“I’ll have a French Coffee, please,” I said to the lovely lady behind the counter. “Do you know what French Coffee is?” she softly intoned with a whisper of a French accent. Quizzically, I shrugged my shoulders. She smiled and explained that a French coffee was a shot of espresso with whipped cream. With her hand she measured how much of each went into the coffee mug. When I saw that the volume of whipped cream was twice the amount of espresso, I was sold. “Yes, I’ll have one, please!” I said.
This was my first experience at what was then a quickly becoming known French cafe named, Baguette et Chocolat.
An authentic French bakery and cafe it stands alone in the small Uplands Shopping Center just off Bee Cave Road and is a stones throw from HWY 71. It’s right smack dab in the middle one of Austin’s newer suburban landscapes; the City of Bee Cave.
Walking into the cafe you would never know. On any given day you can count at least 2 to 3 different languages; including French. It lends itself to feeling as if you’re somewhere else. Perhaps Paris?!? And like any good Parisian cafe this one is bustling and very well patronized.
Why? Maybe it’s little touches that the patrons love; an area for the wee ones with their very own flat screen TV; not having to wait long for a seat even in the busiest times; adding new items but not changing the core menu; a huge ladies lavatory full of natural light. It could be any one of these things.
But my guess is it’s the bread, pastry, macaroon and the traditional French dishes like salty and sweet crepes, quiche, salads and baguette sandwiches.
The menu is wonderful. Fresh bread is made and baked daily. From a traditional baguette to a new 6-Seed sourdough batard there are many to choose from. My favorite to take home and toast is the sourdough batard; crusty on the outside, chewy and airy on the inside. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the olive batard. It has two different types of olive slices gently nestled inbetween layers of chewy baked dough. And has just the right amount of brininess.
Pastry is center stage eyeing you seductively as you stand in line to place your order. The ubiquitous Americanized croissant doesn’t even compare to the one found here. Biting into one it’s as if the crunchy buttery layers melt into a whispered remembrance of your favorite place in the world, until you take another bite.
Fruit tarts, decadent chocolate cakes and eclairs make a strong showing for desserts. For a lighter option there are any number of different flavored macaroon. And , one of my favorites, the financier; a small French sponge-like cake.
The prepared breakfast and lunch items are magnificently French. Starting with the traditional buckwheat crepe you can choose either salty (savory) or sweet. Salty crepes are filled with ingredients like rich cheeses, ham and mushrooms. Sweet crepes are filled with jams and (of course) Nutella. And as you can see from my friend, Karen (who spent 5 years living in Paris), they incite an inevidable level of anticipation and happiness that can only be found here. She literally comes from Central Austin just to have a crepe.
Sandwiches and salads are another option. Sandwiches start out with a half baguette with layers of fresh ingredients such as salty ham, creamy brie, tuna cucumbers and crisp lettuce topped off with an aioli or herbed vinegar. Salads come out in bowls piled high with mixed baby greens. The house made vinaigrette has a soft sweet tang and dresses the lettuce lightly. Salad Niciose is a house favorite.
If you can’t stay for breakfast or lunch - no problem. Take-out is just as popular. And if you’re lucky a handsome French lad will meet you, arms full of your own specified hand crafted treats.
Ready for a trip to France via Paris? It’s simple! Just jump in your car and make your way to this little gem. Even if you’re not an espresso whipped cream coffee person there’s obviously something for everyone. I want to claim Baguette et Chocolat as MY own little food find in MY little neck of the woods but I really can’t.
It’s been found! Here are my recommendations for your first or next visit:
*Paris - Austin Eclair
*Ham & Cheese
*My Grandpa’s Banh Mi
*Salad with Chevre Chaud