Saint Frank made a name for itself based on the strength of its coffee, but now the business is launching a new era, starting a new bakery named Juniper that’s led by a team of fine-dining pastry chefs. Andrea Correa of Parallel 37, and formerly of Noma and El Bulli, helped develop the menu, which focuses on choux, using the French pastry shell as a base for a variety of sweet and savory ingredients. The idea for the bakery came out of a pop-up Saint Frank owner Kevin Bohlin collaborated on with Correa and another friend. “It was this conversation about what an incredible opportunity choux is, as this delightful expression of so many different things you can do [with it] that also pairs really well with coffee,” Bohlin says.
The Polk Street bakery opened on January 4 and already the choux offerings have struck a chord with customers and pushed the creativity of the Juniper team, which is led by Andrew Wolpa who previously worked Acquerello and Saison. On the sweet side, there’s a Tiramichoux, a take on the Italian dessert tiramisu incorporating mascarpone, marsala espresso, and ladyfingers. Meanwhile, a caramel apple choux highlights the gala apple with apple brandy — “which gives it another dimension,” Bohlin says — and includes star anise, clove, and cinnamon.
The team plans to continually play with and change around the choux menu, keeping fruit-centric items seasonal, though they’ll also figure out what resonates with customers and keep those favorites for the long run. Meanwhile, on the savory side, Bohlin points to the Parmesan Anchovy Choux as an example of the team’s creativity. It’s choux loaded with Parmesan custard, anchovy, onion powder, and a miniature herb salad on top. “It’s the kind of thing that could honestly be on a fine dining tasting menu,” Bohlin says. “But it gets to be this awesome little delight that you can just have in a casual environment, which we think is a really fun kind of paradox.”
After a decade of Saint Frank, Bohlin knows what works in cafes, so he’s making sure to hit the right notes on other offerings and staples, such as ensuring chocolate croissants remain on the menu. But he’s also looking to do something other than run-of-the-mill options. The juniper lemon escargot, for example, is flavored with juniper berries and lemon curd, and flecked with raisins; the Cubano croissant comes with mojo-marinated pork, ham, mandolined pickles, and a base of whole-grain mustard.
For coffee, Juniper’s menu will be similar to the other Saint Frank locations, but with a slight twist. Expect the favorites, such as the kaffe tonic, but for coffee nerds, there will be exclusive coffees served only at Juniper, such as the Brother Sun and Sister Moon blends sourced from Latin America and East Africa. There’s also a monthly food and coffee pairing, with suggestions on what coffee works best with a specific menu item. This month it’s the Caramel Apple Choux with the Boliva Cima Del Jaguar blend.
Already, there are plans to further expand Juniper’s offerings in the future. While there’s a breakfast sandwich in rotation, expect a brunch in the near future, Bohlin says. There’s also a plan to include sparkling wine on the menu, as well as ice cream made in-house. “We’ve never done this before and it’s just been a lot of fun,” Bohlin says. “We know how to do the coffee shop side thing, we’re really proud of how we do it and we really believe in how we approach serving people and so we get to do that in a new format now.”
Juniper (1401 Polk Street) is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, with plans to expand to seven days a week in the future.