Sun, 02 July 2017
This popular eatery proves time and again why old is still gold. Behnaz Sanjana samples the new entrants on its menu and cannot help but concur.
aul Restaurant and Bakery first fired up its oven in northern France’s Croix back in 1889, I learn from the menu. The original bakery’s passion and commitment to create the best breads in town has trickled down over five generations of this family-run enterprise. This fervour has not only crossed French borders to take root in 30 countries across the globe, but can also be seen in its neo-classical cuisine and scrumptious patisserie.
Paul’s understated ‘art de vivre’ vibe is unmissable as one passes the open eatery at Seef Mall and it lures clientele in with comforting whiffs of oven-fresh dough – something that undoubtedly keeps patrons like me returning for more.
As there are interesting debutantes on the freshened menu, I gladly left the selection to Joe, the hospitable restaurant manager. He suggested the Salade Fraicheur et Avocat to start with. The dish made its entrance with a flourish – looking all crisp and inviting. The plate was generously heaped with emerald, lime, forest and bottle greens – punctuated with the crispy gold of toasted almond flakes, crunchy red of sliced baby radish and acidic deep maroon of sundried tomatoes. The wedge of cheese-crusted bread and parmesan dressing lent a rich, sinful element to the wholesome salad.
As we awaited the main course, Joe informed us that the restaurant also offers home deliveries all over the island from 10am-10pm, and is happy to cater for off-site events and celebrations (including weddings), no matter how large or small. A wide range of mini-bites, hot and cold canapés, entrées, sweets and customised cakes can be provided to the same standard of quality served at the restaurant.
Up came the main course – Pavé de Saumon Rôti, for me. Pink pan-roasted salmon sat pretty on a cushion of mashed potato. It had a reverent audience of perfectly grilled baby artichokes, fresh fennel, capers, black olives and cherry tomatoes. But it was the herby and sharp tasting tarragon hollandaise sauce that tied all the contributing flavours together, making the plate an adventurous journey for the taste buds.
My friend had the pleasure of digging into Suprême de Poulet Farci aux Épinards et Fromage Emmental. Tender chicken breast enveloped spinach and oozy Emmental to make a delicious packet of tastes, with a side of vibrant julienned vegetables. A robust, aromatic pepper sauce heightened all the flavours, of which my companion was promptly served an extra bowl on request. I suppose they’re used to such appeals for more of the brown goodness.
We soldiered on, attempting to polish off our plates in secret anticipation of peaking into the dessert counter that stood gloriously packed with tantalising confections. Without much ado we chose our standard favourite – the macaroons that Paul Restaurant and Bakery is renowned for. For something new, we picked the raspberry tart and the chocolate millefeuille. The macaroons were their usual best – a sticky sweet centre sandwiched between expertly crafted meringue. The raspberry tart was a three-tiered creation – an almond cream base, layered with rich, piped custard, topped with fresh raspberries bearing a fine frost of powdered sugar. The millefeuille was a delicate assembly of melt-in-the-mouth puff pastry, airy chocolate crème and a roof of glazed chocolate icing – decadence done just right.
Heads still abuzz with the luxurious flavours we’d encountered and souls completely content, we tried our best to walk out of Paul with an air of French chic, but I suppose we just managed to stagger out with toothy, satiated smiles instead.