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Patisserie Valerie review

Jonathan Schofield on cakes, gentility and food porn

Written by . Published on March 25th 2011.

Patisserie Valerie review

Ever since Meng and Ecker closed years ago, the St Ann’s Square/King Street area has missed a proper tea-shop with good cakes and good snacks.

The fact that there is a restrained and tranquil air to Patisserie Valerie, despite the queues at the door, is a huge bonus. Manchester is nothing like York, thank God, but all proper cities need genteel, un-edgy, places like this, with that slight air of Edwardian sensibility.

Central Manchester ticked most boxes for shopping and eating but seemed to fire blanks in several areas, second hand bookshops, antique shops, toyshops and teashops. Over the last decade or so, despite the hectic building programme, it seemed to have lost much old-fashioned charm.

We’ve subsequently regained some of that in the Northern Quarter, with the vintage shops and also with the excellent Teacup on Thomas Street (although we lack an antiques store for the tourists to coo in).

Manchester city centre needs variety to work. It needs the cutting edge independents, all honest endeavour and gratifying originality, but it also needs the slick, polished established groups and chains. It needs this because it needs to attract well-to-do, comfortably off, middle aged, middle class customers. Cities need the bourgeoisie.

Now, at last, we’ve got a proper teashop in an area that really requires it: the original upmarket shopping area around St Ann’s Square. It’s perhaps a sign of a mood-swing around here that Patisserie Valerie has opened at all.

It’s chosen its spot well. The corner of St Ann’s Square and Deansgate is prime time, put an array of gorgeous cakes in the window and the ladies (and sweet-toothed men) will come, like bees to flowers.

The design of the place is modest; subdued tones, anonymous prints, as though it’s the cakes and pudds that require attention and are the only proper decoration. Along with the sweet delights there are also snacks, an all day brunch selection, sandwiches, salads and ice cream.

From the all-day brunch we ordered Eggs Benedict (two poached eggs, toasted brioche, grilled bacon and Hollandaise,£7.50) and from the grilled snacks, croque madame (ham, Emmenthal, topped with gruyere bechamel and a poached egg, £6.50).

The Eggs Benedict looked like something from a Carry On movie. Is this the most food porn dish in the city? If you happen to go with a woman in a bikini you could re-enact smut from a Benny Hill episode – although you might look a little out of place in Patisserie Valerie. “Ooooooh madam,” Kenneth Williams would have said on seeing this dish.

Eggs Benedict

But the Eggs Benedict was also rudely delicious; runny eggs, good bacon, a balanced Hollandaise. Nicely put together, very nicely stacked - so to speak.

Same went for my croque. Balanced, filling, good looking, velvety gruyere béchamel, runny egg as required. The salad was functional on the plate but the rest was spot-on, a classic rendering that worked throughout.

Then we had the sweet stuff: a mille feuille (£3.60), a tarte aux framboises (£4), a cheesecake (£3.70). These again were very good.

Given the size of the Patisserie Valerie business these days, with outlets all over the place, the cakes and tarts must be mass-produced somewhere, but that doesn’t stop them being exceptionally good.

The best was the raspberry tart, which had a good pastry and stonking mix of sweetness and that slight tartness of raspberries. The mille feuille, or posh-vanilla-slice-as-done-by Greggs, maintained the standard as did the cheesecake. What was exceptional about them was lightness of touch, these babies had wings, they were the opposite of stodgy.

At this point something odd happened to my camera so you’ll have to look at the displays Patisserie Valerie shows off.

Drinks came in the form of a pot of Earl Grey Suki tea (£2.60) and an orange and cranberry juice (£2.40). The pot of tea was a handsome affair and a good accompaniment for the food.

All in all it was an immensely enjoyable lunch.

The fact that there is a restrained and tranquil air to Patisserie Valerie, despite the queues at the door, is a huge bonus. Manchester is nothing like York, thank God, but all proper cities need genteel, un-edgy, places like this, with that slight air of Edwardian sensibility.

And if you want kicks then order that Eggs Benedict. And take a girl in a bikini.

Patisserie Valerie opens from 7am-8pm every day, except Sunday when it’s 8am-7pm.

Breakdown:7/10 food
3.5/5 service
4/5 ambience
Address:Patisserie Valerie
Deansgate - Manchester
2-4 St Ann Street
M3 2BW
0161 839 9116

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: Gordo gets carried away

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34 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Business LinkMarch 23rd 2011.

This move was long overdue, now all Manchester needs to become UK's second city is to attract a winter tyre fitter...

bigearsMarch 23rd 2011.

is that a poached egg on top of the madame? if they cant make a simple poached egg i dread to think if how the cakes are produced

Eddy David LewisMarch 23rd 2011.

A functional salad eh? Was going to nip in a cream bun until i found out that the salad was functional. Dont think i'll bother now.

Baxter GordonMarch 23rd 2011.

I love this place been in three times already. But my question is, after the lovely pair for brunch did you enjoy some lovely buns?

UbmiMarch 23rd 2011.

The tarte aux framboisie is the best. Truly scrumptious

ranieMarch 23rd 2011.

Mine are the eclairs. Swoon

NortherngeezerMarch 23rd 2011.

I agree with Bigears.
The poached eggs look like they've been cooked in one of those plastic fry-pan holder devices my mum used in the 70s (and unfortunatly, still does)
It aint rocket science to make a good poached egg, but it does require a degree of skill and experience which the maker of these dont look like they possess.

Jonathan SchofieldMarch 24th 2011.

As the reviewer I ate these eggs and while they may not look very good, although I can't think why, they were excellent. I like this place.

angela10751March 24th 2011.

Ohh - I wondered what was going to be there - will have to have a wander over.

Lady JaneMarch 24th 2011.

Think goodness this place has arrived! I've been treking to Slatterys in Whitefield for decent patisserie stuff! I'd completely forgotten about Meng & Ecker till I read this article.

AnonymousMarch 24th 2011.

Is this the same Patesserie Valerie as the one in Soho? If so it will be fabulous. London branch been going years and never ever fails to delight.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousDecember 6th 2011.

Yes. We have one in Chester now too.

Keith BurtonMarch 24th 2011.

We've been sat in pat val for 42 minutes- while the indulgent strawberry cream affair was pretty special it would have been better if the coffee didn't arrive 10mins after the cake was finished
Been waiting 25 on club sandwich, other people complaining about the wait also- pretty shambolic service- the only saving grace is that the logo has kept us constantly amused and chortling to ourselves... Really? Flangipan springs to mind

Savoury hunterMarch 24th 2011.

Do they do Sausage rolls or just sweet pastries??????????????

IrishOutsideMarch 24th 2011.

Never has a bacon Sarnie made me feel less masculine

DibigoMarch 24th 2011.

Lovely this place, I had a piece of the black forrest and the berry mouse. Why only 14.5 out of 20 though? 'Rated against the best examples of their kind'. What is this place compared to?

CakefanMarch 24th 2011.

I had a great Saturday brunch here. Service was a little erratic but I put that down to teething problems. Food was great

Jodrell FrankMarch 24th 2011.

Those eggs Benedict look like marge simpsons pert yellow breasts I'd imagine.
Lovely stuff.

banoffeeMarch 25th 2011.

Am soooooo excited Pat Val is now in Manchester. AMAZING cakes!!

Andy17639March 25th 2011.

A missing comma has totally f*cked up the first sentence of this review. EDITORIAL: comma now in place. Thanks

El MurrayMarch 25th 2011.

First visit was a bit disappointing. I was very excited by the prospect of a house brick-sized Mille Feuille but sadly it was like eating a tub of margarine. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect it to be light and airy, I'm as up for a bit of atery clogging as the next man but this was definitely a case of style over substance. Give me a Greggs Vanilla Slice instead any day of the week.

El MurrayMarch 25th 2011.


JudeybMarch 25th 2011.

I was very excited about visiting here I took my friend who had come to visit from Dublin. I thought the food was okay, I had poached eggs (made using some device)and my friend had a sandwich. One thing I will say the staff are useless waitress was rude and disinterested, our food took 45mins to arrive and I had to ask three times for my bill. They had ample staff on in fact too many for the size of the place standing around doing nothing. My advise get rid and start again!

ZedMarch 25th 2011.

I had a bad experience here too. My friends scrambled eggs were liked rubber (I had the machine made poached ones) and so we sent them back. 20 mins later, when I had finished, a replacement arrived which was worse. They looked like they had been made in advance and kept warm in a tray as the stuck together egg had corners

anonandonandonMarch 27th 2011.

Didn't know this was chain when we came across one in Bath last week. As the trays of individually wrapped cake were carried to the window I joked about them just having been defrosted. Strawberry gateau, vanilla slice and two cups of coffee - £13.40. I'll stick to Oklahoma, thanks.

rantingraccoonMarch 28th 2011.

Went here on Saturday and decided to wait in the increasing queue at the door! Overall impressions were not bad.. the food was ok ( only place I can find in Manchester for eggs benedict without paying hotel prices!) Poached eggs should be real but were actually fine... The decor was less inpressive and reminded me of just another coffee chain and could be improved to reflect the brand I would have thought. The service was great though despite how busy they were

Overall ..not bad! Could be better but where else can I find a similar all day brunch type menu??

Andrew RevansApril 1st 2011.

"Over the last decade or so, despite the hectic building programme, it seemed to have lost much old-fashioned charm."

Er, shouldn't that be "because of the hectic etc"?

LeeApril 15th 2011.

Is this place really that good that it warrants queues at the door most afternoons. I find it very hard to believe. More to do with the lack of quality competition than anything else. I will wait for all the hysteria to die down before I take a look. I will not queue for tea and cakes. I find it ridiculous why so many people in Manchester do.

JamRolyPolyApril 19th 2011.

After a night in Manchester we went for brunch on Saturday and I have to echo other contributors view on the service. I ordered simple wholemeal toast & butter and a double espresso and my wife ordered a ham and cheese toasted sandwich and we shared a pain au raisin. Toast and sarnie arrived first, 10 mins later my coffee, which had to be sent back as it was cold and then my wife's still water. after asking twice, the pain au raisin came about 10 minutes later.

The quality of both my wife's toasted andwich and the pain au raisin was very good, just poor service.

AnonymousDecember 6th 2011.

Good and much needed in town, but NOT great, and no way as good as the new Leckenby's, over the road on King Street. Lived in London, in another life, and the Soho branch was a gem back in the 80's. This is a pale imitation.

AnonymousDecember 6th 2011.

HATE the fact the only toilet is a disabled one, in the corner, AND the door does not shut properly, when vacant. They need a bigger shop somewhere in town. Hope comes with time. Prices like that do NOT merit the smell of the loo wafting past your table. What were they thinking? Are lots of empty spaces around!?
Service? Some, especially a couple of younmg men ARE excellent. Others do not seem to have a clue and should let people, who REALLY need the job, have a go!
The queues just prove we need, and WANT, places like this in Central Manchester. Wish I had the money to invest in one!

AnonymousJanuary 8th 2012.

The eggs benedict royale (smoked salmon) was very good with a good amount of salmon. The polite service was also very good. On the constructive critism front the place is crampt with too many tables squeezed in, it took 30 minutes from ordering to receive our hot food and the tea is nothing special and the pot too small.

SusieMay 17th 2012.

Had chocolate Mousse cake and coffee. Poor service, coffees arrived 15mins after we finished the cake. Cake was nothing special, very very ordinary AND tasted of the fridge - flavour migration - which tells me they don't store things correctly. seats are also so close together, had to put up with bad breathe from person at next table, yes! They are that close! Coffee, nothing special.Won't be going back.

AnonymousJanuary 7th 2014.

I am a fan and a regular but they have STILL not addressed the toilet issue..ALL too often have to wait to long or send things back..Who have they got in that kitchen??? Staff are known to send stuff back WITHOUT even giving it first to the punter..!! There IS a need for such places in our great city....THEY so need a BIGGER shop in a BETTER location.....

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