With Le Croissant just down the street from St. Philip’s I have ready access to French pastry most of the year. However, if one French bakery in the vicinity is good news, two is even better. So, when I heard that La Belle Baguette would be opening I was very happy. La Belle Baguette is located in the old Chez Sophie location. Chez Sophie having closed after their expansion to the pedestrian bridge by The Forks proved to be a bridge too far. I was sorry about that, as I never got around to trying Chez Sophie.
My first knowledge of the bakery opening up came when I met the owner Alix Loiselle. I was attending a farewell dinner for my friend and fellow blogger Anna Coleshaw-Echols as she and her husband Jeff were moving out to the West Coast. Alix is a Winnipeg native who has honed his craft in various parts of the country and has brought that craftmanship back to Winnipeg and La Belle Baguette.
Despite being on my radar for quite a while, it took some time before I visited the bakery. La Belle Baguette is a little off the main thoroughfares of St. Boniface. That means you may need to be a little more deliberate in your attempts to visit. That’s what I ended up having to do. Believe me though, as I’ll tell you more, it is worth any extra effort you may have to make.
My first time in the shop I was heading out to eat elsewhere, but I decided to pop in and have a little snack to fuel my walk. I decided on a cheese pretzel. This pretzel had a nice crispy outside with a real good chew on the inside. It also came with a good coating of cheese that was soft and chewy, and hadn’t been overcooked.
La Belle Baguette for Lunch
La Belle Baguette’s offerings lend themselves more to a coffee and dessert kind of experience, but they are a selection of soup, sandwiches, and quiche that make for a good lunch as well. The other day when I stopped in I was towards the end of the lunch period. There weren’t a lot of sandwiches in the display case, but that was good, because I ended up with a made to order ham sandwich on baguette. The sandwich had plenty of ham, and the baguette was good and crunchy on top with plenty of chew on the inside. It was also served with Smak Dab mustard on the bread. I really like their mustard, and it brings a bit of zing to the sandwich.
The sandwich was a half baguette sandwich, so I added an individual quiche as well. The quiche was ham and cheese. The pastry was quite light, and the filling was well cooked. I enjoyed mine cold although the option of having it heated up was available.
Bakeries and bread naturally go together, but when I think of bakeries, sweet treats are what more often pop into my head. La Belle Baguette has plenty of these and they are all delicious. I ordered a couple of these to go with my lunch. I went with a Pete des Souers (Known in English as Nun’s Farts, I’m not making this up). Despite the name it is a very tasty little cookie. I also had a coconut covered marshmallow slice. This was fantastic as the marshmallow was moist and chewy which complemented well the crunch of the coconut. All the while being sweet without overdoing the sweetness. The server said it was her grandmother’s recipe. So, kudos to grandma for creating such a wonderful dessert.
Now, I couldn’t try everything I wanted to at that lunch, but fortunately I was able to take a couple of items home with me as well. The first was a large jam filled cookie. Again a nice balance between the sweetness of the jam, and a little hint of spice to the cookie itself. I also took home a bread pudding. This was definitely the highlight dish for me. I took my server’s advice and gave it a few seconds in the microwave before I ate it. The pudding itself was melt in the mouth good, and the caramel woven throughout gave it a nice flavour boost along the way.
Given that it’s cold outside, I’m not sure how often I’ll make it over before the weather warms up. However, given how good all the items are that I’ve already tried, I want to taste more of what La Belle Baguette has to offer.