16 January 2013

L'éternelle Baguette

Last week a major transition began to take shape in World Showcase’s France pavilion. The long time pit stop known as Boulangerie Patisserie closed its doors for good on Wednesday night. On Thursday, Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles opened its doors for the first time. The new eatery is more than just a name change, it is down La Petite Rue in the onetime little shop and seating area guests make their way through after a viewing of Impressions de France with expanded seating, restrooms, and menu.

Let’s start with the seating area before we get to the good stuff. Les Halles stays true to the train station theme that existed before, It feels as if you are darting in and out of a bustling café during rush hour. The walls have directions and advertisements painted on them, and the seating includes the addition of tables and a long bar-like slab that are perfect for standing at. The contrast between the cream and royal blue of the surroundings and the slate and wine red of the table and chairs makes for a gorgeous backdrop. Also the inclusion of two restrooms, each a one-stall unisex type with a locking door, will keep guests hanging around rather than bolting to the nearest restroom equipped pavilion.

On the food and drink front, the set-up is a supersized version of the previous Patisserie incarnation. There are two lines the wind past identical display cases filled with pastries, breads, sandwiches, and other offerings. The menu boards are electronic, which will allow for changes to take place at a quicker pace, and being able to see the open kitchen is a treat. All the traditional beverages are still available inside the Patisserie, but if you’re looking for a quick cup of coffee, espresso, or other beverage, there is also the Café window which only serves drinks.

While the menu for Boulangerie Patisserie has expanded, it is an extension of previous offerings for the most part. I suspect that what was unveiled last week was only the beginning of what the les Halles location will eventually offer. On a sad note, it appears (and again, remember the display boards are digital, so things could change) that my beloved Raspberry Schuss has been exiled to the Elba of menu items where it will join the Handwich and Figaro Fries. The Citrus Swirl escaped from its exile last year.

In order to give a thorough review we sampled three new items from all sides of the menu. Included in our les Halles haul was the Ficelle au Lard (a mini baguette with bacon and herbs), Soupe de Potiron (pumpkin soup), and Duo au Chocolat (chocolate mousse cake). Let me start by saying there wasn’t a bad dish in the mix!

The Ficelle au Lard was a bit chilly from being in the display case, but it warmed to room temperature fairly quickly. The smokiness of the bacon and the homey flavors of the herbs, mixed with a mini baguette that had all the crispy crust and chewy interior you would want in a baguette, made for a terrific accompaniment to our soup. I can imagine this baguette would also work wonders with a creamy brie.

Soupe de Potiron was creamy on top of silky. There is only a hint of pumpkin to the soup, but there was almost a nutty cheese flavor present throughout.  It was so good that my wife and I were sad we had not each ordered our own bowl.

The Duo au Chocolat was ridiculously rich! The base is a chocolate cake, which has a small heap of chocolate mousse dolloped on top of it in the middle. Surrounding the cake and mousse is a dome of white chocolate custard, it was also described as a mousse, but it definitely has more of a custard texture to this palate. To top this chocolate, chocolate, chocolate dome, the Duo au Chocolat is dusted with cocoa powder, given a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and decorated with a chocolate ring. Yeah, it was a pretty stellar find.

Overall, I will miss walking through the cramped Patisserie that felt like the provincial kitchen of my grandmother, but the Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles has a lot of things going for it. A storefront that is more visible to guests as they make their way out of Impressions de France, a larger seating area with a coffee window and much needed restrooms, and an expanded menu will all boost attendance in this corner of World Showcase. I may prefer sleepy corners and cafes, but the additional visual appeal will definitely add to the amount of guests I get to people watch while attempting to find a new pastry to replace the Raspberry Schuss.

Want to get a closer look at the Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles? Check out our Facebook album dedicated to the newest World Showcase eatery!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I can't wait to visit! I loved the old bakery but it was a little hard for me to navigate if it was crowded. This looks like it will be a much easier experience. I wish I had some of that pumpkin soup right now! :)