At a Glance:
Even though this bakery is located on a strip-mall style parking lot on the main drag, it manages to keep a casual-chic beachy feel. The oversized white umbrellas provide shade over a wooden deck and allow you to eat outside, because really, who wants to be inside in the tropics? This is the place all the gringos get their european bread and pastry fixes, and while it definitely has a european bistro feel to it, it’s undeniably tropical.
The display case is full of perfectly organized succulent looking pastries crying for your attention, the coffee is italian-grade, Lavazza never disappoints, and is served in swanky asymmetrical cups and saucers, with a side of mille-feuille, but you’d never find Mangú on the menu in a bistro in Rome.
And the Mangú is exactly what we came for. If you’re not familiar with it (immediately add it to your list of must-haves while on your trip to the Dominican Republic), Mangú is a typical dish made essentially of mashed plantains, topped with vinegar-logged fried onions, and served with your choice of eggs. When done right it’s almost as fluffy as mashed potatoes, but it’s often not done right and can be disappointingly dry and heavy. Not here.
The Mangú itself is fluffy and creamy, the onions are sweet and sour, perfectly caramelized but with the right amount of vinegar, and the eggs are, well, tasty sunny-side-up eggs. This is a typical dominican dish served with european class and precision, definitely a dish that’s greatly benefited from the fusion of cultures. There are also sandwiches, hamburgers, a full menu really, and it’s all well done, but the breakfast here is by the-far meal you’re least likely to find in another country, and most likely to remember. Of course, don’t leave here without some bread, or a few pastries, for the road.
The Staff :
The staff at Panaderia Clement is very professional and friendly. They take good care of you, but it wouldn’t be the DR if it wasn’t slow service, especially if you’re in a hurry. A couple of times I’ve been there while freshly arrived tourists (you can tell from the day-1 rosy sunburns) snap rude remarks about how long it’s taking to get their order.
You’re in the tropics. So take your time and relax, get on the Dominican wavelength, and never, NEVER, go eat in this country if you’ve got somewhere to be soon. Having said that, I personally have never experienced long waits. The coffee’s always out before I have time to yawn out the last of my sleep, and the food has so far been quick to follow. The staff is Dominican but everyone here knows enough english for you to order with ease if you haven’t brushed up on your spanish skills. If you have though, don’t be shy!!
Whether you’re here for a baguette to go, a coffee break and a pain-au-chocolat to recharge for your late afternoon kite session, or you’re starting your day off with a full breakfast, The Belgian Bakery won’t disappoint. Sure, you can find a cheaper Mangú, but this one’s worth the extra pesos.