There is only one place in Chicago where it feels like Paris, always smells of fresh pastries and welcomes swarms of bees on the roof. Almost twelve years ago, husband and wife duo Sandra and Mathieu Holl, pitched their first tent at Green City Market. Today, they own the booming two-story Floriole Café and Bakery in Lincoln Park on Webster Avenue just west of Racine. Floriole is a warm and welcoming space that draws you in with the smell of fresh baked bread and keeps you coming back for artisan pastries, cookies, sandwiches and farm fresh salads.
The bread baking process at Floriole begins while most of us are still sleeping. Bakers prepare the dough the evening before so it’s ready to go into the oven when they arrive at 4am. Not wanting to simply meet the status quo, the baking staff at Floriole is always inventing and can be credited for their many, ever-evolving bread varieties. Additionally, the bread is always served with European butter and housemade jam.
The Baguettes at Floriole are comparable to those available in Paris. With a crusty exterior and an open crumb, don’t be surprised if you find yourself stopping by to purchase one on a weekly basis. They are made fresh daily.
A personal favorite, the House Sourdough is made in a French style and can be paired with meat and cheese or enjoyed on its own. It has nuttier notes that make it appealing to a variety of palates — kids included. Pair it with the homemade jam for an extra zing of sweetness.
The Semolina bread is extremely flavorful. It is made with durum wheat (aka the best flour for making pasta) which makes it a heavier bread. Its density lends itself to become the perfect bread with which to soak up soup. Ready your palate for slightly sour notes with hints of rich saltiness and butter.
Sandwiches & More
The toasted sourdough bread is sliced into small pieces that can be consumed in two to three bites. It is then topped with creamy, whipped avocado and shaved radishes. This Avocado Toast is an ideal snack, appropriate for any time of day.
In the summertime, avocado goes with pretty much everything so it’s no surprise it makes an appearance on the Turkey Club. It is accompanied by locally sourced turkey, crispy bacon and tangy roasted tomato aioli that is sandwiched between two pieces of lightly toasted brioche bread. You don’t need me to tell you twice that this has a certain je ne sais quoi.
The Duck HP tastes like home and is Floriole’s play on a classic Hachis Parmentier (a French casserole with potatoes, minced meat, sauce and shells). Their version includes duck confit that is topped with sweet potato purée. Its sprinkle of delicious brioche breadcrumbs adds an airy crunch.
The Good Stuff
Rye Chocolate Tart
If you are a chocolate connoisseur the Rye Chocolate Tart is a must try. The shells (made from rye) house a decadent chocolate rye filling that is topped with citrus and a generous pinch of course salt. The marmalade adds a surprising fruitiness to the center.
Black & White Sesame Cookies
Inspired by Sandra’s trip to Japan, the Black and White Sesame Cookies create a salty sandwich for the black buttercream filling. They intertwine somewhere on the sweet meets savory parallel. I recommend dipping them in your latte.
Carrot Baby Cakes
The Carrot Baby Cake is presented as a mini round cake that is decorated with cream cheese and buttercream frosting, and topped with edible purple flowers. It is quite possibly the best carrot cake I have ever tasted. Do not delay, this will not be on the menu indefinitely.
Strawberry Tart with Honey
Do you recall the swarms of bees I mentioned in the beginning? This is where they come into play. Urban beekeeping is nothing new, but you would never guess that the roof at Floriole is home to thousands of honey bees who provide the sweet topping for their luscious strawberry tart. Baked fresh, I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the bounties of Mother Nature.
1220 West Webster Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614
Featured Photo by John Towner