Hen & Heifer is an excellent addition to the shoreline, particularly Guilford, with it’s delectable array of French pastries. When I learned of their upcoming opening several months prior, I began stalking their opening and, finally, two Thursdays ago, they opened their doors for business. I went today to find out what this place is about.
I walked in a couple of hours before closing. Immediately, I noticed the macarons, They had vanilla, raspberry, salted caramel, and milk chocolate. They weren’t as puffy as I have seen at other places but they still looked very good. Since it was just about the end of the day, they’d sold out of some things (like croissants – which they explained they make 4-5 dozen of every morning but they tend to sell out within a couple of hours).
There were still plenty of treats left such as charming, good-sized, sugar cookies in the shape of chickens (they’d sold out of the cows earlier), a chocolate tart, lemon olive oil cakes, whole wheat carrot muffins, banana financiers, coffee cake, madeleines, and a yogurt jam granola parfait that looked that looked exquisite. They make their own rhubarb jam and granola while the yogurt is made fresh at a farm nearby.
Beverages available today included coffee from Ashlawn Farm in Lyme, CT, hot and iced (iced coffee brewed Japanese style, which is a hot brew placed immediately over ice), housemade lemonade infused with cardamom and black pepper, fresh squeeze orange juice, and bottled beverages: Fever Tree Ginger Ale, Saratoga natural spring water, and Coke/Diet Coke.
I was curious about both the iced coffee and the lemonade so the owner and his employee, Brett, gave me a sample of each over ice. While cold brew is my preference for iced coffee, theirs was quite good with some vanilla + caramel syrup mixed in, and a splash of milk. The lemonade was sweet and tart, the black pepper and cardamon adding an extra element of interest to the strong lemon presence.
After much deliberation, I finally, with the help of the owner, decided to try the cannele, which originates from the Bordeaux region of France. He was absolutely on point with his recommendation. This new-to-me (I’ve never seen it elsewhere and he noted that it’s even difficult to find in French bakeries in NYC) pastry was described by him as custardy, like creme brulee, but also bread-like. I took it outside to enjoy at one of the outdoor tables. The outside seating area is small but wonderful, having an intimate feel similar to sitting on a friends deck or patio while soaking in the sun.
The cannele was impressively delicious. With each bite I was met with a firm, slightly crunchy exterior delicately scented with a touch of honey – the result of lining the uniquely shaped copper baking pan with a combination of butter and beeswax. This contrasted beautifully against the soft and custardy interior that was speckled with vanilla bean. It was amazing. After finishing, I immediately went back in to get another for my boyfriend, because something this good needs to be shared! In addition, I picked up a salted caramel macaron for myself, and it was fantastic as well.
The inside space is quite small with minimal seating. There is more seating outdoors. The owner, trained at the French Culinary Institute, was a pleasure to talk with as was Brett. I’m thrilled to have Hen & Heifer join the Guilford food scene. I will be living here full-time by next month and I’ve a feeling I will be coming to Hen & Heifer quite regularly.
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6/9/13 Update: I can’t get enough of this place. I brought back the beautiful glass container for the yogurt today and got a caramel for returning the jar. I bought two more yogurts, two caramel mararons, one chocolate macaron, and a fresh squeezed orange juice. All delicious.
23 Water St
Guilford, CT 06437