To experience the full and mystifying range of possibilities when you mix together flour, water, yeast, and salt (and, okay, plenty of butter and sugar), all you have to do is walk through the doors of two very, very different new bakeries.
Neither is, technically speaking, brand-new. Both opened toward the end of last year and each is the newest location of another existing store. But both Solomon’s Bakery and Chez Arnaud are edging closer to the heart of their respective desired demographics.
Solomon’s Bakery opened in an Uptown storefront on Hennepin that in recent years has cycled through tenants like it’s cursed. (Let’s hope it’s not. Editor’s note: apparently so; Solomon’s has closed and moved to 1085 Grand Ave. in St. Paul.) You might know Solomon’s bread and savory filled pastries from Mill City Market, or maybe from their bakery on Central in Northeast. Now their all-organic baked goods are in the orbit of The Wedge and available to every food-conscious condo dweller switching buses at the Uptown Transit Station.
There are croissants and pains au chocolate and they are very good. But what Solomon’s does so much better than anyone else are those earthy, Old World, fill-you-up-until-lunchtime breads and pastries. There are palmiers and raisin rolls as big as a toddler’s face — and anything but delicate. And a whole array of rich, thick-crusted turnovers. Not-too-sweet raisin buns and rosemary-scented potato buns. (These last are great if you get a cup of whatever peasanty soup is available today.)
There are cookies, too, but if you see a tray full of molasses pigs, look right past the mundane round cookies and grab a fat piggy. He’s crunchy and chewy and tart with molasses.
In the bread cases are dense, sour pumpernickels, fluffy potato breads, and soft, sandwich-worthy whole wheats.
Solomon’s isn’t fancy — in fact, it already looks a little worn around the edges — but that’s part of its charm.
As hearty and earthy as Solomon’s is, that’s how very refined everything — down to the chic takeout boxes — is at Chez Arnaud. (Editor’s note: Chez Arnaud was sold to the owners of Solomon’s.) Already established in Maple Grove and White Bear Lake since 2010, Arnaud has brought his award-winning baguettes and his impeccable croissants and pains au chocolat to St. Paul’s Grand Avenue.
Everything is arrayed in sleek display cases designed to elicit, “Ooh!” and, “Pretty!” In the French tradition, you very much eat with your eyes before your mouth at Chez Arnaud. Every exquisite fan-shaped apricot pastry is perfectly shaped and a delicious shade of golden yellow. And they are just as good — buttery, delicate — when you bite into them. (These are hands down our favorites at Chez Arnaud.)
There are better éclairs and macarons in the Twin Cities, but that says more about our good fortune in bakeries here than it does about Chez Arnaud, because these are very good — the perfect-sized treats for when you just need to set down the shopping bags for a moment and enjoy a chic little treat.
Organic baked goods in Uptown and Northeast Minneapolis
1085 Grand Ave (formerly Chez Arnaud)
St. Paul, MN
OWNER / BAKER: Veronica Anczarski
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes