A Breath of French Air: Patisserie Lenox ... In Great Barrington
By Nichole Dupont
That there is a new cafe on the main drag in Great Barrington is not necessarily a surprise. The town is laden with coffee/bakery joints, each with their own idea of what a perfect cafe actually is. Gypsy Joynt has its outrageous cinnamon buns the size of cats’ heads for the sugar fiend. Rubi’s maintains an air that settles somewhere between Italian bistro and L.A. nightspot. Fuel is a hiding spot for would-be novelists seeking wickedly strong coffee. There is truly a place for everyone, and now, thanks to Patisserie Lenox on Main Street (which opened during the throes of Memorial Day weekend), the Paris seekers can have their macaron and eat it too.
To be clear, Patisserie Lenox, unlike some newbies to the Berkshire scene, has already worked out any kinks long ago. Owners Jean Yves Bougouin (whose confections have been on the lips of Julia Child and Raquel Welch) and his wife Yulia are veterans on the pastry scene, first with a bakery in Long Island, and now with Patisserie Lenox (in Lenox) and the satellite GB location. The new space is as inviting as its mother ship, perhaps more so, with faux brick walls on which foodie art hangs unpretentiously. A bar along one wall invites those seeking some alone time with their lattes, which are perfectly strong and frothy ($4 & up), while tables both inside and street side make way for strolling couples and cozy groups. But, lest you get distracted by the larger-than-life paintings of croissants (or the gorgeous one-of-a-kind portrait of a lady carrying cupcakes by Marilyn Kalish — in pink, of course) don’t forget to make your way to the real art. The glass case of confections at the back of the cafe is truly the treasure of this eatery. Oftentimes, adults and kids alike are mulling and drooling over what’s just beyond the glass case. Traditional French macarons in every color of the rainbow; fluffy mille-feuille; chocolate-drizzled raspberry croissants; fruit-glazed panna cotta; fat brioche with or without cinnamon ($2.50 & up): The assortment is immense and delightful, even to the most hardened coffee-no-cream persona.
And lest those among us working diligently to watch waistlines feel somehow left out of the delectable menagerie, Patisserie Lenox offers an ever-changing, fresh assortment of hardier breakfast and lunch fare. The quiche, which comes with a side of organic, mixed greens, is a soft crusted, creamy take on a French classic (broccoli & cheddar or ham & swiss, $10). Brioche sandwiches like the Croque Monsieur (ham, Swiss cheese, Bechamel sauce, $10) with just a touch of sweetness, are transcendent, and scream out for at least a cup of French press coffee. Daily soup specials ($6/bowl) — served with a brioche toast — provide lighter fare, for hot or cold climes. On a recent visit to my new haunt, I got sidetracked from my skim latte mission by the cold Borscht. I was expecting a somewhat bland, pink puree of beets with maybe a little dill thrown in for good measure, but what I got, oh what I got, was a cooling bowl of tender chopped beets in their own juice, combined (but not wholly blended) with chopped hard-boiled eggs, fresh dill, scallions, crisp cucumbers, and just a hint of pepper. Perfect on a sticky summer day. Perfect also—sitting outside, hiding behind sunglasses—for imagining that I am on the Boulevard du Montparnasse, and it is Friday afternoon in La Ville-Lumiére.
313 Main Street
Great Barrington, MA