Across a picturesque bridge and a short distance from the south bank of the river is a bright and pretty shop where you can find amazing macarons in unique flavors, fine Swiss chocolates and a meticulous selection of French wine. While this could easily be a favorite shopping spot in Paris, it actually describes a relatively new shop in Davenport Village at Westlake Drive and Loop 360.
Paris in a Bite is the brainchild of Pierre and Olivia Leitgib who moved to Austin about a year and a half ago with the express plan to open a shop to sell macarons.
The colorful and celebrated little cookies made of ground almonds, virtually synonymous with Paris luxury have steadily gained popularity in the United States with many of the best shops in New York opting to import them directly from Parisian bakers.
While the outstanding macarons (from a Master Chocolatier in New York) are the stars, the size of the space they were able to find in Austin necessitated operating more as a café. In addition to the unique variety of sweets like; nougats, imported dessert breads and even the delicate cantaloupe-based treats from the south of France called Calissons, the shop is a convenient place to pick up a good bottle of wine or perfect place to get an expertly made espresso and a fresh pastry.
As you walk into the bright, cheerful shop, you are drawn to the main glass case filled with hundreds of little cookies in an explosion of color. Like in many Paris shops, the macarons take on a jewel-like quality, but the real test is always the delicate crisp texture and the quality of the flavors. Recently, a few favorite macarons were; Rose and Lychee with a dusting of gold, Rosé Champagne, Cassis, Salted Caramel and Birthday Cake. The large colorful selection in the case changes periodically and always has a few surprises.
For chocolate lovers, just to the right of the macarons, you will find the chocolates of Genève based Chocolatier, Philippe Pascoët. (Paris in a Bite is one of only four places in the world where they can be found). Many of the chocolates are beautifully decorated and are flavored with rare accents like coriander, Earl Grey tea, star anise and even saffron.
Tucked in a back corner is my favorite part of the shop. Here, Pierre carries a fine selection of Bordeaux wines by the bottle or the case; many are available for several vintages and in a variety of size formats.
Some notable wines in the climate-controlled cases are the 1982, 2000, 2012, 2013 and 2015 Château Beychevelle (Saint-Julien), a wide range of Chateau Cos d’Estournel from Saint-Estèphe and several years from Margaux’s Chateau Cantenac Brown. Although the selection is not extensive, only fifteen to twenty houses, it is certainly covetable.
Though the wine focus is red Bordeaux, there are a few notable selections from Burgundy, the Rhône, Napa, Sonoma and even a few special Malbecs from Argentina. The daily menu also features Moët & Chandon and at least fourteen other wines the glass.
Together with in-house Sommelier Tim Woods, Paris in a Bite hosts frequent (and popular) wine tastings in the evenings.
Most days, it is possible to find Pierre at his computer, Olivia or one of their excellent staff manning the counter, a warm welcome is likely, but the hardest part will be what to take home.
OTL Features Editor