Makati Avenue has seen all permutations and incarnations of Indian, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and girly bars (yes, it is a cuisine on its own), over the years; eventually, someone had to try French. Who are better to do it than actual Frenchmen? Frenchmen who are armed with thick, dreamy, and authentic accents soothing as a scritch, and a business-minded Filipino, who would render the foreign help in the tricky world of local food and beverage.
Florian (Flo) Couke and Thibault (Thib) Danel, together with Carlos Barrica put up the quaint cafe Paris Delice as a result of the unanimous observation that Manila is suffering from a dearth of good French places. First to agree, I intently listened to Flo as he described how quotidian great bread and pastry is in France. “We French eat bread all the time,” Flo relates. “Here, nothing comes close to what we have at home,” he adds. Nothing, at least, until they decided to import bread from the boulangeries in Paris for Paris Delice.
Paris Delice is a small cut from the block that is not to be missed with a 2-meter tall replica of the most iconic French landmark– the Eiffel Tower, standing proudly upfront. If one could just blur out the delivery motorcycles beside it and the occasional jeepneys breezing to and fro a few meters away, an authentic French meal with a “view” is permissible in this little nook.
A first-timer at this cafe will be treated to a minute long of olfactory orgasm– care of intense salted butter and fluffy bread aroma. Upon stepping-in, taking a pause and closing your eyes will almost be involuntary. Recovery from the sensation can be done in any of the comfy chairs spread around the area. Trouble in finding a seat during their peak hours is normal though. It’s common for clients– a mix of nationalities, but still mostly Filipinos, to linger in such a comfortable cafe.
At Paris Delice, you may confidently order anything from their French Bread and Pastries selection as nothing here misses a beat. Made in France and shipped to the Philippines, not even the country’s sucky humidity can mess up the bakes. The Croissant (P50)— in its glorious flakiness and fluffiness, the Pain au Chocolat (P60)— which is such a terrible idea to miss, and the Choquette (P25)— a sugar crusted puff, are all purportedly, the best of their kind in Manila.
Pain au Chocolat
Any of these goes well with any of their Coffee Selections. Cafe Moccha (P100) is my own preferred blend.
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Their Sandwiches menu, however challenging to read, also deserves a looking. Of the items, the French staple Le Lillois (P155) and the L’European (P155) has the strongest following.
The L’European, which encases slices of ham, Emmental cheese, mayonnaise, and lettuce, made me muster a hearty huzzah.
The quiches from their Hot Dishes section are too small and lackadaisical for my liking. I advise you to get the Hot Crousti (P185), or as Thib says in his lovely accent: ot croosti, instead.
Although the hotdog that’s inside what Thib calls “French style hotdogs” tastes too ordinary, the oh-so-cheesy baguette, slathered in Bechamel saves the dish.
For desserts, the thick-to-slice and fudgy, Banana Chocolate Cake slice (P55) is the only way to go. No banana cake in Manila comes close to how rich this is.
Banana Chocolate Cake
Okay, so the Lemon Tart (P95) — which is flan-like, tart-as-it-can-get, and unbelievably soft, also deserves mentioning. This washes well the lingering butter flavor in most of the pastries they have here.
Winning a two-way ticket to France, the culinary capital of the world, armed with accommodations and restaurant-hopping allowances might be every foodie’s dream come true. But until that streak of luck happens, we gourmands based here in Manila should revel in the fact that authentic croissants, baguettes, and a faux Eiffel Tower are just one cab away, n’est-ce pas?