At Pascal Patisserie & Cafe, the menu is a palette of artistic variety crafted to please every part of your palate. Between the scrumptious pastries, divine desserts, exquisite chocolates, puffy breads, and hearty dishes, one visit to this multifaceted bakery-confectionery-eatery wouldn’t be enough.
Commanding the corner of a Woodland Hills strip mall since 2016, Pascal Patisserie & Cafe is a partnership of culinary artistry between Sara Geller and Bruno Marcy, incorporating cultural influences from Bruno’s French upbringing, Sara’s Israeli heritage, and their combined food-crafting experiences. “It’s like French, European, Mediterranean—all of this together,” said Sara.
Starting at 7am nearly every day (8am on Sundays), the patisserie is an entry to a wonderland of overflowing pastry baskets, featuring flaky croissants and rolls, fruity danishes, miscellaneous muffins, and perhaps some swirly meringues, strudels, or other rotating options you might not catch on every visit. But what you will always find is an assortment of choices made almost entirely from scratch.
Bruno illustrates this point in describing the way he makes the filling for the almond croissants. “It’s an almond cream made with almonds, not marzipan. It’s not an almond paste,” he said. “To have the flavor, you have to start from the beginning, from scratch.” You’ll notice the distinctive nutty flavors of housemade almond, pistachio, and hazelnut cream tucked into several pastries and desserts.
It’s this attention to detail that recently placed Pascal Patisserie among the Frenchly.us list of finalists for best croissant in Los Angeles, driven by open nominations from LA readers and French expats. When comparing Pascal’s pastries to those in France, Sara often hears from customers, “It’s very, very close. And some people tell us it’s better than Paris.”
A peek beyond the piles of pastries reveals a stretch of more European-style treats around the corner, including colorful cakes, tarts, eclairs, and macarons. Several tarts fill crisp shells with housemade custards or creams—some with the almond cream—each paired with baked or fresh fruits. The eclairs are elongated cream puffs of flaky pastry filled with chocolate or coffee custard, covered with a light layer of fondant icing and a decorative strip of chocolate. Next to the other desserts, the macarons look comparatively simple with modest colors that match their core ingredients, such as pale almond, dark chocolate, and pink raspberry.
The cake slices are cut in uniformly long rectangles that are big enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, yet small enough to let you try different flavors. Thin coats of freshly made mousses or jams are spread between three layers of spongy cake, often topped with a shiny mirror glaze and adorned with chocolate, fruit, or nuts. “We put more fruits. We do different things. We change things around to make our cakes better,” said Sara, who has made many cakes in her career and as the previous owner of Sara J Pastries & Cakes, where she first worked with Bruno. She particularly appreciates the creativity of introducing less common cake flavors.
Hazelnut, pistachio, and banana cream cakes are among the most popular choices at Pascal Patisserie. The coconut cakes also draw attention with bright shades of pink raspberry icing or orange mango jam. The full-sized round cakes on display are also decked out with arrangements of fresh fruits, nuts, and chocolate sails, adding several inches of eye-catching height. Custom cakes can be far more elaborate, artistically designed in tall tiers or sculpted into surprising shapes or thematic scenes.
Despite the eye-candy quality of their appearance, the natural flavors of Pascal desserts shine through without being overpowered by sugary frostings and fillings. “The sugar can kill the taste,” Bruno explained as Sara added, “We try to do it not as sweet. We reduce sugar in things that we can.” The bakery also offers several sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free selections to accommodate dietary needs.
At the far end of the dessert display is the true meaning of eye candy. Organized in rows of stunning shapes and colors are chocolates that resemble a museum quality collection of polished gemstones. The shiny surfaces are tempered with cocoa butter to make each piece sparkle like jewels, with whirling colors of supernovas. They’re molded into ovals, spheres, hearts, cylinders, pyramids, and a few polygons gone mad. And some of the fillings are equally exotic: calamansi, mango chipotle, jasmine, and champagne. True to Pascal’s artisanal approach, the fillings are all handmade by Bruno.
As part of Bruno’s studies in France, he trained not only in the art of pastries but also chocolates. Before opening Pascal Patisserie & Cafe with Sara, Bruno owned a business called C is for Chocolate, where he made custom chocolates and sculpted chocolate centerpieces by hand. Still pursuing this craft at Pascal, his chocolate creations are often in demand for high profile customers and award show after-parties for the Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys.
Bruno has built an array of edible pieces, from abstract structures to detailed dragons, butterflies, movie projectors, sports trophies, and more, all entirely out of chocolate. Some stand three to four feet high, featuring lifelike textures and colors and thin, protruding parts.
The Halloween witch on display in the cafe this year was a captivating example of Bruno’s architectural prowess with chocolate. It was shaped to detail a crooked pointy hat and shoes, a warty face with an extended nose, a shaggy fringe cape, bony outstretched fingers, and a woodgrain staff. Such projects can take several days to make, including late nights, followed by a few delicate operations to reattach sections that may break off.
“Some pieces take two or three days. So, you have a lot of pressure. But I like it,” he said.
While Bruno has his chocolates, Sara has her cookies. Stacks and stacks of cookie containers in dozens of flavors fill shelves at both ends of the bakery. Some are chock full of nuts (hazelnut shortbread, pistachio cookies), some are culturally inspired (Mexican wedding cookies, halva cookies), some are prettily shaped (raspberry linzers, palmiers, and apricot delights), and some are just for fun (cornflake cookies). Most are light enough to tempt you to eat them by the handfuls. And then there are the seemingly out-of-place boxes that each contain a single, oversized slice of a giant chocolate chip cookie.
Also freshly packaged to take home are a variety of loaf cakes and breads scattered on top of the dessert case. Among these, Sara includes huge pillowy Jerusalem bagels, whole loaves of babka, and challah bread on Fridays.
Despite all the bakery goods and chocolates on display, you won’t want to overlook the “cafe” part of Pascal Patisserie & Cafe, furnished with seating indoors and outside. The menu offers many made-from-scratch breakfast and lunch entrees that are light but ample and flavorful.
The breakfast menu is served all day, including omelettes, a breakfast burrito, avocado toast, french toast made with freshly baked brioche, and more. But Sara’s signature shakshuka is a bestselling standout, coming from a secret family recipe infused with heart and soul. This Israeli classic is a homemade sauce that delivers the concentrated flavor of slow-cooked tomatoes, served with poached eggs and a crusty French baguette made on site.
Among the sandwiches, the schnitzel is a favorite with a flattened, sesame-breaded fried chicken breast on your choice of baguette or spelt bread, and a zip of flavor from housemade pickled lemon mayo. The carne asada and tuna sandwiches are also popular choices. Several salads, paninis, and burgers fill out the menu, along with specialty quiches.
For Pascal Patisserie & Cafe to offer so much variety from scratch is a feat that Sara and Bruno achieve with the help of chefs taught in-house and a friendly, energetic staff. With this level of versatility, you can expect their selections to continuously change, while their approach to making everything remains the same.
“We want the flavors and different textures. The flavors are the most important thing,” Bruno stated. “Whatever we do, we want to do it the best,” Sara added.