by Ian McNulty
No one is saying you have to get dessert if you visit Gracious Bakery + Cafe 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 says it all on its own.
For those able to fend off dessert temptation, Gracious serves an impressive line up of sandwiches on breads baked in the back and plated with small, smartly-dressed salads of fresh greens. But it’s probably still only prudent to leave with a croissant or cinnamon roll anyway for that afternoon coffee break.
Local pastry chef Megan Forman had planned to open Gracious at the end of August, just as Hurricane Isaac disrupted just about everyone’s plans. She launched it for real just after the storm, however, and Gracious is now open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Saturday in a stretch of town that sees lots of traffic but doesn’t have many food options.
Gracious opened in the ground floor of the new headquarters for Woodward Design+Build, the local construction company, which was completed last year and was designed with a few leasable retail and office spots for neighborhood businesses. The Xavier University campus is just across the street and the bakery sits on a cross-town shortcut connecting Broadmoor and Mid-City.
Forman is a New Orleans native who plied the pastry arts in New York before returning home to work as pastry chef at Bayona and later serve as assistant pastry chef at the upscale sweets emporium Sucré. She runs Gracious with her husband Jay Forman, who is a local writer.
Gracious specializes in catering platters, which are helpful for those days when it’s your turn to bring in breakfast or lunch for the office (Forman recommends calling a day in advance for these orders), though the café is a pleasant enough place for a quick, dine-in meal too. Breakfast choices are mainly baked goods like scones, muffins and croissants, while 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 baguette.
The café serve a few examples of savory pastry, like brioche rolls filled with spicy ham, fontina cheese and pesto. Coffee drinks are made with product from French Truck Coffee, a local small-batch roaster. And then there are all those desserts.
Gracious is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Gracious Bakery + Café
1000 S. Jefferson Davis Pkwy., 301-3709