What: A new French style bakery from Melissa Yanc of Sugar Vision
Where: 4416 E 8th Ave, Denver
When: Opens tomorrow, May 16
Let’s face it: it’s not always easy to find French-style pastry in Denver. However, tomorrow’s opening of the bakery/patisserie La Fillette, the first concept from Sugar Vision’s Melissa Yanc, could very well provide a solution to this problem. Tucked just a few blocks east of Trader Joe’s on Colorado, and inhabiting what was formerly the cake shop Leaf & Crumb, La Fillette will debut this weekend with doors opening to the scent of buttery goodness. Offering an array of goodies including croissants, colorful macarons, cakes, and more, the bakery seeks to provide Denver’s confectionery lovers with a fresh take on the classics.
You could say Melissa Yanc is an unsung hero of Denver’s bakery scene, having supplied many of the city’s best coffee spots with high-quality pastry for some time. If you’ve sipped espresso at Novo, Little Owl, Amythest, or Weathervane — to name just a few of her clients — there’s a good chance you’ve savored some of her delectable pastry offerings. She’s worked as a baker for well-known Denver establishments including Mercantile Dining & Provision, Uncle and Row 14, but now she’s expanding Sugar Vision — the name that’s been synonymous with her wholesale brand —with the opening of La Fillette. She’s brought on Keturah Fleming as well, also a former Mercantile baker, as her sous chef. “We bounce off of each other,” said Yanc. The name La Fillette is an ode to her mentors at Row 14 and Uncle, for its translation,“little girl,” was a nickname endearingly bestowed upon her. Literal translations aside, La Fillette is proof that little girls can in fact do big things, and the opening is Yanc’s personal attempt to translate her vision to a wider range of clientele. “This is, I’m hoping, going to be one of many concepts,” she said.
Previously Leaf & Crumb, the space was already primed for baking. “I feel really fortunate…we inherited a lot from her,” explained Yanc, speaking of the space’s previous owner. The kitchen is open and partially visible to customers, and the design is sleek and modern with hints of rustic charm. It’s a long, narrow space but feels welcoming and homey, and a hanging chalkboard menu is among the kind of detail that breathes character into the space. Despite subtle nods towards French decor, the minimalist design — paired with wood and exposed brick — creates a neutral aesthetic that aims to naturally showcase the eye-catching product, first and foremost. And in line with a desire to appeal to a broadened customer base, Yanc intends for the space to feel unisex. “We want men to feel comfortable coming in here,” said Yanc. “Bakeries can seem so dainty.”
As far as French pastry is concerned, La Fillette is not about reinventing the wheel — for that’s not what French pastry is about. However, though Yanc stresses the importance of doing the classics well, she does want to “shake things up a bit,” and places just a hint of sass beneath the sweetness, while remaining entirely approachable. It is for both the discerning and those who are just looking for a sweet treat they already know. But, if it’s a croissant, or a savory bread, or a macaron (of which she offers six flavors) it’s sure to be a darn good one.
Expect a menu comprised of sourdough-based croissants — mainly what she’s known for — in addition to pies, savory breads, rotating gateaux, French cookies and more. The menu is twofold, consisting of a morning menu and an afternoon menu, both of which are placed beside a simple beverage menu, so you can enjoy your croissant with coffee (drip or cold brew from Sweet Bloom) or your tea (from Teakoe) with cake. If you prefer to drink your dessert, be sure to try the decadent Valrhona sipping chocolate from Tain-l’Hermitage, France, which, at $3, is a steal. The morning menu includes a savory quiche Lorraine ($6), in addition to other breakfast-friendly pastry. The smoked ham and cheese croissant, garnished with an everything seed mix, is not to be missed. Nor are her perfectly textured macarons ($2.5 each) – displaying just a hint of meringue crispness on the outside, balanced with a soft and delicious interior. Though now just a “little girl,” this bakery has boundless potential to grow–be sure to come, taste, enjoy, and grow with it.
All photography by Carrie Webber