Five-star French for the discerning palette

New eatery builds off legacy reputation


“But is it as good as Le Soir?”

That is the question everyone has asked about the Sunflower Bakery and Café that took over Bayport institution, Le Soir, late last year.

Before heading off to a night at the theater, my husband and I had a full three-course meal at Sunflower, and the results are overwhelming: Sunflower does not only build off the stellar reputation for fine French cuisine that Le Soir’s shoes left, but they expand that with inventive, fresh approaches to traditional dishes that marks them in a gastronomic class of their own.

Choosing many French staples off the regular menu, here are the evaluations for a Parisian night on The South Shore:


As any Francophile knows, the base of any French meal is directly proportional to the quality of the crusty bread that starts and carries the evening. Sourced from a Portuguese bakery (the kitchen does not allow for bread baking), the Provençal crust and fluffy interior of Sunflower’s bread makes for the perfect canvas for their butter palette (made on premises).


What signifies French sophistication more than this classically garlic-bountiful appetizer? Sunflower kicks it up a notch, serving the snails in their own green butter that is so well-blended and flavorful, it actually came off with the heartiness and punch of a pesto.


It’s even better than the pâté served at The Grand Tier restaurant at the Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center. Mic drop. Garnished with delectable cornichons and roasted red pepper, the pâté is subtle and smooth.

Shrimp Risotto

A decadent dish served with four formidable prawns, the risotto, despite being a risotto, carries the seafood dish with a lightness and a well-textured bed that includes refreshing asparagus.

Duck L’orange

Detecting a bit of New Orleans flair in this interpretation of the classic French dish as it is paired with wild rice, the duck was crisped to perfection and succulent without being fatty. A treasure trove of epicurean nuance, the harmony of the creamed spinach to contrast with the flavor of the duck was fulfilling.

Carrot Cake

When announcing on social media about the review of Sunflower, over half a dozen recommendations came in for the carrot cake, and they were spot on. Almost like a traditional English spice cake, the carrot cake flavor lent itself well to more inventive pastries and the frosting was thick and creamy, but never in competition. A generous portion managed to dissipate into the air because of how interesting and inviting the interpretation was.

French Passion Fruit Ice Cream

Made in the traditional French style with real cream, the custard-like quality was hearty enough for a winter’s night in February, but certainly refreshing enough for even a warm summer’s day (which you can enjoy on Sunflower’s terrace that will open later this year). Oftentimes, passion fruit-flavored desserts are so overladen with sugar that the true, citrus flavor of the passion fruit is overburdened, but Sunflower’s was exotic and revitalizing.


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