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Pastry chef opens Gracious Bakery

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  No one is saying you have to get dessert if you visit Gracious Bakery + Cafe (1000 S. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., Suite 100, 504-301-3709; www.graciousbakery.com) for lunch. But then, no one has to say anything. The bakery case filled with elegant little Black Forest cakes, neat slices of peanut butter opera cake and velvety parfaits speaks for itself.

  For those able to fend off dessert temptation, Gracious serves an impressive lineup of sandwiches on breads baked in house and plated with small, smartly dressed salads of fresh greens. But it's probably prudent to leave with a croissant or cinnamon roll anyway.

  Local pastry chef Megan Forman had planned to open Gracious at the end of August, just as Hurricane Isaac arrived. She launched it after the storm, and Gracious is now open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday in a stretch of town that doesn't have many food options.

  Gracious opened in the ground floor of the new headquarters for the local construction company Woodward Design+Build. The building was completed last year and was designed with a few leasable retail and office spots for neighborhood businesses.

  Forman is a New Orleans native who plied her pastry arts in New York before returning home to work as pastry chef at Bayona and later as assistant pastry chef at the upscale sweets emporium Sucre. She runs Gracious with her husband Jay Forman, a local writer.

  Gracious specializes in catering platters, and Forman recommends calling a day in advance for these orders. The cafe is a pleasant place for a quick, dine-in meal, too. Breakfast choices are mainly baked goods like scones, muffins and croissants, and at lunch there are a few salads and sandwiches like rosemary-crusted roast beef with horseradish cream cheese and caramelized onion on kaiser roll, meatloaf with tomato jam and cheddar on ciabatta, and ham with pecan cheddar spread, pepper jelly and apple slices on a baguette. Coffee drinks are made with products from French Truck Coffee (www.frenchtruck.us), a local small-batch roaster.

  Gracious is open 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

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