Monday, January 19, 2009

Salon de Thé

There is no doubt about it, the French know how to prepare food. Furthermore, most especially in Paris, one could never say there is a shortage of places to eat. Frankly, there is a never-ending sea of eating places on practically every street. From the kiosks where you may grab a scrumptious
sandwich a emporter (to go) to the casualness of the cafes, bistros and brasseries, to full blown get-dressed-up restaurants, you certainly can't go wrong with whatever you choose.

Another category of places to dine at would be a salon de thé. These little gems are actually tea houses, but if you think they are anything like Starbucks, think again. Generally speaking, tables are covered with white linens adding to the elegance of the many places where one can also consume well-made lunches that are beautifully presented along with a gourmet tea of choice. There won't be any Lipton served here.

Traditionally, salon de thés, while certainly charming, are known to be a little on the haughty side where middle aged women and the occasional man get dolled up in their Sunday best to spend time with friends. Since arriving in France, I have become a tea-aholic, so I have been trying one house after the other.

Yesterday, we came upon a lovely and a bit more casual little salon de thé in the 7th arrondissiment called Thé aux 3 Cerises. Apparently, salon de thés are not often open on Sunday, but this one was, so we gave it a whirl. While the food and tea certainly met my expectations, I didn’t feel as though I needed to wear a dress to get in. There was not a stuffy bone in sight.

My friend and I chose the window table in this shabby-chic establishment. We each had our own comfortable couch accross from one another filled with decorative pillows. It was a most relaxing three hours. Yep, we spent three hours there. We actually stayed ten minutes after closing when we were handed the bill. Considering the French never hand over the bill without one asking for it first, it was truly amazing.

We were there in the middle of the afternoon and we couldn’t pass up on trying a couple of desserts either. A lovely chocolate cake, that was much more like mousse served with a raspberry on top while sitting on a coulis of some sort. Mouth watering is how I would describe it. We also shared a lemon torte. Now, I normally won’t eat lemon desserts, but I didn’t want to be rude. I was nicely surprised because this was one of the most delightful desserts I have ever eaten. I think the French can make anything taste good!

Everything was served on white porcelain. We each had our own tea pots filled with our respective teas with matching tea cups, saucers, a small spoon with a tubular packet of sugar. Our desserts were served on long rectangular platters, which allowed the coulis presentation to pop.

My only complaint, which actually was not mine, but my friend's, was that our carafe d'eau (water) tasted like it had chlorine in it. With my cold I couldn't taste it, but I will take her word. So, if you want water, order it in a bottle.

That being said, if you are looking for a more relaxed salon de thé only a couple of blocks from the Eifel Tower then this is the place to be. If you leave while it’s dark, you will have the added bonus of seeing Le Tour Eifel lit in all its splendor as you step out the door. Fantastique!

Thé aux 3 Cerises
47, avenue de Suffren 75007
Tel : 01-42-73-92-97
METRO: Bir Hakeim