We’ve been fans of Patrick’s Bakery for years. The bakery’s location in the Lyndale Ave. Bachman’s puts a luxurious final touch on an already civilized garden emporium, bringing European pastry into the world of serious plant cultivation and creating a pleasant oasis (particularly during the winter).
So when we first heard about the new Patrick’s opening up at the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove, our imaginations were captured at once. The new location’s point of emphasis is Alsatian tarte flambée, a legitimately enticing way to say “fancified French pizza, minus the red sauce, with bit of high-end ham and cheese all over the place.”
How smart is Patrick’s for opening a tarte flambée place out in the suburbs? It’s damned near genius. Let’s count the ways:
1) Serving a French specialty reinforces the Patrick’s brand: Continental-inspired baked goods.
2) Tart flambée sounds upscale, enticing, and new, but it also…
3) … sounds like pizza, which just about everyone can enjoy.
The Arbor Lakes Patrick’s is sprawling and chic, with menus written on mirrors and treated glass, a visually engaging wine bar, and a busy combination of bistro-inspired cafeteria and restaurant-style seating that is two parts Barbette and one part upscale mall food court.
We tried two of the restaurant’s tartes flambée: the Traditional ($10, above; bacon, onion, and crème fraîche) and the Forestiere Gratinée ($14, with cheese, bacon, mushrooms, crème fraîche, and onion.)
The thumbnail verdict: these things are to actual tartes flambée what Heggie’s pizza is to a pie from Pizzeria Lola. They’re down-and-dirty, but they’re still tasty.
On the positive side of the ledger, the crust on our tartes was pleasantly chewy with crunchy edges. None of the toppings overwhelmed the pie (the Forestiere was mushroom-forward, but not oppressively so), and the tartes were neither greasy nor overly salty. The bacon lacked crunch or smoke, but its easy going, ham-like nature made it play well with the other toppings, and the onions were both extremely numerous and relatively mild.
On the negative side of the ledger, we just didn’t pick up on the crème fraîche, which actually would have been a nice complement to the soothing-to-the-point-of-bland jamboree of the other ingredients. And, more critically, our tartes were noticeably drenched in a neutral-tasting, oily something or other.
It’s possible that the original source of the oily taste was the massive jug of soybean oil-based EverRich Liquid Butter Alternative sitting in the kitchen near the tarte flambe oven; it’s possible the source was something else. (It’s also possible that we shouldn’t be too hard on EverRich LBA — after all, it’s A Golden Yellow Liquid Butter Alternative That Possesses A Clean Buttery Flavor And Aroma.)
In absolute terms, an Alsatian is not going to have one of these tartes and start applying for a green card. But contextually speaking, Patrick’s is located near a Red Lobster, a PF Chang’s, a Potbelly, and a Biaggi’s (among others), so the opportunity to patronize a local restaurant with an unusual main offering — and a large, enticing bakery case — is one that shouldn’t be passed up lightly.
Patrick’s Bakery, 12489 Elm Creek Blvd, The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, Maple Grove, MN; 763.420.7770