Went to Kelly's French Bakery (402 Ingalls St.; westside SC) for Fri. lunch since I was curious to see what the baker/co-owner who came through Chez Panisse could do. See link for recent review.
Small cafe tucked away in a funky industrial building next to Pelican Winery. Cramped but comfy cafe seating indoors w/ a few tables outdoors. Small pastry case filled w/ lots of good-looking cookies, cakes, danishes. Fresh artisanal breads neatly arranged on the back wall created a rustic backdrop.
Open for breakfast and lunch--kitchen serves til 3pm; bakery closes at 6pm. Friendly counter service. Focused lunch menu spans panini, salads, soup, and specialty cafe drinks. Sandwiches and salads range from $6-9. Baked goods are quite reasonable. Fri. lunch specials included: shrimp nicoise salad; beet salad; beef borscht.
Three of us ordered:
Beet salad: roasted red beets, gorgonzola, candied nuts (pecans?) atop red leaf lettuce dressed w/ house vinaigrette. Beets were clearly the star; perfectly roasted and seasoned--flavor was not tiresome. Would have liked more interesting mix of greens though.
Breaded chicken panini: Lightly-breaded chicken breast sandwiched btwn. housemade Francese bread w/ a smear of pesto and other piquant flavors. Had a couple of bites and thought it was rather tasty but not something I'd order for myself.
Croque monsieur panini: Basic ham and cheese btwn. Francese. Looked plain but friend reported that it was "good quality." Would be nice if sandwiches came w/ side salad though, so one might order a small salad to accompany.
Pistachio macaroon: much larger than the petite traditional cookies. Surface crackled when I bit into it, leading to a sweet lightly nutty flavor, followed by a nice chew. Delightful overall and great deal at $1. Excited to try other flavors.
Parfait: this was like a trifle in a tall flared cup. Layers of superb whipped cream, creme anglais, yellow cake, fresh strawberries. Perfect for two to share.
Francese loaf to go: just $2 and my favorite version in town so far, trumping Gayle's and the Buttery. Earthy w/ good sour and chew. Lightened by air pockets galore; ideal for crostini, soup croutons, sandwiches.
Verdict: Will def. return to buy their fresh breads and sample more of their sweets. Love how fresh their produce tastes, so I'll stick to their daily salad and soup specials.