Pâtisserie reviews in Paris – Paris Seven and Popelini

Following on from the reviews of Aux Merveilleux de Fred, Fauchon, Maison Georges Larnicol and Piccadis (which can be found here and here), we move on to the top 5 pâtisseries my husband and I sampled during a recent cake-fuelled research trip to Paris. Our bellies are still bulging and the memories are still sweet! Oh, yeah!

So without further ado, coming in at number 5:

Paris Seven, 20 Rue Jean Nicot
Paris Seven is a welcoming rustic boulangerie and pâtisserie with colourful pompoms displayed in their large windows to add a fun element and entice customers in. The store is split in two with cakes/pastries on the one side and bread on the other, both parts accessed via a separate door. This is perhaps a little inconvenient if you want a good overview of the entire range offered by Paris Seven but since we were predominantly after cake we didn’t really mind. Saying that, since it was lunchtime during our visit we did buy a few small savoury bites to supplement our obligatory sugar fix. In total, we tried a sausage roll, tomato and mozzarella blini, a mini Quiche Lorraine, Paris Brest and a Montblanc.

IMG_8395Our verdict?
We had mixed feelings over the goods we sampled from Paris Seven. Yes, it comes in at number 5 but this is largely due to ambience, range and presentation. As far as taste is concerned, we found the savoury options far superior to the sweet. The little sausage roll was delicious and better than any I’ve tasted in the UK, and the blini-style bite also very good. The quiche, however, consisted of a slightly chewy filo-style pastry case with an underwhelming milky custard filling.

Moving onto the sweets, the Montblanc divided us: I found it way too sweet, even for my tooth (which is saying something!) but Jonathan thought the mildly-sweet cream (and there was a lot of it) balanced the extreme sweetness of the chestnut purée and meringue pieces and he loved the chestnut flavour overall. The Paris-Brest was very generous in size and whilst the cream carried a good flavour, it was too dense. The choux pastry was also quite heavy and tough, with little flavour.

So, a difficult one here: is Paris Seven worth a visit? I would say yes if you’re in the area but perhaps not worth making a special effort to go. Given the overall success of the savoury options that we sampled, I’d bet their bread is pretty good so you may want to give that a go instead.

Scores on the Doors
Ambience: 9/10
Range: 8.5/10
Presentation: 8.5/10
Taste: 6/10
Overall score: 80%

Coming in at number 4:

Popelini, 29 Rue Debelleyme
Popelini is a leading pâtisserie in the latest sweet trend coming out of Paris, that of choux pastry. Several pâtisseries are reinventing the humble éclair (which you can read about here) but Popelini is steering the way forward in reinventing the other choux classic: choux à la crème, feather-light puff balls filled with the richest and creamiest crème pâtissière. A small and trendy boutique store, Popelini specializes exclusively on serving up these dainty choux balls, so expectations were high that they should be produced to perfection! And were they? Well, in a nut-shell pretty much, though we feel there is some room for improvement.

We ordered four choux à la crème in lemon, rose and raspberry, orange blossom, and whisky.

Our Verdict?
Our views varied depending on the flavour but overall we enjoyed the rose and whisky choux very much but not so much the lemon and orange blossom. The pastry for all was excellent – light, buttery and crisp. A criticism that extended to all choux was the taste and perhaps texture of the fondant that was used to decorate the buns – it was a little unpleasant, though not overwhelmingly so, to eat and added a somewhat unfortunate artificial element to an otherwise perfect pastry puff.

In terms of the specific flavours and dealing with the downsides first: the lemon was overwhelmingly strong with a sour/bitter taste, whilst the orange blossom was way too soapy, leaving an unfortunate musky aftertaste. However, on the upside and the redeeming flavours: rose and raspberry had a perfect balance between the subtle floral notes of rose and the sharp and sweet of raspberry, whilst the whisky was really rather nice with a prominent alcohol hit without being too strong.

Scores on the Doors
Ambience: 8/10
Range: 9/10
Presentation: 10/10
Taste: 7/10 (this mark could have been much higher if we had not selected lemon and orange blossom!)
Overall score: 85%

Coming to the blog next time: reviews of Ladurée, Jean Piérre Hevin and Pierre Hermé.

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