– Words and Photographs by Allan Reid
La Roux Patisserie
Several years ago, while exploring the streets of Paris, I was intrigued by the perfect patisseries that dot that urban landscape. Tiny shops, like chunks of white chocolate scattered amid the brick and iron cake of Grande Paris. They seemed inevitably to be painted bright white, but with a deep coloured trim or accent: blue or black seemed most common. And always, they boasted a bright clean window showcasing the cornucopia of colourful sweets available within. Bite-sized delicacies, decorated like works of art, so precise, so elegant.
Fast-forward a few months, and I am back in Victoria, walking through Chinatown, where I have stopped short before a familiar display. The same bright glass, the same artisan’s display of confectionary sophistication.
I had to enter: the room was painted out in white, with simple columns rising from thick baseboards and wainscotting, a quintessential black and white tile floor among marble-top tables set with French Provincial chairs upholstered black in ornate white frames. There was the thick royal purple band circling the tops of the walls, and yet another marvellous display case and counter beneath a sparkling crystal chandelier inset into a royal purple alcove.
Alas, La Roux has not become a habit for me, but rather, an indulgence, a bit of decadence that I allow myself once in a while. It’s not the price that holds me back, for those are reasonable enough, but the fear, I suppose, of spoiling a treat by partaking of it too often, risking my appreciation of the extraordinary, eroded to an expectation of something less remarkable.
There are no better croissants in this city. The simple butter croissant ($2.95) is light and flaky, and melt-in-the-mouth. Dressed up with chocolate ($3.50), ham and cheese ($3.75), or almond or hazelnut-chocolate ($4.75), they become a bit more heavenly.
But today, I have opted for the cheesecake ($5.99), a small rectangle in its own delicate box. It is not the chocolate box I first imagined—wouldn’t that have been nice—but chocolate-coloured cardboard.
But its function is more than mere decoration, for inside is the smoothest, creamiest cheesecake. Dig down for the graham cracker crumb beneath layers of soft mousse, topped with swirls of creme fraiche and lined with a sweet strawberry coulis, and again topped with two halves of a fresh strawberry and a fragment crisp.
Each spoonful is a dream to be savoured. Something had to hold all of that together. I paired it with a cup of fresh brewed coffee, a rich medium roast, although Silk Road tea is also available for those who prefer it. Portions are not large, nor tiny—just the perfect little bit of heaven: a perfect moment of indulgence.
519 Fisgard Street, Victoria
laroux.ca / 778-265-7689