Years ago when I lived in Rolla, it was a treat to drive the two hours to St. Louis for the Muny or to shop at the region’s first major shopping mall at Crestwood Plaza. By the 80s, when we made those trips, a delightful French bakery caught my eye: La Bonne Bouche. Back then I could indulge in pastries with less regret. Chasing four kids every day allowed me to metabolize an occasional macaroon—or two—or three. I could work off a slice of gâteau au chocolat in no time at all.
It may be just as well that La Bonne Bouchee is located in Westgate Centre, 13 miles from my St. Louis condo. I only go there when I’m in the area. Monday was one of those days, so I stopped for lunch. It was chilly and the snow flurries and wind added to the bleakness of the day. I easily convinced myself that it was a perfect time to stop at the quaint Parisian café and patisserie for a hot cup of tea and a Vol-au-Vent.
A lot of people must have had the same idea, because the place was nearly full. I ordered the puff pastry shell filled with chicken and mushrooms swaddled in a cream sauce. It’s the French version of comfort food, much like our chicken pot pie. When the lunch entrée arrived at the table, I was surprised to see the sheer volume of food on the plate. I’ve fed hay hauling crews smaller portions. The good part was having enough leftover to take home for dinner that evening.
When I inquired about a dessert menu, I was told they only had a dessert tray. I like that; it takes the guess work out of dessert selection. I picked something chocolatey and smooth tasting and saved a sliver for my doggy bag dinner.
Having to pass through the bakery area to get to the park lot, I paused. First mistake. I engaged with others, who were ogling the goodies. Second mistake. I indulged. Hmm. . . hard to call that a mistake.
With memories of Paris still lingering in my head like sugar plums on Christmas Eve, I bought a half-dozen macaroons: Chocolate-Orange; Vanilla-Bourbon, and Pistachio. They’re addictive little rascals with their crispy exteriors and slightly chewy insides. They’re also pricey.
Still the airy, meringue cookies with the ganache centers are a delicate treat when one is needed. A small box of macaroons also makes a lovely thank you gift for some small favor or remembrance.
La Bonne Bouchee, Westgate Centre, 12344 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur. Open: Bakery: Mon 7a-7p; Tue-Sat 7a-9p; Sun 8:30a-3p. Restaurant: Mon 7a-3p; Tue-Sat 7a-9p; Sun 8:30a-2:45p.