In the basement of Champagne Poetry, the newly opened patisserie on Southeast Hawthorne, a baker leans inside a brown cardboard box on its side, airbrushing a white chocolate mousse with cocoa butter. As the airbrush hovers above the dessert, the mousse develops a buttercup yellow hue, with a texture that looks almost like velvet. Steps away, another baker adds droplets of clear fruit glaze to the air-brushed mousse — “like rain drops on a flower,” in the words of the bakery’s owner, Dan Bian.
Bian, the former owner of La Rose Patisserie in Beaverton, has been working on Champagne Poetry for years. She nailed down the space two years ago, slowly covering its southern walls with fake roses, finding the right marble tables to fill the cafe. She trained her new staff, showing them how to make her Cloud Nine buns and passionfruit macarons. She picked out the sparkling wine to serve with her desserts, rosé bubbles to match the blush pink, velvet chairs. And in early April, Champagne Poetry finally opened its doors, filling its pastry case with matcha cheesecake slices, pastel-hued mousses and cakes, and tie-dye macarons in flavors like lavender-rose. Over the weekend, they sold out on both days.
Before she opened Champagne Poetry — or even La Rose — Bian adored sweets. That passion inspired her to go to Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, eventually training with patisserie legends like Cedric Grolet and Johan Martin. “Patisserie is tasty, it just makes me happy,” she says. “Happiness is simple with good food.”
At Champagne Poetry, Bian blends her French pastry background with the flavors she loves: florals like lavender or rose, tropical fruits like guava and passionfruit, and East Asian ingredients like adzuki red bean and yuzu. The bakery offers an extensive selection of macarons, ranging from Sicilian pistachio to raspberry-rose; they take up a full shelf in the pastry case. Above and below, however, the case is lined with cakes and mousses: strawberry-yuzu cakes in a shiny mirror glaze, a swirl of pink and purple filled with pineapple and coconut, a glistening doughnut-shaped chocolate mousse cake topped with rainbow sprinkles. The passion heaven — the bubble-shaped, air-brushed treat topped with glaze raindrops — is a white chocolate-vanilla mousse cake, filled with a guava-grapefruit gelée. Many of Champagne Poetry’s cakes come with fruity cores, a burst of acid in a sweet shell.
Outside the case, a handful of buns and croissants work as breakfast options. Champagne Poetry’s Cloud Nine almost resembles an iceberg, a salty-sweet Japanese cream cheese bun. Croissants are available coated with almonds or stuffed with chocolate, but Bian is partial to the bakery’s raspberry-rose croissant: a raspberry-filled butter croissant topped with a hefty dollop of pink-hued, toasted Italian meringue. Those who aren’t ready for a glass of wine can opt for espresso or cold brew, from a micro-roaster out of Beaverton.
All of the pastries are served in a cafe space absolutely coated in pink: the flower-covered wall with two neon wings designed for Instagram selfies, the blush and fuchsia chairs at each table, the bubblegum paint coating every other corner of the cafe. “I want to bring a vibe to Portland — a pink vibe,” Bian says. “Pink is power.”
Champagne Poetry is open from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 3343 SE Hawthorne Blvd.