Let them eat cake
To find the most authentic French bakery in Boston, I ventured outside of Boston
509 Main St.
Medford, MA 02155
Wednesday–Friday 7 a.m.–5 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
Colette Bakery, established in 2018 by a French couple from Toulouse, is a 25-minute walk or 10-minute bike ride east of Davis Station, three stops down from Kendall/MIT on the MBTA Red Line. Truly a neighborhood bakery, Colette is situated on the tip of Main Street, its baby blue walls blending unassumingly into the suburban lawns and parks of Somerville and Medford.
Colette is just as cozy from the inside as the outside. The interior of Colette resembles a traditional, quaint countryside French café. Some tables are placed next to the large storefront windows while the rest are in front of sofas lining the left wall. The large kitchen in the back is on full display, revealing carts of fresh-out-of-the-oven croissants. Behind the bakery is a small patio, perfect for lazy days.
Similar to Caramel French Patisserie in Somerville, Colette offers a large selection of pâtes and pains. Tarts include passionfruit, lemon, raspberry, amandine (pear and almond — a favorite of the French), and, of course, apple. There are every variety of baguettes, brioche, croissants, and chouquettes. In addition to the patisserie, Colette also features a boulangerie, or sandwich shop. Both vegetarian and meat options of quiches, flatbreads, and Parisian sandwiches on brioche bread were displayed next to the sweets.
At Colette, I first ordered the lemon and apple tarts while my friend Erika tried the amandine. Not only did the tarts surpass that of Caramel, they also surpassed the ones I ate in France. The apple tart was crispier, and the apples themselves were slightly sour, contrasting well against the jam. The lemon tart was half covered with toasted meringue, a must for an authentic lemon tart. The tangy lemon custard paired with the firm but crumbly crust was a delight for my tastebuds. Erika’s amandine, however, was my favorite. Circular in shape like the lemon tart and with the same crumbly crust, the toasted pears and jam sprinkled with almond slices produced a rich fruity and nutty taste without being overly sweet.
Eager for more, I went back inside to try a quiche lorraine, flan parisien, pain au chocolat, and croissant. I noticed that the amandines were sold out, despite there being four or five left when we arrived 20 minutes prior. Each of the four pastries I bought did not disappoint. The cashier heated up my quiche lorraine, which was stuffed with cream, cheese, mushroom, caramelized onion, and ham. The buttery crust was sturdy and the filling was rich with flavor. The flan was the best I’ve had in my entire life — across all the bakeries and cafes in Spain, France, and Mexico where I’ve tried the dessert. The vanilla custard was thick and contained the perfect ratio of eggs, milk, and cream. The perfectly broiled top added a hint of texture and sugar to the pastry. The pain au chocolat and croissant were flaky delicacies, carefully buttered in layers upon layers of dough.
After visiting Colette, I finally understood Marie-Antoinette’s obsession with cakes and pastries. The buttery dough, the sweet-sour pears and apples, and the savory quiches have enraptured my tastebuds. Though slightly farther away than a trip to Boston, any MIT student will be rewarded with a transformative experience if they embark on a short trip via the T, a walk, a bike ride, or a combination of all three, to Colette Bakery in Medford. Be sure to go early though and avoid the weekend rush — a fixed amount of pastries are made daily. The prices at Colette, ranging from $3 for a croissant to $6.40 for their priciest tart, fall on the higher end of the spectrum, but the quality and quantity (portion sizes are quite large) of the pastries and breads are well worth it. When compared to the sandwich and pastry options available on campus, which cost about the same but are small and mediocre in taste, the trip into the suburbs is also worthwhile — and when compared to a flight to Paris, definitely more economical for an MIT student.
What are you waiting for? A trip to France awaits.