I’ve been to this bakery three times and each time feels like a visit to Paris.
Paris Délice springs up like an oasis from the concrete monotony that is Makati Avenue. Its stark whiteness beckons curious passersby like a beacon, embracing them into its fold of flaky pastry and the French joie de vivre.
Translated as Paris Delicious, Paris Délice initially gives the impression of a French bakery with the glass display case its starring draw, a veritable promise to fulfill fantasies of pastry: chausson aux pommes (apple turnover, P75), torsade au chocolat (chocolate twist, P80), and the triangle aux amandes (almond triangle, P85) – all crumbling gloriously, leaving pleasure trails on table and mouth. Sips of coffee and immersed in an environment where snatches of French are spoken and overheard, this place is a deeply gratifying diversion from the day.
- Definitely not fast food interiors, definitely very comfortable
It’s owned by a trio of men who have France as their common connection. Florian (Flo) Couke and Thibault (Thib) Danel are Frenchmen who were exchange students in Manila, and Carlos Barrica, who was an exchange student in France. The two Frenchmen missed the food of their home and Paris Délice is their effort to recreate it. “This is a bakery, French fast food, healthy fast food,” Flo tells me, his charming accent making “healthy” sound like “L-C.” Carlos adds, “We never fry anything, either. There’s nothing greasy and we could never sell French fries.”
Though the term “fast food” conjures images of McDonald’s and its ilk, Paris Délice has elevated the experience, serving food that is fast and healthy. The sandwiches are a huge draw here, impressive six-inchers artfully layered with ham, Emmental cheese, mayonnaise, and lettuce as in the L’Europeen (P155), or at another time, I watch as a kid digs gleefully into his BLT (P145), a bacon, lettuce, tomato agglomeration that looks so big in his little hands. Locals are attracted to a host of hot sandwiches like the croque monsieur (grilled ham and cheese; P115) and other hot meal items like the quiches (P105-P115) and the soups (variety changes daily; P85).
Paris Délice attracts a sizable crowd of transplanted French citizens, people who are beside themselves with joy at being accommodated “bites” from home. “This is the best croissant outside Paris,” says one. “The most authentic baguette in Manila,” pipes up another. The comparison isn’t just random, either. All of Paris Délice’s bread items are air flown frozen from France. Here, they’re proofed then baked. Carlos explains that they initially wanted to make everything themselves but too many conflicting variables (humidity being foremost) made them choose otherwise. “We said that if we’re going to do it [the bakery], then we have to import from France.” Carlos says. “The huge advantage here is that we can bake it just on time, so it’s always fresh and we can be sure the quality is always the same from day to day.”
To keep their menu dynamic, Paris Délice has their Executive Chef, Lia Valera. She had the daunting task of translating Flo’s mom’s terrine recipe into something that could be made at the bakery. “She [Flo’s mom] was videotaped making her terrine, and I had to transcribe what I was seeing into a workable recipe.” Lia recalls, chuckling. “She didn’t use any measuring tools so I was even taking note of the number of turns she made on her pepper mill!” Served with baguette rounds and cornichons, the terrine’s rusticity provides both substance and comfort. It’s very good.
Though the bakery’s menu is predominantly French, there are a few nods to its Filipino home. There’s a Filipino-style croque monsieur and the hot chocolate (P90) is no chocolat chaud but is instead an honest to goodness native tsokolate enriched with milk and served properly bubbly. It’s a hot beverage that I’m told even the French customers like very much.
Flo and Thib couldn’t be happier that Filipinos have taken so well to their native country’s “fast food.” Carlos informs me that they’re focused on sourcing the best food they can, and preferably organic when possible. Thus, salads from Tagaytay, organic yogurt and fresh juices, as well as not so sweet meal-enders like panna cotta and chocolate mousse. Even the cold cuts and cheeses used in the bakery are supplied by European food distributors. New food items are added every two weeks and as of this writing, Flo tells me that when I come back, there will be a 2-meter tall Eiffel Tower decorating the front of Paris Délice. (!) Now that’s a message worth texting: “I’m having coffee and a croissant beside the Eiffel Tower. Come and join me.”
#1 Juno Street corner Makati Avenue, Makati (on the side of and adjoining Jollibee)
Dine-in and take-out.
Open Mon-Sun 7am-10pm.