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Paris in Saratoga in Winter

March 5, 2015

Last week I got to do something pretty special. Chef Paul from TC Bakery invited Albany Jane and me into his kitchen to check out a few of the new items he and Brianne have been developing.

Tomorrow, they are launching their new hot lunch, and we got to sample the centerpiece of that program, the Croque Monsieur. AJ took pictures. I know she’s running a backlog on her blog, but eventually they will surely go up.

In addition, Paul treated us to samples of the bakery’s French beignet, La Mosaic macarons, brûlée caramels with fleur de sel guerande, and the infamous lemon tart.

If you happen to live or work close by, you are in for a treat. But don’t go with a group of friends. This is a place to go and treat yourself. If you must, bring one close confidant. Or maybe you can bring a tablet to catch up on the latest news from Le Monde. Because lunch promises to be a rather intimate affair.

TC Paris on Henry Street is cozy. For the most part, its treats are intended to take away. But there is a small counter to the right of the door with two stools. Macarons, tarts and cold sandwiches travel nicely. Hot sandwiches demand your immediate attention.

So Paul doubled the seating capacity to four. Now there will be two additional stools adjacent to the pastry cases by the kitchen. Once the weather improves, the fold-down outside counter can be put into service, and there’s even talk of adding an outside bench.

The thing I’ve always loved about this operation is that they don’t cut corners. Paul knows what he wants, and he demands ingredients of exceptional quality. He’ll make the treat of his dreams, the way he wants to make it, and then figure out how much it will ultimately cost to sell it. If the product moves, it stays. If not, it goes.

I really hope this sandwich stays.

Bread is critical in a Croque Monsieur as it needs to be hearty enough to hold up to the rigors of this sandwich, yet tender enough to keep it from being too heavy. The Pain de Campagne really does the trick here. It’s grilled in butter, stuffed with a European-style Niman Ranch ham, bechamel, imported gruyere. Then it’s topped with more bechamel and more cheese before being blasted in the oven for six minutes to make the top all brown and bubbly.

Lesser bread could get soggy. But the Pain de Campagne is crisp and toasty, and it stays that way even though it is slathered and topped with a creamy, buttery bechamel. To cut some of this fat, the sandwich is spread with a thin layer of a white wine mustard, but it’s really the cornichon served on the side that resets the taste buds.

As long as bechamel was in production, Paul and Brianne put it to good work in a delightful macaroni and cheese. If that doesn’t sound too French, just wait until you get to a bite of the crisp and golden brown croutons that crown this dish. Really, I’d be happy with the crusty, caramelized cheese bits stuck to the edges of the pan and a plate full of these croutons. AJ happened to like the creamy cheesy middle, but she and I rarely agree on anything.

There will be quiche too, and it sounds delightful, but we didn’t get a chance to try a bite.

Prices and portion sizes were still being determined on my visit, so I can’t give you that information. But while nothing here is cheap, it’s all a good value, especially since I haven’t found any similar products of equivalent quality locally.

Oh, and as for the other non-lunch treats. La Mosaic is a delightful macaron even though it has a white chocolate based center, I was charmed by its balance of cinnamon and pistachio. But the star of the show is their housemade brandied cherry in the center. Really, I’d love more than one, but that one helps to make it extra special.

Paul finally got that lemon tart crust crispy on the bottom, and I still love his bruleed meringue topping. But what I may have enjoyed the most was the lingering bright flavor of homemade lemon curd that stayed with me for most of the afternoon.

The French beignet of deep fried choux pastry filled with house made raspberry jam gave me hope that not all jelly donuts are lackluster. I’d personally pull back a bit on the jelly. Paul is a generous soul and he wants to give people more and more. That said, I don’t think anyone could ever put too much chocolate cream into a donut, but I’m going to return to see.

Fortunately, you won’t have to save room for those salted caramels. They come in individually wrapped batons, and you can walk out with one for about a dollar. If you are really trying to work your way up the corporate ladder, you could even bring a few of those back to the office.

Then, even if people noticed you took a leisurely lunch, perhaps they wouldn’t mind so much.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2015 10:22 am

    Well – I have been to a handful of the places on your list Daniel and so far they have mostly been busts – but Im a little intrigued by this place. I used to work a stones throw from them but never stopped in – mostly because of my work hours, but honestly because I harbor a great deal of skepticism when it comes to French Pastry in Upstate New York. Its something very dear to me, that I spent a lot of time learning extensively about from some pretty serious chefs (including a Meilleur Ouvrier de France). I seem to remember you mentioning their Paris Brest, my personal favorite pastry, too. Im interested in learning a little more about their chef(s) history. Where they have worked, who they have trained with, their relevant experience, etcetera.

    • March 5, 2015 11:17 am

      Hi Greg! French Pastries are very dear to us as well. My grandfather came from Normandy when he was 19 (mid 1940’s), with his brothers. For a short while, they had restaurant in Hudson, NY and I spent many a summer with him in the kitchen (mostly washing dishes and doing the grunt work). Through my grandfather, I learned a passion for greatness. Dedication, attention to details and – using the absolute best ingredients on the planet. I bring a very driven passion for baking to TC Paris, while Chef Brianne (a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY) brings the technical foundation needed to bring our ideas and concepts to life. Together we do our very best, setting high standards for ourselves. Many of our recipes (like our Gateau Basque with our own brandied cherries) come from my grandfather – while some of our more modern additions come from research (and we don’t take our research lightly), and lots of time in test kitchen mode until we get it right. As we strive for perfection, we are very proud to have the backing from many of the local French Community here in Saratoga (and beyond)

      If you love French pastries like we do – then I completely understand your concern and the typical disappointment (not just upstate). We invite you to come in and have a peek. We would love to meet you!!

      • March 5, 2015 12:18 pm

        Chef Paul,
        I’d love to meet as well – and see your pastry case & kitchen. One thing I’ve always known is that if you do French Pastry correctly, your local French community will come out and support you – so hearing that about you carries a lot of weight.

  2. March 5, 2015 8:57 pm

    I need to get there on a Saturday ASAP!

  3. March 6, 2015 12:35 am

    This post is very timely and TC Paris is one of my favorite places! Today I picked up a cake, Chocolate Caramel, which I will be enjoying tomorrow although I can barely wait. While I was there I indulged in some macarons and the salted caramel (heavenly). I tried La Mosaic which was delicious especially the bite with the brandied cherry. My favorite TC Paris treat (besides the macaron with homemade vanilla ice cream in the center which is only seasonal) is the opera cake but clearly I will have to go back for lunch.

  4. March 6, 2015 12:57 pm

    I may have to go give them another chance. I tried the lemon tart and was disappointed enough to not finish it. And I really love lemon tarts. Everyone was raving about it.

    • March 6, 2015 1:47 pm

      Jenh718 – please feel free to contact us on our website, as we would like to get some feedback from you in regards to your past lemon tart. Customer satisfaction is a very high priority to us, and we would like the opportunity to learn more about your experience

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