A Taste of Paris

How would you like to stop by a side walk cafe in Paris, take a seat at a checkered cloth covered table, order a bottle of vintage wine, then lean back and watch passersby stroll down the boulevard?

On the table, there’s a basket of french baguettes, and seated on your right – is your companion, who smiles at you and begins to read the newspaper – aloud. You don’t understand a word, but it doesn’t matter, anything spoken in French sounds like “I love you.”

Hey, it’s on my bucket list. In the meantime, I’ve found a great substitute, sans the companion. You can get a feel for what it’s like to relax at a cafe in the “City of Lights” here in Hyde Park at 55th and Lake Park, right behind Walgreens, at a cafe named Bon Jour, which means “Good Day” in French.

Bon Jour is owned by Driss Bekkouche and his wife, Pascale Krentzberger and has has been in the same location in Hyde Park for 15 years.

The cafe specializes in creating wonderful, exotic French pastries and drinks. At Bon Jour, you can sit at one of the wrought iron tables, nibble on a Eclaire a la Pistache and listen to background music that features French “torch” singers who, if you listen carefully, will transport you to a sultry, smoke filled, jazz club from 1950’s Paris.

Bekkouche is from Paris and studied pastry making at the famed French Pastry School. He says they make all of the pastries at Bon Jour from scratch. “To make good French pastry, taste is the first thing” says Bekkouche, “the second is decoration and the third is presentation.”

Whenever I drop in at Bon Jour, there’s a steady stream of customers, so I’d say they do a great job on all three counts.

Bekkouche’s wife, Pascale, created what has to be one of the best drinks in Chicago, orange juice with rose petals in it – yes, rose petals.

I tried it on one hot morning when I didn’t want coffee and well…it’s exotic, tastes a little like a Grand Marnier, it’ll definitely uplift your spirit – just what you would expect from a taste of Paris.

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