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Sweet nothings from the French at Marie-Antoinette in Bandra

Legend goes that in 1789, Marie Antoinette, Queen of France asked why her people looked unhappy during one of her coach rides. She was told that people had no bread to eat. Marie Antoinette is believed to have said, “If they have no bread, let them eat cake.” One peek at the haughty queen’s namesake, the Bandra-based patisserie, Marie-Antoinette, and you know that all semblance between the two ends at the love of cake. The patisserie looks welcoming with pretty wrought iron chairs and tables.

Inside, owners Severine Bresson and Marc de Vezin, who recently left Paris for Mumbai, entertain some guests. In the air, there’s anticipation of all things new, Severine’s eager hand gesticulations and a faint trace of strawberry. Marie-Antoinette offers macarons (chocolate, coffee, apple, blackcurrant and caramel), classic butter and strawberry financiers, paninis, quiches, coffee and juices. The waiter tells us that the quiche takes an hour to make because Severine rustles it up from scratch for every order. Curiosity makes us order mushroom panini (Rs 170) and a strawberry shake (Rs 99).

The strawberry shake is refreshing, and the bread oozes freshness at first bite. A generous portion of cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes makes it a filling snack but we think a bit more seasoning would go a long way. Next, we sample the macarons. Now, we all like our colours to surprise us — in life, in our wardrobe, sometimes even on our faces — but not on our plate. The macarons could go easy on the artificial colour, because, with their lovely, crumbly shells, they have little to worry about. 

The strawberry macaron tastes delicious, clearly Marie-Antoinette’s big winner. The coffee macaron boasts of a heady shot of coffee flavour, but the extra sugar in the shell soon takes over. Soon appears a plate carrying strawberry financiers (freshly baked) and their butter classic cousins. We notice the colouring again (fuchsia this time) but one bite and all is forgotten — they are moist in texture and superlative in flavour. Finally, after an hour, the Tomato Onion Quiche (Rs120) arrives, with a golden crust and generous toppings of tomato. We like the generosity of the portion and the balance of ingredients, but, again, think it lacks essential flavouring.

We leave Marie-Antoinette with a pleasant after-taste thanks to earnestness we see on Marc and Severine’s faces. True, there’s much to be done in terms of the excessive sweetness of the goodies and the flavouring, and we hope some practice fixes it.  We overhear Marc telling his guests he would have to think of ways to keep people coming after the initial buzz dies down. Just unleash those strawberry financiers, we think to ourselves, and all will be just fine.

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