Starbucks Pastry Update – La Boulange Is La Okay

2 Aug

I have nothing but admiration for Starbucks as a corporate entity. Despite being a mammoth, they pay their workers fairly, give them benefits, try to do some fair trade, and let people lounge around their shops for hours buying little to nothing. I would be a meaner giant.

But I pretty much hate their coffee and feel even worse about their old pastry program. It was an affront to carbs.

But in their infinite wisdom, the overlords at Starbucks recognized that they were forcing terribleness down America’s throats. We, ‘Merica, were buying those terrible pastries anyways, so it is all the more impressive that Starbucks decided to make a change.

Enter La Boulange. Via a $100 million buyout, Starbucks is rolling out a totally revamped menu of baked goods with recipes from the La Boulange kitchen. Was that money well spent?

The new pastries are supposed to have a more “homemade” look to them. They do look good, but appearance was never the problem with the old pastries. Gone is the old standby berry coffee cake, and in are more traditional croissants, muffins, cookies, and loaf cakes.

And the Bay Area classic, the morning bun.

I must say that it is only for you, dear reader, and perhaps science, that I bought the morning bun. It didn’t look good, with the doughy look of the last failure Starbucks tried to pawn off on me. But like Atlas under the weight of responsibility, I ordered the morning bun.

You can see this looks like a cinnamon bun without the icing more than a croissant. That’s exactly right.


You would expect this from a Seattle-based megacorp. But La Boulange is supposed to be a Bay Area staple. There really is no excuse for this. La Farine’s perfect examples are just across the Bay. And Tartine’s glorious versions are right there in the Mission District!

The undershot is even worse. No caramelization, no oozing. NO LOVE!

Anyways, I feel ambivalent about this whole thing. I’m going to give up on their morning buns and try something else next time. In fact, my friend got a chocolate meringue cookie, which kind of shocked me because it was so excellent. Deeply chocolatey, with cocoa nibs (I think) and perfect texture.

So maybe all is not lost.

I was just expecting more from the morning bun given the hype Starbucks is applying to this new pastry program. Oh well. Stay tuned, intrepid viewer — we’ll see how the rest of the La Boulange rollout goes.

Prior Fooddouche Starbucks coverage:
Starbucks screws up the morning bun
mild praise for Starbucks’ morning bun

[ Update: I broke down on the way home and bought a chocolate meringue cookie. Pretty great. A bit too sweet, but very chocolatey.]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: