Before bidding San Francisco farewell, I made one final stop at pastry palace b.Patisserie.
Opened in 2013, this adorable bakery specializing in “modern French style pastries along with American flavors and local influences” is a mecca for the sweets-obsessed. If you’ve got a penchant for perfectly crafted pastries, this spot is most definitely for you.
The brilliant baker behind b. is Belinda Leong. She began her career as a pastry chef at San Francisco’s Restaurant Gary Danko for eight years, followed by two years of staging in Europe. When she returned to the Bay Area, she served as the pastry chef at Los Gatos’ Manresa Restaurant, before striking out on her own with partner and fellow baker Michel Suas to open b.
From the eye-poppingly beautiful display, I managed to whittle my wants to three delights.
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On my second night in San Francisco, I tucked into Tosca Cafe for a solo dinner. Even though the bar area was packed with Thursday night revelers, I fortunately landed a table in the main dining room without a wait. The dining gods must’ve been looking after me after the insane wait at Flour + Water the night before. I was seriously grateful.
I wasn’t familiar with Tosca Cafe prior to Chef April Bloomfield (New York’s Spotted Pig, John Dory Oyster Bar, and Breslin) and her business partner Ken Friedman’s gastronomic takeover late last year. But from what I gather from scouring the ‘net, Tosca was a 95-year-old dive bar with killer cocktails and quite the following in its heyday.
Today, the kitchen is as essential as the bar. Chef Bloomfield’s modern Italian-American menu has re-energized the place, bringing in a whole new foodie set but still resonating with regulars.
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Before the business portion of my San Francisco jaunt began, I was able to pencil in some family time with my Bay Area-dwelling cousins: Jessica, Andrew, and Michael. I’ve been desiring a dinner at pizza and pasta powerhouse Flour + Water for years now, and all three cousins were game for a whole lotta carbs.
Without advance reservations, our party planned to meet when doors opened at 5:30 PM to avoid waiting for a table. Unfortunately, Cousin Andrew couldn’t escape the grind until past 6, so we were stuck waiting for 2.5 hours (even though we were originally quoted 1.5 hours). It was admittedly a little painful, but we persevered without getting overly peeved.
Bread is available only by request; after our lengthy wait, it was highly necessary! The crusty loaf, with a noticeably doughy interior, was served with grassy olive oil.
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In the midst of last week’s intense heat wave, I escaped to cooler points north thanks to a timely work-related trip. As soon as I landed in San Francisco, sunny and 70 degrees, I hopped BART to my hotel, dropped off my baggage, and made a beeline for Craftsman and Wolves to indulge in avant-garde pastries (served with a side of gentrification).
The bakery’s unusual name is a nod to artisans and the “numerous challenges that one faces when pursuing their craft,” according to the website. Craftsman and Wolves’ proprietor, William Werner, was previously the pastry chef at Quince.
The bakery offers an ever-changing selection of breakfast pastries, cakes, confections, confitures, desserts, and savory lunchtime fare.
The best-seller, The Rebel Within (front center), is a savory Asiago and Parmesan cheese muffin flecked with breakfast sausage, black pepper, and chives and filled with an oozy-yolked poached egg.
Not in the mood for a runny yolk this afternoon, I started with a “Savory Tart” topped with tangy fromage blanc, snappy brined beets and turnips, and toasted pistachios ($5.50). My only complaint was that the flaky base was a bit difficult to cut through using the provided butter knife. Otherwise, this pastry was as good as expected.
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