If one walks into A Cote du Parc at 10 in the morning, one is greeted with the intoxicating scent of freshly baked brioche, a warm, toasty, buttery scent that is hard to resist.
The spread of pastries, bread and cakes on display makes it even more tempting to walk away with an armful of carbs from this new bakery, which opened in Seoul’s Seongsu-dong this April.
The second offshoot of Maison M’O, a dessert shop that opened over two years ago, A Cote du Parc differentiates itself from its well-known sibling with its razor sharp focus on French breads and pastries.
If Maison M’O exhibits a more playful and experimental attitude with its line-up of French-based pastries, cakes and cookies, A Cote du Parc is dedicated to taking a classic approach to its line-up and is more firmly based in pastries and breads than in cakes.
A Cote du Parc -- Maison M’O‘s second shop -- opened near Seoul Forest in Seongsu-dong this April (Photo credit: Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
“They wanted to do a place like this near a park,” said A Cote du Parc executive pastry chef Roh Hye-jin of the new spot, which is located next to Seoul Forest. “They wanted to a place where people could buy bread in the morning.”
Roh explained how owners Tetsuya Otsuka and Lee Min-sun wanted their second spot to be like the bakeries in France that open early in the morning for breakfast-goers.
She recalls mornings spent biting into luscious custard-filled brioche suisse while living in Paris for six years.
“These are bakery staples in France,” said Roh, 29, of A Cote du Parc’s line-up. “You will find all of this.”
By all of this, Roh means three different varieties of brioche, brioche-based pastries and other flaky tidbits including a fragrant croissant.
While the selection is traditional, the interpretation is classic Maison M’O.
Pastry chefs Tetsuya Otsuka and Lee Min-sun, who met while working at Pierre Herme Paris in Japan before launching Maison M’O, are known for crafting elegant French pastries with a subtle modern twist.
A Cote du Parc specializes in regional eats like the pissaladerie -- an anchovy and caramelized onion topped flatbread that hails from Southern France (Photo credit: Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
That attitude shines through in the presentation and details of the eats at A Cote du Parc.
A croissant is shaped into a circular swirl instead of the usual crescent and infused with coffee for a delicate pastry that is flaky on the outside and moist and airy through the center.
Bostock, which is made with almond cream, custard and brioche bread, are shaped like small, compact circular towers and sold in a variety of flavors like their fragrant combination of pistachio and yuja (citron).
There is also pastry chef Roh’s go-to Parisian breakfast, brioche Suisse aux pepites de chocolat, with its glossy, bouffant outer shell of rich but not greasy brioche and its sturdy filling of custard dotted with little chunks of chocolate.
“We make our own pepites de chocolat,” said Roh. “We add Guerande sea salt to it.”
There are also regional specialties like pissaladiere, a delicious flatbread covered with caramelized onions and anchovies that hails from Southern France.
At A Cote du Parc, the base for this savory eat is brioche, which is topped with caramelized onions, anchovies and black olives.
There is also a quiche, filled with an unconventional filling of grapefruit, green beans and bacon.
A Cote du Parc‘s brioche suisse aux pepites de chocolat (front) -- soft brioche sandwiched around custard and chunks of chocolate -- and yuja-pistachio bostock (back) -- a fragrant dessert crafted from brioche, almond cream and custard (Photo credit: Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
In addition to these sweet and savory pastries there are also three kinds of brioche – Nanterre, mousseline and gateau battu.
Both the brioche Nanterre and the brioche mousseline are made from the same dough, said Roh, while the gateau battu, which hails from Picardie, is made with more butter and only egg yolks, yielding a very rich, yellow bread.
“Brioche is often enjoyed in the morning,” said Roh, who recommends slicing up the eggy bread and topping with jam or a spread.
The brioche mousseline, which is shaped like a cylinder, is utterly moist through the center, dense in texture, yet light on the tongue and pairs wonderfully with their housemade chocolate-hazelnut spread.
All pastries and breads are made with French AOP designated butter said Roh.
While there is no seating available, one can take one’s treats to the adjoining cafe next door to enjoy with a cup of coffee.
By Jean Oh (email@example.com)
A Cote du Parc
685-477 Seongsu-dong 1-ga, Seoul
Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, closed Mondays and Tuesdays
Breads, pastries and cakes cost 2,500 won to 24,000 won, jams and spreads cost 9,000 won to 11,000 won.