Daniel Benjamin, pastry chef at the Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, has announced plans to open what he’s calling a “contemporary patisserie” in downtown Raleigh. To be called lucettegrace (the name is a combination of the middle names of Benjamin’s two young daughters), the shop will offer a seasonally changing selection of sweet and savory pastries rooted in French tradition, but updated for the modern Southern palate.
Benjamin’s twist on the Paris-Brest, a choux pastry classic named for a famous bicycle race in France, replaces the traditional hazelnut praline cream filling with pecan-praline cream and fudge brownie morsels. In a nod to the local cycling scene, he’s calling it the Raleigh-Durham.
Other “healthy indulgences” (as the chef calls them, referring to sensible portion size that goes against the American “more is more” grain) will include a selection of cakes, tarts, verrines (desserts served in a glass) and distinctive cookies such as the lucettegrace, made with Biscoff cookie spread and dried sour cherries.
The savory side of the menu will offer a limited but varied (and seasonally changing) selection of light lunch fare ranging from miso mushroom quiche to sandwiches such as the Basque baguette: local ham, Idiazabal cheese, smoked paprika butter and olive-pepper relish. Breakfast pastries will be available all day.
Liquid refreshments will include Larry’s Beans, Brood sodas and an assortment of teas, including a house-blended Lebanese style tea flavored with rose and pine nuts.
Benjamin hopes to open lucettegrace (235 S. Salisbury St.; lucettegrace.com) by late spring or early summer. In the meantime, fans of his desserts at Herons, the Umstead’s fine dining restaurant, won’t have to go cold turkey. He’s staying on there temporarily while they search for a replacement.
Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, reports restaurant news. Tune in to his radio show on WPTF at 11 a.m. Saturdays. Reach him at email@example.com.