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Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery, Millvale, reinspires

Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French bakery in Millvale, PA, is just a stone’s throw across the river from Pittsburgh’s other well-known French boulengeries: La Gourmandine in Lawrenceville, Gaby et Jules in Squirrel Hill.

However, in contrast to La Gourmandine’s rustic coziness and Gaby et Jules’ glittering elegance, Jean-Marc Chatellier’s bakery better gives the impression of being a small-town cake shop of 20 years ago: a turquoise-colored awning, neon OPEN sign, florescent indoor lighting. There’s no “bonjour” when you enter; there are no frilled aprons or chef’s hats; there are just pastries — and good ones at that.

Paris-Brest, Jean-Marc

Paris-Brest, Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery

My purchase of the Paris-Brest — made of hazelnut or praline cream between two rings of choux pastry — was supposed to be the last time I was going to try this traditional pastry (which was inspired by a bicycle race between the cities of Paris and Brest in 1891). All too often, I’ve been let down, finding the choux pastry unable to live up to the flavor of the filling, due to the pastry having been too old or too refrigerated for too long.

Jean-Marc’s Paris-Brest proved me absolutely wrong. The light, firm pastry was the vehicle for the rich, powdered-sugar-dusted cream. Too big for my hands, I ate my Paris-Brest with a spoon. It was like eating a cloud occasionally studded with toasted almonds.

This pastry was not just good enough to revive my hope in pastries in general, but also to reignite my belief in humanity. Who would have guessed that such a jewel of a pastry could sit in the case next to humble American favorites like key lime pie, and be served so cheerfully in the corner of this town?

Did I really not realize that French pastries can sell not just because they are French — but because they are good?

I will be back to Jean-Marc Chatellier’s — and be back and be back.

Jean-Marc Chatellier’s French Bakery
213 North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 821-8533

Miracle milkshakes? Burgatory Bar, Waterworks, Pittsburgh

Caramel Pretzel, Burgatory, February 2012

Caramel Pretzel halo, Burgatory, February 2012

I never thought I could be impressed by a milkshake enough to think that it was a gift from Heaven. However, those from Burgatory, a little joint that markets itself as serving up a “Helluva Burger” and “Heavenly Shakes,” might as well be.

I don’t even know what “house-turned vanilla bean ice cream” is (is “turned” Pittsburgh-ese for “churned”?) — but when spun with organic local ingredients, served in a frosted glass with a straw that’s finally an appropriate thickness, and pushed across the bar with the extra drippings in the metal canister it was mixed in — these milkshakes are not for the weak.


Friends required.

My Caramel Pretzel ($6) milkshake was crusted with salty pretzel chunks and wore a halo of lusciously-thick whipped cream, so decadent that by the end of my glass the caramel tasted like straight corn syrup — but I was willing to forgive.

Also available are the divinely-conceived Salted Nutella Crunch (with Nutella and Nestle Crunch bars), Coffee & Donuts (with Kona coffee and donut pieces), and a line-up of hard shakes, such as the Apple Pancakes and Bacon, Burnt Toffee, or Grand-Dad’s Secret. (The complete list of Burgatory shakes is available here.)

Unless you’re training for a food-eating competition or up for testing your virtue of patience, I strongly suggest eating the burger on a separate visit and consulting the wait-time for tables online before you go (visible on the right side of the homepage).

Fox Chapel / Waterworks
932 Freeport Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
(412) 781-1456
(View full list of locations.)

Sunday-Thursday 11AM – 10PM
Friday and Saturday 11AM – 11PM

‘Uptown ginger brown’ cappuccino, Little Amps, Harrisburg

Uptown Ginger Brown, Harrisburg, January 2013

Uptown Ginger Brown, Harrisburg, January 2013

The “Uptown Ginger Brown” ($4.25) — a not-too-sweet cappuccino from Little Amps in Uptown — is made with ginger, fresh orange zest, and brown sugar. The first two ingredients bring a subtle brightness to the rich coffee, a tartness hidden in the rich and foamy mouthfeel. As for the third, owner Aaron Carlson prefers brown sugar over white sugar because it’s not as “clawingly sweet”; the molasses in the brown sugar better complements the espresso.

This drink for me is the brightness of summer enrobed in the coziness of winter.

(Plus, it’s worth it just to hear Aaron announce, “Uuuuptown ginger brown!” as he pushes your drink across the bar.)

Little Amps
1826 Green Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102

Monday-Friday: 7am-2pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8am-2pm


Aaron Carlson, January 2013

Friday Photo: Rustic Apple Tart by Short & Sweet Bakery, Lemoyne

Rustic Apple Tart by Short & Sweet Bakery, Lemoyne


It’s likely that we Americans get the coffee-and-pastry breakfast from France, where baguette slices are spread with Nutella and dipped into bowls of morning Joe, and fresh croissants are eaten with hot chocolate by afternoon.  However, mass-produced Starbucks pound cake or stale Panera stick buns (with a dark roast in a travel mug) shouldn’t cut it for you.  Return to the pastries of your grandmother with a rustic apple tart made by Short & Sweet Bakery, Lemoyne, and served at Little Amps Coffee Roasters, Harrisburg.  It’s fresh apples folded into a flaky crust about  then sprinkled with sugar for just a touch of sweetness — perfectly paired with the richness of one of Little Amp’s house-roasted coffee or espresso drinks.  Also available for breakfast (and equally delicious) are biscotti, cookies, granola, macaroons, and quiches.

Little Amps Coffee Roasters
1836 Green Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102

Monday-Friday, 6:45am-2pm
Saturday, 8am-2pm

Friday Photo: The Jackson House Burger Nazi

A respect for quality: I like that, especially at this lunchhour shop that proclaims its food is “better than Philly’s”: 1/2 pound hamburgers, cheeseburgers, cheese steaks, sandwiches, and salads.  Situated in a classic soda-style shop on Sixth Street in Harrisburg, this place is strict with its rules — cash only and patience are just a few — but they deliver, every time.  Just look at the narrow window of their opening hours, then drive past once to see how packed it is.  Then you’ll realize what this sign indicates — a quality burger that can help a restaurant defy business sense is definitely worth waiting for.

The Jackson House
1004 Sixth Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 238-2730

Monday-Friday, 10:30am-2pm

Friday Photo: Eight-Pound Carrot Cake, P&R Baked Goods

P&R Baked Good’s Carrot Cake

In my opinion, cake is usually a form of dessert that is much better served if squashed flat, crammed with chocolate chips, and transformed into a cookie.  Most cakes usually seem to be made of too much air and not enough substance, a fact which makes me often twice as more likely to be disappointed after polishing off a cheap grocery-store cupcake with dyed-pink icing than a cheap cookie of any kind.

However, the carrot cake at P&R Baked Goods, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg, is a cake to make an exception for.  A single cake takes two days to build, says Nora Proctor, the bakery’s “pound cake diva,” for the cake is first mixed and molded then soaked in a buttermilk mixture overnight. Once baked, the cake is as dense as it is mighty: a wall of raisins, walnuts, and shredded coconut as dense and high as Jericho. Each bite is so brown-sugar moist that it’s almost like eating cake batter.  The cake’s dark buttery flavors are cut by the cream cheese icing, which is flavored with lemon juice and a little bit of lemon peel. The result is a sweet-but-not-too-sweet, massive cake — a whole cake is heavy enough to rival a lasagna, weighing in at 8 1/2 pounds.

The carrot cake is “one of the most unique cakes I make,” Nora Proctor told me in 2010, who claims that P&R Baked Good provides “stuff as good as your mama’s.”  For this reason — heck, for any occasion — I recommend this carrot cake as a dessert to bring home for the holidays, since a single cake is probably enough to feed an army.  Just don’t start taste testing it first.

P&R Baked Goods
Broad Street Market
Harrisburg, PA

Wednesday, 7am-2pm
Thursday-Friday, 7am-5pm
Saturday, 7am-4pm

(717) 350-5326
(717) 350-5327

$3/slice, $30/cake

Friday Photo: Crab-Stuffed Potatoes, T. Oliver’s Seafood and Soul Food

Looking for something to grace your holiday table this season that doesn’t involve turkey or a spiral ham? The crab-stuffed potatoes at T. Oliver’s Seafood & Soul Food at the Broad Street Market in Harrisburg are one of my favorite dishes.  They’re made of Asiago cheese, lump crab, and Hellman’s mayonnaise pocketed into baby red-skinned potatoes that are broiled until bubbly and charred — in other words, they’re bite-sized creaminess with a hint of sharpness, baked into a cozy potato shell.  I routinely crave these little guys for a Saturday lunch, steaming hot and sprinkled with just a bit of salt.  Recently, I took a dozen to my boyfriend’s family for Thanksgiving to share, and they were so popular that we actually forgot to broil them — we gobbled up a dozen potatoes raw, straight from the genius egg carton packaging.

Also check out T. Oliver’s stand for whole seafood and other holiday crowd-pleasers, such as shrimp salad, citrus “mojo,” codfish cakes, clams casino, oysters Rockefeller, and fresh calamari.  All prepared foods, according to stand manager Jim Woltman, are made to be as hassle-free as possible: either grab and go from the hot foods case, or buy it chilled, heat, and serve.

T. Oliver's Seafood and Soul Food, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg

Crab-Stuffed Potatoes, T. Oliver's Seafood and Soul Food

Crab-Stuffed Potatoes: $8.75/dozen, $4.75/dozen

T. Oliver’s Seafood and Soul Food
Brick Market Building
Broad Street Market
1233 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102

Wednesday, 7AM – 2PM (limited vendors)
Thursday-Friday, 7AM – 5PM
Saturday: 7AM – 4PM

Foodie Goodie: Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co., Harrisburg, Embraces Flavor, Family

Chris Kiley and Creations, Broad Street Market, Harrisburg

Think French cuisine is defined by moldy cheese, snails, and bottles of wine with unintelligible names?  Think again.  Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co. at the Broad Street Market, Harrisburg, is rethinking one classic French concept: the ultra-thin French pancake known as a crepe.

In France, crepes are traditionally made while you wait, folded with simple ingredients, and sold in small shops called creperies. Recent trends have pushed these soft golden disks onto menus in Europe and abroad, where the crepes act as canvases for sweet ingredients like Nutella, powdered sugar, or fruit; or savory ingredients like scallops, asparagus, and cream.

However, at Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co.—opened in June 2011—the crepes are all-American: stuffed like breakfast burritos, smothered in peanut butter for a dessert, or folded with chicken and bacon as a lunch wrap.

“A crepe is basically a French tortilla, just 100 calories less,” owner Chris Kiley explains.  “It’s incredible versatile and customizable.”

Hearty, elegant, and accessible, the fillings of Kiley’s crepes range from yogurt, seasonal fruit, and granola for breakfast to melted ham and Swiss for lunch.  When wrapped in a still-warm, slightly springy crepe, even ho-hum fillings get new life: the cool lettuce of Kiley’s chicken Caesar crepe seems crisper.  The textures of his Chocolate King crepe—a crepe folded with peanut butter, banana, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream—feel richer, like a molten peanut butter cup.

“We wanted to make a food that could either work as a snack or a meal, something that you could eat while walking,” Kiley explains.

Kiley’s cooking experience began in Central Pennsylvania when he was in high school.  He worked first in the kitchens of local eateries, such as the former Giagantes on St. John’s Church Road, Camp Hill; Kosta’s Fine Cuisine, Camp Hill; and T. Jimmy’s Place, Mt. Holly Springs.  Then, after earning his degree at Shippensburg University, Kiley moved to Maui, Hawaii, where he worked for six years as head chef at the Basil Tomatoes Italian Grille on the Kaanapali Resort.

“I’ve just always enjoyed cooking,” Kiley explains.  “I like the creativity.”

Kiley and his family became familiar with crepes when his older brother, Mike, worked in Paris from 2001-2003.  “My parents would visit me in the winter and Mike in the summer,” Kiley explains. “It was my dad’s idea to start a crepe stand in Pennsylvania.”

Kiley returned to the mainland in 2006 when Mike was diagnosed with cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant.  Kiley was found to be a match.  “It was time to return to my roots,” he says.

Today, Kiley now runs Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co. with his mother, Mary Ellen, and his father, Pat. His brother Mike now works in Washington, D.C.

The stand serves breakfast, lunch, and dessert crepes as well as bottled drinks, iced tea, lemonade, and 100% Hawaiian-grown coffee.  Kiley hopes to expand his business by offering daily specials and catering options.

“Once you try a crepe, you’ll love it,” Kiley says.

Chris’s Crepes and Coffee Co.
Broad Street Market
Brick Market Building
1233 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 695-7970

Thursday-Friday, 7am-5pm
Saturday, 7am-4pm

First published in TheBurg, September 2011.  Click here to visit TheBurg’s website and download the latest issue. 

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