|Restaurant:||Amélie’s … A French Bakery|
|Location:||2424 North Davidson Street|
|Cuisine:||Bakery — including pastries, desserts, cakes, tarts, and savories|
|Rating:||4 out of 5 spoons|
I mentioned my penchant for pastry in my last review, but maybe you don’t quite understand. Really, it’s a passion for dessert in general. Anything puffy, flaky, sweet, strudelly, chocolatey, gooey, moist, fluffy, creamy, decadent . . . I’m there. Recently the boyfriend and I had finished dinner and I had the fantastic idea to stop by the new French Bakery in NoDa, Amélie’s (are you starting to notice that it’s always me who has a brilliant dessert plan?). When Mike and I decide to do something like this, we don’t stop in and buy a cream puff or two. No, no, no. We typically end up with an entire bag full of indulgences that we devour with pleasure as we watch The Office or Battlestar Galactica back at my abode (that’s how you’re supposed to enjoy French pastry, right?). I can justify all the extra dessert because, hey, I have a food blog to write. Anyway . . .
Amélie’s is a spacious, charming bakery — murals on the wall, sitting room furniture (“straight out of the Paris flea market!” according to the website) for lounging as you peck at your petit four, soft music playing, and of course, those huge glass display cases of ecstasy! We spoke to owner Lynn St. Laurent and she helped us choose an assortment of delightful desserts; on our list: Pain au Chocolate, a Mirror Tart, a Chocolate Ganache with Passion Fruit Mousse Cup, and a Cream Cheese Puff. I wish I would’ve photographed the deliciousness before cutting each one in half, especially since the desserts are beautiful, but I was too eager to split the food with Mike and TASTE it!
Pain au Chocolate
One thing I noticed while sampling Amélie’s Pain au Chocolate was the subtlety of the flavor. There wasn’t an overpowering sweetness and in fact, there was a satisfying hint of bitterness to the baked chocolate. This would make a lovely breakfast item, though I would’ve liked more chocolate filling. Mike, who is more a fan of overt sweetness and obvious flavors, didn’t like this as much as the other things we tried.
The Mirror Tart comes highly recommended as Chef Kelly’s favorite tart. It has a raspberry filling and chocolate ganache (made by pouring heavy cream over dark chocolate pieces). Despite my love of desserts, I’ve never been a fan of chocolate + fruit combinations, but I think that might be because I’d never been to Amélie’s! The raspberry flavor didn’t overpower the chocolate (must have to do with the proportions) and together they made a really smooth, pleasantly sweet taste. Combine this with the crunchy, barely-sweet and delicious crust and you have a victory!
Cream Cheese Puff
Like the Pain au Chocolate, Mike wanted the Cream Cheese Puff to be sweeter. I love it just the way it is! It has a streusel-esque topping and is filled with a slightly sweet cream cheese mixture. I chose it to satisfy my craving for a cream cheese danish (though Amélie’s serves danishes, they had all been snapped up by the time Mike and I arrived, which brings up another point: make sure to hit the bakery early! Lynn notes on the website, “[S]ome products can only be made once a day. Those, as well as some favorites may sell out before the end of the day. Please feel free to call ahead any time you have a special request, or want to be certain your favorite is available.”).
Chocolate Ganache with Passion Fruit Mousse Cup
Again, I usually don’t appreciate mixing my fruit and chocolate, but Lynn specifically recommended the Chocolate Ganache with Passion Fruit Mousse Cup to us. A beautiful piping of smooth mousse inside a delicate swirled chocolate bowl, topped with chocolate shavings — this is the treat I really wish I had a better photograph of! Mike and I were fully anticipating that this would be our least favorite. It was small, it was moussey instead of dense, and it had the fruit + chocolate problem. But surprisingly this was our favorite choice by far! Once again Amélie’s perfected the proportions of the chocolate to the hint of sweet passion fruit in the mousse and the flavors complemented instead of hindered each other. The chocolate bowl had a deep sweetness that lingered after each taste. I’m glad we tried this gem despite our initial doubts!
Though Mike and I didn’t sample them on this trip, Lynn mentioned to us their new line of savory lunch items — Broccoli and Cheddar Turnovers, Leek and Portobella Tarts, etc. For all you Gallery Crawl lovers, Amélie’s stays open late every first and third Friday of the month to satisfy your baked goods cravings. The bakery is also the proud winner of the 2008 Taste of Charlotte Best Dessert Award for their signature dessert, which is described as “a unique and decadent cake made up of a layer of almond sponge with chocolate and peanut butter. A crunchy layer of feuilletine, a layer of creamy peanut butter, and finished with chocolate mousse and dark chocolate ganache.” I have no idea how Mike and I missed that, but we’ll have to go back and try it.
All in all, Amélie’s was a great experience and not just a replica of other Charlotte bakeries. It stands in contrast to another of my favorites, Nova’s Bakery, which sports stronger, simpler flavors and homey pastries. Amélie’s carves out its niche as a french bakery with subtlety, beautiful presentation, and more complicated flavors.
Have you been to Amélie’s French Bakery? Have a question about my experience? Want to suggest other desserty deliciousness around Charlotte? Share your thoughts by clicking on the “Comments” link below.