Fad-hungry food fans come to Baroque in droves for the macarons and, to be fair, the French bistro has been getting the trend right for some time. But if you get past the colourful distractions, you’ll come across a pop-up café that offers savoury food lovers some attention.
Baroque Pantry takes the cornerstones of French cuisine – quality produce, delicate flavours and beautiful presentation – and gives them a casual makeover for the sans-culottes. We start by trying one of the verrines, a stemless glass layered either with eggplant, goat cheese and pesto or confit tuna and basil jelly. Light, mousse-y and delicious, the eggplant verrine serves almost as a savoury parfait.
The salad of lamb, chickpeas and ribboned zucchini offers a hat-tip to French Provençal cuisine, but the minted-yoghurt dressing is a little spare and doesn’t quite compensate for the crunch of powdery chickpeas. But we are here for the croque monsieur and... oh, goodness. This cheese-laden delight does not disappoint. Pro tip: order one for everyone at the table, minimum.
The sourdough is crunchy in all the right places, thanks to a generous crust of melted cheese, but the bread is also softened by béchamel sauce inside. While the cheese is both inside and outside the sandwich at the same time, the ham is what really makes the dish. Smoky, flavoursome and with just a hint of fat, it’s like the best brekky bacon you’d find this side of Paris.
It’s early days for this pop-up. The crowds clearly love it and they seem to have taken the place by surprise, but service is still friendly and relaxed. If you’re heading to Baroque, head past the decadent desserts and fripperies out the front, and check out the real action in the Pantry.