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Michette Review: A Work in Progress

Ferté — 3.5 Stars

The storefront of Michette Bakery in Somerville.
The storefront of Michette Bakery in Somerville. By Courtesy of Gillian H. Selig
By Gillian H. Selig, Contributing Writer

Michette, an up-and-coming bakery on Broadway Street in East Somerville, boasts artisanal French goods that maintain a strong commitment to quality. Before the bakery opened a little less than one year ago, Michette was already “soft-launching” their products in the Somerville and broader Boston communities. Run by Thomas Ferté — a former lawyer turned baker — Michette was born out of Ferté’s desire to leave corporate New York City behind and rediscover his roots from his “hometown boulangerie in France.”

From the walk to the bakery, it was apparent that Michette feels out of place in comparison to the many other establishments that better reflect the demographics of East Somerville — a neighborhood known for first welcoming Irish and Italian immigrants in the early 20th century and Brazilian and Salvadoran immigrants in the 1970s onward. In the past 20 years, East Somerville — and Somerville in general— has begun experiencing gentrification, which many in the community blame on rising housing costs in Boston and MBTA expansions. While Michette is certainly not the only — or even the largest — manifestation of gentrification in East Somerville, it was a detail that stood out.

The storefront itself looks like it belongs in Brooklyn or Back Bay — with the name Michette in bold, white letters across a matte black background. Designs of stacked bread and cartoon people carrying a croissant decorate the windows. The well-designed exterior includes benches to accommodate the lack of indoor seating. Michette’s online menu currently only displays their drink options and their Instagram account does not provide any additional information. It seems they only occasionally update followers on their special items; a daily pastry menu is unavailable.

Offerings included almond croissants, baguettes, canelés, focaccia with two different topping choices, jambon-beurre sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, and banana bread. Although Michette advertises their sourdough bread on their store window, website, and Instagram account, the bakery did not have any that day. It is clear that Michette is still a new establishment and there are several logistical and operational obstacles to work out in order to standardize their production and advertisement of products. Right now, it appears that they are focused on having a small menu that they can execute well, demonstrating their commitment to quality with their baked goods.

The canelé — a small French pastry made with rum and vanilla — was their best pastry of the day. Canelés are notoriously difficult to make, consisting of a multi-day process that allows little to no room for error. Michette’s canelés are perfection — the outside is crunchy and caramelized while the inside is custard-like and creamy.

One of two focaccias they offered, the focaccia with potatoes, rosemary, and gruyère is enjoyably salty and fluffy, and the rosemary adds a brightness and distinction on top of the heavy base of gruyère. It did seem that the gruyère pooled in certain cavities of the focaccia, indicating that the cheese was cubed instead of grated on top — a detail that would have ensured a more equal distribution of cheese in every bite. Additionally, it would have been better served toasted, as the potatoes were soft and didn’t add much in terms of flavor or texture.

An unfortunate detail of the focaccia was that a small amount of egg, seemingly from the adjacent baking of the other focaccia, the breakfast-style focaccia had made its way into the slice. The egg contained ham, which poses issues to those who don’t eat meat for dietary or religious reasons. This does highlight a broader concern of cross contamination. This raises the question of if Michette is safe for people with allergies, which, at the moment, for non-severe allergies, the answer seems to be a cautious yes.

Michette’s baguette was fresh and standard — on par with other boutique bakery baguettes but better than an average grocery store baguette. Crunchy on the outside and well-structured on the inside, it is durable enough to last for a few days. The almond croissant was very sweet and a little dry, although the filling alleviated the dryness and introduced some moisture. The croissant was crispy but not necessarily flaky, suggesting an improper lamination of the dough. Lastly, Michette’s matcha was nothing to write home about, but it does provide something warm on a cold day. Although the lid was secure, the to-go cup still leaked multiple times — causing a bit of a mess.

Michette seems like a very promising up-and-coming bakery with the potential to be great. There are some very clear logistical kinks to work out, such as the website, Instagram, in-house issues, and the standardization of baked goods. There is also the question of how Michette will interact with the East Somerville community; will they become a local favorite or will they only attract customers traveling in from surrounding areas? While the bakery still needs some time to grow and come into itself as a company and brand, Michette is a solid option for those willing to go the distance.

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