Café Madeleine, a Hidden Gem in the South End

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Café Madeleine on Columbus Avenue

I’ve been wanting to check out Café Madeleine since I heard over the summer that they would be opening. In case I haven’t made this obvious yet, I love French things, especially pastry after spending time in France. Café Madeleine has been open for almost three months now, and I finally went yesterday.

The adorable little shop is located in the South End historic district, and I really just enjoyed walking through the streets in some fall sunshine to get there.

Sitting at one of the window seats, enjoying the view

Sitting at one of the window seats, enjoying the view

Café Madeleine has a small space, right on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Concord Square. There are six stools placed under counters along the large windows lining the street. There is a display case of all the pastry offerings. I was a little disappointed when I went that they didn’t have a larger selection. “We sell out [of some items] frequently, often by noon” Gabby Laranjeira, a Café Madeleine employee, said. If you want the best selection, get there earlier in the day (I was there early afternoon).

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In addition to the pastry, Café Madeleine has a menu of tarts and cakes, along with sandwiches and salads made to order. Coffee is also available.

“My favorite is the litzer tarte,” Laranjeira said, but, “The plain croissants are the most popular.”

I tried a plain croissant and a canelé (a small pastry with a baked custard center and caramelized outside). The croissant was flaky and light, but alas, it is just not the same as a real croissant in France. I don’t think it is possible to make a croissant taste the same in the United States, so for an American one, Café Madeleine’s is pretty good. The canelé had a smooth, creamy interior with the chewy, dark crust. I was happy with it.

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One of the best things about the shop is the large window at the back that looks into the kitchen, where guests can watch the pastries being prepared. Everything is made fresh every day.

Watching pastries being made in the kitchen

Watching pastries being made in the kitchen

Café Madeleine seems like a neighborhood place, with staff chatting with the regular customers, but this little gem won’t remain hidden for long.

517 Columbus Ave., Boston, Mass. 857-239-8052. Open 7 days a week from 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

Photos by Jessica McWeeney. 

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