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Nov 3, 2006 04:31 AM

All the Best Fine Foods: Arrogance over runny top Crème Brulée

I am a big admirer of the food quality and service of the Five Thieves, as one should be given their spectacular prices. However today at All the Best I experienced a most unpleasant incident.

I was debating whether to buy two individual crème brulées in muffin-like aluminum cups, or one "medium" sized one in an aluminium tray. Opting for the medium, I noticed when the very pleasant clerk took it out of the case that the top seemed runny, and I asked her whether it was perhaps in fact a flan or crème caramel. She asked a male colleague standing at the adjacent counter, who said it was definitely the brulée - but when I asked about the runny top characteristic of flan rather than brulée's hard crsytallized cover, he replied dismissively "It gets that way when it sits in the counter. You can harden it (the crystal top) yourself." What a nerve ! (at $4 a pop !)

Because I had a friend waiting in the car, and I did not wish to make a scene in front of the two or three other customers, I merely observed "You may be able to do that, I can't." But what I WANTED to say was "You may have a blow torch, I don't - but if I did I would apply it to your anatomy, you rude so and so !"

Do any Hounds have experience of being told to "harden up" their own cr. brulées either by this fellow or elsewhere ? Is this by any stretch of someone's imagination a normal retort ? Am I wrong to feel ill treated ?

(PS: the very average and lightly caramelized-top individual cb's turned out to be edible but undistinguished - a very neutral creamy and almost too "set" a filling, neither deliciously rich nor eggy nor really flavoured of anything much. Certainly below the quality one enjoys in most restaurants.)

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  1. I'm a regular at the Five Thieves - quality is great all around, often exceptional, but the service varies widely from store to store. You won't find any sweeter, more knowledgeable staff than the gang at Harvest Wagon, followed closely by Pisces and Oliffe. The two "All the Best" outlets (bakery and cheese shop) can have service that ranges from good (not great) to indifferent and often, not that friendly. Some of the baked goods are wonderful - I love their muffins and ginger bread - but the stuff in the front counter at the bakery is often so-so. Sorry you had a bad experience.

    1. I've never been a fan of All the Best (the cheese shop, especially). Their prepared foods, sandwiches, and spring rolls, etc., are not "the best" by a long-shot. And, yes, there is attitude.

      Creme brulee is one of those prepared food items that should never be sold for take out. The brulee'd top will never stay crisp and dry. Reserve your ordering of creme brulee for dining-in restaurant meals.

      Creme caramel is a different story. The liquid caramel sits at the BOTTOM of the container and, when inverted for serving, drips over the sides of the custard.

      1. If you have a standard oven...YES, you too can accomplish the task of acheiving the hard sugar crust on your creme brulee! Simply cover your custard with sugar, place under broiler and observe until golden brown. After all, the creme brulee should have a sweet warm sugar crust...not a cold one.


        1. ...but make sure to put the creme brulee into an ice bath before broiling. The custard is supposed to remain cold.

          4 Replies
          1. re: FlavoursGal

            THANK YOU!! I have a huge issue with people demanding their creme brulées warm. or sending them back in restaurants because the custard is cold. Of course it's supposed to be. where did the idea it's not stem from?.. This propabaly deserves it's own thread..

            1. re: laur76

              a good brulee will turn into liquid if the custard is too warm. A custard that can hold its shape while hot is an abject failure, IMO. I also have to agree that buying a brulee whose sugar is pre-burnt and then stored in the fridge results in an inferior product.

              1. re: Blueicus

                well I can't even imagine why it's offered as a take out item because, of course, sugar melts in a fridge..All this results in people not knowing what a real creme brulee should be like, if this is the only kind they've encountered.I'd like to buy the world a creme brulée and keep it company :)

              2. re: laur76

                You're welcome, laur76. And I took your advice - I started a separate thread on General Chowhounding Topics. Let's see if people object to our lamenting the serving of warm custards in creme brulees.

            2. The original comment has been removed