 PM

                Funny you mention St. Honore and apple chausson as I had one at St. Honore two days ago!... and tried the Beaucoup version a couple of weeks ago

                I found the crust on the Beaucoup to be kind of sturdy and very neutral taste-wise -perhaps a touch of sugar in the dough or sprinkled on the outside. I also didn't find any chunks of apple but thought the flavour was definitely superior to the St. Honore version which was a bit above OK.

                1. re: eatrustic
                  LotusRapper Jan 10, 2013 02:46 PM

                  :-)

                  St. Honore's apple chausson crust, IIRC, was more buttery and less sturdy/crunchy and the internal layers were softer (smile), the apple was sweet and syrupy, somewhat akin to that of an apple pie, but w/o the nutmeg and cinnamon. Perhaps made with an American palate ? I liked it a lot, esp. considering how blistery it was the Spring break week we were down in PDX last year and every meal we had felt like a lifesaver from the cold.

                  1. re: LotusRapper
                    grayelf Jan 10, 2013 06:18 PM

                    I tried four items from BB earlier this week: plain croissant, cheese croissant, kouign amann and cheese green onion scone. Found them all greasy and heavy, with the ka being the lightest (which is kind of ironic). They were also all overcooked except the scone. Hoping this was just a one off.

                    I'll head back in a few weeks when they start sandwich service.

                    1. re: grayelf
                      LotusRapper Jan 10, 2013 06:58 PM

                      I looked fast & hard at the cheese scone (I love scones) but being in a patisserie that's an unnecessary first-visit distraction.

                      So you're saying the scone came out as the winner of your selection ?

                      1. re: LotusRapper
                        grayelf Jan 10, 2013 07:01 PM

                        I think the ka was the best item, mainly because it was less greasy, again, ironically. But it wasn't a patch on the kas I've tried in Portland and SF, and it was smaller and more expensive. So no winners, sadly.

                        1. re: grayelf
                          LotusRapper Jan 10, 2013 07:06 PM

                          How would you rate Beaucoup overall so far ?

                      2. re: grayelf
                        r
                        reiney Jan 10, 2013 10:31 PM

                        I disagree that they're overbaked - they're baked to the French standard, to be crispy and flaky (most every pastry I've had in North America, Thomas Haas et al, is underbaked to the point of being doughy and just blah). In pastry school it was drilled into us how dark we needed to take our viennoisserie and BB nails it.

                        But perhaps they're having opening-round consistency issues. Sorry to hear you weren't impressed at any rate, will be curious to hear your impression of the sandwiches.

                        1. re: reiney
                          grayelf Jan 11, 2013 08:09 AM

                          Sounds like you know a lot about baking, reiney. All I know is what I like and I don't like my pastries that dark a brown, to where the edges on two were verging on burnt tasting. Here's a photo to check out of the pieces I had. To me, the cheese croissant and the kouign amann are too dark, resulting in hard, bitter tasting edges. The plain croissant was better in that regard. All were too greasy for me. FWIW, I stopped buying baked goods at T Haas because they suddenly got very greasy also. I much prefer the baking at Cadeaux, if that is a useful comparison, but again, I've only visited BB once and am willing to give it another go as it is early days as you note.

                           
                          1. re: grayelf
                            Sam Salmon Jan 11, 2013 09:52 AM

                            Here we have an issue of Canadian VS European taste.

                            For example Staff @ Terra Breads on 4th Ave htell me that Europeans often want the darkest crusted loaves whereas Canadians shun them.

                            Personally I don't like darker crusts on any of my baked products so while the product produced by reiney's class may be correct for some markets it's not so popular here-as a quick look @ any Canadian artisan bakery will show.

                            I've had a number of BB's products now and they're not to my taste-especially given the premium prices.

                            1. re: grayelf
                              grayelf Jan 17, 2013 12:59 PM

                              Stopped by today to nab a couple of plain croissants to make into sandwiches. I was that person in line who says, "Can I have that one over there on the bottom left and the one over to the right?" because they were less baked. Server was very tolerant of my pickiness. Much better experience as the interior was nicely honeycombed and not heavy and the crust was much lighter. Still a bit of a drag that they are $3 a piece and too small for one to really suffice so with tax my sandos cost $6.72 without any filling.

                              Toyed with trying a caramel eclair but my cheapass side couldn't justify $6.16 taxes in such a teeny pastry :-(.

                              1. re: grayelf
                                LotusRapper Jan 17, 2013 01:57 PM

                                Server didn't say: "Oh you must be a Chowhounder !!" ? ;-)

                            2. re: reiney
                              LotusRapper Jan 11, 2013 09:54 AM

                              I like crunch. I love crunch, actually. Esp. the outer edges of anything baked, fried, what-have-you. I just felt the chausson shouldn't have been crunchy all the way through, even in the middle. Having said that, it was better than a chausson (or any puff/choux) that is soft and soggy.

                              1. re: LotusRapper
                                e
                                eatrustic Jan 11, 2013 06:03 PM

                                Yeah, I think a lot of this is them hitting their stride. I know that they've had a venue at Market downtown on the weekend so I can't give them a completely free pass on moving up from only making lovely test batches vs actual production but they won't be the first bakery to open with the thought of "uber-authentic" European baking style vs what the market here will actually go for.
                                It's so often "how much do I educate before I finally break down and adjust my baking times to keep my customers."

                                I feel the same way about their croissants being too dark. I've had them in Paris from top bakers and although the crust is darker - there is not that sense they are over-baked or bitter, instead they have that lovely crunch on the outside with just the right amount of moisture in the multi-layered interior. Could be the butter we get here as well with the higher moisture content...
                                As for T.Haas. I think there are days when the guys at 49th Parallel who bake off his stuff nail their croissants better than the master.

                                I absolutely applaud Beaucoup for wanting to bring authenticity but there's room to wiggle and still maintain your vision IMHO. I'm sure they'll get there after all their hard work.

                                ....and, as I mentioned in the Kits section. Cut the size of the peanut butter cookie in half and I'm there but as it is now it's just too rich and it gets melty when you only eat half and carry the rest around!

                                1. re: eatrustic
                                  LotusRapper Jan 11, 2013 08:33 PM

                                  "I've had them in Paris from top bakers and although the crust is darker - there is not that sense they are over-baked or bitter, instead they have that lovely crunch on the outside with just the right amount of moisture in the multi-layered interior"

                                  Exactimundo ! Mine, while delicious and crunchy, texturally-speaking it felt like eating a Coffee Crisp all the way through.

                                  1. re: eatrustic
                                    grayelf Jan 12, 2013 09:36 AM

                                    Great post, eatrustic, I agree entirement. Higher water content in the butter would have to have some effect, wouldn't it? Also good observation about the 49thP T. Haas product -- I have found it to be much better there.

                                    1. re: grayelf
                                      NoMoreSnuggles Jan 14, 2013 10:08 AM

                                      After a few aborted missions, we finally made it to Beaucoup this weekend and sampled a few things. The croissants were lovely - definitely a highlight. Also tried a petit pain au chocolat and think it would have been better had I sat with a cappucino but it was also pretty legit. We also inhaled a cheese scone, though it was a little on the salty side for my tastes. The chocolate chip cookie was pretty good.

                                      Unfortunately, there were also a couple misses. The chasson aux pommes, as mentioned earlier, was pretty flavourless and really lacking in apple filling. The ratio was way too much pastry to filling. Also tried a palmier which was over-baked to the point of being difficult to bite into. This is usually one of my favourites so I was really disappointed.

                                    2. re: eatrustic
                                      f
                                      farman Jan 14, 2013 01:18 PM

                                      The higher fat content in the butter also adds to the taste. There was a good Globe article about the crappy butter we have here and how it affected croissants.

                        2. geekmom Jan 31, 2013 08:38 AM

                          Oh my goodness. Finally stopped by this place yesterday and I just got done eating one of the croissants. What an absolutely splendid experience. I bet they were even more wonderful yesterday but I didn't have room left after eating the delicious tropical scone with a generous slathering of clotted cream and sharing a marcona almond bar with my son. Yum, yum.

                          BTW the owner Jackie Ellis happened to be the one who served me & she was utterly charming. I hope her business continues to do well.

                          Parking was definitely an issue but once I got inside there were plenty of seats available (I arrived right around noon). I missed the boat on the peanut butter cookies so I will definitely have to go back now. ;-)

                          1. r
                            reiney Feb 22, 2013 10:45 AM

                            Reviving this thread briefly to mention that I saw an ad passed around - Beaucoup is starting sandwiches as of next Tuesday. Ham and gruyere on cheese scone, avocado/radish/endive/watercress on croissant, and duck prosciutto/lettuce/tomato on brioche.

                            Not sure how a scone is going to work as a sandwich but would be interested in peoples' feedback about whether this is worth a trip the next time I'm in Vancouver.

                            1. s
                              StarryFork Feb 26, 2013 05:14 PM

                              Sandwiches at Beaucoup are live as of today. I tried the duck prosciutto one, which was tasty, if not mind-blowing. I guess I wanted a pickle, to go with the rillette spread on the brioche slice?

                              They all look good. I think I would try the veggie next...

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: StarryFork
                                grayelf Nov 23, 2013 10:50 AM

                                Agree with StarryFork's assessment, though I had the sconewich with porchetta and smoked cheddar. It was a pretty good deal as the scone is huge -- I actually couldn't finish mine, which is unheard of. It's too bad they can't prep them a la minute, though I understand that would create a bottleneck. I prefer my scones room temp. Here's a pic...

                                 
                                1. re: grayelf
                                  Sam Salmon Nov 23, 2013 12:57 PM

                                  The secret to eating anything from Beaucoup is to hold a plate right under you chin (!)

                                  Seriously flaky stuff but in a good way.

                                  Still very very dear goods and Staff attitude is an issue-I think the barista Friday AM must have breakfasted on bile.

                                  I noticed many of the good aren't baked quite as dark as they once were so that's an improvement.

                                  1. re: Sam Salmon
                                    LotusRapper Nov 23, 2013 01:57 PM

                                    I'm waiting for Matchstick to stick some bacon into their double-baked almond croissants .... ;-)

                                    1. re: Sam Salmon
                                      geekmom Nov 23, 2013 03:20 PM

                                      I have to agree: good food, snotty staff, high prices... not to mention how hard it is to get a seat!

                                      Going to Beaucoup is an occasional and expensive event for me (last time I was there, lunch, pastries & tea for three cost $60) but we do enjoy the food, which is delicious, well-made and beautifully presented. They have fantastic croissants that burst into lots of little flaky bits when you bite into them -- as they should.

                                      For me the sconewich is a ludicrously oversized lunch that I've never actually been able to finish (and I do want to leave room for at least a cookie!) I can't help thinking the stodginess of the scone sandwich is at least partly due to the cold temperature. I'm with grayelf - I want my scone at room temperature. It is quite tasty, though.

                                      There are so many "wins" behind the pastry counter that I'm willing to forgive the occasional missteps at beaucoup.

                                      1. re: geekmom
                                        grayelf Nov 24, 2013 05:03 PM

                                        Forgot to mention I had a kouign amann as well. Having just returned from a land of awesome kas, SF Bay Area, it was underwhelming. Really small and a bit insipid tasting. The crunchy salt on top was interesting but I prefer the salt taste to come from within the pastry.

                                        1. re: geekmom
                                          s
                                          StarryFork Dec 3, 2013 05:08 PM

                                          RE Sandwiches: I've now tried 3 of 3, and my fave is by far the veggie croissant sandwich, which is good chilled, and full of lovely veggies: endive, shaved radish, avocado, etc.

                                          You may have the misfortune to get a tiny croissant, but that's the only thing I've ever had wrong with this sammie.

                                  2. justxpete Dec 2, 2013 10:45 PM

                                    The worst thing about Beaucoup is that it's right down the street from us - so we end up there at least once a weekend when in Van. Haven't had any attitude from any of the servers - but perhaps one can misconstrue their 'busyness' as attitude. Have loved every pastry we've tried here so far. It's a dangerous place to leave near.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: justxpete
                                      LotusRapper Dec 2, 2013 11:30 PM

                                      A doubleheader for Beaucoup in the local weekly rags:

                                      http://www.straight.com/food/499666/beaucoup-bakerys-jackie-kai-ellis-makes-easy-thanksgiving-dessert

                                      http://www.vancourier.com/sweet-spot-...

                                      1. re: LotusRapper
                                        Sam Salmon Dec 3, 2013 04:57 PM

                                        The very latest Good News is that service this afternoon was stellar with two of the brightest most charming Staff ever manning the counter.

                                        There's a Help Wanted sign out front and it clearly asks for customer service applicants of good nature-nice to see management is listening.

                                        Finally tried the fabled double barreled Peanut Butter cookie and wasn't disappointed it really is a treat-I figured given the arduous circumstance of cycling in today's cold I deserved one.

                                        After gulping it down I actually had to flee the place without a backward glance in case my Evil Twin demanded another for after dinner.

                                        1. re: Sam Salmon
                                          geekmom Dec 3, 2013 05:05 PM

                                          Funny, I was feeling badly about posting that the staff are rude, because a couple of days later I took my 12 year old son in for a treat and the staff were incredibly nice and so patient with him as he took his time deciding what he wanted.

                                          1. re: Sam Salmon
                                            m
                                            maxmillan Dec 22, 2013 08:58 AM

                                            After reading MANY bad reviews about customer service and the snooty atmosphere I hesitated in giving them my hard earned money. Not even good food can mask my distaste for bad service.

                                            Buuuuuut, now it looks like I should go check them out now. Thanks for the heads-up.

                                            1. re: maxmillan
                                              flowbee Dec 22, 2013 10:28 AM

                                              We've never had a bad experience. People who have bad experiences are more inclined to write about it online...

                                      2. k
                                        koshfoodie Dec 3, 2013 07:31 PM

                                        I have only had really excellent baking from Beaucoup. My only issue is that I find the place a little too 'precious' for my liking. Its just not my style. Additionally, the staff are far too pretentious, why can't they have some fun, or even crack a smile.

                                        I do however continue to return for the tasty treats.

                                        1. b
                                          bdachow Dec 24, 2013 04:01 PM

                                          Have been in twice now and not had bad service on either occasion. First was this past weekend, had mini chocolate croissants, cheese croissant, cinnamon scroll and the peanut butter cookie. Everything was really good. Croissants were flaky and buttery, leaving a lovely butter flavor finish and a mess of shards everywhere. Cookie extremely rich and decadent, major peanuty flavor, the filling was so light and mousse like almost. Scroll was crunchy and had a lovely intense flavor. Second trip had a cheese and onion scone, tropical scone, americano and latte. Was surprised how much i enjoyed my americano, was smooth and not acidic with a sweet flavor. Much better than one I had at Elysian before. Scones were big thumbs up, very light, crunchy outside, tender and moist and buttery inside. Tropical is macadamia, pineapple, coconut and white chocolate. Really enjoyable. Fortunately, am staying around the corner so gonna try again to try the koigh (sp?) amann. They were out by the time we rolled over. Coffee is 49th parallel I believe.

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