This is what I picture when I imagine a Paris cafe.I've never really liked the term "soft opening" when referring to the commencement of a business. It's a term restaurants and hotels like to use to describe that they have in fact opened, but have not had a big party to celebrate it yet. It is followed eventually by an "official opening", which should, by comparison, be called a "hard opening". But the fact is, the "soft opening" is the "hard opening", because that's the time when nothing works, all the staff make mistakes, the recipes turn out to be unloved by the clientelle, and if they're not busy upsetting customers, then the staff sit idle waiting for them, just hoping for a little more practice.
This is Dubai's version of a Paris Cafe
Last night I went to a new cafe that I have been walking past for at least two months. No soft opening, no official opening, but open, nonetheless.
Fauchon is a Parisian Cafe. The Fauchon in Paris is a gourmet grocery store with a bakery and delicatessen attached on Place de Madelaine in the 8th arrondissment, equidistant from the Champs Elysees, Opera and Printemps (yes, fancy pants area).
As with the term above, nothing is what it seems. Firstly, it's not a cafe, and secondly, it's not what I would describe as "very french". But maybe that's just me. When I call up memories of France, I don't think of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and YSL. Sure, they are French, but to me, France is all about croissants flaking into my cafe au lait, tiny tomatoes and radishes at stunning markets, toy boats in the pond at the Luxembourg gardens, skinny women with pretty dogs and bouffant hair, obscurely labeled Champagne in the afternoon on a picnic rug, degustation at wineries with flirty winemakers, and romantic art and architecture everywhere you look. When I recall Paris, I don't think of Philipino waitresses in a mall, in a shiny geometric black, white and pink pleasure cube that to me looks like it should be a nightclub.
Like the Paris version, there is a shop attached in Dubai (Mall of the Emirates), and you can find all kinds of treats that are as pretty as a picture and priced accordingly - the kind of thing some tend to look at more than eat. There is an excellent selection of tea that is purchased by the scoop, a rarity for Dubai. The patisserie is sublime. Here, they emulate the french perfectly - each piece of pastry is une œuvre d' art - exact, too good to be true, and a shame to destroy by the act of consumption. The chocolate is likewise exceptional, and tastes as good as it looks. And of course the packaging is worth the price alone - the macaroon tins are destined to house jewelry, tea or buttons in their subsequent lives, and possibly turn up in the year 2150 on ebay for a small fortune.
The verdict? Go. Don't expect it to be a french - you are in Dubai, after all - the antithesis of Paris. And don't expect it to be a cafe, because it is more than that. But you can expect it to be worth the trip, especially if you find a caramel eclair to put in your "soft opening" (I mean your mouth...)
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