At Tous le Jours, a wide array of interesting, unusual pastries await

reviewed by Sarah Baker Hansen

Omaha has no shortage of great local bakeries — trust me, I’ve tried many. But I’d been curious as of late about a national newcomer to Omaha: Tous Le Jours, described as a French-Asian inspired bakery, something that, as far as I know, our city hasn’t ever had.

Walking through the bakery’s self-serve line, as I did one recent late morning, is both an overwhelming and delightful experience. The selection feels endless and adventurous.

Thanks to the help of my coworkers, who were the lucky tasters of the dozen or so items I brought to the office, we found much to like, and very little to complain about.

Tous le Jours, which translates to “every day” from French, launched in the U.S. in 2004, and now has more than 70 locations around the country and more than 1,650 around the globe. It offers an astounding 300 plus menu items, including both sweet and savory pastries, bread, cookies, cakes, macarons and a full lineup of coffee drinks and tea. The Omaha location opened in June.

Inside, Tous has warm, welcoming lighting and an astounding array of choices. Visitors pick up a tray and a pair of tongs, and begin the slow stroll through three aisles filled with cases and refrigerators laden with treats.

I wanted to try both their sweet and savory selections, plus the bread, plus the French macarons. I could have, frankly, gone back for a whole second round of picks and made totally different choices (something I’ll likely do in the future.)

The surprise hit at my office: a trio of small honey cheese mochi pancakes tucked snugly into a petite box. “Honey cheese pancake: good God. It’s my new favorite treat,” one co-worker wrote to me. Another: “honey cheese pancake: wowwwww.”

So yeah, these little rounds are delicious: subtly sweet with a chewy texture, crispy bits of burnt cheese and a pop of deep sweetness from a drizzle of honey. I would have never picked this one as the fan favorite, but here we are.

Pastries with hot dogs and sausages are big at Tous, and I liked both the spicy sausage roll and the frank pastry, mostly because the meat itself was tasty and high-quality. The hot dog wrapped in a puffy croissant is like a higher-end, giant pig in a blanket. The spice in the sausage, wrapped in a toasted, brioche like bun, comes from both the meat itself and some rounds of jalapeno tucked throughout. Also on the savory side, I enjoyed a potato curry-filled, airy puff, sort of like an Indian-inspired Runza, with crusty pastry topped with poppy seeds and salt, heavy with the flavor of garam masala, an Indian spice blend.

Red bean paste is a traditional Asian ingredient, and I liked it a lot in the premium red bean bread: think a less-sweet, filled kolache topped with a walnut. The final savory pastry was another hit with co-workers, and with me: the round, sesame donut, like a giant doughnut hole, reminds me of the sesame balls you get at Chinese dim sum reimagined as a pastry. Savory and airy, the crust of sugar on the outside makes it just sweet enough. This may have been my favorite of all.

The coffee menu at Tous is vast, and I settled on an iced vanilla latte on the faux spring day I visited. Nicely executed, creamy and rich, I’d order one again.

Few people seem to sit at the restaurant, and most I saw opted to choose their pastries to go. But I think the dining area would make a nice place to work or take a coffee meeting, and I anticipate, particularly as the Crossroads area continues to be redeveloped, more people will do just that.

I really liked the almost sour oval cheesecake I plucked out of the refrigerated section, and I imagine its bouncy texture is more similar to an Asian cheesecake than a French version. Almost all my co-workers agreed that the vanilla filled doughnut was their least favorite of all the pastries, and it was mine, too: a bit too sweet, a bit too one note, particularly when everything else is so interesting.

One work friend urged me to try the macarons, so after work I zipped back by Tous to grab a selection and found them just as my friend described: light, fluffy and flavorful. In particular, pistachio and birthday cake should be on your “to try” list.

Later, when I got home, I toasted a slice of the cream bread, and spread it with salted butter, and found a new weekend indulgence. Pillowy-crisp, the bread has a wonderful texture and a mild sweetness that welcomes jam. When I bit into a piece of the second, smaller loaf I got, the green tea butter cream bread, I found a surprise: a thick spread of whipped butter scented with green tea in between the split slices. Count this as another weekend indulgence you should definitely seek out.

I like Tous le Jours, but particularly when it takes a more Asian-inspired bent. The savory pastries were easily the most interesting and often the most delicious. It’s a nice addition to our diverse bakery culture, and I hope we see more like this to come.

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