La Boulange de Polk: Charming Café Opens Window to Paris [CLOSED]

  • Home
  • Bakery
  • La Boulange de Polk: Charming Café Opens Window to Paris [CLOSED]
Bakery San Francisco

La Boulange de Polk is a pleasant place to enjoy a coffee and pastry (or 10).

In under 10 years, Bordeaux bred baker Pascal Rigo has managed to dominate the San Francisco baking scene, no small achievement given the city’s wealth of excellent bakeries. According to The Bay Bread Group website, he currently employs over 400 people. That’s impressive hiring power, and his baked goods are equally impressive.

Rigo launched Boulangerie in January 1999, in a former French laundry. No, not that French Laundry. Rigo now has six other boulangeries, plus five restaurants. He and his “co-workers” produce 80 different products daily. La Boulange de Polk is the location I frequent on trips north. This Russian Hill location has a mint green facade, sidewalk tables and casual vibe.

There’s normally a line from the front door to the cash register, allowing a tantalizing crawl past overflowing bread bins and pastry cases.

One swath of case contained Chocolate Fondants, Banana Caramel Muffins, Madeleines (vanilla, chocolate, blueberry, lemon), Chocolate Hazelnut Croissants and Apple Chaussons. A second window revealed Caneles, Orange & Cinnamon Buns, Ham & Cheese Croissants and Sugar Brioche. A third display featured colorful macarons and miniature feta scallion rolls. The bottom shelf held sweet (strawberry rhubarb, apricot and apple) and savory (cauliflower, summer vegetable and potato) tarts, available by the slice.

Bread San Francisco

Basket shelving cradled fresh-baked loaves of 3 Seed Baguette, Pain au Levain and Olive Boulot, to name just three bread offerings.

Cookies San Francisco

Croquant Bordelais ($1) was a flat almond biscotti-like, chocolate-dipped creation. La Boulange’s similarly excellent cornmeal cookie featured a raspberry thumbprint.

Pastry San Francisco

Raisin Custard Swirl ($2.25) was sultana brioche studded with huge sugar crystals.

French Toast San Francisco

Boulange’s weekend-only “French toast” ($3.50) was like a custardy, egg-rich soufflé with brioche undertones. My disc came dusted with powdered sugar and served with a little syrup pitcher. They also offer the French toast with fruit, but it’s plenty good unadulterated.

Quiche San Francisco

La Boulange de Polk doesn’t just have excellent sweets; they also excel with savory items like open-faced sandwiches and flaky quiche Lorraine ($3) loaded with luscious ham chunks. Their veggie quiche was also solid, baked with mushrooms, leeks and tomatoes.

Coffee San Francisco

La Boulange also steams frothy lattes, serving them in big bowls, rounding out a worthy facsimile of the French café experience.

The almond croissant ($2.25) was easily the best I’ve eaten, dusted with powdered sugar, sporting sliced almond scales and flaky pastry, and filled with almond cream and marzipan.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Leave a Comment