Chez Arnaud bakery, the brainchild of pastry chef and owner Arnaud de Rambures, has only been on the scene since 2010. In that short time, it has grown from its original Maple Grove location to three spots in total (it has satellite locations in White Bear Lake and St. Paul) and created palpable buzz. If I may condense what I’ve heard, it boils down to this: “The owner’s French, and he really knows his pastry.” That’s enough to compel a visit. (We did a quick review of Chez Arnaud and Solomon’s Bakery last month.)
Walking into Chez Arnaud’s newly opened shop on Grand Avenue, you get that joyful, giddy, anticipatory sugar high that can only be inspired by phalanxes of neatly arrayed, carefully crafted little edible jewels. If you frequent Patisserie 46 or Patrick’s, you know what I’m talking about.
In short: Welcome to Europe, by way of baked goods.
All of the pastries at Chez Arnaud look good enough to eat on the spot, but a select few have a visual impact factor so high that you have to fight an urge to press your nose on the glass of the display case in order to get a better look.
The shop’s “Paris Minneapolis” confection ($5) is one of those guys. It’s a joyfully striking, almond-studded wreath of pâte à choux cut in half and filled with a praline cream. It succeeds on a number of distinct levels, but two jump to mind:
Restraint: Editing is everything when it comes to food, and the Paris Minneapolis gets points for being sweet (but not overly so) and an enjoyable but fully manageable collection of textures and flavors.
Conviction: This thing is nutty. Crazy nutty. Its point of view is clear, distinct, and maintained with ferocity, and if you generally like the effect that it’s going for, you’ll really love what you taste.
The rest of the bakery’s goods (excellent eclairs, decent croissants, and a host of tempting breads and confections) may beckon to you when you visit, and you’re advised to sample around and enjoy the fruits of Arnaud’s labor. But whatever you do, don’t forget to grab a Paris Minneapolis for the road.
(Chez Arnaud; 13332 Bass Lake Rd, Maple Grove, 763.568.7756; 4735 U.S. 61, White Bear Lake, 651.653.5658; 1085 Grand Ave, St. Paul, 651.330.4453)