Mon, 10 January 2022
It has been my longstanding dream to indulge in a dessert buffet, where I am surrounded only by the swirling aromas of rich chocolate and light-as-cloud cream, with nothing else to distract my palate. The gateaux gods must have finally heard my fervent appeal (fine, let her have her cake and eat it too, they must have decreed) as the newly opened La Reine de Versailles, a charming little patisserie in Riffa, invited me to live my reverie.
True to its name, (which translates to ‘the queen’ in English), this boutique patisserie reigns supreme in the dessert department, with each slice of sweetness more ooh la la than the previous.
The display case is a smorgasbord of all things heavenly – truffles, pralines and ganaches, chocolate bonbons, and other individual entremets in a rainbow of pretty colours.
While sipping on a heartwarming decaf Café Latte at the outlet on a particularly nippy afternoon, I marvelled at the delicate assembly of the Coconut and Passionfruit Lucille before me. This canary yellow roundel was a welcome contrast to the gloomy skies outside, with a vanilla cake interior laced with coconut, topped with and based on a crumbly biscuit. The tangy passionfruit dices in the cake and piping atop it made it a beautifully balanced bite, replete with a golden white chocolate disc crowning the dessert.
Up next came Caramel Choc; a dense, rich chocolate mousse that was sat on a chocolate sponge cake base. Every bite enjoyed was full of crunchy chocolate biscuit and cocoa. The glossy chocolate glaze that enveloped the dessert gave it a decadent appeal.
After a heavy hit of chocolate, I was ready to taste something light and fruity, and the Mango/Pistachio was ready to woo me. This bright green sphere held mango and pistachio-flavoured cake, covered with the feather-light pistachio cream, finished off with a fine coat of parrot green jelly icing. The delicately detailed chocolate flower and a pat of gold foil gave the look of the dish a skillfully refined touch.
The Pistachio Éclair was probably the prettiest pastry of them all. Marvelling at its finesse took me right into the beginning of the warmer months, walking barefoot on the summer grass. The bright green of the pistachio cream piping punctuated with pistachio slivers and coulis-filled, gold-tinged raspberries was a treat to the eyes as it was to the tongue, when eaten with the light choux dough base.
Completely lost in sweet heaven by this time, I soaked in the goodness of a variety of chocolate pralines, some of which at La Reine are quirky ones that are sure to pique your interest, like Coriander, Cinnamon ganache, Fennel and Noyee. After sampling a few of the macarons, which were the classical, textbook version of how macarons should be – a sweet filling sandwiched between a smooth, slightly chewy shell. La Reine offers a quite an extensive variety of flavours too, like Passionfruit, Mango, Earl Grey Tea and Violet flower and blackcurrant to name a few.
The outlet has a lot more to offer – metallic coloured bonbons, long cakes, cookies, birthday cakes. With such rapturous flavours dancing around my taste buds, I could easily have been at one of the patisseries in downtown Paris. The stunning contrast of La Reine’s 1700s inspired gold filigree embellishments on its midnight blue wall will forever be associated with ultimate ambrosia in the sweet-tooth section of my brain.