The glass door opens up to a place where fresh aromatic flavors are just waiting to burst out. Welcome to the world of Nicolas Audi, the famous Nicolas Audi who officially opens his pastry in Rabieh.
I believe you are already aware of my fascination with Mr. Nicolas Audi, who I have spend a few ours with in the kitchen, not too long ago.
The minute I heard that his pastry shop has opened I rushed to be one of the first people to come here and try to taste as many creations as I can.
Just open the door and allow the aromas to work... it is magic. Walk towards the fridge facing the door and here is where the journey begins. One single fridge, simple and clear, filled with a choice of mini pieces, macarons and half a dozen of large cakes... Croissants are displayed in the shelves behind.
The cakes on display: LBP5,000-LBP6,000
- Tarte langue
- Chico noisette
- Tarte citron meringuée
- Baba au rhum
- Tarte à la fraise
- Éclair caramel
- Carré sable breton framboise pistache
- Tarte aux 2 chocolats
- Dacquoise pistache crème brûlée
- Pave chico amer
- 1000 feuilles au sirop d'érable
- Tarte Al Khalil
- Framboise, café, pistache, vanille, rose, caramel au beurre salé, citron, chocolat, fruit de la passion, marron matcha, gingembre.
- Nature, thym, fromage, amandes, chocolat.
The large Cakes:
Every morning, "Selon L'humeur du Chef" or chef’s choices are a dozen cakes on display to enjoy…
You look around and enjoy the site of every piece. At first glance you will feel the passion that was put into each piece on display. The mango tart looks like a flower just ready to be devoured. The cakes look like long rectangular cylinders, beautifully decorated with gold leaves, the eclair has certain finesse to them, while the huge mille-feuille is a sight to ponder on.
I tried to taste as many creations as I could:
My journey of taste started with some croissants: One cheese and one chocolate croissant. Shaped un-homogeneously, the cheese croissant has an interesting look. Wait until you bite into them. Smooth and airy and lightly crunchy, the croissant crumbled under your teeth caressing, every single millimeter of your taste buds. Buttery it is, but not any butter but this premium one that tickles your tongue while the cheese takes over to add the needed finesse, the needed flavor. All of this and your hands won't get oily. What a croissant... I've rarely had something like that in town. Wait! Not only that... Lick your lips and let the subtle sweetness stay over for couple minutes.
Wow! If you think you've had a chocolate croissant before, thick again. The chocolate croissant I'm looking at now is a piece of art. A rich smell, superb taste and a crunch... A crunch that reveals the melting dark chocolate inside, that's just perfect. And I started to feel it under my teeth; crunch, a slight chewiness, butter, richness... An extraordinary experience!
How about a cake?
- The Mille-feuille with maple syrup is an interesting combination. What caught my attention is that the mille-feuille is layered vertically and not the conventional way making it easy to cut without going into pieces. A cream on top, three thick layers of puff pastry below and between them more cream. You have to love your sweet things to enjoy this more. I personally found a bit too sweet.
- Pavé of dark chocolate: dark chocolate biscuit, vanilla syrup, chocolate mousse, 70% dark chocolate, cocoa and chocolate ganache. A long square cylinder covered with cocoa has inside an intense mix of chocolate. The best part is that it's not sweet at all, a treat for dark chocolate lovers. Different layers, one on top of the other are felt clearly. For me, it needed a crunch, a stronger feel, and additional texture, other than the chewiness of all the layers.
- Lemon tart with meringue: pate sablee, hazelnut biscuit, lemon cream, Coleman confit, Italian meringue and lemon zest. A square cake filled with four layers of heavenly creations. Lemon cream at the bottom, hazelnut in the middle and another layer of lemon cream topped with Italian meringue and decorated with lemon confit. A fresh crunch, a smoothness, a pleasure and the adequate sweetness of this full-bodied cake concentrated with strong Flavors. That's a good one.
- To end up today's tasting experience, I tried the baba au rhum. Half a sphere of cake, baked as is like a Chou a la Creme then filled from its bottom with cream before being smacked with rum. How nice it is not to feel the chewiness of the envelop and enjoy the finesse of the rum together with the moisture of the heart. Just put a bite on your tongue and let your palate do the rest. No chewing needed.
A bag in hand, I left with a selection of the finest bites to try them at home. I enjoyed the mango tart; it's crunch and rich juicy filling. I loved the strawberry tart and the way its revisited with peanuts cream and the eclair is tender, richly filled and has a top caramel later that adds the needed enjoyment to this piece of wonder.
So to be honest as I always am let me wrap this up in a nutshell:
- The croissants are exquisite
- The cakes are good but not great... They surely can be better with some fine-tuning
- The macarons are not their point of strength. They are exactly how they should not be. Like many places do, the macarons are empty on the inside; hard like biscuit on the outside with a creamy strong filling. A macaron should be homogenous, tender and soft, the biscuit filled completely like a bun, slightly crunchy on the outside and spread with a smooth cream that ads the needed flavor without adding another texture.
It was an enjoyable morning for sure especially that I got the chance to also enjoy some of Mr. Audi's signature cakes including "Al Khalil" with ashta and Jazsrieh.
I believe that all the cakes will be improved for sure; remember this is their first week of operations.
(Check more mouthwatering photos of the cakes down below in the gallery)