Last week, the Castro location of Samovar Tea Lounge officially closed, and Le Marais Bakery, which has locations in the Marina and at Ghirardelli Square, is gearing up to move in. We caught up with them this week to find out what they're planning.
"We're really excited about the new space," said Patrick Ascaso, a French native who founded Le Marais in 2013. Like the original, Le Marais Castro will specialize in handmade breads, pastries and viennoiserie, all of which will be baked on-site at the Marina location and brought to the Castro each day.
"The most important thing to us is quality ingredients," Ascaso explained, noting that Le Marais prides itself on using organic flour and butter and farmer's market produce. In addition to classic viennoiserie like croissants, pain au chocolat, and kouign-amann, the bakery offers treats like fresh fruit tarts, cream puffs, cakes, and macarons, whose ingredients rotate with the seasons.
The Castro Le Marais will be divided in two: the side door on 18th will be used for a to-go pastry counter with Stumptown coffee drinks, while the front door on Sanchez will lead to a cozy dining room with tables and chairs.
Samovar had a small kitchen, so Le Marais will be able to serve a limited selection of plated dishes like avocado toast, eggs, and granola at brunch, and lunchtime salads and sandwiches like a croque-monsieur. In a first for Le Marais, Ascaso hopes to stay open until 10pm for dinner service, offering a small selection of traditional French bistro dishes like blanquette de veau or roast chicken. Beer and wine will be offered as well.
Most of the work on the space will be to make it "lighter and brighter," Ascaso said, with white paint on the walls, long tables, bookshelves, and a new sidewalk canopy. (The sidewalk tables on 18th will remain as well.) "It's going to be a nice place—we’re not going to overdo it," Ascaso said. "Just a pleasant, casual spot to hang out."
The counter at Le Marais' Marina location. (Photo: H.T./Yelp)
The Castro project isn't the only one Le Marais has in the works: they're still in the process of opening a 5,000-square-foot restaurant (complete with a full bar) in Ghirardelli Square, where they currently have a pop-up bakery. Ascaso said he's aiming to open in the Castro by the end of June, with the Ghirardelli Square location arriving later this fall.
As for Samovar, which occupied the space for 13 years, it's still chugging along outside of the Castro: the sit-down Yerba Buena Gardens location and smaller Valencia "tea bar" remain in business, and owner Jesse Jacobs is planning a big new restaurant and tea bar in the international terminal at SFO.
"Le Marais are good friends," Jacobs told us in February. "They’re excited to grow their business, and we’re excited to move into a more high-foot-traffic business."
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