The cashier at Meridian Street’s new Bonjour Café and Bakery told me that the assortment of muffins, sweet breads and perfectly drizzled cheese danishes lying naked by the cash register were the freshest baked. So I opted for a goo-covered white loaf with raisins ($1.85) and a cranberry muffin ($1.85) with dark dried fruit studs.
That was going to make me thirsty. Bonjour has an array of frozen fruit-flavored drinks — even novel flavors like lemon! — and hot and iced coffee drinks. I ordered a caramel macchiato ($3.65) and waited about seven minutes for the cashier to finish foaming my milk and executing other trickery to my coffee. The finished product was really hot, and a bit bland.
I can’t imagine how long people will have to wait for their breakfasts when this optimally located place gets busy. After waiting 10 to 15 minutes for two pre-made pastries and one breakfast bagel that needed to be toasted and stuffed with egg, turkey bacon and cheese, I saw the cashier emerge from the kitchen. He carefully carried two plates of breakfast to my requested spot outside. I was delighted to find a free Wi-Fi connection.
First impressions: The egg bagel sandwich ($2.95) was good. The eggs did seem, as promised, fresh, and the turkey bacon was just salty enough. I could have used more cheese to make everything come together. Still, it’s a step up from an Egg McMuffin, and not much more expensive.
I was less impressed with the pastries. They didn’t taste freshly made. My muffin wasn’t exactly dry, but it did have that commercial sponge texture and a too-sweet, misplaced lemon flavor. And my slightly stiff raisin loaf could have benefited from warmed-up icing — maybe laced inside the bread?
Two breadstuffs and an everything bagel with egg, cheese and turkey bacon into my big but quiet breakfast, I still didn’t really know what this bakery was about. Luckily, the staffers had just put out two varieties of the “chef pastries”: spinach and feta cheese and beef ($1.95 each). I took the former to go at the cashier’s suggestion.
Once in my car’s lair, I hastily consumed the turnover. It was a revelation. The Middle Eastern-inspired pastry had dough that was flakey and delicate enough to be phyllo, but not quite as crunchy. The triangular crust was pregnant with silky spinach and hot, greasy feta cheese.
Middle Eastern may be what Bonjour Café and Bakery does best. I went too early to sample the lunch fare, but fresh falafel, hummus and pita chips and eggplant-spiked paninis will get my mouth’s attention next time.
I should note that the majority of my selections were probably not the restaurant’s forte. For it was too early to brave the dessert case’s sexy cannoli, fresh-baked fruit pies or caramelized banana cake. I’ve already earmarked the “Al” panini with grilled chicken breast and sun-dried tomato pesto for my next visit. And that ground beef chef pastry.
Bonjour Café and Bakery
2402 N. Meridian St.
Monday-Friday: 6 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Food: Three and a half stars
Atmosphere: Three and a half stars
Service: Three and a half stars