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Jan 4, 2013 09:59 PM

Beaucoup Praise for Beaucoup Bakery

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.

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

            I'll definitely be trying the croissants next time!

            1. re: carameleyes

              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

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

          1 Reply
          1. 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

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

              1. re: grayelf

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

                1. re: YVRChow

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

            2. 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

                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


                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          How would you rate Beaucoup overall so far ?

                      2. re: grayelf

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

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

                            2. re: reiney

                              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

                                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

                                  "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

                                    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

                                      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

                                      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. 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. ;-)