A fresh presence in the world of French cuisine deeply centered on traditions, le Café Gourmand is Parisian bistros’ new frisky little secret. This welcome invention, which eagerly wraps up any meal in an elegant, sophisticated and oh so sinfully delicious manner, is the best way to treat yourselves to something mini, yummy and fashionable.
Café Gourmand = a laid-back culinary French concept proposing a cup of espresso along with a couple of tiny, doll-like desserts served on the same plate
Believed to have appeared in Parisian restaurants some twelve years ago, the first café gourmand was supposedly served in “La Criée”. After its eventful appearance, today 40 % of French restaurants have included it in their menus with one in three clients ordering it, according to a study in Figaro Economique. What’s more, in recent years the sale of traditional desserts has decreased by 20% which is partly to be blamed on the rise of the much-loved café gourmand – a “dessert” which actually emerged as a step further in a new direction aiming to render French lunches quicker than those in the past century (consisting of a starter, main course, a plate of cheese, a dessert, a coffee and a digestive!)
The idea of the café gourmand is brilliant and utterly Parisian. This tiny luxury is the living proof that “good things come in small packages” – and fortunately in this case, they don’t cost a fortune. In this heavenly marriage of coffee and sweets, your petit noir comes aesthetically surrounded by “sweet nothings” – a creative assortment of a few bite-sized desserts. Put off by the idea of having a real dessert (as it could be expensive, fattening and too long to get), today’s Parisian is nevertheless tempted by the alluring prospect of “sinning” just a little bit by cracking for the inoffensive café gourmand. “Mini and sweet is something that satisfies the Parisian. “Mini sweet” is “mini sin”. Works.” declares Olivier Magny, a renowned connoisseur of the Parisian species.
Although there is no fixed rule regarding the assortment of the desserts coming with the café gourmand, it most often includes three, whose presence may vary. Expect a mini chocolate soufflé, a scoop of ice cream, a shot glass of chocolate mousse, a chunk of apple pie, a mini raspberry tart or a triangle of brownie, a helping of clafoutis and the ever-present French crème brûlée.
For starters, you have the option to try a number of different desserts at once, without worrying for the calories, as they are presumably tiny. Secondly, coffee and sweets have always had a ying-yang relationship, with the bitterness of the coffee softened by the sweetness of the treats. And finally – now here comes the best part! – ordering a café gourmand is like going for a mysterious adventure ride or taking a leap in the dark, as it creates this feeling of surprise, because the dessert types are not listed on the menu, so that you wouldn’t know what you’d be getting in advance. Neat, huh?
For those indulging their sweet tooth, it’s pure bliss – so many diverse flavors all together! For the uncertain ones, it is noncommittal: you don’t need to make a choice, they’ll do it for you! For the prudent, it is still righteous: the helpings are tiny and harmless. For the beauty seekers, it’s a canvas: a blend of flavours, shapes and sizes. In a nutshell, a café gourmand is the ideal way to top off your lunch on a sunlit terrace and continue with your day, an extra smile down your way.
Not to be missed:
An amazing place to initiate yourselves to this sweet discovery would be the open-air terrace of patisserie “Paul” in St. Germain’s most charming little street, Rue de Buci. Enjoy!