A&E

C'est magnifique

Mademoiselle Colette brings a taste of Paris to Menlo Park

Sleepy downtown Menlo Park has woken up with the arrival of Mademoiselle Colette, an elegant French patisserie that has sold out every day since opening last month.

Owner Debora Ferrand, who was born in Brazil but raised in France, has successfully imported some of the best elements of Parisian dining to the Peninsula. She opened the pastry shop at 816 Santa Cruz Ave., the former home of Sugar Shack, in early October.

Mademoiselle Colette (named after a late family member) serves classic French pastries, brunch and lunch menu items, coffee, tea and wine. The patisserie was packed on a recent weekday morning, with the indoor tables full and a line in front of the gorgeous glass pastry case. Delicate pastries -- lemon and chocolate tarts, merveilleux, moelleux au chocolat, raspberry eclairs -- sat atop white marble counters. Employees were replenishing the diminishing stock as I left later that morning.

One of Mademoiselle Colette's most popular menu items, the pain au chocolat ($4), is small but satisfyingly crisp, and the chocolate on the inside packs a rich punch. Ferrand said the patisserie's pastry chef, a young French man named Orphee Fouano, makes two to three kinds of chocolate that become the innards of the pain au chocolat, often referred to as a chocolate croissant in English.

Hiding inside the merveilleux ($5.50), a ball-shaped cake that originated in Belgium, is cream and a meringue so light it dissolves in the mouth. The exterior is covered in chocolate shavings and topped with a small chocolate sphere stamped with the name of the shop.

Mademoiselle Colette doesn't stoop to using American butter. Instead, they bake and cook with French butter that Ferrand said has "much more fat" than its American counterpart.

All the pastries are served on charming mix-and-match plates -- some with delicate designs, others scalloped with thin gold rims -- that make you feel like you're visiting a Parisian apartment. Espresso is served in beautiful gold-rimmed black cups. Sugar cubes are available in small silver buckets.

Inside, the space is thoughtfully decorated. Framed French drawings adorn the walls, and there's a display of black-and-white French postcards and books penned by French novelist Colette.

If you're going for lunch, don't miss the croque madame sandwich ($11.50): a slice of chewy, fresh bread topped with Parma ham, Emmental cheese and a perfectly fried egg. A generous side salad of arugula and cherry tomatoes is the perfect complement to the sandwich's rich flavors.

The Colette Parisian salad ($12), with arugula, ham, cubes of Gruyere cheese, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, green beans and hard-boiled egg, was refreshing and heaped with the ingredients. Though pleasing any time of year, it would be best enjoyed on a hot summer day in the outdoor back patio with a glass of French wine.

Other lunch items include the classic nicoise salad ($14), a burrata salad ($13.50), chicken salad ($13) and soup of the day ($9). Brunch on the weekends includes items like eggs Benedict. Portions are large.

There's also happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with cheese and charcuterie plates, foie gras and wine. The wine menu ranges from an $8 glass of French rose to a $22 glass of Barnaut Grande Reserve champagne.

Ferrand, an Atherton resident, said she was excited by the high demand for her new shop, but wholly unprepared to meet it. She had been searching for a place to open a pastry shop since moving to the area about a year ago. Previously, she lived for several years in Texas, where she attended Le Cordon Bleu with an emphasis on baking and pastries. She also studied at famed chef Alain Ducasse's cooking school in France.

Given Mademoiselle Colette's popularity, Ferrand explained, they recently bought a machine that will help them double the production of the pain au chocolat and croissants, but they're still strapped on the rest of the pastries.

"We were really, really not expecting the craziness," she said. "It's very exciting and it's cool, but it's hard to manage because we never imagined being sold out every day like that."

She said she wants the patisserie to be a piece of Paris in Menlo Park -- a place where customers relax over a pastry or cup of coffee. Mademoiselle Colette is not meant to be a place for a quick bite, nor a full-service restaurant.

"We'd like to be a place (where) people come, take their time, have a cup of coffee or tea or glass of wine, eat some food," Ferrand said, adding that the "very efficient American way" is not what she's trying to cater to.

It's fitting that she found a home for Mademoiselle Colette in Menlo Park, where things move a bit slower and customers seem more than happy to linger over a high-quality pastry.

Bienvenue a Menlo Park, Mademoiselle Colette.

Mademoiselle Colette

816 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park

650-644-8469

mademoisellecolette.com

Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Robn
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Are they open every day, and what are the times.?


25 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2015 at 6:26 pm

I guess if you don't find being ripped of it might be good. Expensive and their ideal of change to no change, bills only. Built in tips? Not impressed


27 people like this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Outrageous prices, but they are not alone in this area. Have you all tried Trader Joe's frozen mini-croissants? or Milk Pail Dairy frozen croissants?


28 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2015 at 3:41 pm

The mini croissants at TJ's are awesome, and I have heard that the ones at Milk Pail are too. I cannot afford $4 croissants.


6 people like this
Posted by Shallow Alto
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Hey, you folks can always buy the frozen crescents from Pillsbury if you're *that* determined to save a few bucks...


17 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2015 at 5:21 pm

@ Shallow Alto

Who is being "shallow" here? I am going to break some news to you: Some people who have lived in Palo Alto for 20- 25 years or more can no longer afford Palo Alto style prices. I am one of them.


4 people like this
Posted by Shallow Alto
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2015 at 5:24 pm

Just Passing Through -- "Some people who have lived in Palo Alto for 20- 25 years or more can no longer afford Palo Alto style prices. I am one of them."

(1) Why are you still living in Palo Alto?
(2) The last time I checked, the occasional $4 croissant won't break anyone's budget. Buying them every day, on the other hand...


13 people like this
Posted by Just Passing Through
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2015 at 8:39 pm

@Shallow

Why are you still living in Palo Alto?

Because I refuse to pay $4 for croissants when I can eat perfectly good croissants for much less. See posts above.


14 people like this
Posted by JohnW
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2015 at 1:11 pm

For those complaining about pricing: No one is forcing anyone to go there.

Stay at home and make your own croissants from scratch. Just let us know how that works out for you.


8 people like this
Posted by Duvalier
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 15, 2015 at 2:27 pm

What I liked the most is their friendliness which is rare in American businesses . Vive la France.
#prayforparis


7 people like this
Posted by Shallow Alto
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2015 at 2:40 pm

JohnW -- "For those complaining about pricing: No one is forcing anyone to go there.

Stay at home and make your own croissants from scratch. Just let us know how that works out for you."

Bravo! Thank you for saying what needed to be said.

Sadly, discussion boards like this are filled with people who feel the need to complain, complain, complain...


10 people like this
Posted by Emily
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 15, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Mademoiselle Colette needs to proofread her menu. And also learn that dollar signs go before the number, not after.


9 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2015 at 12:32 am

Emily - it's standard in many parts of the world to put the dollar sign after the number. Kudos to you for so adroitly proving Shallow Alto's point.


4 people like this
Posted by Shallow Alto
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2015 at 1:34 pm

@Hmmm -- Emily (apparently) couldn't help herself.

But how nice it is to have one's point proven so very quickly...


14 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2015 at 2:45 pm

'Looks a little too dainty for this frenchman. It's refreshing to know I can go to the near by O, or the Goose for le burger...


12 people like this
Posted by Hahahahaha
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Alex, I think I luv u!


4 people like this
Posted by Hmmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2015 at 12:36 pm

:-) Shallow Alto - Even I can afford Mademoiselle Collette every once in a while ;-)


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Salt & Straw Palo Alto to open Nov. 23
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 3,392 views

Trials of My Grandmother
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,421 views

Lakes and Larders (part 2)
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,181 views

Can we ever improve our schools?
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 538 views