A block in the Lower Haight will get a bit more French with the planned opening on Tuesday of the Choux bakery shop, specializing exclusively in le Choux ala creme, or French cream puffs.
The tiny shop is the baby of Laura Athuil, a native of Nice, France, who studied architecture but decided to pursue her passion for baking pastries. It was during a research trip to San Francisco where Athuil fell in love with the city and decided to make it the home of her first pastry shop.
Today I went to a soft opening of the store, which is on the same block as the popular Three Twins ice cream store at Fillmore and Haight. Athuil’s cream puffs look like tiny jewels when you seem them all lined up in the display counter. Each one is unique both in look and flavor, and they all have names of friends who inspired the bite.
In fact, one of the choux is named Ben. Made with a salted caramel cream filling, it was the only one of the 12 flavors that was not available when I visited. Yes, story of my life.
I did try three other flavors:
- Emilie filled with rum custard with a glamorous crispy caramel icing top.
- Lara, a passion fruit custard with white chocolate and sugar flowers.
- Berny, a coffee custard with coffee icing.
My favorite of the three was the Lara with a definite passion fruit flavor, capturing the sweet-tartness of the fruit. The other two were nice too, but the rum (in the Emilie) and the coffee (in the Berny) weren’t as prominent.
I felt the filling was more interesting than the choux shell itself, which was decent but didn’t seem as flaky or airy as you would imagine.
Still, you can’t get away from the beauty and creativity of Choux’s little puffs. Selling for $2.50 each, you can be sure you’ll see a lot of boxes of these colorful cream puffs as hostess gifts or party favors. They’re just that precious.
The deets: Choux, 248 Fillmore St. (at Haight), San Francisco. For information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit chouxsf.com.
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