“Dix minutes,” the baker says as he emerges briefly from the kitchen with a tray full of fresh-baked croissants and apple tarts.
The customer was waiting for her order of napoleons—or millefeuilles, as the French call the creme-filled layered pastry. It seems the French baker was not satisfied with his first batch and was re-doing the napoleons. The customer decided she could wait 10 minutes.
PAUL’s first bakery was born in a little town near Lille, France in 1889. Locations exist all over France and the world now, close to 500 in all. This Penn Quarter patisserie, which debuted in May 2011, is the company’s flagship shop in the U.S. PAUL has other locations in Georgetown, Foggy Bottom, on K St. near the White House, and in Dupont Circle.
One doesn’t have to be a francophile to love PAUL. This shop on Pennsylvania Avenue has the delicious look and feel and smell of an inviting village cafe: exposed wooden beams, a red banquette, displays of traditional baking implements, the telltale black and white checkerboard floor. Scents of baking bread hover. Sounds of jazz play lightly in the background.
Inside glass cases are every kind of French baked good: croissants (butter, almond, chocolate), brioche, canale, apple and almond tarts, raspberry charlotte, and so on. Consider the breads, for which PAUL might best be known, as well as the various preparations of quiche, salads, sandwiches, soups, and egg dishes.
Also on display, through interior windows, is the kitchen, so you can watch the bakers at work.
The Penn Quarter shop fronts on both Pennsylvania Ave. and Navy Memorial Plaza, where you can sit at a sidewalk table and watch the helter skelter downtown crowd.
Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown on the Red, Green, and Yellow Lines (7th and F St. exit) or Navy Memorial-National Archives-Penn Quarter on the Yellow and Green Lines.