The original Patisserie Valerie was opened in 1926 in Frith Street in London’s Soho district by Madam Valerie, whose aim it was to introduce fine Continental Patisserie to the English. There are now 32 cafes across the UK and we here in Bahrain have the honour of welcoming one to our shores. Now, if there’s one thing we Gulf-based folk know it’s our coffee shops, so a friend and I headed along to Moda Mall on a quiet Friday lunchtime to see if this new place had anything different to offer.
On first sight, not really, no. Tucked away in the South Tower, the older part of the deathly quiet mall, it looked like every other shopping centre coffee shop we’d ever seen. Albeit one with photos of Tower Bridge and wartime posters (Plant A Victory Garden!) on the walls and motifs of can-can girls spicing up the place. Open to the mall and sporting generic cafe décor, it didn’t look particularly promising. But then we were shown to a table, presented with a proper menu and taken through the extensive specials board and things started to look up.
There was a wide range of breakfasts, salads and main courses, for both lunch and dinner times, as well as a great choice of homemade cakes, pastries and Italian gelato, not to mention the selection of teas and coffees. I decided to go for the quiche of the day, chicken and broccoli, while my friend opted for the club sandwich. His was brought out fairly promptly but I was unceremoniously told that I’d have to wait 10 minutes before mine would be ready. Not particularly good, we thought, because a) it was a special and b) he would be finished by the time mine got there. As it turned out, I only had to wait about three minutes (yes, I’ll admit I was counting), in which case it was a shame they couldn’t have timed the sandwich to be ready a few minutes later. It was a good job the food was so good.
The club sandwich was pretty much the same as you get anywhere but good for all that, and came accompanied by some particularly tasty fries and an enormous salad. My quiche was delicious. Without a doubt, one of the tastiest and best-cooked quiches I’ve ever had. The sides were a heap of boiled potatoes in what looked like a creamy sauce but tasted like cornflour, and a salad. The portion sizes of both meals were just right for lunchtime but, this being a review and Valerie’s being famed for its cakes, we felt obliged to press on.
We had to go up to the counter to ask for dessert, as we appeared to have been abandoned by the staff by this point, but the cakes more than inspired forgiveness. It was very hard to choose, everything looked exquisite, but my friend ended up with a wonderful, light Black Forest cheesecake and I was in ecstasies over a raspberry and white chocolate cheese brulee (basically another cheesecake) which was – there’s no other word for it – heavenly. I felt like crying when I’d eaten it all.
We waddled away feeling that the service and ambience was the same as you’d find at the Costa across the way but the range and quality of the food they offer sets it miles apart. I’ll definitely be heading back soon for another one of those cheesecakes.
The bill (for two) Valerie club sandwich BD3.600 Quiche of the day BD3.600 Cheesecake x 2 BD4.000 Orange juice BD1.300 Cranberry juice BD1.000 Earl Grey tea BD1.000 Double espresso BD1.200 Total (incl tax/services) BD15.700
Time Out Bahrain staffhttp://www.timeoutbahrain.com