Pardon My French Bakery, Cafe and Wine Bar in Eagan

Kelly Hailstone/Heavy Table

Kelly Hailstone / Heavy Table

Editor’s Note, 10.27.13: Pardon My French is now closed.

Pardon my French Bakery, Cafe and Wine Bar is a most unexpected strip-mall jewel concealed behind a gas station in Eagan. The injustice. The bright, spacious interior is dotted with subtle touches of France, which were obviously placed by someone who knows a croissant from a crescent roll: native Frenchman Frederic Klein (who is related to Patrick Bernet of Patrick’s Bakery and Cafe). Catching my eye were the ceramic cigales (cicadas) — symbols of Provence — clinging to the fireplace and the neat rows of lavender lining the windows like little purple hedges.

With such attention to detail and beauty, I knew the traditional French goodies in the gleaming display case would be authentic and delectable.

For anyone who has been to France and fallen in love with the unapologetically butter-rich and cream-laden desserts, coming back to the States can make one want to send her sweet tooth into hibernation. Thankfully, Klein has brought more than a handful of France’s sweet classics to the Twin Cities, four of which were tasted here.

Kelly Hailstone/Heavy Table

Kelly Hailstone / Heavy Table

Aside from the obvious croissant and pain au chocolat (both of which were dreamy… golden and flaky on the outside with billowy, buttery layers within) no French bakery is complete without Opera cake ($4.10, left). This is a cake that shouldn’t mess around, and it doesn’t at Pardon My French. Three tiers of rich almond cake, moist as if briefly bathed in an almond dew, predominate this bonne bouche. But it’s the two layers of dark chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream, so thick you can almost peel them off, that harmonize the subtle cakey and lush textures and flavors. Like a two-hour massage, each bite of this Opera cake feels like a luxury.

Whenever I’ve been fortunate to meander crooked Parisian streets, without fail, I’ve turned a corner to find a crowd pressed against a patisserie window, peering, salivating, starry-eyed. The object of their affections: macaroons. Stacked high in neat pyramids or chic, orderly rows in every imaginable pastel hue, the little dainties can’t help but attract admirers. Klein’s

Kelly Hailstone/Heavy Table

Kelly Hailstone / Heavy Table

versions ($1 each), available in eye-catching chocolate, pistachio, Grand Marnier orange, strawberry, and lemon, live up to the hype. The meringuey, almond sandwich cookie (right) is fluffy and crackles just a teensy bit as you bite in, collapsing into a chewy, sugary essence of the intended flavor. The chocolate cream filling in both the chocolate and pistachio cookies, believe it or not, helps to round out the sugar burst of the meringue. A perfect, playful tea party morsel fit for Alice and all her friends in Wonderland.

At Pardon My French, the cream layers in the Napoleons ($3.50) is whipped so light, they belie their own decadence. Also called mille-feuille, or “thousand leaves,” the Napoleon is known for its multitudinous layers of puff pastry and pastry cream. Topping it off is a gooey blanket of white sugar glaze embellished with chocolate

Kelly Hailstone/Heavy Table

Kelly Hailstone / Heavy Table

chevron design. Yum.

Easily overlooked alongside the dazzling multilayered and colorful delicacies is the dependable, and my favorite of everything I tried, chocolate eclair ($2.95). It comes bulging with chocolate custard (and also available with vanilla or coffee filling), no skimping here. The pastry casing is faintly sugary and flaky, like a good pie crust. I felt like I was eating pudding one minute, and a Chinese doughnut the next: a lush combination of sweet bread and smooth, feathery, rich chocolate cream.

Pardon My French also serves up a large selection of French and American wines by the glass, as well as French-inspired quiches, breads, soups, salads, and sandwiches. It also has a full espresso bar.

Kelly Hailstone/Heavy Table

Kelly Hailstone / Heavy Table

EDITOR’S UPDATE, 9/25/09: Another visit to Pardon My French revealed some unsavory details. A cafe salad was a nigh-inedible overly sweet mess, the tarte flambe (essentially a flatbread pizza with onions and bacon) was insubstantial and overly salty, croissants were a merely passable white-bread compromise, and — worst of all — a baguette served on the side was a crust-free, squishy, Wonder Bread insult to the word, not fit to be sold at an establishment with anything even vaguely Francophonic in the name. An apple chibouste pastry, it should be said, was quite pleasant and up to the standard that the exterior and menu promise. – James Norton

Pardon My French Bakery, Cafe and Wine Bar
1565 Cliff Rd (in Thomas Lake Center)
Eagan, MN 55122
651.454.2233
HOURS: Mon-Thu 7am-9pm
Fri-Sat 7am-10pm
Sun 7am-8pm
OWNER: Frederic Klein
ENTREE RANGE: $7-15; Bakery, $1-4
BAR: Wine / Beer
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No

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7 Comments

  1. Midwesterner09/01/2009Reply

    This secret gem has been in our lunches-out rotation for half a year, and we’ve never had a bad meal or dessert. While wishing every success for the owners, I’m selfish enough to hope the lunchtime traffic doesn’t increase too dramatically; we’re always able to be served quickly and have a great selection of bakery treat choices.

  2. This place was a regular Saturday morning meeting spot with my girlfriends this winter and it always rewarded us with great coffee and delicious treats after a run. My personal favorite are their dark chocolate truffles. I look forward to more return visits!

  3. This is wonderful restaurant is celebrating their first year anniversary, October 15 – 17! They’ll be featuring dinner specials and a free seasonal pastry with every entrée. Debbie Bigelow and Dean Kleven will be adding their musical touch:
    Thursday, Oct. 15, 5-8 p.m.
    Saturday, Oct 17, 5:30- 8:30 p.m.
    651-454-2233
    1565 Cliff Road,
 Thomas Lake Center

    Eagan, MN 55122
    http://www.pardonmyfrench

  4. I found Pardon My French to be an overrated and overpriced pile of crap that gets too much praise. It’s nice to finally see someone whose opinion I respect reinforce what I knew to be true. Thanks.

  5. I love to support small, local businesses in the area. This place, though, is the WORST, by far! I took my dental office staff to lunch the week of November 2. When we walked in, the place was packed. Come to find out there were just long lines because of extremely slow service. After waiting in line for 20 minutes, we had to sit at a dirty table. They apparently expect you to bus your own dishes and there is nobody wiping tables.(we had to do that on our own) It seemed that they were extremely under-staffed, especially for the lunch rush. The food that you order is already pre-made in a refridgerated case. So we could not understand what took over 40 minutes for us to get our food. Also, 3 of the 7 meals were not what we ordered. This took another 15 minutes to correct. There was a very rude man named “Brett” who was serving the food and running around like he was lost. After talking to a “manager”, who did not tell us her name and looked all of 17 years old, we were not offered anything for our troubles. The food was bland with low quality ingredients. The deserts we tried were very dry and not what you would expect from a Master French Pastry Chef. This was a terrible experience and I would NEVER recommend this establishment. I don’t see them lasting much longer with this type of service and quality of food. Sorry to say that myself and my office staff will NEVER go back.

  6. This place was very good. My coworkers and I went today for lunch and the people were very nice. I asked about their macarons for this weekend and they answered all my questions. The food was delicious. We had sandwiches, quiche, and soup, all very good. We all left with a bag of bread and treats to take home! The macaron I had (lemon) was so good! I will be going back very soon and so will my coworkers.

  7. I am sitting at this coffee shop now…I love it.

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