1547 N. Wells
It is particularly appropriate that I am writing this review of a little French bakery while listening to Julia Child’s “My Life in Paris” (so she’s not a pastry chef, but still…) We happened upon La Fournette after a trip to the Chicago History Museum, and we were pleased by the quaint ambiance and the large variety of baked goods. We were a little taken aback that we were greeted with a chipper “Bonjour” upon entering, but in the best possible way.
The bakery itself is long and narrow, with wooden tables at one end, and a very long glass counter at the other (you can even do a tour on Google Maps). “Fournette” means little oven, so it is no surprise that the specialty of the house is the delicious bread. We sampled some of the house specialty bread, a dense sourdough called “Miche La Fournette” ($6.95 for a 2 lb loaf). There was a large selection of attractive carb-y delights piled on the baking racks. The Provençal Olive Fougasse bread ($5.75) looked particularly appealing, and who could go wrong with a classic baguette. The chef is from the German-influenced French region of Alsace, so that unique culinary heritage is also present in the bakery – they even have Bretzels ($2.15)!
Of course we also made a beeline for the sweets. There was a pretty decent selection of macarons ($1.80), from which we ordered a chocolate and passion fruit/mango. The chocolate was a little flat but the fruit macaron was light and delicious. We were a little disappointed to find the financiers and madeleines pre-wrapped, but we were reassured that everything is made in-house. For something more substantial, there are a rotating selection of soup and sweet or savory crepes. M selected a bacon lentil soup, which was very warming (and very bacon-y). There is also a small drink menu from which we ordered some chocolate chaud, or hot chocolate. It was not too sweet (which we like) and perfect for the freezing weather. Perhaps a cafe au lait some other morning?
One of the key features of the cafe that we enjoyed is that you will find people actually talking to each other, not just working on laptops, as you see in most other cafes. We highly enjoyed our relaxing afternoon snack and the convivial atmosphere, and we hope to get there earlier another morning so we can sample the croissants and brioche that had long sold out by the time we arrived. Moreover, we are looking forward to visiting the outdoor cafe portion in more friendly weather.