New Delhi, India
July 3, 2012
So, my husband and I weren’t really meaning to pop into L’Opéra and stuff ourselves on baked goods, no matter how good. There’s only so much we’re willing to shell out for a macaron or a tart, or whatever. But this last weekend, we happened to be at the DLF Promenade Mall, and there was L’Opéra. This is a small outlet—there’s an L-shaped display counter, a very narrow counter with half a dozen or so bar stools, and that’s about it. The ‘wall’ facing the mall interior is (very cleverly) glass. We happened to peek in, and the mere sight of the items on display was mouthwatering: gloriously colourful fruit tarts, lemon tarts, mirabelle plum tarts, éclairs (both coffee and chocolate), mille-feuille, and rows of pretty macarons, in pink and green and golden and brown, like a wonderful spring garden. We decided there and then that this needed to be checked out, no matter how expensive.
The bar stools were already occupied, so after half an hour of mall-walking, we returned, to find L’Opéra mostly empty. Now came the tough part: choosing what to have. Given a chance, I’d have ordered one of everything on display—all of it was utterly tantalising—but I finally settled for a spectacular fruit tart (yes, the ‘spectacular’ is a part of the name, and is an appropriate adjective!). My husband chose a lemon tart, and we decided we’d split each in half, so we’d get to taste what the other was having. L’Opéra also offers teas and coffees (nothing fancy—the tea, for instance, comes out of a tea bag, which most tea connoisseurs would look down upon). We settled for an Earl Grey green tea each—nice and refreshing, and (as it turned out) a good, gentle complement to the tarts.
The tarts were, both, superb. A very light, very buttery (and the butter always wins with me!) pastry formed the base. For the spectacular fruit tart, this was covered with a layer of smooth custard and topped with loads of fruit—thinly sliced apple, kiwifruit, peach (or was it apricot?), watermelon and grapes, all covered with a very thin glaze, and topped off with a small square of dark chocolate. The lemon tart filling was beautifully tart and lemony, without being overpoweringly sweet or greasy, as most lemon curd in Delhi tends to be.
By the time we’d finished our tea and tarts, we were so bowled over, we decided to indulge a bit and buy ourselves something for our next day’s breakfast. L’Opéra has a range of breads (rye, pumpernickel, walnut and raisin, and cereal among them), plus croissants, brioches, Danish pastry, and sandwiches. This one, too, proved a difficult decision to take, but we finally settled on the chocolate chip brioches and the almond croissants. We got these packed and took them home, to be put in the fridge.
The chocolate chip brioches didn’t look much like the brioches I’ve usually come across, but they tasted wonderful—beautifully buttery, and chockfull of chocolate chip. Interestingly, my husband had his brioche cold, straight out of the fridge—and said it was fantastic that way. I put mine in the microwave for half a minute, and thought that was fabulous. The almond croissants too got a unanimous thumbs up: dusted over with a generous sprinkle of toasted almond slivers and icing sugar, and filled with just the right amount of sweetened, coarse almond paste. Divine.
L’Opéra has several outlets scattered across Delhi and Gurgaon. Besides the one at the DLF Promenade Mall, there are outlets in Khan Market, New Friends Colony, at the French embassy (only for the staff), and one coming up at Select CityWalk Mall in Saket. Other than the wide range of tarts, pastries, breads and desserts on display, they also make pizzas, quiches, savoury tarts, etc. Doorstep delivery is available for orders of a minimum of Rs 2,000—and they can cater for functions.
Our bill at L’Opéra—the tarts, the tea, the brioches and the croissants—amounted to Rs 975, all taxes included. It’s steep; I’d probably pay much less in one of Delhi’s smaller bakeries. But I can bet there’ll be a world of difference between that and this. The food here merits a whole-hearted "Vive L’Opéra!" from me.
From journal Delhi Restaurants: Expat Hangouts