I heard about Pâtisserie & Bar plein de La paix, named by someone the owner highly respects and which opened in late July last year, from Iori-san who learned of the place from Sano-san…since Iori-san is unable to go to pâtisseries during the day due to a long work schedule that disallows him to make their early closing hours, plein de La paix is perfect for those craving something sweet (and exquisite!) later at night, especially with a drink, whether it be coffee or tea, even alcohol-based. The sweets are also available for taking home.
When I dropped by 喫茶 文化堂Kissa Bunkado less than two weeks ago, I stayed long enough to witness Iori-san getting off work. He expressed wanting to have soba at 手打ち蕎麦 更科よしき before heading to plein de La paix for something sweet. He led me into a small side street from 河原町通Kawaramachi Street with 木屋町通Kiyamachi Street on the other side, stopping in front of 森田ビルMorita Bldg.
The entrance was further in away from the hubbub of the busy street that it’s on giving those who visit more a sense of privacy; the bright display case of sweets can be seen even from outside (the better for enticing passersby to come in☺).
We were greeted enthusiastically by the petite and energetic owner who was on friendly terms with Iori–san who went to the counter and sat in the white cushy bar chair next to the seat furthest back; I took the seat next to him on the other side. Although there is sofa seat for a more private experience, the owner’s hope is for customers to mingle at the counter with each other as well as engage in conversation with her while she works in the kitchen in front of them, just like at, well, a bar.☺
The interior was mainly white making for a clean and stylish interior that I can imagine to be popular especially among female customers.
Iori-san chose to have カフェオレCafé au lait, ￥520, and macarons in パッションpassion(fruit) and ピスタチオpistache at ￥200 each with ホットコーヒーhot coffee, ￥600.
while I had フロマージュブランFromage blanc, ￥520, with アイスアールグレイiced Earl Grey tea, ￥600.
Not only was the Fromage blanc, an exquisite no-bake cheesecake, eye candy with a halo of white chocolate sprayed with a bit of pink pearl, it was rich and creamy with a sweet and sour filling of raspberry sauce; the tea was an ideal accompaniment.
I believe we stayed for over three hours but, seriously, the time passed fast with interesting conversation as always is the case with Iori-san. The owner pâtissière has a knack for keeping up lively conversation, especially with her wit and humor laced with plenty of sass, and although she’s not confident about her English (she does speak French, though), I was sure she’d make any non-Japanese customer feel at home in her establishment which inspired me to go a second time, two days ago. When I arrived, she was on her way out to run an errand but she took time to get me some goodies to keep me occupied while she left for about fifteen minutes. After checking out the display case, I ordered the ショコラ・ルージュChocolat rouge, ￥520, and an アイスカフェオレiced café au lait, ￥700. Except for a postal employee coming with a package for her (unfortunately I couldn’t receive it for her), I was left to enjoy my cake and drink alone during which I took a couple more pictures of the place that I couldn’t last time.
a view of the wall which features homemade confiture and baked goodies as well as the Japanese wine available
Although it was a bit challenging cutting through the thick and gooey layer of milk chocolate on the outside, cutting in I found a sauce the mixture of red fruits surrounded by chocolate mousse which contained bits of cashew…it was love at first bite. It’s funny how one’s body automatically dances when ingesting something delicious and divine, or is that just us Americans?☺
Luckily the postal worker came back with the package after she returned; there were grapes from a regular inside, one of which she graciously offered…she said she might use them for a tart, mmm!
Since we were alone for most of my visit, we got to talk about various subjects…her nickname is Barbara (an extreme deformation of her last name, Harada) and that’s what I’ll call her from now on. She worked in a pâtisserie in Paris for a year which explains why she speaks French. Despite her extraordinary talent, she’s so down-to-earth and humble yet firm in her philosophy when it comes to making sweets, no matter what other pâtissiers say. I took a Café au lait (what Iori-san had the first time I went) home since I’d been interested in it since laying my eyes on it; the light but rich layers of coffee blanc manger and Anise blanc manger topped with coffee jelly was really an edible and luxurious café au lait. I can’t wait to go back again, whether alone or with a friend.☺
Barbara works alone most of the time but once she can get someone to work part-time during the day, she says she’d like to open from early afternoon to increase awareness of the establishment being a pâtisserie. Although a brilliant idea, a sweets bar is still a commodity in Kyoto where a lot of establishments are known to close early…definitely worth checking out.☺
Update: A little less than a week later, I dropped by plein de La paix after work despite the oncoming typhoon; I wanted to have a luxurious sweet to celebrate payday and bask in Barbara’s energy.
When I walked in, there seemed to be no one, so I took the liberty of seating myself in the same seat as last time at which Barbara emerged from the restroom; upon seeing me, she greeted me cheerfully. I noticed a new sweet, a 季節のババロアkisetsu no babaroa (seasonal bavarois) of ライチ・いちじく・巨峰lychee (jelly), ichijiku (fig) & Kyoho (grape), ￥500 when eating in (an extra ￥20 when taking it out), with アイスアールグレイiced Earl Grey (Barbara’s recommendation). The tart sweetness from the mix of fruits and the smooth creamy bavarois melded together for a rich but refreshing dessert…I ate as slowly as I could but, alas, it was gone before half my drink was.
While I indulged and we talked (I was the only customer until I left), Barbara was adding some last touches to a new cake and when I learned that it would be displayed in the case while I was there, I couldn’t help but order it! Barbara gave me a good bite-size portion to taste which made me more determined to have it before I left. MAYU, ￥500, is a the 抹茶maccha (green tea) and yuzu version of the Opera and I think I like it better for its appetizing green color not to mention its perfect sweetness and firm yet moist texture.
I ended up leaving early because I wasn’t sure how bad the rain was going to get…since Barbara had forgotten about my order of a ピスタチオマカロンpistache macaron, ￥200, I decided to take it home, with a フランボワーズマカロンframbroise macaron, also ￥200 (the five kinds of macarons are all the same price). Barbara put them in a paper bag which I put in my cloth bag for the walk to Kyoto Station in the oncoming typhoon; after scrimmaging around in the back of the shop, she came back with a blue-and-white Zima towel to deal with getting wet and saw me out the door as she has before when she can tear herself away from her work.
To my surprise and delight, my macarons were intact except the cream inside oozing out just a little bit! The macaron cookie was the perfect crispy-on-the-outside, moist-and-chewy-on-the-inside, and the flavors of both the cookie and especially the cream was so rich. I knew I’d be having them again…
And I did, two days later. At first I didn’t know if the shop was open because a shade was drawn on the glass door but when I called, Barbara said they were open. When I arrived, she was on the phone, so I sat in what was becoming my usual chair. She had just finished batches of cakes, so there weren’t any lining the case…since the トゥ・キルTous kir, ￥520, a dome of cassis mousse filled with blanc manger and berry on a layer of chocolate cake, wasn’t ready to be consumed for a while, I kept myself occupied with a pistache macaron, a frambroise macaron and an iced Earl Grey.
During that time, two of Barbara’s friends came; later they introduced themselves as Miyagawa-san and Kumi-san. Although I would smile from time to time at Miyagawa-san’s 親父ギャグoyaji-gyagu, or puns that older generations like to make, from the side, we didn’t start talking until Miyagawa-san noticed the Toblerone that I had brought for Barbara the last time I’d come. I was surprised at how young they looked (they’re the same age). With his dark exotic looks, Miyagawa-san didn’t look like he was just a normal employee of a company; besides her regular job, the pretty and elegant Kumi-san also performs as a jazz singer (I thought her voice was so pretty and easy to listen to!). I ended up staying for about two hours before tearing myself away to go home. I can’t wait to chat with them again.☺
Other delights to be had here:
* トロワ・テTrois Thé, ￥550, with iced tea
* パッションギモーヴpassion guimauve
Address: 京都市中京区河原町通三条下ル南車屋町Kyoto-shi. Nakagyo-ku. Kawaramachi-dori. Sanjo-sagaru Minamikurumaya-cho 282 森田ビルMorita Bldg. 1階F
Telephone number: 075-708-7689
Access: 地下鉄東西線三条京阪駅 か 京阪本線三条駅より徒歩7分minutes by foot from Subway Tozai Line Sanjo Keihan Station or Keihan Line Sanjo Station or 河原町三条バス停より徒歩4分minutes by foot from bus stop Kawaramachi Sanjo
Business hours: 4:00pm-2:00am
Regular holiday: Wednesday