Bakery Lorraine: A Taste of France in Texas

 Grapefruit tiramisu

Grapefruit tiramisu

There are some things you expect to be amazing in Texas, like smoky, melt-in-your-mouth brisket and hearty, belly-busting Tex-Mex. But dainty French macarons? Flaky, orange-scented morning buns? That's not what usually comes to mind.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Bakery Lorraine, a cozy French-American sweets shop hidden from the hustle and bustle of the Riverwalk by two criss-crossing highways. During a week-long stay in the San Antonio-Austin area, we briefly became regulars, stopping by in the morning for breakfast, then again in the afternoon for a much-needed pick-me-up.

 Chocolate cream pie

Chocolate cream pie

Our favorite of the bunch was the chocolate cream pie, a mound of velvety cocoa custard and airy whipped cream piled in a chocolate-lined shell and topped with pearls of chocolate crunchies. Every spoonful was cool and creamy — and reminded me oh-so-fondly of the chocolate haupia pie from Ted's Bakery that I've not-so-jokingly claimed as my future wedding, er, pie.

 Tiramisu and French toast macarons

Tiramisu and French toast macarons

Macarons always flew quickly out of the display case and by late afternoon, there was often few in sight. So what does one do to get a taste? Have them for breakfast, of course.

The selection rotates daily — highlighting seasonal ingredients like lemon and black currant — and I went with two of the richer ones available that day: tiramisu and French toast. The light-as-air shells were crackly, the buttercream was silky and both were balanced in flavor — the tiramisu had a surprise dab of chocolate ganache in the center, while the French toast boasted light hints of cinnamon.

 Orange cardamom morning bun

Orange cardamom morning bun

Who exactly is turning out top-notch baked goods in such an unexpected place? Husband-and-wife team Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng, both alums of Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery. When I finally read up on the two, it suddenly made sense why the focus on tarts and macarons seemed a bit familiar (Bouchon's chocolate tart is one of my favorite rough day cure-alls). But it's also clear from the steady stream of customers filling up box after box of macs and the positive local media attention — not to mention a shout-out on CNN's Eatocracy — that the duo have put their own mark on the pastry world. Now, if only they would open up an outpost in New York City — I'd happily become a permanent regular.

Bakery Lorraine, 511 E. Grayson St., San Antonio, Texas (210-862-5582)