L'Atelier Gourmet Bakery and Its Sensory Delights

David Samayoa
Passion fruit sorbet with pistachio macaron
L'Atelier Gourmet opened in Pinecrest (9563 S. Dixie Highway) in August. It's hidden toward the back of a cavernous strip mall, but it's worth a stop if you're in the area. I first noticed their treats at the Pinecrest Gardens Green Market, and then later at the South Miami Farmers Market. Their booth is a visual delight, with treats in eye-popping colors, looking like a colorful spread Marie Antoinette might have enjoyed for a light snack. They've been providing pastries and ice creams for hotels and restaurants (George's, Le Boudoir) for years and now sell their treats at this retail outlet.

Trina Sargalski
The chocolate éclairs ($4.50) and hazelnut crisp ($4.50) are good. However, the real treats here are the macarons, in colors as vivid and varied as any you might spot on Nicki Minaj, and the chouquettes, sweet little cream puffs, dotted with sugar (12 for $5). They are so airy one can easily pop chouquette after chouquette into the mouth like so much popcorn. The raspberry tart ($4.50) is also a treat--the sweet-tart pastry is dusted with sugar, rather then lacquered with glace.

Also not to be missed are the house made ice creams and sorbets. These come in pints, but the single cup servings ($2.00), each one topped with a macaron in contrasting color, are the most eye catching. Definitely try the mouth-puckering raspberry sorbet or passion fruit sorbet, each topped with a pistachio macaron. The ice cream cakes are also dazzling.  One is a dome in a Technicolor hue of magenta, filled with pistachio ice cream, pistachio nougat, and raspberry sorbet ($40). Another is a Caribbean frozen cake, made with coconut and mango ice creams.

David Samayoa
At L'Atelier Gourmet, you can buy freshly baked bread daily, if that's your habit, but make sure to get it earlier in the day, before they sell out. I'm eager to try the huge raisin walnut loaf ($6), which looks like it would be handy to have around the morning after a holiday party, for soaking up the ills of the night before. The pain aux raisins ($2.50) is satisfying, flaky, and tender, as are the almond and almond chocolate croissants ($2.50).

Trina Sargalski
The bakery itself is spare and minimalist, but it provides a comfortable place to eat. It looks like it was furnished straight out of Ikea, with its tall blonde wood tables and chairs. There's also a larger, communal table in the center.

The bakery shares the space with AB Fine Wines. You'll find mostly French wines, some costing $12-$15 at the low end. There's definitely enough here to try something new and delicious after numerous visits.

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