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Apr21

Pâtisserie reviews – Ladurée, Jean-Pierre Hévin and Pierre Hermé

This final post rounds off the series of blog posts that I’ve been writing recently following my research trip to Paris. You perhaps won’t be surprised to see some big names in the top 3: Ladurée in particular, the home of the macaron, and Pierre Hermé, frequently cited as the “Picasso of Pastry” given his fresh and contemporary approach to all things sweet. Yet, I have to say I was a little surprised to have scored these well-known establishments so highly (and we tried to be as objective as possible, casting a critical eye and über-discerning taste bud over every aspect) since, so often, fame, fortune and large-scale production of artisan goods brings a compromise in quality and reproducibility, leading to a product that is at very best “acceptable”. But happily not so with these three establishments – they delivered on all levels and left us to conclude that the eat was most definitely worth the calories!

So, coming in at number 3:

Ladurée, 16-18 rue Royale

Being a macaron machine these days I naturally had to try some macarons from Ladurée, the Holy Grail of the Macaron. I have to admit, I was not expecting great things from Ladurée, having been sorely disappointed the first time I tried their macarons at a London store. Incidentally, this London experience was the first time I had tried macarons and I had made up my mind that I didn’t actually like them – they were dry and crumbly (which I’ve since learnt means stale) and the flavours weren’t particularly good either. Experiences since then (namely those from Pierre Hermé, and my own of course!) have made me rethink this initial judgement of the macaron.

laduree

Our Verdict?

IMG_8373With the above in mind I ordered four macarons with some scepticism (and slight heartbreak at not expecting to enjoy them yet shelling out €1.90 each for them) and took very careful and measured nibbles of the shells. Were they dry? No, not really. Hollow? No. Flavourless? No. Tasty? Sacré bleu, they were delicious! Much to my amazement (and somewhat begrudgingly!) I really liked them and was particularly bowled over by the chocolate coconut macaron with its moist chocolate shells giving way to an unconventional chewy marshmallow coconut filling. The other flavours – chestnut, liquorice, and yuzu and ginger – were also top-notch. The only criticism is that we perhaps would have liked ever so slightly more moisture in the shells and a touch more filling (since this is where the flavour predominately lies). So, big thumbs up for Ladurée! Another thing I should mention is that the décor of the store is beautiful – this is one special boutique with gold, crystals, mirrors, glass, perfect macarons and delectable pastries all ready to entice you in. Go there – you won’t regret it!

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Scores on the Doors
Ambience: 10/10
Presentation: 9/10
Range: 8/10
Taste: 9/10
Overall Score: 90%

 

 

 


Coming in joint 1st, both scoring an impressive 93%:

Jean-Pierre Hévin, 231 rue Saint Honoré
Pierre Hermé, 72 rue Bonaparte

Dealing with Jean-Pierre Hévin first. This delectable place has a strong focus on chocolate with Hévin being one of Paris’s master chocolatiers. True to his profession, there was an impressive array of chocolates on display and most, if not all, of the pâtisserie featured chocolate to some degree. By this point, shockingly, I couldn’t stomach any more cake (it was our final day in Paris and I think still breakfast time – not that that’s a real excuse!) so Jonathan, being the good and gallant husband that he is, took on the arduous task of cake-eating by himself this time round, though I did plump for a hot chocolate and stole a bite or two of the cake when Jonathan wasn’t looking!

Our Verdict?

The hot chocolate was deep, rich and dark – not overly sweet but certainly not bitter – I loved every sip! But the cake was most definitely the star of this stop-off: a multi-layered concoction with bergamot-infused milk chocolate mousse, orange crème brulée, chocolate sponge, milk chocolate ganache and a crispy feuilletine base. The taste and texture were sublime and I think perhaps the most delicious cake I tried in Paris. I only wish Hévin had decided to top the cake with a thin tempered chocolate layer to add an extra textural element to the whole thing – but now I’m just being picky!

IMG_8502

Scores on the Doors
Ambience: 9/10
Presentation: 10/10
Range: 9/10
Taste: 9/10
Overall Score: 93%


And now moving on to the final pâtisserie: Pierre Hermé.

Pierre Hermé’s creations are a huge inspiration to my work. His unique and creative approach to pâtisserie is refreshing and his products always incredibly chic and modern. We had dangerously left the sampling of Pierre Hermé’s goods to my birthday as a special treat for me, and I was fearful that the hype of this pâtisserie god would far outstrip the reality. However, since Hermé was the pâtissier that had persuaded me that macarons were indeed delicious, I had high hopes for his cakes. We purchased two cakes and a couple of macarons.

ph me

Our Verdict?

Jonathan’s cake, enticingly named “Désiré” consisted of a generous portion of wild strawberries nestled on top of a pistachio-coated dome of lemon mousse, encasing a sablé biscuit base, tender sponge, banana cremeux and a strawberry jelly layer. It was utterly delicious with just the right balance of tang from the lemons and strawberries, and mellow sweetness of the banana. The textures, too, were brilliant. However, the cardboard-printed monogram round placed on top of the cake was far less appetising, as Jonathan discovered when he mistook it for a chocolate-printed monogram! We felt Hermé really could have stretched out to edible monograms, especially with the cakes costing €7.30 a piece! Neverthless, the cake itself was superb.

ph 4

Moving onto my choice, I had the exotically named “Plaisir Sucré”: a layered cake consisting of a nutty dacquoise base, hazelnut feuilletine, chocolate ganache, and alternating layers of perfectly piped chocolate cremeux and thin, crisp tempered chocolate sheets. Much like the similar offering at Jean-Pierre Hévin, it was utterly scrumptious – the kind of dessert where you weep a little on the inside when it’s all over – but the textures of Hermé’s dessert were superior. I don’t usually advocate plate-licking upon finishing a meal but in this instance it was of course permitted!

ph 5

To finish off, the macarons were as delicious as I remembered and most definitely rivalled those of Ladurée. I personally prefer the unusual flavour combinations that Hermé serves up (though admittedly, I like the price tag less: €2.10 each) but macaron purists may prefer the more traditional flavours found at Ladurée. Either way, you can’t really go wrong.

IMG_8452

Scores on the Doors
Ambience: 8/10
Presentation: 10/10
Range: 9/10
Taste: 10/10
Overall Score: 93%


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