How can I count the ways Floriole’s Sandra Holl has gained a loyal following? Could it be her rustic fruit galettes, sesasonal market fruit crisps, or warm bread pudding made with silky-smooth brioche that Green City Market shoppers line up for week after week? Her mile-high quiches?
Or maybe, like me, it is for the uncommon offerings like a crème fraîche brioche tart one week, a cherry clafoutis another, or cannelés any day, those mini bundt-like cakes burnished on the outside and custardy-moist on the inside.
Like many local artisans, Holl got her start with her Floriole stand at Green City Market five years ago together with co-owner and husband Mathieu Holl. Devotees of her sweet and savory baked goods were thrilled when she opened a brick-and-mortar bakery and café this past April, and so was I. Sharing a two-block stretch in Lincoln Park on Webster Ave. with other local shops, bakery, and restaurants, Floriole is what a lot of places are not: quiet, airy, filled with natural light, and peaceful. You can actually read a book or have a conversation here. On nice days, a front wall that pulls completely open and outside tables evoke the feel of France. Anything to do with the French lifestyle, and I’m there.
Galettes, croissants, caramels, and macarons reflect the French influence, picked up from Holl’s two years of living in France. A bigger influence, however, was a two-year internship at Tartine in San Francisco, from where she brings her very similar take of the insanely divine, custardy quiche that changes daily. “Tartine is an amazing bakery, and is a great inspiration for me,” says Holl. “I have never tasted a better quiche than Tartine’s.”
Other influences are here, too, including classic American, in the way of deep chocolate brownies that rank among the best in the city, cookies, sticky buns, and housemade yogurt and granola. And Italian gets some play: There’s a daily panna cotta I’m dying to try. But if you ask Holl to describe her style, she’ll tell you her focus is “fresh, seasonal, and local.” This philosophy gets expressed directly on the café’s walls where one chalkboard lists farmers whose products are featured and another shows the daily specials. The ingredients here are top notch and everything is made from scratch.
Floriole’s understated European feel and focus on quality makes it my kind of place. I have spent a number of summer lunches here, sipped on a perfect latte (made with Intelligentsia coffee) on a lazy Labor Day afternoon, and typically pop in weekly to take something home. In addition to quiche, the lunch (and dinner) menu tilts toward freshly made breads—baguette sandwiches, tartines (open-faced sandwiches), pizzettes, ham-and-cheese croissants, and a daily side salad.
The few, but well-rendered ingredients of radicchio, onion, and cream made this pizzette, pictured below, I had at home delicious.
Pair one with a green salad, and you have a nice, quick lunch. They’re also great for an afternoon snack.
A few months after opening, Floriole expanded its hours and started serving craft beer and wine. One of these evenings soon I plan to stop in with a friend or kick back with a good book, a nice glass of wine, and something crusty. While sitting back to relax, it will be great to know we can enjoy Floriole’s creations more than just on Green City Market days—and have a normal conversation.
Floriole Café & Bakery
1220 West Webster Avenue
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – 7:00am – 7:00pm
Wednesday – 7:00am – 7:00pm
Thursday – 7:00am – 7:00pm
Friday – 7:00am – 8:00pm
Saturday – 8:00am – 8:00pm
Sunday – 8:00am – 4:00 pm