Once upon a time, when I had guests at the rue Dauphine, I would always take them for breakfast in the same spot. Just for the hot chocolate. Poured from a slim white jug, so rich it needed a carafe of water to wash it down, it was a special occasion.
However, I have now been reliably informed (pastry contacts) that cockroaches roam the fridges under the elegant tearoom, that mice come out to play in the evenings. So I can’t recommend it anymore. Sorry, loves.
My new visiting spot – where I have seen the spotless laboratories with my own eyes – is an achingly chic boutique in the Marais. Jacques Genin. Just a monogram in the windows, inside an enormous space with rough brick walls, square beige armchairs. The same hushed politeness and spiked flower arrangements as in an expensive hotel lobby.
Best of all, it has a real hot chocolate, the kind that is whisked together simply with milk and pure melted chocolate. The kind that comes with a glass of water and a few squares of the house bonbons to try – dark ganache or sweet praline – as if you needed anything else. It sticks to your ribs, fills in all the gaps, leaves you replete but not sickened with sugar. It is not sweet at all.
It tastes even better iced: a tall tumbler and a straw, a thick foam on top.
The patisseries are not by the by either. Classics revisited for a sleeker shape and an intense flavour. Try the honey-caramel and walnut tart or the lemon tart garnished with a few scrapings of lime zest. I was sorely tempted by the “Ephemere” – with what looked like a lighter than light bar of chocolate mousse and a stripe of passionfruit mousse on top. Or the millefeuille, made to order so it is perfectly crisp, with vanilla or chocolate or fresh raspberries.
Genin is famous for his Paris-Brest as well. A ring of choux pastry sprinkled with nuts, jacked up with impossible skyscraper swirls of hazelnut praline cream.
The apple tart won out, as a benchmark, a rigorous test. It passed. Feather thin slices layered over a caramelised puff pastry base. (When we went up the spiral staircase later to peek in the sunny workshop, I saw a woman meticulously assembling just one apple tart. She had a ruler to make sure it reached four or five centimetres high.) A last touch of caramel to add a little crack to the soft buttery apples. Just right.
Jacques Genin – 133 rue Turenne – closed Mondays
Expect to pay about € 6-8 for a patisserie and € 5-10 for a drink