When I first heard during our never-ending winter that Steve and Michelle Corry, the owners of 555 and Petite Jacqueline, would be opening a French-style pastry shop in Portland, I was pretty excited. They have clearly already proved they know how to prepare excellent French cuisine, but a bakery is something else. In France the government actually used to dictate the price you can charge for a baguette (these days it’s still self-regulated by a neighborhood’s bakers themselves), because that is how seriously they take baked goods over there, so the bar for a Parisian-style bakery is set pretty high. And, I am happy to say, Portland Patisserie and Grand Café is even more delicious then I dared dream. The décor itself is also gorgeous, with eye-catching gold café chairs, pendant lamps and the beautiful blue wall behind the pastry counter, dominated by a painting of their logo – an elegant peacock.
While I am definitely not a self-proclaimed expert on French pastry shops, I did spend a week in Paris and so far everything I have sampled at Portland Patisserie has lived up to my wonderful memories of Parisian food. The croissants are flaky and buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and there are also pain au chocolat and ham and gruyere croissants if you are looking for something a little heartier for you morning meal. The daily quiche is also a must-try, and you can choose from either a meat or vegetarian version.
Stop by for lunch or dinner and treat yourself to one of their exquisite crepes. When you order them to go, they come wrapped up in a paper cone, and the first few bites are all crispy-edge deliciousness. Choose from ham and cheese, mushroom and gruyere, or smoked salmon, capers and goat cheese. You are also welcome to build your own crepe, or try one of their savory options. I’ve got my eye on the Espresso-Mascarpone or Nutella for a future visit.
Other lunch items include soup (I tried the tasty Cauliflower & Camembert, and they also have a Soup du Jour), salad, cheese and charcuterie plate. Basically if you are planning a picnic, make Portland Patisserie your new go-to spot for provisions. They even sell their own branded totes, so you can buy a bag, a baguette (or a sandwich on your choice of baguette, croissant or focaccia), some cheese, a salad, some sparkling water (or beer or wine) and you are good to go!
And if all that wasn’t enough the desserts are truly amazing. There are cakes, cookies, tarts, brownies and more, but for me personally the true test of any French-style bakery will always be the macaron. These brightly-colored delicacies were (mostly) my favorite part of visiting Paris, and I tried to sample as many as I could as I ate my way across the city. I’ve tried a few versions in the States and never been overly impressed – until I visited Portland Patisserie. They have a nice variety of flavors, ranging from pistachio to chocolate to lavender, and so far I have immensely enjoyed them all.
Bottom line – the prices are reasonable and the selection and quality of food is amazing. Portland Patisserie is a very welcome addition to the Old Port and an excellent spot to grab a coffee, breakfast or lunch for downtown workers, residents or visitors.
Portland Patisserie and Grand Café
46 Market Street, Portland
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 7 am – 6 pm.