Words and Photos by Sophie Mielnicki
One of the reasons I love Boston is because of all its hidden gems when it comes to food. Situated on the tail end of where Back Bay meets the South End, Cafe Madeleine is a French bakery serving up all sorts of treats. Walking into this quaint shop, you’re greeted with sweet aromas ranging from fresh croissants to chocolate cake. The bakery itself is actually quite small, so it is more of a grab-and-go place as opposed to a typical cafe where one might spend a few hours working or conversing. However, if you do choose to take a seat, the staff will provide you with a splendid tray to place your baked goods on while you enjoy them inside the store. Additionally, they have a window where you can watch the baker preparing a wide range of goods, giving the customer a peek into the everyday job of creating all their treats.
While the bakery offered a decent selection of pastries and bread, I decided to stick with some more traditional French fare. Firstly, I tried the pain au chocolat, known in English as a chocolate croissant. I can honestly say this is one of the best chocolate croissants I’ve ever had. Wow, was this bread flaky in the best kind of way, while still being perfectly soft on the inside. Each bite was a perfect mix of the buttery pastry and rich dark chocolate.
Next was the lemon tart, which was a small lemon custard tart topped with whipped meringue. The best word to describe this dessert is fresh, perhaps even a little too fresh. The lemon flavor was very prevalent and the meringue did not do too much to balance the flavor. If you really like lemon and citrusy flavors, this dessert is for you. Otherwise, the flavor was a bit too strong for my liking.
Afterwards was a coffee eclair, the bakery’s twist on the classic chocolate and cream classic. As a big coffee fan, I was eager to try this one. Cafe Madeleine’s version had both a coffee cream filling and a coffee flavored frosting on top. While both the cream and icing essentially had the same flavor, each part each added a little variation. The cream filling was heavy and rich with a slight bitter aftertaste, while the frosting balanced the heaviness of the cream.
Finally, I ended my sugar fest with some classic French macarons, one raspberry and the other lavender. I’m very particular with my macarons because I think it’s hard to execute having that slight crunch when you first bite into it, then finding that chewy texture immediately after. Luckily, Cafe Madeleine knew what they were doing as each one struck this perfect balance. As for flavor, I liked both of them, but I found the lavender especially impressive! It was light and beautifully aromatic.
Cafe Madeleine is a great spot for French food lovers, dessert lovers and everyone in between. With a wide selection of treats ranging from chocolate to fruits, Cafe Madeleine can satisfy any sweet tooth. So, next time you’re in the South End, stop in to grab a bite!
517 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA 02118