San Francisco: Cole Valley Bakery

cole valley bakery.jpgCole Valley Bakery, corner of Cole and Parnassus, open 7-7, closed Monday

Cole Valley Bakery has a full range of tarts and pastries and breads for breakfast or pick-up. They also serve sandwiches, salads and soups to a lunchtime crowd.

Their croissants are, in all respects, real French croissants. This means that they are light, flaky and NOT the size of my head. They have a slightly crunchy exterior and plenty of room between the million interior layers of butter and magic dough. This would be reason enough to head to Cole Valley, but it’s not the only one. Their coffee is first-rate. It’s not stale or boiled or overheated or pumped full of Starbucks steroids. It is rich, straightforward coffee and the perfect base for their perfect café au lait.

Other highlights include their canelés, which I have seen nowhere else, and their panniers (or elephant ears, as we American’s have thuddingly dubbed them) put all others to shame.

Lunches are bigger than you would expect, so don’t over-order. Even their small garden salad is sufficient for a light lunch. The only flaw in their superior bakery line-up is their baguettes, which are tough. The mini-baguettes are the base for their numerous, pre-wrapped sandwiches, which are still worth getting. Be prepared to chew fiercely. Selections include Gruyere and ham, saucisson and cornichon, aoili turkey and cranberry and a superb tuna salad complete with bits of apple.

Their soups range from the very bland to the truly excellent, so make sure to ask for a sample before ordering.

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Categories: Eat, San Francisco (here)

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