Angelina's in Paris is a mini portal to a bygone age, and the perfect place to go for a shot of Parisian sophistication.
I recently went to this beautiful restaurant for a second time, and was delighted to find my memories had served me true; it was as charming and as elegant as I had remembered. This time, I was taking a friend. Not only was it her first visit to Angelina's, it was her first time visiting Paris, so no pressure! As soon as we had decided to go to Paris, I knew I was going to take her to Angelina's, in the hope that they had a breakfast menu. I was not disappointed.
We arrived around 10.00am and happily there were no queues. When we left about an hour and a half later, people were starting to queue, so do be prepared that at certain times of the day you may have to wait. We were immediately escorted to a table in a beautiful spacious room, with a high ceiling, chandeliers, murals and large, gilt-framed mirrors. The tables are laid ready to welcome eager visitors with branded crockery and shiny cutlery. Menus were delivered and then the difficult part began; what were we going to have!
Angelina's offers three set breakfast menus and an à la carte breakfast menu. The set menus range from €20 to €29.50, with each menu being a variation of the basic one. The Parisian Breakfast was the menu we both chose, and came with a choice of tea, coffee or hot chocolate (more on that later!), along with a choice of freshly squeezed orange, lemon or grapefruit juice, a selection of mini viennoiseries, bread rolls, butter and jam, honey, and chestnut spread. The Healthy Breakfast offers meusli and fresh fruit salad in place of the pastries. The Angelina Breakfast offers the same as the Parisian Breakfast, along with eggs cooked how you like, and fruit salad.
We placed our order with the friendly waitress (yes, really, she was friendly!) and as we waited for our order to arrive we couldn't help but watch other people's breakfasts being tantalizingly transported past our covetous eyes! Fluffy, yellow omelettes, croissants with ham and scrambled egg fillings, pain perdu (or eggy bread to me), and cakes that looked far too pretty to eat! Although we had arrived hungry, we were very soon starving and eager to eat. We didn't have to wait too long for our order to arrive, which was probably just as well, as I was dangerously close to mugging the couple sitting next to us and eating the evidence!
Angelina is famous for its setting, its divine cakes, but more than anything else, it's famous for its chocolat chaud à l'ancienne dit l'Africain, (old-fashioned hot chocolate l'Africain) or posh, rich hot chocolate. I have to confess right now that I am not a very big fan of hot chocolate, so my friend very kindly volunteered to do the tasting. Your breakfast menu comes with chocolat chaud Angelina, although I'm not sure what difference there may be between this and the traditional hot chocolate, but it is hot, it is chocolatey, it is indulgent, and it is not to be missed!
Your hot chocolate comes in an individual-sized pitcher, accompanied by a small pot of whipped fresh cream, the idea being that you add the cream to the hot chocolate to your taste, because basically when you pour your hot chocolate, you are pouring scrumptious, silky smooth, rich, pure, hot and runny chocolate. To sum it up, hot chocolate doesn't get any better than this!
My tea arrived in a little silver-coloured tea pot, and the waitress did not bat an eyelid when I asked if I could have some milk to go with my tea. In the few minutes that it took for my milk to arrive, I decided to pay a quick visit to the bathroom (being a middle aged mother of two, bathrooms play a major role in my life). The bathroom is on the first floor (or second floor if you're American) so you get to walk up a richly carpeted staircase to get there. The bathroom was clean, but surprisingly understated I thought. Perhaps I was expecting something a little more extravagant for this setting, which was unfair as I had no reason to expect any such thing. There is still the feeling of a time gone by in the decor, and there are long mirrors for you to check your make-up and clothing before re-entering the dining area having swished your way back down the staircase. One word of warning about the ladies bathroom; there is a small step up into the cubicles, don't forget it's still there when you leave the cubicle (or perhaps your memory is better than mine).
My tea, and my friend's hot chocolate, were accompanied by a tray of six mini viennoiserie, in this case croissants and pain au chocolat. They were soft and buttery on the inside, with just enough crispness on the outside to make the taking of a bite an exciting pleasure. There was also a two-tiered tray holding fresh bread rolls so tasty that it was almost a pity to add the butter, apricot jam, honey or chestnut cream that were also served. However, I fought the temptation to just stuff my face with plain fresh bread and, as delicately as I could, smeared a not-too-thin layer of butter and apricot jam on my bread roll and ate; delicious!
Angelina's doesn't just offer breakfast though, it offers both sweet and savoury food throughout the day, from Croque Monsieur to caviar, or an abundance of pastries including their signature Mont Blanc cake. However, it is undoubtably the cakes that steal the show, and they are works of art in their own right. Their pastries are seasonal, so do visit their website (link below) before your visit to whet your appetite and give yourself more time to attempt to make a choice. Although I didn't have it on this occasion, I can also recommend the Angelina Tea Time; a selection of cocktail canapés and mini pastries with tea, coffee or Angelina's hot chocolate. Or you could swap your hot beverage for a glass of Champagne, because why not!
There is also a small shop where you can buy a selection of pastries, including macarons, to take home and enjoy later. They also sell a selection of speciality teas, their hot chocolate, and boxes of chocolates and biscuits. They are overpriced, but if you're buying them as a gift, you will be incredibly popular!
As you sit in the beautiful dining room, immersed in its belle epoque decor, sipping your luxurious hot chocolate or Earl Grey tea or Champagne, it's easy to imagine some of the customers who have walked through the doors of Angelina's since its opening in 1903. People such as Marcel Proust and Coco Chanel, who was a regular visitor to Angelina's, and unsurprisingly, her drink of choice was the famous hot chocolate.
Yes, breakfast at Angelina's was was expensive, but I didn't begrudge a single centime. When taken as a whole, the location, the ambience, the service, the food, I would say it's worth going. Let's face it, you very probably won't be going every day, or even every week, so splashing out on this extravagant treat when visiting Paris can easily become part of your 'Parisian Experience' without putting too much of a strain on our budget.
How to find it.
There is actually more than one Angelina's in Paris, but I went to the original, which can be found at 226 rue de Rivoli, just opposite the Tuileriers Garden. If you take the Metro, come out of the Tuileriers station, cross the road, turn left and walk a short way under the delightful arched arcade, and you will find yourself outside Angelina's in no time at all.
Monday to Thursday 07.30 – 19.00
Friday 07.30 – 19.30
Saturday 07.30 – 19.30
Sunday and bank holidays 07.30 – 19.00