If you haven’t been out much lately, you may have easily missed both the closing of Michelin-starred restaurant Nico (sad face) in Jackson Square and the subsequent opening of Maison Nico, a deli and pastry shop. Parisian-style the fanciest and most exquisite pastries (drool face) this side of the Seine.
With an array of creamy flans, flaky brioches, delicious pies and pot terrines that entice us to take boxes of them (not to mention nationwide shipping), the jewelry box shop seems perfectly timely for holiday gift giving and face stuffing.
The Jackson Square storefront of Maison Nico.(Photograph by Sarah Chorey)
If you’re behind Nico’s entire trajectory, here’s the quick backstory. About a year ago, the fine-dining restaurant’s founding team — chef-owner Nicolas (Nico) Delaroque and his wife Andrea, who managed the front of the house — were ready for a break. They entrusted the space to chef Jordan Guevara (Coi, Lazy Bear) to build his own temporary concept alongside the Delaroques’ business partner and sommelier/restaurateur Paul Einbund (also from The Morris). The pop-up-of-spells, called Sabbatical year at Nico, was barely underway when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Long story short, doors were barricaded, people went home, and the team wondered what they were going to do next – fine dining was definitely not an option at the moment. A concept adapted to takeaway meals would be the only solution.
Delaroque, who grew up on the outskirts of Paris, had always wanted to open a grocery store – you know, one of those luxurious French neighborhood markets à la française, filled with buttery, savory and sweet delicacies and wines all best transported home in the basket of a vintage bicycle.
Einbund and his wife, Vanessa, had fallen in love with a particular deli in Champagne while on a trip in November 2019 (“We’re obsessed groceries,” he faints); minds merge, and House Nico was born.
Chef Nico Delaroque in pastry at Maison Nico.(Photograph by Sarah Chorey)
Delaroque dove into refining its pastry craft, learning new techniques and mastering traditional recipes, and the former restaurant space was modified with glass pastry cases, shelves to display potted goods and wines, and sidewalk-facing windows with free baked goods. Attract passers.
The menu, presented on a brick wall inside, is made up of items so visually arresting and indulgent that they seem reserved for special occasions, but the warmth of the place provides all the justification we need to do as the French do and eat puff pastry the old fashioned day of the week. And trust, this iconic multi-layered, frangipane treat won’t survive much longer than it takes to be all the rage for its Close-up Instagram. Hazelnut brioche, financiers, pear tarts and Parisian flan also wait to be neatly packaged in to-go boxes and paired with take-out coffees, canned spritz cocktails or expertly selected Californian and French wines.
Looking to sink your teeth into something tastier? There are four varieties of pie, pound terrine, lobster aspic and beef cheek that, we promise, you won’t find anywhere else in the Bay Area. It’s straight out of the Paris stuff.
But if you’re sheltering outside of San Francisco (or Paris, for that matter), you can still tickle your palate with Chef Delaroque’s delicious pastries thanks to domestic shipping options. You can also ship pâté en croute packets and those lovely brioche buns to anyone looking for a sweet (or savory) start to the year.
PS: Also look for the Maison Nico kiosk at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays.
Cheeky pies unashamedly show what lies beneath the pastry from the windows of Jackson Square’s Maison Nico.
// Maison Nico is open to take away 9from morning to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; 710 Montgomery Street (Jackson Square), maisonnico.com.