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For French Pastry, the Bon Mot is Bonjour

By John DiGilio in Food on Mar 11, 2011 9:30PM

2011_3_DiGilio_Bonjour.jpgThe French, it seems, can make an art out of almost anything. Perhaps it is the saccharine drawl of the language. Or maybe it’s the intoxicating effect of the wines. Whatever the reason, they seem to be able to infuse everything from their art to their food with an unmistakable joie de vivre. Nowhere is that love of life and the good things more evident than in the delicate art of French pastry. Anyone looking to savor a little of that art for themselves need look no further than Bonjour Bakery Cafe. Its is a little piece of Paris right in the heart of Hyde Park.

From the moment we entered this little cafe, it was apparent that this was no typical coffee and croissant joint. From the French music piping above the to the heavy French accent of the woman running the show behind the counter, there was a delightful air of authenticity to the place. The shop’s owner did not speak a single word of English while we were there. Instead, she gave orders en francais to a small cadre of young workers who took care of the customers while she herself carefully arranged trays of shiny tarts and colorful macarons. The bakery case was a gorgeous site to behold with a mouth-watering array of croissants, cookies, cakes, and pies. Whether your taste is for something creamy, fruity, nutty, or even more exotic, Bonjour has a treat for you.

We felt like little children with our eyes wide and our noses pressed up against the glass of the case. There were so many tempting choices. We decided to try a few of the basics: a morning roll, a chocolate croissant, and a pistachio macaron. Bonjour brews up some of Metropolis’ finest, so we added a few coffees to the mix. The pastry shells to both the roll and the croissant were lite, flaky and oh-so-buttery. The amount of chocolate in the croissant was just right and enough to keep it from being too sweet. The morning roll too had a nice sweetness from the dusting of sugar crystals that filled every crevice. It was a bit more substantial and chewy than the croissant. However, each was perfectly accompanied by the coffee and a nice way to start the day. The macaron may have been a tad on the small side, but you know what they say about big things coming in little packages. It was gone too fast, but delicious. Had our stomachs been as big as our eyes, there was so much more we wanted to try. Suffice it to say that we have about a dozen reasons to go back!

As wonderful as Chicago is, sometimes you just want to kick back and lose yourself for a bit in something more foreign. At the Bonjour Bakery Cafe, you can visit France without ever leaving the city. Have a sip. Grab a bite. Listen to les chansons overhead. Just close your eyes and let your senses do the rest. Breakfast and lunch are also served. But just try to take your eyes off that pastry case long enough to think about something else. We dare you.

Bonjour Bakery Cafe is located at 1550 East 55th Street (in the court yard beside Treasure Island).

Photo by Fancy Csutortok.