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.
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.
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