IT’S BEEN SAID that Savannah is the new Brooklyn. But in my opinion, our quaint city is closer to that of a small European town than a suburb of a thriving mega-metropolis.
Bringing our lush city even more old world flair from America’s posh allies to the east is Cafe M on Bay Street, a restaurant that tricks the mind into believing you have been transported to a tiny bakery on a corner in Paris.
The brainchild of the lovely couple Amanda and Arthur de Bruc de Montplaisir (hence the “M” in Cafe M), Cafe M is a bona fide French bakery that is welcoming and authentic. On their honeymoon traveling from Chicago to Florida, the couple fell in love with Savannah and decided to bring a piece of their childhood to our growing town.
Upon glancing at the menu you will be faced with one immediate dilemma: mimosas or tea? The answer truly depends on the type of “funday” you intend to have, and no matter the decision, I can assure you your palate will fall in love.
The menu offers a plentiful range of teas with a choice between hot or cold. The cold teas are freshly brewed and served with a pitcher of ice, allowing you to chill it then pour your own glass.
The Blood Orange Black Tea has an elegant flavor, first striking the nose with a warm floral aroma, then dancing onto the tongue with a sweet earthy taste. Amanda selected Tea Forte as the brand featured by Cafe M because her brother, who lived in Paris, “would always bring her that tea....and the tea is normally sold in spas or hotels instead of restaurants”.
If you are a true Savannahian, I am going to guess you chose a mimosa. And if you are a true Southerner, you chose the Savannah Peach Mimosa.
A profoundly distinct mimosa, this fusion has all of the classic mimosa ingredients, orange juice and champagne, yet incorporates a Georgia peach summer wine as a boozy substitute for the peach purée that you’d normally find in a Bellini.
The savor of the wine is sour from the white grapes with a hint of sweetness from the peaches without losing its extremely comforting effervescence. One would expect the inclusion of peach to overpower the flavor of oranges and champagne, but each taste is well-defined.
As for food, you would disappoint both me and Amanda’s mother (because it is her recipe) if you did not give the quiche a try. Prior to last week I would have never imagined you could use decadent and quiche in the same sentence; but in describing the flavor of Cafe M’s quiche I could think of no other word.
I sampled the bacon, onion, and cheese quiche, or, as it is traditionally called, the Quiche Lorraine. The eggs are not over-cooked and provide the dish the texture of a custard.
First your mouth is coated with the flavor of silky eggs just before they completely melt away, leaving the salty taste of crispy pork. You’ll find fruit and a lightly dressed salad on the side dressed with house-made balsamic, citrus, and basil dressing, which is the perfect addition to cut through such a bold quiche.
Several people have attempted to bribe Amanda in sharing her mother’s recipe, but when you have the key to something so luscious, you keep a close eye on it.
If sandwiches are more your thing, The Normandy is one of the more popular sandwiches on the menu. Layered between two slices of fresh baked French bread comes organic greens, oozy Brie, delicate ham, toasty walnuts, and sugary pears.
The surprising addition that makes this sandwich extraordinary is a slathering of salted butter over each nook and cranny of both baguette slices. Every bite brings a new experience as your tongue unravels each layer of flavor, salty, sweet, buttery, and everything in between.
Every sandwich comes with a heap of vegetable chips that are organic and gluten free. Crunchy, nutty, and toasty is the best way to describe the unique chickpea chips. According to Arthur, they “can make any sandwich vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free.”
If by some chance you still have room (I know by this point I had cleaned both plates), ending the meal with something sweet and a cup coffee is good choice.
The croissants are baked in-house and can be ordered with a sweet or savory filling. Bananas, honey, and jelly are just some of the choices, but when I saw “bananas and Nutella” as an option, I knew my fate was sealed.
This croissant is exactly what you’d expect from a legitimate French bakery. As your teeth break through the hundreds of layers of pastry, you can hear the crunch as each one give way under the pressure of your bite.
Next, a flavor we all know and love, Nutella, rushes in to paint your tongue, but the true creaminess comes from the little slices of banana tucked throughout the filling.
Their coffee is a special blend of Perc Coffee that was created just for Cafe M to “recreate the profile of coffee that can be found in France,” Amanda says
Upon drinking a cup you will discover that there is not a single ounce of bitterness, and just a faint touch of nuttiness. This coffee will pair well with anything on the menu, whether you order the breakfast drink iced or hot.
As for the future, Amanda told me, the store is “expanding...and we are even looking for another barista”. They will also be serving an Afternoon High Tea, featuring a gourmet brand of coffee and tea, Cafe Gourmand and a range of sweet and savory bites.
Between the welcoming vibes and the authentic taste of the dishes, Cafe M is as close as you can get to Parisian tradition outside of one of the famous arrondissements of the Mother City herself.