La Boulange de Cole – San Francisco

Our final day in San Francisco, we scoured the Yelp apps on our phones to find a solid breakfast/brunch spot. And I came across La Boulange, a French cafe and bakery chain with branches found throughout San Francisco and the greater Bay area. The closest one to Sunset was at Cole Valley, so we sped of, crossing our fingers that we’d find a parking spot.

La Boulange de Cole was surprisingly quaint, looking and feeling a lot like a neighborhood corner cafe, especially when you consider that the chain is worth at least $100 million.  At the time, I didn’t know that La Boulange had already been acquired by Starbucks (as of April 2013) [link]. (Boulange’s presence at Starbucks coffee shops has grown considerably in the past year–most of the stocked pastries now carry the Boulange brand name.)

Jams galore
Jams galore

On the Sunday we visited, there was a steady stream of customers coming in and out. In fact, there was a long line of customers waiting to make an order.

An assortment of baked goods
An assortment of baked goods

All the baked goods on display were saliva-inducing. Seriously. I love eating pastries, so seeing the mountains of croissants and other baked goods laid out like that got my heart pounding. Fat kid at heart here.

Closeup of the croissants
Closeup of the croissants
The raspberry financer looked particularly scrumptious
The raspberry financer looked particularly scrumptious

Honestly, if we hadn’t been so pressed for time to start our 400+ mile drive back to Los Angeles, I could have seen myself spending a few more hours to enjoy a pastry or two or three here. Next time.

We were rather conservative with our choices. Because everyone was unsure of what to order, I basically just uttered out whatever caught my eye on the menu, careful not to draw from my high school French lest I sound like a pretentious Francophone wannabe.

Coffee with milk – café au lait

I couldn’t help myself, so I got a bowl of café au lait, coffee with milk, served the traditional French way. The portion size was definitely American; the bowl was quite big (this photo doesn’t do it justice) and it took quite a bit of teamwork to whittle down the bowl’s contents. The coffee wasn’t so strong, the dark roasted brew tempered by the milk.

Boulange potatoes and an egg croissant sandwich
One eggy spinach and salmon quiche
One eggy spinach and salmon quiche

The quiche was disappointingly small, probably the size of a child’s fist… The crust wasn’t nearly succulent enough and came out cold. I was not pleased at all. The quiche’s saving grace was its delicious eggy filling.

Shrimp Louie and avocado toast, alongside some salad greens

I actually enjoyed this plate quite a bit. Avocado on toast can be a very good thing. And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some sauteed shrimps on the side.

French onion soup
French onion soup served with one mediocre croque madame sandwich

I have no idea what possessed me to order the French onion soup. I don’t even like French onion soup. Sorry, Janet. The croque madame sandwich was similarly unappetizing. Skimpy on the ham (c’mon, this is America), and one pathetically cooked egg on top.

The end of the meal left me yearning for something more fulfilling. Lucky for us, we had also made a pitstop at Mongkok Dim Sum, for some snacks on our drive back.

La Boulange de Cole
1000 Cole St. San Francisco, CA 94117


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