Patisserie Valerie, Marylebone
105 Marylebone High St
020 7935 6240
by Mack Muffin
Patisserie Valerie was formed in Soho’s Frith Street in 1926, by the pâtissière Madam Valerie – a formidable woman, by all accounts, on what the history books now describe as ‘a mission to introduce fine continental patisserie to the English’. How delightful. How impudent. How French.
Since moving to Old Compton Street in a va te faire foutre to the Luftwaffe, twenty or more franchises have sprung up in the capital alone – with only the one on Marylebone High Street, to my mind, maintaining the left-leaning, quasi-intellectual ambience of the original.
It was for this and other similarly pretentious reasoning that led me to spend every afternoon there while writing my first novel, a laptop being the only clue to my contemporariness. I was otherwise the picture of pre-War Rive Gauche chic; a twenty-first-century Hemingway, but with a northern accent.
Two hours was, happily enough for this workshy writer, the optimal time to type a bit and consume un café American, but what enticed me first to Patisserie Valerie – pre-novel, pre-pretention – was the breakfast.
Nevermind the anachronistic eastern European staff in 20s garb, or the fact that sitting outside renders any cooked meal too cold to eat halfway through – something about the breeze in Marylebone, perhaps change in the air – the scrambled eggs are divine. Buttery, creamy, sloppy; no word in the Earth language, ē sounding or otherwise, can do justice to the perfect marriage of taste and texture in those eggs.
Nevermind having to add the butter sur la table to triangulated toast – really, who does that? – or the redundant sprig garnish, or indeed the impossibly enormous plates that make for an amusing game of pass the parcel, shunting anything not immediately of use (sugar, par exemple) to adjacent diners. The eggs are divine.
I should say were, as my most recent trips to the chain – not to Marylebone, I might add – have dealt what can only be described as a crushing blow, far worse than anything those pesky Nazis could muster, to Madam Valerie’s ‘mission’. One can only hope that in Marylebone, at least, Madam’s legacy, and my atavistic artistique pretention, lives on.