After several dining disappointments in the last 12 months, I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of food produced at Patisserie Valerie, during a brief visit to one of their London eateries. It wasn’t brilliant mind, but a vast improvement on several other dining experiences of late.
I had a rather nice and traditional Croque Monsieur, basically a cheese and ham toasted sandwich (I know it wasn’t vegetarian, I slipped!) served with a side salad which consisted mostly of unexciting lettuce leaves, with a teeny, tiny artichoke, a cherry tomato both halved and some french style dressing. I thought the amount of tomato and artichoke was very mean, but the salad was tasty and went well with the sandwich. The sandwich was pleasant enough, balanced flavours, with just the right amount of cheese sauce.
I followed the sandwich with a slice of black forest gateaux. This is where sadly Patisserie Valerie failed to live up to expectations. Perhaps it was too much to expect a French eatery to produce a good quality traditional German dessert. (Click here to see the photo of the slice.) The cherries were few and far between, and the chocolate cake was slightly dry and surprisingly favourless. The cream was ok, but could have benefited from a touch more vanilla and icing sugar. The chocolate decorations tasted completely synthetic and of inferior quality. But the final insult to the traditional recipe, I could not detect any trace of kirsch. It is never a good idea to miss out one of the vital ingredients of a world famous cake! Although presented well, it appeared more thought went into the decoration, than the actual taste. When eating cake resembles an unpleasant chore rather than a lovely treat, you know something is very wrong.
All washed down with a pot of tea served with fresh milk, the crockery is not fancy, but functional. The service was faultless, friendly, efficient and courteous. If I had to rate the service alone, it would be a full 5 out of 5.
In terms of value for money, I felt it was fair for considerably under £15, but the overall quality was only average. Just. The dessert being the biggest let down and unforgivable for a French patisserie.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Summary: Great service, OK for a quick lunch or snack, but avoid the cakes.