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Bakery Moderne: Some Gentle Suggestions (**CLOSED**)

written by 10 February 2010 10 Comments

I was very excited when I heard that a corner bakery was opening in the recently resuscitated area on Stockton Street between Myra and College streets. Several businesses like a yoga studio, hair salon and 13 Gypsies restaurant have already set up shop in this previously rundown area. A good bakery is just what the neighborhood needs.

Unfortunately, before I ever stepped foot in the building, I had heard terrible things about the place from at least a half dozen people. It is brand new, so there are probably a lot of kinks yet to be worked out. But, even with my constant need to give new places the benefit of the doubt, Bakery Moderne is missing the mark so far.

I went in around noon on Saturday. I brought two of my favorite bloggers who had been to the bakery several times for lunch and to pick up baked goods. They told me several things they liked and many they did not. To be fair, I got a broad spectrum of baked goods. I got a baguette, cinnamon bun, éclair, petit fours, individual cheesecake, passion fruit crème brulee, chocolate iced yellow cupcake and a croissant.

The baguette ($2.25) was possibly the most upsetting item.

baguette

It was about 18 inches long and weighed one pound. A typical Parisian baguette weighs 8.8 ounces. I’m not asking for snobbish exactitude, but it was heavy! The crust was not crisp at ALL. The inside was moist to the point of being cold and wet. It was warm when I received it, so I know it was probably fresh, but it was a mess.

breadtex

It was dense and the texture was spongy. As you can see from the photo above, there was no consistency in the texture. Huge, tough-sided bubbles were only in the middle of the bread, while slices just next door had a dense, tough, rubbery texture with no bubbles at all. Once again referring to the photo, you can see that the bread at the bottom of the slice on the left is still moist and doughy. For me, baguettes are the defining item at a bakery. It is the most basic and characteristic thing a baker can make. My solemn advice to Bakery Moderne is to fix the baguettes first. A local food blogger was recently told by a staff member that they are still “tweaking” the bread recipes. I certainly hope so. It needs to be lighter, crisper and baked completely.

The cinnamon bun looked spectacular.

cbun
Unfortunately, in spite of me gently rewarming the bun, the bottom and sides that had touched the original pan were hard as a rock. Anything hard on a cinnamon bun should be crispy. Instead, it was congealed and baked to a teeth-shattering, almost burned crust. There was nothing gooey or tender about this bun.

The mini-eclair ($1.00) was unremarkable.

eclair

There wasn’t anything wrong with the eclair, but there wasn’t anything outstanding about it either. It didn’t taste especially fresh and the cream inside was nothing special. Eclairs are one of those things that there is no justification for eating other than pure pleasure. It should be worth the calories and this one is not.

The petit fours ($1.30) was a bright spot in the box of baked goods. One thing Bakery Moderne has going for it is that they are making very visually appealing food.

petit

The cake inside was moist and tender. The icing had a perfect level of almond flavoring and the raspberry jelly tucked between the layers was just the right note of tartness to balance out the sweetness. This was by far the best thing I sampled.

The individual cheesecake ($2.25) was a nice presentation.

cheesecake
The texture was decent and the berry on top was fresh and firm. The initial cheesecake taste was good, but there was a strange plasticky aftertaste to it that almost seemed like it had an artificial sweetener in it, though it does not. Something was just off about this cheesecake.

The passion fruit crème brulee ($1.50) had come highly recommended.

brulee
The filling inside had a nice citrusy flavor, but not something I could identify as decidedly “passion fruity.” This tart wouldn’t have been too bad, except the torched sugar top wasn’t there. As you can see in the photo above, there were a few grains of sugar that had been browned, but mostly they had torched the filling. There was no pleasant snap of breaking through that top pane of caramelized sugar, just burnt filling. Ick!

The chocolate iced yellow cupcake ($2.25) was pretty straightforward.

cupcake
It was also clearly giving the baguette a run for its money as the worst thing I had from all the samples. The cake was tasteless and dry and the icing tasted strange, like raw powdered cocoa. Part of the reason for that can probably be discovered here:

cupcakeclose
Huge chunks of unincorporated chocolate were streaked throughout the frosting as seen above. Not good eats. We couldn’t even get the 3-year-old to finish this one. Cupcake FAIL.

Finally, the all-butter croissant ($1.25) was the last item in my bakery box.

croissant

As I did with the cinnamon bun, I gently rewarmed this.

croistxt
As you can see from the photo above, while there were bubbles inside the croissant, it was extremely moist and dense in places. The crust is spot-on, but the insides are just too wet. A recent customer also told me that service on the spot is not great when it comes to these croissants. Even though she has asked four different times to be brought the warm croissant along with her coffee, it has been brought several minutes before the coffee was ready. A small thing to be sure, but a cold croissant is never a happy thing.

I would have liked to report on their coconut macaroons. I ordered one and I asked for it twice, but it never made it into my carton. So, if you go in, be sure that you see everything you ask for actually go into the box.

In my opinion (and I can’t believe I’m going to say this) the bakery seems to be trying too hard to overload their goods with butter. That combined with underbaking is resulting in consistently overly moist, overly dense baked goods. The density of the goods is taking away from any freshness there may be to enjoy. I’m pulling for this place to get it together, so I’m hoping the tweaking that they are currently working with will work out for the best. I’ll be back and I will report again if things improve. I have said many times that I hate writing bad reviews. But, I am hoping the young age of this bakery will allow them to do some course correction if they hear suggestions from customers. Until then, if you visit Bakery Moderne, eat in-house, try the petit fours and hope for the best!

Bakery Moderne is located at 869 Stockton Street in Jacksonville’s Riverside neighborhood.
Check out their website at www.bakerymoderne.com or give them a call at 904.389.7117.

Please share your comments and experiences below. I’d like to try to help save this place!

Bakery Moderne on Urbanspoon

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all photos copyright © 2010 by jodi a. kasten • all rights reserved

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10 Comments »

  • avatar
    jodikasten (author) said:

    Ooh! I’ll bet it’ll be pretty, but I could never live there. I’d end up stuffing my chubby little face with 13 Gypsies risotto every night!

  • avatar
    Cari Sanchez said:

    A few positive notes: I think the space is SPECTACULAR! Exposed brick, big windows, high ceilings – it has a very urban yet cozy thing going on. So I definitely agree with your suggestion to eat in-house. I have really enjoyed their coffee, too, so make it a petit fours and a mug of coffee over the Saturday newspaper and you can’t go wrong. But, speaking of Saturday, on a recent Saturday at about 11:30 they were almost out of many of their pastries and other offerings, so hopefully they’re working to plan better for busier days. Also – the staff is very friendly. I too am really pushing for this place.

  • avatar
    jodikasten (author) said:

    Cari – I absolutely agree. What I saw of the space was very nice. (Though, I’m guessing the petite boulder is to hold the door open?) The woman who took my order seemed very excited about the food and was very friendly. The staff, decor and enthusiasm are there so there is hope for this place.

    Also, I don’t want to underestimate the power of the location. That place is really blossoming recently. Now, if we could just get a really good club to take over the school supply depot across the street…

  • avatar
    voodeaux said:

    Jodi,
    They are renovating that old school into a condo / apartment complex to be completed by 2011??? I agree…the location is spot on!! And they get very heavy traffic…..hopefully quality will get better soon.

  • avatar
    AnAspiringFoodie said:

    I appreciate your comments on Bakery Moderne, I totally agree. I visit the bakery twice, once about a week after opening, and then again several weeks later. A mini eclair was dry, the cookies were hard, and other items I tried were underwhelming. The best thing I tried was the brownie, which needed some work. You seem positive that they may improve, but with two poor experiences, I will stick with another neighborhood bakery.

  • avatar
    Irish 1 said:

    I agree the place needs help, but lets start with the folks that work there. If you want to suceed in business act like every customer is important. I was surprised to see how small the place is, its hard to see in the display case so I patiently waited as a customer had a small meringue cut into 3 pieces so it could be shared evenly, each piece the size of a quarter. Once they finally left I needed to see all the goodies, each time I told the lady what I wanted she said is that all, I ordered several things and they were crammed in a small box. I have tasted better baked goods at Edgewood Bakery and the prices were much reasonable. I won't return.

  • avatar
    jodikasten (author) said:

    Sorry to hear they are still stumbling, Irish. This review was written over two years ago and I'm sad to say that the two other times I've sampled Bakery Moderne items since were also a disappointment. I highly recommend "Early Rising" breads at the King Street Farmers Market on Wednesdays, Silvada's cupcakes, The Donut Shoppe for doughnuts and Edgewood for everything else. Thanks for your comment!

  • avatar
    Irish 1 said:

    Thank you for the tips, its the one thing Jacksonville could use more of and thats Mom & Pop type bakeries. Years ago there was one in 5 Points called Goodes Bakery and it was fantastic. I guess its a fickle business.

  • avatar
    sharma said:

    Can i get 'early rising' bread with veggie bin subscription?

  • avatar
    jodikasten (author) said:

    Hi, Sharma. Early Rising operates under cottage law, which means they aren't allowed to sell to retail outlets because they do not use a commercial kitchen. King Street is the only place I've seen them. The Veggie Bin has a bread add-on option with The French Pantry. (Also very good!)

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