Floriole Cafe & Bakery, Chicago – A Great Rustic, Elegant American Bakery

Floriole Cafe & Bakery (exterior) Interior
Galette des Rois (King Cake) List of local sources for the bakery
Owner and Head Baker Sandra Holl of Floriole Cafe & Bakery
Exterior of Floriole; Interior; Galette des Rois; Chalkboard listing local, organic sources used; Owner and Head Baker of Floriole Sandra Holl

One of my other pastry stops in Chicago was Floriole on a bright weekend morning. The minute I walked up to this bakery with my friend, I had a feeling this was special.

The large, welcoming, warm wooden space feels like a second home to me. Local residents lined up the counter waiting to order their cup of coffee or tea and a couple of beautiful golden brown pastries for themselves or family. The gentle scents of butter and yeast waft out from the kitchen in the back, I can’t help but ask the hospitable, driven owner and head baker Sandra Holl for a mini tour of her kitchen.

Baking tools and instruments above the sink Ovens
Baking boules of sourdough bread in the oven Thin potato slices roasting in the oven
Mini kitchen tour of Floriole: Baking tools hanging about the kitchen sink; Ovens; Inside the oven: Baking boules of sourdough bread and sliced potatoes

This bakery initially started as a Green City Market stand back in 2006 and in 2010, they opened this large space. For Ms. Holl’s background, she was trained at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy and worked as a baker at the notable Tartine Bakery.


You can tell walking through the bakery’s kitchen, everything is made with love, care and patience. The bakers there were working on laminated baked goods, meaning puff pastries, which Sandra told me, is their signature.

Tray of deep dish quiches (arugula and cheddar) Tray of roasted squash
Trays of deep dish quiches and roasted acorn squash cooling

Tantalized by the sight of their deep dish quiches and boules of bread baking, I had to head back out to the cafe and order a couple of things to eat.

Slice of warm deep-dish cheddar and arugula quiche Plate of Chocolate croissant, Ham & cheese croissant, Cranberry Galette with Brown Butter Custard
All things flaky: Slice of warm deep-dish cheddar and arugula quiche; Plate of Chocolate croissant, Ham & cheese croissant, Cranberry Galette with Brown Butter Custard

My friend and I dug into the crowning jewel of the entire brunch – the deep dish arugula and cheddar quiche. I usually have reservations about deep dish food items but this quiche I’ll overlook it. The wonderful, deep golden brown puff pastry quiche meets the ethereal, silkiest egg custard that’s nuanced with cheddar and arugula. We’re swooning every bite we took of this sublime pastry.

The cranberry galette was incredible. Flaky, buttery, sweet from the sprinkling of turbinado sugar yet juicy, tart bites from the cranberry. The chocolate croissant ($3.50) was superbly flaky and tasted of fresh sweet butter without being greasy and the bittersweet Valrhona chocolate had the right amount of sweetness and rich flavor. The ham and cheese croissant ($3.50) was the kind of breakfast pastry I wish I can eat every morning, and the puff pastry equally as flaky as the chocolate croissant.

Lime tart with gingerbread crust
Lime tart with gingerbread crust

The lime tart with gingerbread crust ($5.25) was familiar but with a twist. The super firm, crisp gingerbread crust was a great contrast to the firm yet silky, sweet-tart lime filling. My friend, who is obsessed with lime tarts, loved this variation as well.

Slice of Lavender-lemon pound cake, Lime tart with gingerbread crust, Valrhona brownie
Slice of Lavender-lemon pound cake, Lime tart with gingerbread crust, Valrhona brownie

The final two we were able to eat were a slice of fine-crumbed lavender-lemon pound cake ($3.50) and the not overtly decadent yet rich, chocolate Valrhona brownie. The texture of the latter is more fudge-y than cake-like (which I prefer in a brownie).

Cappuccino Cup of drip coffee
Peach iced tea to go
Beverages: Cappuccino, Drip coffee, and Peach iced tea to-go

To wash down all of these delicious baked goods, we had a well-made cappuccino and a good, slightly earthy drip coffee. On our way out with a few pastries, we also had refreshing iced peach tea to go that barely sweetened.

Butter croissant
Sourdough bread Crumb structure of the sourdough bread
Baked goods taken home with me: Butter croissant & Sourdough bread

When I came back the next day from this visit, I reheated in my oven, the butter croissant ($3) and the boule of sourdough bread ($5.50) I was eyeing on when I was in Floriole’s kitchen. They were amazing. The croissant made me reminisce of my vacation in Paris less than two years ago. The sourdough bread is subtly tangy and the not too thick crust made it a great.

I really like this bakery a lot. It’s different than most bakeries I’ve been to, especially in New York City, where I tend to find either an upscale French-style bakery or something that’s simply American but lacking the rustic elegance that Ms. Sandra Holl and her team provides to Chicago. I wish I had a bakery like this around my neighborhood. This bakery was one of the few things I envy about Chicago and what makes this city a very good food city.

To view more photos of my visit to this bakery, please click through the slideshow (or view my Flickr set):

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Information:
Floriole Cafe & Bakery

1220 West Webster Avenue Chicago, IL 60614
(Map)
Telephone: (773) 883-1313
Website: http://www.floriole.com/



There are 3 comments

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  1. kristina

    I like your blog, but you need to get rid of your elitist NY attitude. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at “…one of the few things I envy about Chicago”

    • Tina

      Kristina: You may call me an elitist. If you read through most of my posts, I’m not exactly like every other food blogger in NYC.

      I’m just comparing what New York does and doesn’t have compared to Chicago – and I was giving brownie points to Chicago, if you didn’t understand my comparison.

  2. medt

    Floriole is where I go as my “pick me up” or pat on the back for either totally doing well or bombing at school. I think their food is amazing, although the quiche I think has a bit of a crust to custard ratio issue to solve, but I’ve been going since their opening and it’s great.
    Going from living on the East Coast for the first two decades of my life to shifting to a Chi-City based life, Chicago’s got an amazing food scene that has a lot to explore. It’s great that Floriole is getting such press, and I hope that other small bakeries and restaurants get noticed too.
    Hot damn I love this city :)


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