Written by: Caroline Levine
Copyedited by: Gina Crespo
Photos by: Uma Vogeti
These days, authentic, tasty French food is difficult to find. Though universally known as some of the most beloved cuisine, French food in Florida is… lacking, to say the least. Uppercrust Productions, however, fulfills this seemingly innate need for French cuisine for the Gainesville community, but it comes at a cost–literally. With prices ranging from $0.75 to $16 and up, the average cost of a single item from Uppercrust is just over $5 (yeah, I actually did the math). Thus, it is fair to say that Uppercrust–though delicious–is not the most cost-effective for college students. However, in my personal belief, every student at the University of Florida must try Uppercrust Productions before they graduate.
Founded in 1981 by Jacqueline “Jackie” Dufty, Uppercrust Productions is a local Gainesville bakery inspired by French patisseries. Located at 4118 NW 16th Blvd, Uppercrust is just north of campus, but it can also be found at the Reitz Union on select days–a recent development to the benefit of UF students! Though the primary focus of Uppercrust is its patisserie selection–which is a bakery exclusively for sweets–it should be noted that the shop also sells a large selection of wines, some cheeses, and some savory dishes like quiches, soups, and so on. Though the other products are, I’m sure, of excellent quality, I personally prefer their dessert selection. This is partially because (1) I have a huge sweet tooth and (2) the savory items are considerably more pricey than the sweet items. Therefore, I have picked a group of assorted items and tasted them, giving them rankings on a scale from 1 to 10, ten being the best.
The first item on the docket is the humble croissant au beurre, also known to Americans as a plain croissant. Overall, I would give this item a 6/10. Though I found it to be light and tasty, yet still crunchy in a comforting, home-cooked sort of way, I believe that the price tag of $3.75 is a bit excessive. However, if you have yet to try Uppercrust’s croissants and you consider yourself a connoisseur of croissants, then this is a must-try.
Next up we have the Princess Margaret style cake, sometimes seen as a cupcake. In all honesty, this was my absolute least favorite thing I tried. I found it to be overly sweet and had trouble finishing it. Though its presentation is lovely, I also cannot get over the price of $16 for a 4” cake. Thus, I gave this item a 4/10.
Now for the famous éclair. Éclairs are one of the most popular French dishes in the United States and it has always been a favorite of mine. I purchased the petit éclair and, at a price of $2.75, I found it to be a somewhat reasonably priced, but tasty dessert. The filling was light which contrasted nicely with the chocolate coat. Due to the well-balanced flavor and acceptable cost, I gave it a 7/10. Though, I do think this score could rise to an 8/10 with a slight deduction of price, but I still believe the price to size ratio was sufficient, just not ideal.
In addition to the éclair, the most famous French pastry is that of the macaron. Coming in at a cost of $2, I would say Uppercrust has priced them very reasonably. Though I would not pay more than $2 for an individual macaron, I have seen many restaurants and bakeries sell much worse macarons for $2 or more. Simply put, Uppercrust’s macarons are divine–and I’m not even a huge fan of macarons. I ordered the mocha latte flavor and was blown away. They had the perfect consistency, the perfect ratio of filling to shell, and the mocha latte flavor was refreshing and delicious. Thus, I give the mocha latte macaron a strong 10/10.
I also tried the Nutella French Rose pastry, which is akin to a croissant covered in a heavy icing with a dollop of Nutella. Though I did enjoy the dessert, I found it to be very overwhelming in the icing department and was not able to eat even half of it. However, for those out there who prefer sugary, dense icing, I would recommend it strongly; you may just want to split it with a friend. Overall, I give this pastry a 7/10.
The Nutella Croissant, however, is a whole other ballpark. This croissant is so delicious that I changed my position on chocolate and Nutella flavored croissants. The flavor of the Nutella strongly complemented the croissant dough and made for a very enjoyable snack. And, even though I do not love chocolate croissants, I would order this again in a heartbeat. Thus, I give this item a 10/10.
On the other hand, the apricot croissant and pain au chocolat were rather underwhelming. I am personally a huge fan of apricot-flavored pastries, but both this croissant and the pain au chocolat just paled in comparison to the Nutella croissant and, thus, I would give them both a 6/10 and recommend you order the Nutella croissant instead.
One of the last couple of items I tried was that of the Almond Butter French Rose. Similar to the Nutella French Rose, it, too, was essentially a round croissant. However, this pastry was covered with almond slices and had no icing. At first bite, I felt underwhelmed, but as I continued eating, the flavor of the spices came out and I was impressed. Though I would still give this dessert a 6/10, I would recommend it if you feel in the ‘autumn mood,’ as it reminded me of fun fall days at the pumpkin patch.
The last, but definitely not least, item I tried was that of the simple sugar cookie. Even though the sugar cookies may seem underwhelming when placed next to shelves of decadent, intricate desserts, do not let this dissuade you. These sugar cookies are the best I have ever had. They have a simple, colorful glaze instead of icing and are often shaped into hearts, stars, and so on. During holidays or special events, these cookies sometimes take on new shapes like pumpkins for fall, gators for UF football games, or even dreidels for Hanukkah! Unlike many sugar cookies, these have no lemon flavor and are just as fun to eat as they are to look at. Quite simply, these cookies are addicting. For that reason, I give Uppercrust’s simple sugar cookie a beyond perfect score–an 11/10, if you will. Though unassuming, they are my favorite cookie I have ever had.
Overall, I would strongly and firmly recommend visiting Uppercrust Productions. Though some products are rather expensive, there are many that are reasonable in moderation. Not to mention, supporting a locally owned Gainesville business is always a great idea! The bakers at Uppercrust work very hard, usually waking up early in the morning to make these delicious treats. But a word of caution: get there early! Items sell out throughout the day, and you may miss your opportunity if you go too late. Although, I personally believe their food is delicious enough to warrant an early morning trip.
No matter your personal preferences, there is something for everyone at Uppercrust Productions and it is well worth the trip.