Fraîche Bakery Café

Whoopie! That’s the reaction you’ll likely have when tasting one of the many sweet treats offered at Fraîche Bakery Café in Evanston (815 Noyes St., 847-457-5467).

In fact, Fraîche’s whoopie pies—chocolate- and pumpkin-flavored cake sandwiches filled with buttercream—recently drew the attention of The New York Times, which singled out the café as an early adopter of the whoopie trend that’s sweeping the nation.

But the “hockey-puck-size” confections, as The Times described them in March, aren’t the only dish recommending Fraîche, which formerly had a steady following as Kim’s Kitchen. With its new name and new-and-improved breakfast and lunch offerings, the café is also tapping into the trend of food that’s made-to-order using fresh ingredients.

The response to The New York Times article was “crazy,” says owner Susan Davis Friedman, who took over the café in September 2008.

“It feels like our business doubled in a matter of minutes,” she says.

People came in for the whoopie pies, stayed for lunch and tried some of the other pastries, she says.

The attention bolstered Friedman’s confidence as she prepared to introduce the café’s new name and look in April. The name is a play on words that comes from “crème fraîche,” the French version of sour cream. Fraîche’s new logo is displayed on a cobalt blue awning, and the interior has been repainted a robin’s egg blue with menus written on chalkboards. Friedman also put in a wall between the kitchen and the dining area, and added a public restroom.

The intimate, cafeteria-style café seats 20—and you’ll be lucky to snag a table during the lunch hour rush. Outdoor seating will be available soon, and takeout is always an option.

A new chef, David Rosenthall, has brought a generous helping of creativity to the menu. In addition to a variety of egg dishes, hot breakfasts include almond crusted brioche French toast ($6.50), made-to-order crepes ($6.50)—lemon, cherry or nutella—and a peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich ($4).

Caprese sandwich with fresh mozzarella, vine-ripened tomatoes, basil and olive tapenade on a French baguette, with edamame and black bean salad.

For lunch, Fraîche focuses on twists to classic deli fare. Sandwiches include untraditional ingredients like brie, pear and basil ($7.50), and Caprese with vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive tapenade on a French baguette ($7.50) is a fast favorite. For sides, choose from house-made baked pita chips, curried Israeli couscous, black bean and edamame salad or fennel slaw.

The turkey and roast beef are roasted in-house, and there’s no shortening or mixes used in the baked goods. Everything’s made from scratch, and Fraîche gets some of its fruits and vegetables locally from the Green City Market in Chicago and other farmer’s markets.

Treats available at Fraîche include a wide variety of cupcakes, including retro (read: Hostess-inspired) cupcakes and fairy cupcakes (pictured here), as well as coconut and carrot cake.

And whoopie pies are far from the only delectable dessert from pastry chef Mary Ann Huppert. The display case is packed with other sweets, such as lemon cupcakes with lemon curd ($3.50), coffee cake muffins ($2.25), tarts filled with chocolate ganache or fruit ($5), and chocolate toffee scones ($2.50), to name a few.

So, the next time you’re looking for a breakfast or lunch spot, why not try something new … and fraîche?

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