One of my new favorite places (and apparently, one of EVERYONE’S favorites) in Jax is French Pantry. Yelp, Urbanspoon, Chowhound, even coworkers were telling me I HAD to get out to French Pantry–followed by a run-down of the rules. First, they’re only open from 11-2 M-F. There is ALWAYS a line, so plan accordingly (French Pantry lunches are “extended” lunches). Dine-in if you can for some of their fresh bread. The warehouse-like building can be difficult to identify (though usually, the line gives it away). And finally, dessert is a must.
French Pantry apparently supplies much of the fresh baked bread to restaurants in town. You can also pick up small items like loaves of bread, packages of rolls, or boxes of cookies from their display cart after your lunch. I’ve visited a handful of times now and always end up ordering one of their famed bruschettas, which are not your typical tomato/basil/olive oil-topped bread rounds. These are topped with a cheese and protein and served over salad:
My favorite bruschetta at French Pantry starts with their fresh baked crusty bread topped with delectable goat cheese: creamy, tangy, and served slightly warm. They then add artichoke and a protein (shrimp is pictured, but I love the chicken too) and arrange them around a simple salad with a mild vinaigrette and juicy tomatoes. The result is a mouthwatering mix of textures and temperatures and most importantly, delicious flavors. The mozzarella and prosciutto combo was also great, but there is something about that goat cheese…mmm!!
And then there are the desserts, of course. I’ve tried two now, the “wedding cake,” a multi-layer white cake with strawberries & cream filling (they don’t use a heavy buttercream frosting, so it’s surprisingly light), and the brown butter tart, pictured below:
Rich, but not sweet, so it showcases the berries and quality ingredients. Yummm. I’m trying to work my way through their dessert case (in between intense workouts). Next up is likely the white chocolate cheesecake, which some of my coworkers raved about!
I was kind of reluctant to write this post, because while I think everyone should try French Pantry…I don’t want any more of you in line! Follow the unwritten rules of the place (don’t try to grab a table before ordering–rude) and bring your patience along with you, and you’ll soon be plotting how many extended lunch breaks you can work into a week too.