Boule (LA) – A Patisserie Fit for Paris
I may get into trouble for this but San Francisco leaves me wanting for more high quality desserts 1. Tartine is ok but it’s not worth the wait. The excellent Satura Cakes is an 1/2 hour away. Citizen Cake is hit or miss. Bi-Rite’s ginger ice cream (and toffee chip cookies) might be my favorite ice cream ever but the rest of their flavors are suspect. The chocolate movement is strong but my favorite in the city are the Parisian Richart chocolates. There’s nothing resembling the dessert bars of NYC. And you can only eat so many Beard Papa cream puffs. If anything, the good desserts are scattered and fragmented across the city, each place specializing in one or two .
It is ironic then that LA, that sprawling and fragmented pastiche of modern urban design, has Boule – a one-stop shop for many great desserts. It’s a can’t-miss destination for any LA trip.
Boule is owned and operated by Michelle Meyers, a co-founder of Sona restaurant. If you sit outside, you can watch pastry chefs hauling pots and pans from the mother-ship restaurant, directly across the street. Boule fashions themselves as fashion themselves as a Patisserie, Glacerie, and Confiserie. They have everything – chocolates, macaroons, pastries, cakes, marshmellows, and ice cream. Many items are good to very good and some are outstanding.
The Ice Cream
Boule ice cream is some of the best around. The flavors are crisp and precise with a smooth, creamy, and very satisfying texture. The butter fat is higher than most (that’s a good thing.)
I had a Santa Barbara honey ice cream. This was a honey lover’s dream. After the creaminess of the ice cream melted and gave way, the mouth was entirely coated with a sweet slightly sticky honey. Excellent.
My first lunch in Paris was a trip to the Bon Marche Grand Epicerie “store”. I picked up an Iberian ham sandwich, creamy Brittany vanilla yogurt, and a cannelés bordelais and ate them in the adjoining park. Of all the fancy lunches I’ve had in Paris, this combination is still one of my favorites. The ham sandwich was ok (nothing like Spain), the yogurt ridiculously creamy, and the cannelés bordelais is a perfect ending to any meal.
It might be my favorite pastry – it’s got a completely satisfying caramelized outside with a rum and vanilla custard inside.
The Boule version deserves to live in Paris to be with its kind.
Alas, not everything can be excellent. They touted their banana bread as “exceptional” but it was too dry for my tastes. It reminded me of the inferior breads I’ve been sent home with after meals at 11 Madison Park and Alain Ducasse; perhaps Sona intended to do the same.
Fromage Blanc Cheesecake
On the previous day, I had a Cowgirl Creamery fromage blanc cheesecake. I tried to make one of these once and ended up with a quiche – that might be why I eat instead of cook. This was creamy and fluffy with a slight nutty taste. Unfortunately, the top (as seen in Foodie Universe’s mini-review) was rubbery – perhaps fromage blanc cheesecakes are not big sellers at Boule. Not quite as good as Lady M or Chikalicious in New York, but satisfying.
There were no macaroons on this trip. The macaroon lovers in LA fight to the death over their favorite macaroons – Boule or Jin Patisserie. Neither are in the Pierre Herme or Laduree league but I’d take Boule’s over Jin’s (although Jin does have its charms.) The Boule macaroons have good flavor but they are overly sweet and their texture isn’t quite right – they flake instead of giving the slightest of yields to the teeth. However, macaroons are too personal of a preference – you should try them for yourself.
No chocolates on this trip either. They are too sweet for my tastes but they do have interesting flavors – rose caramel, candied ginger, scotch bonnet pepper, and many more.
They have a wall full of condiments that will try to part you with your cash – marshmellows (yum), chocolate sauces, teas, honey, and anything else you can imagine.
You can order some desserts and coffee and sit outside. If you’re into cars, you will see and hear every high-end car imaginable – open-exhausted Ferraris, blacked-out AMG’s, street-illegal British TVR’s, countless Lamborghini Gallardos, and even a Porsche or two. There’s nothing better than LA if you like hearing cars racing down the street. If you hate cars and all of the smog they cause, just look at the plants.
Boule is a great place to stop in for a (sweet) lunch. Pick a few things, take them outside, and gobble them up. Go back in and order some more for the trip home.
Official Site: http://www.boulela.com
1 – I haven’t tried Pâtisserie Philippe or Petite Patisserie yet. Next week is supposed to be sunny; perhaps a long walk is in order for lunch one day. I know Miette Patisserie has its fans but I only care for their chocolate pot de creme.