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Le Marais Bakery: Cooking Up the Next Cronut? 

Thursday, Jul 4 2013
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Could the pain au chocolat with banana become our cronut? Find out for yourself on July 3, when Le Marais Bakery is slated to open in a former Jamba Juice space in the Marina. The pastry chef is Phil Ogiela, who had stints at Dandelion Chocolate, Aziza, and the Fifth Floor, and has created a menu that includes "haute pâtisserie" items like gâteau Basque, pain de Gênes, tarts, madeleines, and macarons (go for the chocolate version, which are pleasingly light and airy).

But we had to try the genre-bending creation known as a pain au chocolat with banana, which was rightly decadent, buttery, rich and sweet — perhaps too sweet for us, but a potential draw for those looking to find the next big baked good.

The new bakery serves Stumptown Coffee and opens with backing from retired business exec Patrick Ascaso, a French native looking to recreate the anticipation and magic that youngsters (or the young-at-heast) get at that first smell of baked sugar and fresh, bready goods.

Le Marais has that Paxton Gate look, from the team that also gave creative flair to spots you may have heard of: Flour + Water, Salumeria, and Central Kitchen.Vintage items catch the eye: bundt, small loaf, and madeleine pans, and lighting that uses a bundt pan as a shade (we're coveting one for our house). The menu is further inspired by French classics, and the bakery also has a literal slice of Paris in the form of reclaimed Parisian balcony railings.

Every bakery should consider having warm loaves to draw in afternoon customers looking for that afternoon get-me-away-from-work fix. Here, Baker Justin Brown (of Roberta's and Bien Cuit Bakery fame) uses complicated-sounding "long-fermentation, high-hydration doughs that are allowed to naturally rise for over 30 hours before being baked in a steam-infused deck-oven."

All the effort pays off, though. We sampled Brown's artisan walnut loaf at home and found it to be killer for sopping up porchetta juices from Fatted Calf. Le Marais bread equally spiffs up a no-longer-lonely wedge of Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese, giving us yet another reason to adore the marriage of the new world and old.

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Mary Ladd

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