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May 29, 2014 09:28 AM

New Bay Area French bakery chain: La PanotiQ

"La Tartine Group" is the independent firm behind this recent and considerable initiative, which Eater detailed below. I did more research and these are the people who acquired a site I reported earlier in downtown Mountain View, posting a plaque "La Tartine bakery."

No connection to either of the other two Bay Area "Tartine" bakery firms cited periodically on this board.

These new bakery-restaurants are due to open in various Bay Area cities; AFAIK none is open yet, Campbell's was reported furthest along, followed by one on Chestnut St. in SF and several others. A particular angle at these new bakeries will be heavy reliance on ingredients made in France.

One thing very evident is that the word "tartine" (as in "slice of bread [with butter, jam, etc.]" -- Cassell's Fr. Dic.) is fashionable among Bay Area bakers, this being at least the third such usage in recent years, source of occasional confusions already. (And don't overlook that "tartine" also is colloquial for "tirade, rigmarole.")

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  1. No mention of anyone involved having baking experience. The CEO was a real estate agent.

    I don't find any mention of French ingredients except butter.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      "I don't find any mention of French ingredients except butter."

      I expect you will later. (As I said, I did more research.) No mention in Eater either of anyone _not_ having baking experience: It's a light preliminary article, evidently remarks from one manager. But I agree this is a formidable project -- in Eater's phrase, "La PanotiQ to Sweep Bay Area." Obviously we will judge by the results.

      1. re: eatzalot

        So did I. The only ingredients so far seem to be money and management. Maybe they're just planning to hire bakers away from Paris Baguette and La Boulange.

    2. its kinda curious they are planning locations in Campbell and Chestnut street. the demographics seem to be somewhat different (burbs, vs city). makes the learning curve even steeper.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ckshen

        Not to mention Livermore, Mountain View (both under construction), Berkeley, Palo Alto, Burlingame, Menlo Park, Los Altos "and eventually, an expansion to Los Angeles."

        1. re: ckshen

          "With 8-10 bakeries opening in 2014, and a continuous trend in years to come, our group will be opening up a lot of opportunities for the right people."

          1. re: Scrapironchef

            Who knows what their long-term plans are, but currently they're advertising for managers, not franchisees.

            1. re: Scrapironchef

              Not a franchise, at present anyway. I do know a little about their further plans -- from which my own inference is that the large number of early sites is part of the economics of making work an associated planned large-scale import of supplies from France. Currently you're just seeing the usual employment ads such as many new restaurants run, but with all the activity it shouldn't be too long before we can compare actual tastes of the product.

            2. Has anyone tried it? The Campbell location appears to be open.


              1. And the downtown Mountain View site is poised to open in a few days (I looked inside and talked to owners). And getting journalistic notice already.

                It was something of a remodeling job -- the space was long an office (a Scientology office) so the facilities, plumbing, etc. had to be re-worked for a restaurant.

                (Separately, soupçon posted that the Marina location opened:

                4 Replies
                1. re: eatzalot

                  Wonder why we've heard -zero- about the food at any of the branches.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Just lack of experience yet? (We also hear -zero- on this board about many new restaurants in my usual part of the Bay Area, simply because it's thinly reported in general on CH.)

                    I will say in perusing other online comment sites, I saw auspicious indications about croissants from PanotiQ. Since it's a genre so routinely hokey and disappointing here compared to its home soil, more good sources would always be welcome. SF is luckier than most of the Bay Area in its artisanal bakeries, but Panotiq stands potentially to spread more authentic basic French baking to arts of the Bay Area where other local bakery chains have emphatically failed to do so.

                  2. re: eatzalot

                    It opened yesterday (1/19/2015). I stopped by today coming back from an eye appointment and it had a well-stocked case with assorted pastries, breads, and sandwiches. I tried a croissant and pain au chocolat. The croissant wasn't as buttery as I might have liked, but it was also definitely not one of those bready, fake croissants that many places sell. The pain au chocolat was also not as buttery as I liked, but the chocolate was a good consistency -- not too dense and not runny. As point of comparison, I prefer Alexandre's pain au chocolat. My son tried a giant, runny caramel macaron which he reported to be excellent.

                    1. re: eatzalot

                      I've tried various savory and sweet things in visits to this new MV location. Need more experience for serious opinion, and also it just opened Monday. A little new-employee confusion there, and they also just started with a new tablet-computer POS system (no one very fluent with it) -- but nothing serious or unusual for a new café.

                      Reasonably impressive so far, new additions to its neighborhood, pricing not too precious. Liked a sandwich (they use a French sandwich style, with narrow baguette baked in convection ovens behind the display counter and made into sandwiches using various charcuterie meats). Tried a couple of the endless sweet pastry range, there's a fine simple tarte Tatin. Many more looked interesting, including cherry clafoutis (card described it as having flan-like dough, though having cooked this homey folk dessert from French recipes, I've always called the typical formulation a crêpe batter; anyway haven't yet tried PanotiQ's, nor know if they followed French folk wisdom of leaving the cherries "on the bone," i.e. pit, for more flavor).

                      "Beignet" in this display case resembles more the word's standard (French) meaning, i.e. fritter, since they're filled (unlike the offshoot New Orleans sense of "beignet," which some Americans encounter). Yet this pastry looks like neither: I couldn't see evidence of deep frying, they look like jelly-filled doughnuts with baked pastry but again, have to try it.

                      Serious tea service for a casual café, and diverse coffee drinks, pretty good cappuccino.

                      Of several pâte-feuilletée products (incl. "salmon in puff pastry"), so far I only sampled a croissant, and that from the first batch Monday morning. It could have been crisper but was otherwise v. sound and I have to revisit, see what's typical.