Strolling along rue Montorgueil just north of Les Halles, a very ornate shop front caught our attention. Stohrer is apparently the oldest pâtisserie in Paris, dating back to 1730. They served royalty, and there was a photo of Queen Elizabeth and some pastries in the window. How could we not try something from here?
It was a Sunday morning I believe, and while Rhum Baba’s are supposed to be a speciality, there was a note that said that their Chocolate Eclairs are the best in Paris and not to be missed.
It was cool, having come out of the refrigerated cabinet. And it cost 4 euros, and is quite petite.
A week or so later, we were wandering across Ile St-Louis and again a store beckoned to me (this happens a lot in Paris). La Maison du Chou is the brainchild of a famous chef, Manuel Martinez, and this is apparently the second location.
The storefront seems simple, but when you look in the window, you can see below into the basement where fresh choux pastry is being made. We had to try it.
It was 5 euros for 3 and… the cream (we tried three flavours: natural, praline and coffee) is piped into the choux on the spot.
The verdict of today’s Parisian choux smackdown? The éclair from Stohrer was truly a disappointment. It’s hard to go wrong with cream, chocolate and pastry, so it certainly wasn’t bad. We were puzzled at the time: is this really the best? Is this what a good éclair is supposed to taste like?
I don’t mind exorbitant prices in Paris; instead of complaining, I generally think how marvellous it is that food and service are valued and that I’m at a lucky enough place in my life that I can afford, for a few months at least, expensive pastry. But I did raise my eyebrows when calculating the relation between cost, size and experience.
The ridiculously beautiful choux from La Maison du Chou won this contest hands down. They were so fresh that you could taste the different layers of pastry, and feel the heat of the oven on your tongue. The cream, piped in at the last minute, didn’t affect the freshness or crispness of the pastry, and the cream was: (NOM NOM NOM) superb. For only 5 euros, 3 little perfect pastries with cream pumped into them right in front of us was a bargain but when food is this good, I forget about price completely.
We may just have to stop here every time we pass by.
Stohrer, 51 rue Montorgueil, Paris 2nd.
La Maison du Chou, 5 Rue Jean du Bellay, Paris 4th (Ile St Louis); the other branch is at 7 Rue de Furstenberg, 75006 Paris, which is in a very charming square, and which has places to sit down inside below this sign…