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Where to Find Real French Croissants in Boston

Award-winning pâtissier Frederic Robert's petit Parisian cafe opens in the South End.

Café Madeleine is a slice of Paris on Columbus Avenue. This new patisserie has been wowing the South End with its deliciously authentic French pastries, baked by pastry chef Frederic Robert and a team of young, white-clad bakers.

Arrayed on slabs of marble in glass display cases, you’ll find flaky croissants; some stuffed with ham and cheese, others stuffed with almond cream or chocolate or both. Brown sugary cinnamon rolls, buttery brioche and cream cheese or pastry cream-filled Danish topped with fruit. There are giant cookies—chocolate, chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin—neon-colored raspberry, vanilla, chocolate and caramel hazelnut macarons, loaves of meringues ready to be torn apart and devoured, and bags of madeleines, the small, shell-shaped, lemony sponge cakes.

At lunchtime, choose from an assortment of salads and sandwiches or grab a piece of custardy quiche Lorraine or a square of pissaladiere, the pizza-like, savory tart of Nice that’s strewn with caramelized onions, anchovies and olives. There’s seating for six at the windows on stools. Be sure to take out something for dessert: creamy cheesecake with strawberry sauce, an intensely fudgy walnut brownie, chocolate or coffee cream filled éclairs, or Robert’s signature chocolate cake, assembled from layers of chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, and chewy hazelnut nougatine. The actual baking begins overnight and continues throughout the day.

CM strawberry sweets
Et voilà ... French sweets are sweeter at Cafe Madeleine (©Cafe Madeleine)

Robert comes to town with an impeccable resume. He spent over 25 years working alongside French chef Alain Ducasse, beginning in 1987 at the 3 Michelin Star Louis XV Monaco at the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo and including Michelin rated restaurants in Paris, New York, St. Tropez, Tokyo and London. In 2007, he took home a James Beard award for his book "Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries." The framed award hangs on the wall next to the large open kitchen at Café Madeleine.

From 2004 to 2011, Robert was Executive Pastry Chef at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. Then, from 2011-1012, he was Executive Pastry Chef at PB Boulangerie & Bistro, in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. That’s where he met present partner Hana Quon. She’s certified in classic French pastry, doughs, gâteau de voyage, petit fours and macarons by the Ecole Gastronomique Bellouet Conseil in Paris.

In addition to their regular menu, Robert and Quon will offer a special holiday menu for their first Christmas in Boston: dark chocolate and milk chocolate caramel bûche de Noël, Dutch apple pie topped with almond streusel, pecan pie garnished with hazelnut praline and a variety of marshmallows, including chocolate dipped vanilla bean and peppermint. Sounds like the holidays will be sweeter now that Café Madeleine is open for business.

Open daily 6:30 am-7 pm. 517 Columbus Ave., 857.239.8052