If I wasn’t a commuter and lived in downtown Salt Lake City, one of the places I’d hit up for grub most often would be the French-inspired Gourmandise the Bakery. Though I only stop by once in a while, my visits there are never anything short of delightful. While packed at times, it always manages to provide for a mellow setting. The atmosphere is synonymous with the profiles of the dishes — light, delicate and warm. Soft white sunlight floods the room in the mornings and string lights give it a charming aura in the evenings. The entire bakery smells richly of cocoa, coffee and cheese. This is the dig to visit not just to go out, but to get out. Gourmandise is a peaceful haven where one can step in, eat some comforting food and feel every outside anxiety melt away, even when it is crowded.
Face it. Most of us have been let down at some point before by other cafes’ stale slices of cake or croissants — shamelessly gesturing to Starbucks here — and environments that serve no other purpose but to put a cup and bag in your hand and force you out the door. Gourmandise, on the other hand, is everything that a person could wish for in a cafe or bakery. It’s welcoming, the pastries are buttery and the meals are refined but affordable. The staff doesn’t rush customers. Guests are free to stay and order in small quantities at a time as they chat, relax and work. Simply put, Gourmandise, which is said to be one of Utah’s best bakeries, fully lives up to its hype. Clay Campbell, general manager of Gourmandise’s SLC location, said, “We want your experience here to be as comfortable as possible.”
Vistors to Gourmandise will likely find themselves delighted to see the number of interesting foods on display, from cakes to cookies to loaves of bread. “We aim for an aesthetic experience and want to make sure people are seeing it,” said Campbell. “We’re centered on having many different options for people. That’s why we have over a hundred different desserts.” However, the desserts behind the glass cases aren’t merely eye candy. They’re made from scratch and they taste like it. Gourmandise is also popular for its specialty cakes, and drop-in guests are also free to order it by the slice.
“We recognize people for birthdays, parties, special occasions,” said Campbell. “People come here to buy birthday cakes, from small parties to these giant cakes that can feed, like, 96 people!” Varieties of cake include raspberry mousse, white strawberry chantilly and black forest. Each is decorated uniquely with elements like swirls, chocolate shavings, arranged berries and coconut to make for perfect dream cakes. “If you’re having an event or gathering of friends, talk to us,” said Campbell. “We can make suggestions of what we can do.”
While Gourmandise makes some seriously fancy cakes for special celebrations, its doors are always open to bringing high quality food to casual visits too. “This is a French cafe, but we want to make it so that it feels comfortable, affordable,” said Campbell. “We’re desirous to make it approachable for many people, not just a specific type. We try to invite people of many different cultures here.” Though ordering an entire cake from Gourmandise is pricey, single items such as their pastries come at a fair and reasonable cost. It’d be spendy to visit Gourmandise every day, but even visiting once a week wouldn’t bust your wallet. Campbell wants to bring Gourmandise to be able to bring its flavors to the masses — “a place for people who aren’t from around here, for individual people, for families, there’s something for everyone.”
The Verdict — Dine or Dash
Dine! Especially, I’d say, for breakfast. Gourmandise is worth visiting for their handmade croissants alone, particularly early in the day when they’re most fresh. “We make croissants all from scratch,” said Campbell. “We have a three-day process for fermenting dough, baking it, for all those layers, all the stages, for them to cool. It’s quite the process.” These croissants come in several flavors — plain butter, berry, almond, ham and chocolate. The chocolate croissant, in particular, is one of my favorite things from Gourmandise. The crust is crisp, fluffy and perfectly chewy, while the dark cocoa filling is hardly sweet at all.
Another winner from the bakery menu for chocolate addicts is the European-style éclair. The type, for the uninitiated, is something else entirely from the Americanized version that frequents wedding receptions. The dough is firm — unlike a cake or donut —and the custard filling and ganache on top are thick and creamy without being overpoweringly sugary. Of course, there are other treats from Gourmandise besides chocolate-flavored items, such as their crème brulee, macarons and cheesecake. “If you don’t like chocolate, we’ve got something fruity,” said Campbell. He added that “our Kouign-amann,” a cardamom pastry, “is quite a popular thing too.”
Aside from pastries altogether, Gourmandise offers multiple savory breakfasts, lunches and dinners, including Monte Cristo sandwiches, French onion soup and butternut pasta. Everything I’ve ever tried from the menu is good, but Gourmandise is particularly brilliant with their treatment of eggs. Two of my preferred meals from the breakfast menu are the rolled omelet and the quiche. The omelet is stuffed with a blend of nutty wild mushrooms and mildly grassy gruyere, sweetened by soft asparagus stalks. It’s served with well-roasted carrots, squash and potatoes, all of which add more complexity to the medley.
However, the quiche is the slightly more impressive dish, though its presentation is simpler and it’s the more inexpensive entree. Quiche is a kind of traditional French egg pie, which, like souffle, can be difficult to cook correctly. Quiche isn’t scrambled eggs in a pie crust — it should be something nearer to an airy mousse with cheese and spices marbled throughout. Gourmandise absolutely nails this. To those who have never tried quiche and believe that they wouldn’t like egg-filled pie, I insist that Gourmandise’s recipe will have you hooked to eating it in no time.
Yet above all else, Gourmandise is simply a nice place to be, even just for a quick drink. “I think you’re going to find a place that has good energy, a great place to relax with friends, catch up and chat, to get coffee, a meal or a snack,” said Campbell. “We have lots of experience, so whatever you want, we’re here for you,” he said.
5/5 stars. I’d always be happy to come back here.
Gourmandise has three locations — two full scale restaurants at 250 S 300 E, SLC and 725 E 12300 S, Draper, and a to-go pickup place at 1000 S. Main ST. Suite 100 SLC.
Dine in, take out, custom event orders, catering and Grubhub
You can look at the bakery, breakfast, lunch and dinner menus for Gourmandise on their website.