Lunch at Patisserie Philippe (SF)
- Melanie Wong Apr 10, 2009 11:31 AM
Yesterday we snagged a parking space right in front, to finally have our promised lunch here. This was a first visit for both of us. My mother’s delight that we would be eating in a bakery was quite evident in her beaming face as she surveyed the fancy pastries in the case. She ordered light to save room for dessert, settling on a bacon and onion croissant ($2.75) for her savory and a Napoleon, $3.75. I had a bowl of the vegetarian mushroom soup, $4.50, and a pistachio macaron, $1.50.
The croissant was filled and topped a crispy crumble of bacon and savory onions. I had just a bite, and the lightness and buttery richness convinced me that I’ll need to explore the croissants here in greater depth. I was surprised that Mom picked a napoleon, as she usually goes for something fruity (and I had hoped she’d try the Opera cake), and asked why. She said she likes them but most are terrible so she doesn’t eat napoleons often. She said that she could tell just by looking at them on display --- the golden brown and sturdy puff pastry and the dense and bright yellow pastry cream --- that this would be a good choice. Of course, she was right, the pastry cream is awesome here and the pastry was fresh and crackly. The mushroom soup was delicious, slightly thick and without butterfat, the taste of the mushrooms could shine through directly. The pistachio macaron was not so good, tasting more of almonds than pistachio and too soft, yet the filling was quite well-done.
Mom surveyed the cookies, packed in glassine wrappers to grab and go, but nothing suited her this time. She did think the meringue chicks, a pair nestled in a plastic basket for Easter were cute. They’re $5 and seemed to be a popular item here.
Patisserie Philippe (moving)
655 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94103
I had lunch at Patisserie Philippe a couple of weeks ago. I ordered the mushroom soup with a side salad ($7.50, I think). Service was friendly and accommodating. The salad was very good. There was a huge bowl of soup, but all I could think about it was that they had left out the flavor. I couldn't taste mushrooms. Maybe I got there on an off day.
Your mom has a really good eye for pastry! That bacon-onion croissant is probably the best savory snack at PP. The instinct for good food probably runs in families ;-) Next time you go, you might want to try sharing the nicely balanced Chinese Chicken Salad, or tasting the delicious Chicken Croissant sandwich with a side of salad. (Do NOT order the Chicken Brioche sandwich--tasteless.)
I once had a taste of the mushroom soup, and it was as you described it. Unfortunately, I had already ordered the onion soup, which, after two tries, is off my list: thin and acidic. The macarons are decent, but far from the best thing at PP: the almond flour they use is too coarse, and whoever makes them isn't meticulous enough. Loved the seasonal pumpkin one, though.
Probably the best pastry at PP is one of the least visually impressive: the apple slice. It's not even in the refrigerated case, but on top of it. The bottom is compressed puff pastry topped with a thick smear of frangipane cream, wafer-thin apple slices, and a drizzle of caramel. You must have it next time you go! (Or the seasonal plum/nectarine/peach verison.)
And don't pass up the cello-wrapped cookies, either. The Diamante (butter cookies edged with sugar) are my favorite, and the Financiers are DH's.
Since I had to drive into the city to make a delivery, I took the opportunity to revisit Patisserie Philippe. It worries me that at 1PM Saturday I was the only one dining, although quite a few people came in to buy food to go.
They graciously made me a composed salad plate of haricot verre (sp?) with bacon and leeks; a simple red beet salad; and a meaty one of hard boiled egg (mostly white), ham and potato. The latter was my favorite, the egg whites being tender and bound in a flavorful mayonaise. It was very satisfying. The beets in a light vinaigrette were exceptionally sweet. For me the green beans didn't really marry with 2 of my favorite ingredients: bacon and leeks.
For dessert I had the tarte tatin which one of the bakers had just brought out from the back. I don't think that I have had a proper tarte tatin before so not exactly what I expected (more of a galette). The long cooked apples (20 per tart!) were saucy and sweet. What I really like about the tart was that it was swimming in an Olympic-sized pool of vanilla bean-flecked creme anglaise. That made the dish.
One of my to go pastries was a chocolate (almond?) tartlette. Packaged in a light paper bag, the tart walls had been breached and the layer of caramel de sel had leaked out by the time I got home. That was OK as I was eating alone. I am not a caramel person, but that buttery, salty ooze was as good a caramel as I have ever had. The chocolate tart itself was so ultra rich and so ultra chocolately, I could barely stand it. I don't think I could eat that tart on a regular basis as it is just too good for anything but a special occasion.
You're welcome. I'm feeling that they might be in need of some well-deserved support. They had been very busy in the morning evidently.
Haricot vert. My French spelling came back to me after a good night's sleep.
Unfortunately, the picnic is the same day as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.