Mons Patisserie


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Yonatan Israel came to New York from Paris eight years ago to pursue a career in filmmaking. He enrolled in the New School and produced a documentary, Watermarks, which centers on the champion women swimmers of the legendary Jewish sports club, Hakoah Vienna, in the 1930s. The film was well received, but Israel decided the profession wasn’t for him. “I needed something more stable and grounding,” he explains. Something really solid like, uh, opening a restaurant in NYC? 


“It happens that my father is an owner of a great pastry shop in Mons, Belgium,” says Israel. And his father’s business partner, Hubert Colson, comes from a family of pastry shop owners that goes back two centuries. “Colson is a household name in Mons,” says Israel, who got to spend some time watching Colson work. “I saw that opening a shop could be like a film project—something to make people happy, but also a place where I could see the results of my work daily.” 


Israel recruited a partner, Michelle Doll-Olson (michelledollcakes.com), who studied pastry at the French Culinary Institute. How’d he find her? “Craigslist.” He sent her to Belgium and France to study pastry shops—and to show her that he was serious about his plans. 


Back in New York, Israel scouted his own East Village neighborhood for a location, but “didn’t have a feel for it.” When he turned to Brooklyn, he fell in love with Park Slope almost immediately. “The population, the rhythm … it’s perfect,” he says. He set out, like many a filmmaker, with a “romantic vision.” A run-down deli on Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street, a corner that is also host to Barbès (a bar that draws a crowd on a largely residential avenue) had potential. 


“My background in production taught me not to be scared of a big project,” says Israel. A few months of renovation were in order, and just as the exposed brick wall, cushioned bench seats and modern silver lighting were in place, paperwork with Con Edison postponed opening day. A sign in the window read, “Coming soon” and a whiteboard explained—in very pretty handwriting—that Con Edison hadn’t quite set up yet. “It’s very common, from what I understand,” says Israel. “When we opened, it was just in time. Psychologically I was at the brink of going crazy.” 


Park Slope residents were also going loco as they watched Israel and Doll-Olson hovering inside, ready to get cooking. Israel says he wanted the patisserie to be “European without being mock European.” He’s in luck—Colson Patisserie is both authentic and sweet. A brunch crowd already fills the indoor seating and spills out onto the round outdoor tables along Sixth Avenue. 


What’s drawing them in? For one, there isn’t a huge offering of pastries on the north side of Park Slope, especially for the people who live on Sixth and east towards the park. There are diners and “finer diners” and pricey prix-fixe place, but nowhere to grab a good pan au chocolat on the go. 


People are coming to try out the baskets of scones ($1.75) or maybe the fresh quiches ($4.50). Don’t miss the “gougers”—gruyere cheese puffs ($1.75), which have a mouth-pleasing tang to them. The croissants are good, but not extraordinary, so if you’re looking for a transformative experience, go for the dark-chocolate-topped financiers ($1.50), which are at just the right level of sweetness without going overboard. Some recipes are straight from Mons; others are Doll-Olson’s. 


The menu, though pastry-filled, also hosts an array of breakfast choices, plus salads, cheese plates, sandwiches and homemade ice cream—not to mention beer and wine. “We’re experimenting with a lot, and we’re adding waffles and soups in the fall.” 


It’s still early in Colson’s existence, but the staff does need to figure out how to handle multiple customers. The place tends to get crowded, and even when there are only a handful of people in line, service can be slow. Impatient New Yorkers—even ones in search of authentic European-style pastries—mon dieu, do they get testy. 



Colson Patisserie 

374 9th St. (at 6th Ave.), Park Slope, Brooklyn


718-965-6400





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