Last week my mind started to wander and I discussed the options for selecting delicious cakes as a treat. A quick google brought up Patisserie Valerie and I lost 5 minutes of my working day. Just to clarify the cake discussion was work banter. Would you eat a custard slice in public?
Patisserie Valerie, Durham
It was by pure chance that as we stepped out of the Monks Cross multi-story car park, that we were greeted with the Patisserie’s shop front. It wasn’t planned, but we are very easily persuaded to create a coffee break. We had been in the car for the past 30 minutes so it was clearly time for a break.
The ground floor of Patisserie Valerie was relatively quiet we could see lots of spare tables. We’ve never been here before so didn’t know what to expect. Do you sit yourself down or are you shown to a table? It wasn’t clear, so we tried to ask the waiting staff if we could have a table for 4. After being ignored we were shrugged towards the direction of the tables.
RIGHT! Time for cake… oh and coffee. We pawed over the options on the menu. Imogen wanted a Strawberry Gateau. Abigail agreed that she wanted the same. Catherine then suggested they should share one! With that in mind, I chose the Mille-Feuille (custard slice). Catherine isn’t a fan of set custard, so wouldn’t want to share 🙂
By this time Imogen had worked out that if Abigail chose something else, then their cake’s wouldn’t be shared.
We sat for 10 minutes wondering if you ordered at the counter or was it taken at the table. It wasn’t clear and our table shrugging didn’t clarify the procedure. So Catherine went up to the till to place our order. There was a queue of people ordering cakes to take away. As she got to the front of the queue, it was then clarified that it was table service and someone should have been over.
Coffee and Cake
We ordered two Cappuccinos and two small hot chocolates. Our two can go either way with hot chocolates, love them or lose interest immediately.
The kid’s hot chocolates were made with hot milk and had a nice swirl of cream on the top. This was the best photo of the drink as the kids were beyond waiting and just wanted to move on by now.
This is my Mille-Feuille. The individual slice cakes are served in a cellophane wrapper. I started drooling over the congealed custardy goodness. The more I tried to get a good angle on the cake the more impatient the kids got.
Abigail’s snowman cupcake was a rich thick buttercream sculpture on top of chocolate cake.
Imogen’s Strawberry Gateau was… half eaten as she had given up on all this photography. I’d taken it for granted that they knew the routine. Photos before food. It was a good job that she wasn’t sharing with her sister as she devoured the slice. As did I with mine.
Patisserie Valerie’s cakes were amazing and I could have been persuaded to have a second. A table next to us was having an afternoon tea. Which involved a tiered tray of treats, plus extra cakes. I could have been tempted if I knew it was on offer, but there was a weird uncertainty about our visit. Time to pay. We managed to catch the eye of the waiter that brought our drinks and cakes over.
“Do we pay at the till or do you bring the bill to the table?”
“Either it’s up to you!”
After a further 10 minutes, we gave up waiting and went to the till. Three cakes and 4 drinks came to £18. With a tenner in my wallet I whipped out my card and it was then they realised their card machine has given up on life.
Patisserie Valerie Durham Review
We really can’t fault the offerings available at Patisserie Valerie. The cakes were amazing and drinks were great. Both were well presented and it was everything I hoped it would be. However, the set up seemed to fall apart and I’m not really sure why. We’d arrived at 4pm which wasn’t a busy time for the place, yet the majority of the staff seemed to be too busy to acknowledge our presence. Whether it had been a tough day in Durham and they’d started to wind down, I’m not sure.
I’ll try Newcastle’s Patisserie Valerie next before I decide if that’s the standard they aim to portray.