Stepping through the doors of Renaissance Patisserie and inhaling the scents of freshly made, traditional pastries instantly transports. Visitors flash to the streets of France in the early morning hours, awash with the smell of baking bread. This, despite the fact that this French bakery in Charlotte NC is located in Charlotte’s SouthPark neighborhood.
“To hear Chef Sylvain talk about his formative years studying pastry in France is to marinate in the aromas of fresh baguettes baked at midnight by students out of bounds at night,” says Martin Schreiner, marketing manager at Renaissance Patisserie. Sylvain is the mastermind at work here. He directs the creation of the French classics—croissants, macaroons, éclairs, brioche loaves, and more—that lie at the heart of this French bakery in Charlotte NC.
After moving to Charlotte from California and checking out Charlote’s food scene, Sylvain dreamed of creating authentic French pastries. He started by selling at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. The success of this endeavor propelled Sylvain from a humble market stall to a SouthPark storefront. From there, the Kouign Amanns and Napoleons have developed cult followings.
Now, the pastry case can hardly stay stocked. Plus, in addition to bakery items, Renaissance Patisserie has expanded its repertoire to include an assortment of bistro fare. For example, the menu includes beef bourguignon, lorraine quiche, and bacon, brie, and apple croissant sandwiches.
And, to meet the demand for custom cake orders, particularly those that aren’t strictly within the purview of the classically French, Renaissance acquired Charlotte’s Decadent Designs Bakery last year. As a result, they can now accommodate requests for layer, wedding, and other celebratory cakes for all occasions. And they can do so in style. One of their crowning achievements was a NASCAR-shaped birthday cake made to scale, much to the delight of a young patron.
A Piece of the Foodie Pie
When reflecting on Renaissance’s place in the broader Charlotte food scene, Schreiner is careful to applaud the discernment of Queen City’s foodies. By his estimate, local folks favor quality over novelty. “You don’t necessarily have to come up with something like a cornbread croissant for people here to be interested in what you’re doing,” he says. “Foodies here deserve more credit than that.”
What’s even more interesting is how locals found ways to invite the flair of this French bakery in Charlotte NC into family recipes and Southern dishes. “We have customers who religiously make their grandmothers’ bread pudding recipes using our award winning butter croissants,” shares Schreiner. “We’ve even got a client who swears by our Herbes de Provence breadcrumbs for her fried chicken recipe. There’s real creativity and magic happening here with our products because of the foodies in Charlotte.”
It is seemingly a testament to Charlotte as a whole. A city that, as it becomes ever more transplant than native, finds increasingly creative and welcoming ways to fuse cultures.