First Look

Your Favorite New Hidden French Cafe in Uptown Phoenix

JL Patisserie Phoenix, interior.
JL Patisserie
JL Patisserie Phoenix, interior.
On a quiet Saturday morning at JL Patisserie in Phoenix, masked customers breeze by to pick up pastries and coffee. Most know what they want. Some even make recommendations to newcomers. On his way out, a man with a French accent clutching a baguette tells a couple in line:  “You won’t find a better baguette than this.”

Pastry chef Jenna Leurquin opened this café in December 2019, less than a year after establishing JL Patisserie in Scottsdale. She hadn't planned to expand so quickly, but when she learned that the space — 4700 North Central Avenue, suite 121, south of Central Avenue and Camelback Road, previously occupied by Twirl, an ice cream shop — was available, she pulled the trigger.

click to enlarge Chocolate pIstachio cake on display at JL Patisserie Phoenix. - BAHAR ANOOSHAHR
Chocolate pIstachio cake on display at JL Patisserie Phoenix.
Bahar Anooshahr
The flagship Scottsdale location is where Leurquin spends most of her time. She has a kitchen there designed to her specifications. She arrives every day at 4 a.m. to bake croissants, cakes, and pies, by which time her assistant has been working on bread for two hours.

Around 6:30 a.m., she personally delivers freshly made pastries and bread to the Phoenix café and helps her husband, Scott Spiewak, set up. Spiewak is in charge of the coffee shop. He makes his wife her favorite drink, a matcha latte. With her latte and a croissant, Leurquin sits for a moment, then leaves for the Scottsdale bakery again.

But one might imagine it would be hard to leave the new Phoenix space. It's incredibly welcoming.

click to enlarge The matcha latte — Leurquin's favorite drink. - BAHAR ANOOSHAHR
The matcha latte — Leurquin's favorite drink.
Bahar Anooshahr
Leurquin's vision for the café was to be a place for friends to bond over coffee and her (delicious) pastries. Although Wi-Fi is now available, Leurquin originally said she preferred people leave laptops at home, disconnect from screens, and socialize instead.

As you enter the cafe, your eyes are drawn to the counter to your left, where an array of pastries, cookies, and quiches are arranged on different levels in baskets and on cake stands. Wall-mounted wooden shelves hold spelt loaves, a wicker basket the baguettes. Eclairs, tarts, cakes, and macarons seduce from their own cases.

Despite all your options, a simple order may be best — an almond croissant with a latte, maybe.

The coffee’s chocolate tones complement the pastries. This is not a coincidence. The espresso and house blends come from Espressions Coffee Roastery, an Arizona coffee roaster founded by Hannah Romberg. After four months of tasting at Espressions, Leurquin landed on an Ethiopian blend custom-made for her shop. The coffee has a slightly darker roast and a chocolaty note to pair with the croissants and cookies.

click to enlarge The baguette tradition, or loaves of French bread with the characteristic pointy ends. - JL PATISSERIE
The baguette tradition, or loaves of French bread with the characteristic pointy ends.
JL Patisserie
As you enjoy your book, coffee, and croissant, you may spot your neighbor walking in. He may sit and join you — just as Leurquin had imagined when she opened this space. While you catch up, you overhear someone at a socially distanced table exclaim to his wife, “This is the flakiest croissant I’ve ever tasted.”

On your way out, you pick up that baguette after all. It's what the French call baguette tradition — French bread with the characteristic pointy ends. You press it a little, and it crackles. You tear off a piece and take a bite. Despite the initial crunch, it’s easy to chew, as it should be.

The French man was right. Cette baguette est fantastique!