I used to be such a La Boulange fan but lately every pastry I've had recently, as well as several restaurant experiences, have ranged from mediocre to awful. I'm convinced the quality of the food has dropped markedly as the store appears to have expanded widely over the past couple of years. In particular, the La Boulange pastries I can now buy at Whole Foods are really very, very ordinary compared with when I first noticed them in that store, maybe 8-10 months ago. What happened?
- The almond croissant used to be plump and soft with a generous, moist almond filling; the last couple I've had have been crumbly (= bad, not flaky = good) and hard, with barely a swipe of filling.
- The apples in the apple "pocket" I had today tasted moldy -- no kidding -- and whether that means the filling was old (stored a while before using), poorly prepared, or a poor choice of variety, it was enough to put me off for good.
- The custard raisin "snails" are also harder, crisper (not flaky), and the raisins taste like something approaching fermented rather than plump and sweet. None of these pastries taste buttery or fresh.
I find the service and food in the Market Street @ Third Street store to be consistently good, but had a tomato soup in Lafayette lately that was full of curled up tomato skins (!) and a hazelnut and chocolate croissant in Hayes Valley a little while back that I would have had NO idea had chocolate (or nuts) in it if it hadn't been labelled as such.
I can't believe my preferences have changed so much and La Boulange hasn't, so what's going on? Is it just a simple case of their opting for quantity over quality?
500 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Whole Foods Market
399 4th St, San Francisco, CA
685 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94105