When Michelle Corry lived in Paris, she became hooked on crepes and the concept of the neighborhood pastry shop. Before going to someone’s flat for dinner, she popped into a local patisserie for a few decadent cakes. “They have patisseries on every corner,” she said. You know “like Starbucks.”
The co-owner of Five Fifty Five and Petite Jacqueline is ushering in that esprit de corps to Maine’s largest with Portland Patisserie and Grand Cafe.
Open a mere month on Market Street, the full-fledged Parisian cafe complete with sleek gold chairs, marble tables, imported tins of fish and wine, is like a trip down the Champs Elysees minus the accents and cigarette smoke.
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These pastries don’t hurt. I tried Corry’s fave: blueberry and white chocolate mousse and the experience was ethereal with a capital E.
First of all, see this image above? What a stunner. Second, I downed it an hour before dinnertime and did not feel the slightest guilty or groggy. Made with real ingredients: fresh fruit, killer cream and other French mysteries, it was nourishing. Not sinful. A sponge cake-like, or more of a custard? It went “poof” before I could ponder.
Portland’s top pastry chef Catherine Cote-Eliot, formerly of Standard Baking Co., is in the kitch. If that name sounds familiar it’s because her hubby is chef Fred Eliot. He turns out a mean coq au vin at Petite Jacqueline, where these morsels are starting to appear on the bistro’s dessert menu. Advantage: you!
This lovely trio: Blueberry cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, and chocolate mousse are made daily. Who wouldn’t want to open a box of these tonight? Flowers??? So old school. Ach-choo!
About those crepes? Traditional ham and cheese and asparagus and mushroom with caramelized onions are regular features. On the Friday we visited, lobster with mornay sauce was the crepe du jour. Say no more.
To keep its “grand” status, a full breakfast and lunch menu with umpteen coffee drinks (Coffee By Design is the in-house brew) are on offer. A new happy hour kicks in at 4 p.m., featuring half priced bottles of wine with a cheese or charcuterie plate.
Get laissez faire this summer at Portland Patisserie and Grand Cafe. Look for the sign of the peacock, a friendly feathered newcomer to the Old Port.