I finished a wonderful meal at Sripraphai getting my standard green mango catfish salad, curry puffs, yum nur, basil chili pork leg, and was in the mood for some cake. Remembering the suggestion of Cannelle from the CH thread "Best Bakeries" I ventured there to sample their pastries.
In general, I've found the quality of pastry in Queens to be woeful. Cafe Flor has some decent baked goods but not on the level of the best Brooklyn and Manhattan establishments. I detest Taipan style, vegetable shortening disasters that pass for cake in Flushing. In Astoria, many of the Greek bakeries I've tried have been mediocre. I've only had one amazing experience at a tiny little bakery there, that I've never been able to locate since. I had a lovely peach pie that was absolutely divine, perfect crust and fresh summer peaches.
Going to Cannelle, my expectations were low. The ambiance of the place itself is nothing to write home about. Bakeries in Brooklyn have charm factor that Queens bakeries almost never have. There's always this slightly "ghetto" quality.
I looked over the options and I spent a good 5-10 minutes trying to decide what to order. There was a luscious looking pineapple and coconut cake with cream, but I opted for the pain brest, a pear tart, rugelach, bread pudding and a cheese danish. I have a big appetite.
The pain brest was luscious, croissant-like and covered with toasted almonds with a filling of cold hazelnut creme. The bread itself was delicious but I am not a lover of frosting and found the ratio of bread to creme slightly off. The pear tart was wonderful, the texture of the pate sucre was crumbly without sandiness, and the sweetness understated. The rugelach was forgettable. I prefer my rugelach with some cinnamon and a wee bit denser, more buttery. The bread pudding was a custard of croissants that comforts and fills you. Very nicely done. Lastly, the cheese danish is just amazing. They were hot from the oven and redolent with fresh butter and sweet cheese. They had a tempting assortment of baked breads which I will try at a later point when I haven't eaten like a small army.
All in all, this is probably the best bakery in Queens. I found it better than Almondine, and on par with La Bergamote. Little Red Hen, Baked and Sweet Melissa are quite different but I found the quality and execution of Cannelle to exceed Red Hen and Sweet Melissa in certain areas (although Red Hen decorates in a lovely fashion, IMO the actual taste is less impressive) and comparable to Baked, one of my favorites.
What makes Cannelle so truly exceptional is the VALUE. All the top Brooklyn and Manhattan bakeries are much more expensive. I spent less than $10 whereas I would have spent $30 or more at Payard or Lady M. Compared to Cannelle, Sweet Melissa is outrageously expensive.
I met the handsome executive pastry chef, Jean Claude and expressed my surprise that such a wonderful bakery was in a mall, in Queens. He laughed and said that he hears that often. We talked about French bakeries/pastries and I was impressed with his commitment to quality and his extensive knowledge.
I am grateful that Cannelle was mentioned on this board and hope that others who venture to Sripraphai will have the pleasure of sampling fantastic French pastries in Queens.
75-59 31st Ave, Queens, NY 11370