115 Bridge St.
Charlevoix Michigan 49720United States
This airy French bakery and cafe on Charlevoix's busy Bridge Street corridor is an elegant place to pause for a treat and coffee.
It's easy to imagine you're sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris at Simonsen's Bakery: an eclair, a hot cup of coffee, the sun on your face, the buzz of traffic on Bridge Street. The only thing missing, really, is that oh-so-French whiff of cigarette smoke,replaced here by the much more pleasant breezes off Round Lake and Lake Michigan. The chef-owner, trained at Le Cordon Bleu, is clearly a Francophile and has gone to great lengths to infuse his business with the spirit of Old Paris. Framed photos and paintings of French landmarks hang behind the counter (as do his prominently displayed diplomas and certificates). Fans of French cuisine will recognize many of the treats in the bake case, including an exquisite apple tart with thin slices fanned out like flowers. But many of the desserts will appeal to more traditional American palates, too: cupcakes with swirls of buttercream, cookies, tall layer cakes and "pecan cuddle" candies. One particular specialty are Simonsen's unusual fruit-filled scones, an envelope of pastry folded around a jam-like center. We tried a cherry version and found it a bit dry, but it went nicely with coffee. Simonsen's also offers a cafe menu with breakfast and lunch fare. We didn't try any menu items on our most recent visit, but a Belgian waffled looked most enticing -- especially when eaten out on the sidewalk, basking in the sun, newspaper in hand and (perhaps?) beret on head.