I love bread, pastries, and desserts. And while the big Korean chain bakeries have made big strides in the 7 years that I have been there, they still can’t truly compete with what we have back home. So when I read that a new French artisan boulangerie had opened in Itaewon I made sure it went on my list of places to try.
If you are anything like me the first thing you will notice is the hottie standing in the doorway. This sexy young man is Gontran Cherrier the man who started it all and now he has a fleet of bakeries around the world. Dashing good looks, and a talent for baking, I wonder if he’s single?
The Itaewon store is ginormous, the baked goods are in the foyer then there’s a long counter running again one wall and large seating area against the other. At the back of the room is their giant kitchen where you can watch the masters at work. While I was visiting they were making mille feuille, one of my favourites. none were ready at the time, so I suppose i’ll have to visit again to get one.
Like most boulangeries in the city they have a mix of breads, some of which are flavored with local ingredients like perilla leaves, which I thought added a nice twist. There are also tons of sweet pastries like pain au chocolat, almond croissants, and this delightful looking candy nut and raspberry pastry.
As well as the sweet goodies they have a lot of savoury treats like these squid ink focaccia pizza, pretzels and baguettes. For those looking for something more hearty they also have a range of sandwiches which were priced between 7,000 – 11,000.
The place wouldn’t be complete without a glass case full of masterfully made patisserie desserts. Did someone say eclairs? I resisted them on this visit, but it’s only a matter of time until we get acquainted.
In the end I decided to get a mix of goodies, and tried the Pain au Chocolat (3,000), a Chocolate Chip Brioche (2,000), a Sucre Brioche and a Garlic & Parsley Pretzel (2,300). By far and away my favourite was the garlic and parsley pretzel. I only intended to take a bite to try it but that thing was devoured in seconds. Rich chewy bread with only the very slight hint of sweetness from the garlic, it was simply heavenly and a far cry from the hideous super sweet garlic bread served at most Korean bakeries. Second was the very large and robust pain au chocolat. A tad heavier and thicker than I am used to, but once you get a few bites in it all makes sense. Lastly a couple of brioche buns to accompany my morning coffee. A lovely rich dough just one the right side of sweet, of the two I think I preferred the simplicity of the sugar topped one, after eating the pain au chocolat I’d had my fill of chocolate for the morning.
Overall this is a fabulous spot to grab a coffee and a bite to eat. The store has a lovely selection of products and plenty of seating inside and out. While the coffee isn’t the cheapest in town, it’s no worse than other expensive chain stores. It’s a great place to try for anyone looking for a continental breakfast.
Gontran Cherrier is located at 211 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take the subway to Itaewon station(line 6) and come out of exit 1. Walk straight for about 5 mins and you will see it on the left, just across from Rocky Mountain Tavern. For more information you can call them on 02-6254-0855 or check out their website. They are open from 7.30am – 10pm each night and until midnight on weekends.