Tartin it Up in Chicago at Fritz Pastry
Outside of Pasticceria Natalina in Andersonville, there really are no transcendent bakeries in Chicago. There are good bakeries that serve some great things. There are bad to mediocre bakeries that serve one or two good things. But for various reasons, the next generation is slacking. You find the sacrificing of small scale artisan techniques for large scale production, or the substitution of cheaper vegetable oils and shortenings for what was once butter. Even the best bakeries here tend to drop off.
As a result, I never miss a chance to check out a new bakery in the hopes that I'll find another young and hungry pastry maven who's rocking out the best flaky and doughy goodies around. Fritz Pastry in Lakeview is one of the newest kids on the baking block and they recently pulled me in with the promise of French macarons.
Unfortunately, the promise was broken with dry crumbly meringue, but redemption was found in the form of a pineapple tarte tatin feature glazed caramelized fresh fruit with rum-like notes and a perfect flaky undercarriage. I then bit in to the pineapple pastry's cousin, a chocolate tart featuring rich sweetness offset by a smart sprinkling of sea salt nestled on a chewy chocolate cookie-like bottom. Both of these tarts put Fritz in the "good bakery with some great items" category. Now, if they can just get that macaron right, maybe we'll start talking transcendence.