10/05/2010 06:24 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Plaisir -- West Hollywood's Extraordinary New Bakery

Plaisir logo

Plaisir is the French word for pleasure, and not to be corny, but that's exactly what you will get from visiting a very chic, European-style bakery which I've discovered two blocks west of La Cienega on the north side at 8613 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. At the recent Taste of Beverly Hills event, owners Daniel Salva and chef/partner Philippe Dray had a small stand there and the moment I tasted a few of their flavorful cream puffs I knew that I would be making a visit to the store, which is just below my twice-weekly destination at Trader Joe's. This is one of the most stunning retail spaces I've seen in a long time, a jewel-box, uber-modern and technologically advanced (by Void Design), with magical lamps, brushed stainless steel tiles, large flat-screen monitors (silent, thank god), colorful iPod stations, copper globe lighting and photomurals. Outside of the store itself are café tables for leisurely dining on a nice day.

Chef Philippe with display
Chef/Partner Philiipe Dray offers colorful, delicious mini-cream puffs in many flavors.

But it is those cream puffs which are the main draw for me, a guy who has despised the cupcake craze since it began a decade ago. A modern take on a classic French dessert, the mini puffs are stacked high on a Dr. Seuss-inspired tri-level cake platter in a glass showcase. Oh my -- think pink, orange, green and other colors, amply sprinkled, in a variety of flavors from peach and mint to vanilla and chocolate. I know you will do exactly what I did: eat a half-dozen of the mini puffs in the store, explore some of the other delicacies, then ask for a box of a dozen 'assorted' to enjoy in solitude of your kitchen or bedroom later that evening. (That is, if they get home unscathed. I was tempted to burrow open the box on the way home, but resisted.)

Pastry Case
Pastry Case displays many of the sweet and savory pastries.

But having seen this exquisite store, I was compelled to return later in the week for some other savory delicacies. There are croissant sandwiches and quiches (spinach, Lorraine, salmon) and I sat outside in the sunlight drinking a big cup of delicious coffee and consumed a Spinach Strawberry Salad with goat cheese while my lovely companion had her Caesar Salad with chicken, hearts of palm, and carrots.
Plaisir storefront

Chef Philippe pointed out to me, for my next visit, the Sweet Crepes with Supreme Nutella, in combination with banana, strawberries or jam, topped with a snowfall of sugar or whipped cream. My friend spotted a diner eating an aromatic Belgian Waffle, piled high with fresh fruit and organic maple syrup and a scoop of home-made ice cream ... and made me promise to bring her back for that.

Plaisir is open from 8 am to 8 pm Tuesday through Thursday, and to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday; on Sunday, they are open from 9 am to 5pm. I am told they are available for birthday parties and such, and also do catering, with dessert and sandwich platters. Go to their website, for more stuff.

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