I need a break from serious and depressing thoughts this week. Thus, I’m doubly glad it’s time for Tasty Thursday.
This week’s pick: Bread and Chocolate over at Grand Ave and Victoria in St Paul. If I ever move away from the Twin Cities, this would be the place that I miss the most. For over ten years, it’s been one of our favorite places to go and consistently the number one place I tell people they have to visit when they’re in town.
It’s a cozy spot to hang out and chat or read. If you like free wi-fi (as I do), you’re out of luck. But it’s still a great spot to work on your laptop or write if you’ve got a personal hot spot. Or if you need to focus without the distraction of the internet.
Skip the paninis, and go straight to the pastries. Paninis are fine. Pastries will spoil you. I have yet to find any place that does croissants better than here. And believe me, I have tried. Getting to St Paul from my house is a hike. But, it’s worth it. Trust me.
Fair warning for you gluten-free peeps: the rest of this post might make you salivate for tasty treats, but I’m not sure that they have much that’s gluten-free. So, sad pandas for you.
On the morning of my wedding over ten years ago, my mentor and bridesmaid Crissy brought me in here for breakfast before we went to get our hair done. I blame our affection for this place on her. I still remember exactly what I got: a raspberry cream cheese croissant. Gooey, sweet, creamy and fruity deliciousness wrapped by the flakiest of flaky croissants.
Soon after I dragged J here. During our first year of marriage, this was our Saturday morning breakfast place. We’d come, get our pastries and coffee, and sit and plan out our menu for the week. Or J’d read the paper while I did my seminary homework. We started sampling the sweet croissants: the chocolate, the chocolate-cream cheese, the apple. I don’t know which is my favorite. It’s so hard to make decisions.
Then, we discovered our favorite croissant: the ham-and-cheese. It’s warm, melted and oozing cheesy goodness. The ham-and-cheese will spoil you for any other croissants ever. And I am usually ambivalent about ham.
The ham-and-cheese croissant is so good that my whole family has rules about it. Normally, when we go out, we gets lots of things to share and sample. Not so with Bread and Chocolate ham-and-cheese croissants. You want ham-and-cheese, you order your own. There’s no sharing here. You might even get jabbed with a fork if you try to steal a bite. The only other food that fits into this category is creme brulee.
Oh, and get here early if you want to score one. Or be prepared to wait for another batch to come out of the oven. Everyone knows they’re the best, and they line up for them. So, don’t show up at 9:30 AM on a Saturday and expect easy seating with a ham-and-cheese just waiting with your name on it. You might be lucky, but that would be a fluke instead of the norm.
Runner up to the ham-and-cheese is the warm florentine — filled with spinach and cheese. So flaky. And it almost feels healthy since there’s spinach.
I discovered this one by accident on a day when they were out of ham-and-cheese croissants. This was a problem, friends. I can’t eat all the things I want to eat, or I will weigh 1000 lbs. And it’s always a tough decision, florentine or ham-and-cheese. There’s not room for both.
So, my suggestion: go with friends that like to split things and who are more likely to share than my family. Sample a few and see what you like. Making decisions might be a tiny bit easier that way. Curl up at a table by the fireplace, and wrap your hands around a warm pastry or cup of coffee. Maybe this will become one of your favorite places too.
And don’t forget to wander around shops on Grand Ave for a bit while you’re here.