Famous French bakery opens first U.S. location in Great Neck
Great Neck has recently become an exciting place for treats. From the openings of Noir Bakery and T-Swirl Crêpe, the peninsula has become a hub for everyone wanting fantastic sweet fare. But within the past week, the village has become Nassau County’s epicenter for baked goods with the opening of a new bakery that has caught the attention of more than just local residents.
Marie Blachère Bakery, located at 550 Middle Neck Rd., prepares amazingly fresh baked goods and light meals for all people looking for an authentic taste of Provence, France. Emphasizing “a warm, friendly and authentic atmosphere based on a French market concept with a welcoming, professional staff,” Marie Blachère hopes to encapsulate the flavors of France through a mix of traditionalism and modern takes on classics.
The bakery’s history may not be seen through its two-story modern-glass and weathered-wood exterior. Originally a market stall in Avignon more than 30 years ago, Marie Blachère opened its first location in Provence in 2004 under the leadership of chef Bernard Blachère. In just 15 years, the company has launched more than 500 locations across France.
Almost shockingly, the company’s first location in the United States is in Great Neck, with another location opening up in Manhattan. French news outlets, such as French Morning, and The New York Times have already excited thousands of readers about this famous and innovative bakery.
The restaurant’s decor is simple yet contemporary, with a long line of baked goods situated across from a 40-seat dining area and a small pie and tart counter. The expansive menu hangs above the selection of pastries, breads and pizzas, while the open kitchen—filled with chefs baking croissants and decorating pies—adds to the experience. The staff, many of whom grew up in France, is very educated about the bakery’s products and loves to chat with customers.
The staple of any French bakery is bread, and Marie Blachère executes each of its bread products with finesse and care. The super crispy and airy baguettes have a fantastic texture, while the soft white bread loaves have a slight sweetness. The Provençal country bread is rustic with a heavy thick crust, while corn bread is dense and crunchy.
As far as the pastries, Marie Blachère’s staple is its croissant, light and flaky with a pronounced buttery taste, along with variations like the superb chocolate croissant made with a fine butter and two bars of chocolate. The bakery offers various types of brioche, such as with crystallized sugar, pralines or hefty chocolate chunks. In addition to widely known options like succulent brownies and appetizing four-chocolate cookies, Marie Blachère offers some southern French varieties, such as Chouquettes, consisting of a small portion of dough sprinkled with pearl sugar; Tarte Tropezienne, consisting of soft brioche with a heavy cream filling; and Clafoutis, made with black cherries and a flan-like batter. Other customer favorites include the raspberry tart, flan, custardy sugar pie and beignets. Marie Blachère has instituted a temporary buy three, get one free promotion for certain products like croissants and beignets, and has lowered the price for chocolate pie.
In addition to traditional French pastries and breads, the bakery also offers some lunch and dinner options that fuse French cooking with the cuisines of nearby countries. For a quick bite, sandwiches, served on a warm baguette and made with choice of tuna, chicken, Roquefort cheese or Emmental cheese, are fantastic. A small selection of fresh salads, such as chicken, served with traditional ingredients like hard-boiled egg, tangerine and walnuts, are also available. So are a variety of French-Italian fusion pizzas, which are made with a tomato sauce, mozzarella and Emmental base, with choice of olive, tuna or salmon. Although a bit thinner than a normal Italian pizza, the French twist works extremely well.
Despite some minor flaws, like a very long wait time, nearly every aspect of the eatery is divine. From chefs conversing in French about recipes to clientele purchasing tarts with huge smiles on their faces to croissants being pulled straight out of the state-of-the-art ovens, every element of Marie Blachère works well to provide for a stellar French bakery experience.