Thursday, 30 July 2015

Cheer your afternoon, with a macaroon

Summer in Monaco can be so stressful; the heat, the tourists, the noise. When the strain of sightseeing overwhelms you, where's the best place to take a break? Two temporary summer cafes are offering their individual brands of refreshment, and we tried them out.

In the centre of Monte Carlo, Laduree has set up its pastel green stall on the terrace behind the Casino. Its pretty, shaded tables are distributed around a mini-carousel of white horses that plays lounge music at a discrete, low volume. Everything is delicate and refined, a throwback to the ladies of 19th century Paris who were the company's first customers.

Laduree is famous for its macaroons, which are available in various flavours. The tea room doesn't sell them individually, so you have to order a dish of four. All of them are delicious, but the lemon one was particularly good, its crisp shell collapsing into soft meringue and an even softer, creamy filling that contained little bites of candied lemon peel.

If the weather is particularly hot, choose the order in which you eat your four macaroons with care, as the ganache filling quickly warms up.

  • dish of 4 macaroons €12.00
  • expresso €3.60
  • ceylon tea €7.00
  • 3 mini croissants €6.00
  • chocolate eclair €7.00
  • glass of champagne €15.00

Laduree was cool and relaxing, and the drilling and construction noises from nearby building sites were hardly noticable.

The Grimaldi Forum is free from construction noise at the moment, and it's also the location of a second temporary cafe. In contrast to Laduree's muted green and rose, Pantone Cafe makes a bold statement with primary colours. In fact the colours seem to be the most important design aspect of this snack bar.

Customers buy refreshments from a trailer at the side of the exhibition centre's entrance, then take a vivid, plastic-cushioned seat at one of the square white tables. With temperatures in the 30s when we visited, everyone had retreated into the Grimaldi Forum's air-conditioned entrance hall, leaving the outdoor terrace empty, its red cardboard menus skittering across the paving like tumble weed.

The menu is initially confusing, listing items as colours, followed by descriptions, with prices in small, grey type. Expresso (Pantone 19-0915) is made with a little capsule in one of several brightly coloured Nespresso-style machines. It's served in a grey cardboard cup (Cosmic Sky 15-3909), with a blue napkin (Canal Blue 14-4810). It feels like we're in an Ikea store, trying out the new Pantone kitchen range.

  • expresso (Pantone 19-0915) €1.50
  • tea (Pantone 16-0213) €1.50
  • 2 mini croissants (Pantone 19-0924) €1.50
  • chocolate eclair (Pantone 19-1625) €2.50
  • glass of aperol (Pantone 17-1464) €4.50

It's unfair to compare the two places: one serves expensive treats, the other quick snacks; one is refined, the other brash. We think that Pantone Cafe is fine for an energy boost after visiting the Grimaldi Forum, but for a relaxing, luxurious coffee break, take a tip from Victoria Wood and cheer your afternoon with a macaroon.

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