Patisserie Valerie

March 20, 2012

I have fond mormories of visiting student friends in London in the early 80s and lingering over coffee and cakes in the Soho Patisserie Valerie. It had genuine cachet as a purveyor of heavenly cakes and pastries in a continental style – and remember this was before Starbucks or anyone else had rolled out the “Third Place” concept.

The brand slowly expanded to a couple more venues in central London until 2006 when the brothers who owned it sold a £6 million share to the investment vehicle of Luke Johnson, he who made Pizza Express the ubiquious sight it is now.  Since then there’s been aggressive exapnsion and there are now 49 of them, with several more due to open, including – and here we get to the heart of the matter – Highcross Leicester next week.

Now that anyone with a fiver in their pocket can get a cappuccino and a frangipane tart I’m duty-bound to complain that the place will not have the same appeal as when we would sit in Old Compton Street reading orange-spined paperbacks.  That said, a coffeee house that takes pastries seriously – well, I have to be supportive. I’ve not been to one of the roll-out Pat Vals but will go along when it opens in Highcross. Unless it blows me away,  any independent who woos me with decent coffee and a generously-loaded florentine is likely to take preference thereafter.

Any views on whether it’s a soul-less sellout or manages to be a fair facsimilie of a French cafe patisserie are welcome. I promise to feed back here later.


5 Responses to “Patisserie Valerie”

  1. Kevin said

    I can’t comment on the authenticity, but we had some absolutely fantastic cake/tart/pastry when we tried PV in Chester. As you say, you need a few quid in your wallet, but as an awayday treat it was exceptional. Superbly presented and absolutely irresistible. Just in time for Dorothy’s birthday!


  2. riponia said

    Had a quick peek today. The shop is on the lower ground floor, at the clocktower end of the mall – rather strangely opposite Greggs. It was busy and the cakes looked lovely, but I baulked at paying over £4 for a strawbery tart and instead had a lovely coffee and homemade cookie at the Crumblin’ Cookie on High Street, very relaxed with a tasteful soundtrack that could have passed for BBC 6 Music playlist.


  3. ntrifle said

    I went there with my daughter as she remembered going to the one on Cambridge. It was pretty good. I had a lemon cheesecake which was fine but too big and she had a Chocolate torte thingy which was absolutely delicious (and too big – but they parceled it up nicely for us to take home). Service was v. good despite it being absolutely packed. Coffee was pretty standard fare. It’s certainly a nice stop off while trolling through town, although, like yourself I shall probably divide my hard earned cash between them and the Crumblin’ Cookie (and probably the World Peace cafe too!).


    • riponia said

      Thanks Mr Trifle – I’ve actually been along once or twice but as you say it’s been packed and I was wanting a quite coffee, cake and a read. Definitely want to try something big with cake, cream and fruit.


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