We all know the age old tales: good vs. evil, light vs. dark, responsible gun ownership vs. George Zimmerman, Pawnee vs. Eagleton, and now, Le Marais Bakery vs. Le Marais Bistro.
If you walk into the right-hand door of this Marina establishment (the bakery side), stroll up to the counter and order a latte and croissant to go, you’ll be on your merry way. You will wander off happy, nibbling a delicate French pastry, ready to casually start your day like a French person, meaning "with cigarette."
But if you enter through the left-hand door (the bistro side), be prepared to meet a whole new world of aristocracy, rules, and cloth napkins. There's no wall separating the two sides, but there is a world of difference.
Here are some of the "rules" in place:
Rule 1: Breakfast Isn’t Served Until:
a) 7:30am b) 9am c) When the cook is no longer pissy d) “later” e) All of the above.
We have heard each of these from the staff, so we’ll go with e).
Rule 2: All Toast Is Croissant
This is an actual, bread-baking bakery. At any given time of day, there are more than five types of loaves stashed artfully in the cute wooden cubbies behind the counter. Yet, any dish you order involving toast (avocado included) will be served atop a sliced croissant. We’ve tried negotiating, but none of our reasonable statements or questions like "croissants aren’t toast" or "could you just slice some of that bread that I can see?" do much to sway the baristas masquerading as waiters.
Rule 3: Segregation
If you behave as they would like you to on the bistro side, order off the menu and eat your croissant toast without complaint, things are ok. There are no pastries on this side of the divide, so you might need to get up, cross the invisible line, and order at the bakery counter to get something out of the oven to go with your meal. If you attempt to order anything off the "bistro" menu at the bakery, you will be sternly directed to the "bistro", where your food will take anywhere from 17-47 minutes to appear. If you insist they give you granola on the "bakery" side (we think that is a baked item), they will treat you like a second class citizen. Here you go, lady, a plastic container of granola with a plastic spoon. You get what you deserve.
But here’s the rub. We are gluttons for punishment when it comes to Le Marais. Despite the dichotomy, we come back over and over again - the Stumptown lattes are excellent, the croissants (plain and almond) are, to quote our muse Guy Fieri, OUT OF BOUNDS, and the house-made granola is amazing, whether or not you eat it with a plastic spoon on the street.
We have actually been known to order our food (after several tries), sit down outside muttering "fck these guys" and still come back the next weekend. We are too fearful to venture in for lunch or dinner, since they might try to guillotine us, but since no sharp objects appear during breakfast, we can handle the morning meal in the name of incredible pastries. Ditch the divide, let people order off either menu at the counter, and you’ll stop the next French Revolution. Or at least the one I try to start next weekend if I don't get some fcking toast.
Light, airy, buttery goodness. Go get 'em.
Your fingers will be sticky, and your stomach will be happy. This is an excellent almond croissant.
True: There is avocado. False: There is toast. A sliced croissant topped with avocado and an egg is not what you expect or want here. Put some of that delicious bread to good use.
Sometimes with kiwi, sometimes with strawberries, the granola is sweet, salty and probably our favorite in all of San Francisco. Even when it's served in a plastic tupperware of disdain.
It's all good - but make sure you show up before 2pm to get some. The levain, whole wheat, and rosemary loaves are excellent.