Where: 3315 State Street, 805-569-2400, renaudsbakery.com
What: Brilliant, truly French pastries and cakes plus breakfasts and sandwiches
How much? Breakfasts are $4.50 – $9.50, lunches $6.50 – $ 10.95, baked good prices vary.
The dish: Renaud Gonthier creates baked things the way Chopin created etudes. His croissants flaky perfection, his pain au chocolate a meld of pastry and chocolate so rich they’re practically swoon inducing. The little shop in Loreto Plaza isn’t much, and it’s usually jam-packed, but that just shows people have good taste. Of course he starts with the best ingredients and enough butter to kill most mortals, but the quality shows in every delicacy. Don’t sell the prepared food short, either – French toast from brioche is incredible, as is the pain bagnat, his take on the classic Provencal sandwich with tuna, anchovy, olives, tomato, a riot of wonderful flavor.