January 12 2015
“Et voila” she scowls as she throws the plates down in front of us.
La Pâtisserie des Rêves has been an address I’ve long admired. It was during my first week in Paris that I had my first taste of the Paris-Brest… but my love peaked at the moment that I was introduced to Conticini by my old boss.
My sister was in town this weekend and I wanted to take her somewhere special for tea. Today, however, the service en salle ruined the experience.
“Vous avez décidé?” “Décidé?!” We are awoken from a momentary daydream.
We order. Two teas, a Paris-Brest and a Grand Cru Vanille.
Looking around, we see a tea room that has not been thought through. The décor – supposedly “a cosy and intimate little corner with a modern, sleek design” – would more accurately be described as IKEA-meets-Hello-Kitty. Bright pink walls, ugly white tables… and in the toilets, fittings so flimsy you can only think that a cowboy builder must have done a rush-job.
Back to the main room. On this particular afternoon, there are five tables seated. One waitress.
And boy, did she manage to take French “surly service” to a new level. I even nicknamed her Snappy because of her delightfully pleasant manner with the customers. When she was clearing a table, for example, she did so with such menace that the rest of the room was silenced by her clattering.
Our teas come – a Tsareva and Lemon Verbena infusion. We are left to blindly sniff each one as Snappy has plonked them down in front of us without the slightest indication of which is which.
I know I’m English… but I do rather look for a little pomp and ceremony in a tea room. Let’s face it – we pay 7 or 8 euros (or more!) for a cup of tea; something, that quite honestly, we could have made at home with a trusty kitchen kettle for next to nothing. There’s gotta be something to sweeten the deal.
In this case, it’s the pastries. Within a few minutes, the plates are thrown down in front of us, also without as much as a meagre explanation or introduction. The famous French phrase “je ne sais quoi” was surely created with this Paris-Brest in mind and I was fully ready to forgive this pastry for having butted into our conversation unannounced. I found the Grand Cru Vanille a bit boring – but maybe that tells me more about myself than anything else… I’m clearly a nutty chocolate, not vanilla, kinda girl!
Overall, unfortunately, even the most amazing pastries in the world couldn’t make up for Snappy. My sister and I finish up and decide to leave without lingering. The waitress had succeeded in making us feel so unwelcome that we couldn’t wait to go.
I wish I had taken a video of the eye-roll that a neighbouring gentleman had given the waitress when he had to ask three times for the bill… this will have to do.
Upon paying, (we didn’t wait for the bill, but walked staight up to the counter) a waiter asked me how the experience had been. I (honestly) explained that the pastries were great comme d’habitude, but that the service had actually been pas terrible.
The waiter shrugged and said “well, nobody wants to be here today” referring to the Unity Rally that was taking place on the other side of the city.
And it’s true. After half an hour, I didn’t want to be there either. I paid the bill (28 euros) and left. Learn from my mistake: La Pâtisserie des Rêves makes excellent pastries… but the precise attention to small details never made it out of the kitchen. Take the pastries to go, and don’t waste your money and your time in this shambles of a tea shop. I, for one, certainly will not be back.