TUCKED AWAY in a quaint corner off of Montgomery Street near Broughton is a bustling warm French cafe that offers both savory and sweet treats to patrons and local Savannah businesses alike.
Le Cafe Gourmet is the creation of owners and culinary power couple, Darbousset Alexandre and Yeo Angela.
Truly dedicated to his craft, as the Baker Chef Alexandre wakes up to start baking at about 2 or 3 a.m. every day. Considering the amount of local businesses Le Cafe supplies with their delicious bakes, it is surprising that he does not have to wake up earlier.
Just a few of baked goods supplied include bread for the Westin Savannah Harbor, the buttery croissants for the Doubletree, those delicious baguettes at Zunzi’s, and an assortment of baked goods for both Vic’s on the River and the Paris Market.
Not only does he service a variety of local businesses with his baked goods, but Alexandre also employees three baker apprentices from Savannah Tech so he can work alongside aspiring local bakers as well.
On the menu are sweet crepes that are flavored with orange blossom or savory crepes made in a super thin buckwheat crepe, and with every order you can watch them create your very own French pancake. Surprisingly, the flavor of the buckwheat is light and does not overpower the filling in the savory crepes.
The La Complete crepe comes jammed with thick, salty ham, fluffy eggs, gooey Brie, and is topped with sour cream. Immediately upon slicing into the delicate shell, which is so thin that you barely have to apply pressure to it before you see the warm cheese ooze onto your plate.
The pork is salty and a stark contrast to the nutty Brie, which is all completely melted and pairs well with a touch of luscious sour cream. As for the paper thin pastry, the care that the chefs used in preparing the batter is only outshined by the execution of the actual cooking of the crepe.
The Cafe Bonbon is almost too pretty to drink, layered with coffee, chocolate, whipped cream, and the choice of condensed milk or Nutella (almost an unfair choice to make). Angela’s “favorite is with Nutella,” but I had the pleasure of tasting the condensed milk version.
The condensed milk, which is whole milk that has been reduced through the process of evaporation and had sugar added in, adds a velvety texture to the drink making the coffee so smooth it is likely you will consume it in two gulps.
The coffee dances on the back of your tongue for a comfortingly long amount of time, as your taste buds hold on to the richness of the condensed milk and the bite of the coffee.
Speaking of the coffee, Le Cafe Gourmet has one of the gems of Savannah reserved for its customers’ caffeine cravings. Sourced from the local roaster Cup to Cup Coffee Roasters, the owners chose this brew from a long list of local brews because it is “close to what they have in France,” Alexandre tells me.
The brew is smooth and deeply flavored, lacking even a hint of bitterness. If straightforward coffee is more your thing, Alexandre “recommends espresso that is just black... because coffee is always espresso in France.”
This is also a good tidbit of knowledge just in case you needed another reason to be jealous of the French way of life.
As for the Macarons, you can tell how skillful the bakers are just by looking at the height of the feet on each shell. They lightly crunch on the outside, then dissolve in your mouth as you bite through the tender rounds of goodness.
As tender as these Macarons are, one would expect them to fall apart in your hand. Au contraire!
Though the egg-white based cookies are crumbly on top, the bake on them allows for a soft texture underneath without being the least bit battery in the middle. Sandwiched between each shell rests the ideal amount of creamy filling.
The raspberry macarons were tart and in stark contrast to the rich traditional chocolate macarons. The store “tries to have two to three flavors per week, one with fruit,” Alexandre tells me. He went on to say that he likes to use “passion fruit or mandarin when [the fruits are] seasonal.”
Not only do the flavors of the Macarons change regularly, but each week the restaurant features a Chef’s Special. When I visited the special was a Strawberry and Chocolate Entremet. An Entremet is a layered mouse based cake often covered in glaze or ganache.
This one was created with a chocolate cream and a raspberry pastry cream then coated in a dark chocolate ganache and finished with strawberry chips made in house. Delicate but decadent, this small treat was creamy and rich with a texture as smooth as the velvet on a king’s robe.
Le Cafe only makes “forty to fifty croissants per day...preferring to work with a small quantity to keep the quality,” Chef Alexandre explains when describing their Pear Croissant.
With what seems like a thousand layers of buttery flaky pastry, this pastry was created by first making the time-consuming layers then filling it with an almond pastry cream, fresh pears, and slivered almonds.
It is not surprising that it is a best seller at Le Cafe because the pastry is so large and impressive that it hangs off the sides of the plate it is served on.
Another flavored croissant offered the day I visited was a Croissant Cake, which were tiny little round croissants rolled with coconut and Nutella.
The store plans on pairing with SAVtakeOut.com for food delivery and lunch box options for locals. And for the future, they hope to expand into catering and wholesale.
But for the time being the Cafe’s aim is not “to be number one, just want to offer good food,” according to Alexandre.