Bakery Moderne: Some Gentle Suggestions (**CLOSED**)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
As I did with the cinnamon bun, I gently rewarmed this.
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!
all photos copyright © 2010 by jodi a. kasten • all rights reserved