After working at Bottega Louie in Los Angeles, which serves classic French pastries and has extraordinarily high standards for perfection, I can truly appreciate the mastership of pastries that Chef Renaud displays in his beautiful yet unassuming patisserie located in Santa Barbara.
For those of you who have gone to Bottega Louie, you know that it is a very typical LA establishment; really loud music, attractive waiters, over-priced cocktails, and so-so food. However, their pastry program is outstanding. The amount of production is overwhelming and quite impressive. They have a full bread program, a massive amount of French Macarons (they make 40,000 a week, I know this because this is what I did while I was there), croissants and other breakfast pastries, and a full case of absolutely stunning dessert pastries.
Renaud’s patisserie is quite different from Bottega in so much as the main clientele are significantly older, the music is calming and french, and the food is simple, yet elegant. The pastries are ornate, and artfully presented. With skillfully cut strawberries placed at just the right angle and raspberries organized in absolute symmetry, Renaud clearly knows and understands French Pastries and the demand for perfection, while also catering to the Santa Barbara crowd.
The best part about Renaud’s, which I can honestly say trumps Bottega Louie, is in the laminated doughs, aka. croissants, pain au chocolate, etc. The croissants have just the right amount of butter; you can taste the quality of the butter in your mouth, and doesn’t feel dense or chewy. There are beautiful pockets of air on the inside, indicating that the dough and the butter were properly mixed together to create that nice crispy and light texture. The chocolate that they use is not too sweet, and not too bitter and melts wonderfully in your mouth. I have tried to find the perfect croissant for awhile and can truthfully say that Renaud’s croissant is a top contender. This week my goal is to recreate the croissants and pain au chocolate; stay tuned for that!
I highly recommend checking out Renaud’s if you are ever in the Santa Barbara area and make sure you get there early because the croissants sell out pretty quickly!