Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks; been doing a lot of traveling for work since my trip to Europe and this is the first time in a while that I’ve gotten a chance to sit back and catch my breath a little. So, continuing on with Paris.
I love croissants, they’re in my top five favorite foods. And because I associated them so much with Paris, I imagined when we arrived that there would be bakeries left and right (a la Starbucks on every corner of NYC style). Sadly, I was mistaken. Although there were a few bakeries here and there, it wasn’t the look in every direction and see one type of situation. It may be due to the fact that we were in a tourist area, but it was still a little disappointing nonetheless.
Regardless, that’s not to put down the places we did find. I will always take quality over quantity and the few bakeries we did go to were really standout. The first one I’ll mention is Paul. Paul is Parisian chain, not as “chainy” as Au Bon Pain or Le Pain Quotidian, but you’ll find a few scattered throughout Europe and there are even a couple now in Washington, D.C. and Florida. Paul is a solid place to grab a quick croissant, pastry, or coffee with little to no fuss. The baked goods are far better than anything you’ll get at a ABP or LPQ, and having been to the Paris Paul and the D.C. Paul, I can say for a fact that the D.C. Paul has done a very good job of mimicking its founders.
For a more involved experience, there are two cafes (or tearooms) in Paris that are excellent. They are Laduree and Angelina. We’ll start with Laduree. We didn’t do table service there because we were on our way to the Eiffel Tower, but we grabbed a bunch of pastries to go. This place wins the award for the best croissant I’ve ever had – hands down. I sampled a butter, chocolate and apple croissant, and the apple croissant was out of this world. The other two were extremely good as well, perfectly flaky with those big, crispy flakes, not the messy little ones. We also tried a few of their delicious macaroons and fruit tarts. But the apple croissant was the perfect blend of croissant butteriness and chunky-sweet apple. There are a few Laduree locations in Paris, one in Versaille, and one at the airport.
Our favorite cafe however was Angelina. We loved it so much we actually went there twice, once for breakfast and once for lunch. Keep in mind that the line to get in can get long around brunch time, so plan accordingly. The brunch lasts until 11:30 and the service is slow, but helpful/friendly once they do get around to you. The cafe is pricey, so be prepared to dish out the Euros for the experience. If you don’t want to sit, there’s a bakery in the front lobby where you get buy items to go (much like at Laduree). The snack/lunch menu consists of salads, cheeses, sandwiches, and quiches and the breakfast menu consists of a variety of different egg, fruit, pastry combinations. And of course you can order any of the decadent sweet pastries (including their famous Mont Blanc) at anytime you want.
The two highlights of Angelina are the Croque Madame and the Angelina Hot Chocolate. I never had a Croque Madame or Monsieur before I going to Angelina, but I had a few in Paris afterwards and Angelina’s was still the best. Sure, it’s a glorified grilled cheese, but the French know how to turn a simple dish into deluxe cuisine. The one other item on the menu you HAVE to try is the Angelina Hot Chocolate. This was by far, the richest, creamiest, thickest hot chocolate I have ever tasted. It was like drinking sweet chocolate cream. You should also know that if you drink an entire pot of this stuff, you will be more than full, so be prepared.