Tag Archives: Sébastien Gaudard

Gaudard by Meg Zimbeck

Sébastien Gaudard

Sébastien Gaudard, formerly of Delicabar — has taken over this longstanding rue des Martyrs pâtisserie, where he’s sticking with the classics.

Practical information

Address: 22 rue des Martyrs, 75009
Nearest transport: Notre Dame de Lorette (12)
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 10am-8pm; Saturday, 9am-8pm; Sunday, 9am-2pm; closed Monday
Telephone: 01 71 18 24 70
Website

Reviews of interest

François-Régis Gaudry – L’Express (2012) “Son projet est aussi modeste qu’ambitieux : redonner vie aux gâteaux Vieille France, aux entremets Trente Glorieuses, à tous ces desserts qui l’ont fait saliver dans la boulangerie-pâtisserie de ses parents : les puits d’amour, le paris-brest, le mussipontain…”

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Montmartre Sacre Couer

Picnicking at the Sacré-Cœur

This is one picnic spot with a view. Below you’ll find our suggestions for where to pick up cheese, sweets, wine and other picnic provisions before camping out atop the steps of the Sacré-Cœur.

Solids

Cheese

Chez Virginie – A superb affineuse, Virginie sells only raw-milk cheeses at her lovely Montmartre shop. This is the farthest cheese source from the Sacré-Coeur, but it’s worth the trek.

Fromagerie Lepic – A Montmartre cheese shop with a (usually) friendly, knowledgeable staff.

Par Ici Les Fromages – This way to the cheese, on the quiet side of Montmartre.

Bread

Au Levain d’Antan – Pascal Barillon, who has been baking since 1976, was awarded 1st prize in the 2011 competition for the Best Baguette in Paris.

Le Grenier à Pain Abbesses – Head baker Djibril Bodian won the 2010 Grand Prix de la Baguette.

Arnaud Delmontel – A perpetual contender for the best baguette in Paris, Delmontel makes a wide variety of loaves, and gorgeous pastries, too.

Coquelicot – This charming, award-winning bakery is where Montmartre goes for bread.

Gontran Cherrier – Baker Gontran Cherrier is making some of the most interesting breads in Paris, including a squid ink baguette with black sesame, and a rye loaf flavored with miso.

Sandwiches & Sweets

Gontran Cherrier- A variety of tartes salées, bun & baguette sandwiches plus very good lemon tarts from baker Gontran Cherrier.

Arnaud Larher – The original location of this M.O.F. (Meilleure Ouvrier de France).

Liquids

Cave du Miroir – This wine shop is run by the team behind Le Miroir, just across the street.

La Cave des Abbesses – In front, a wine shop with a good selection of estate-bottled wines. In back, a place to drink them, accompanied by charcuterie and cheese.

Peoples Drug Store – A good place to pick up a range of international beers en route to a picnic. They even have a speedy chilling machine for quickly cooling bottles.

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Other Ideal Places to Picnic:

More Warm Weather Posts: 

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Le Perchoir photo Sara Garcia

Word of Mouth: March

Each month we collect the reviews that interest us most, add excerpts to the pages collected in Our Guide to Paris Restaurants (and shops) and present you with a summary. We update it continuously throughout the month, with the newer reviews appearing at the top. For serious restaurant geeks only.

Restaurant Reviews

New & Newish Openings

  • Matière À (75010) – The smoky chocolate tobacco truffles were a slightly traumatic experience for former smoker Caroline Mignot, but she otherwise enjoyed the new canal adjacent eatery for its housemade bread & butter and “une cuisine de saison et de création, un binôme cuisine et salle qui fonctionne à l’unisson, dans un lieu à l’esprit chineur et singulier, à vous d’essayer…” Emmanuel Rubin found the concept of a single 14 person table intriguing, but ultimately didn’t love the execution. “Une table unique, centrale (pas un couvert de plus mais le coude du voisin en prime), où un jeune chef se creuse sincèrement le ciboulot, au risque parfois du laborieux et du too much.”
  • Okomusu (75003) – “Si le Japon cuisinait les pattes de mouche, nul doute que Paris, dans sa passion nippone, en ferait un restau dédié” Emmanuel Rubin wrote.  But in the case of Okomusu and their okonomimyaki pancakes, it’s a good thing. “Par chance, l’Archipel se régale d’okonomiyaki bien révélé par ce comptoir Tokyo-bobo.”
  • Coretta (75017) – The restaurant that took over the reins from Bigarrade continues to impress. Alexander Lobrano liked “the signatures of Pantaleon’s cooking… which run to an avowed love of vegetables and fruit, a percussion of different acidities, and a love of smoke and charring”.  Now that the restaurant is a few weeks old, he “can whole-heartedly recommend this place, and since they’re planning to serve on the broad terrace out front when the weather gets better, I suspect that it’s going to become even more popular.” Read more on our page for Coretta.
  • L’Atelier Ramey (75018)Emmanuel Rubin expressed more interest in the industrial-chic design than in the (fine) food at “un bistrot joliment taillé dans le style «factory» et plutôt industrieux à soigner la désormais classique fibre néo-ménagère.”
  • Maguey (75012) – It’s a restaurant where what you are served is based on what emotion you desire to feel. And according to Philippe Toinard for A Nous Paris, it’s as terrible as it sounds. “Pour résumer, vous choisissez les sensations (percutant, moelleux, malicieux ou honnête) que vous voulez éprouver, et Maguey vous propose le menu adapté sans vous le dévoiler… Outre un service totalement amateur, les plats n’ont rien de transcendant; tourte aux champignons qui n’en a pas le goût, paleron de bœuf beaucoup trop sec. Seule la tarte Tatin sort du lot… Tout ça pour ça!”
  • Hai Kai (75010) – Jerôme Berger for A Nous Paris called Hai Kai a bobo trap, albeit a beautiful and tasty bobo trap. Find more reviews on our page for Hai Kai.
  • La Table d’Eugènie (75016) - Not to be confused with the long established and well-liked La Table d’Eugène, Emmanuel Rubin said “Monté par un quarteron de pros… dans l’idée de renouer avec les brasseries fougueuses, l’affaire déçoit à lâcher des plats sans grande niaque et une carte de vins aussi indigente qu’hors de prix.”
  • Les Vinaigriers (75010) – Rue des Vinaigriers, already home to Jules et Shim, Café Craft and The Sunken Chip, continues to expand its eatery options. Emmanuel Rubin enjoyed the “bistrot taillé dans l’ultra-parigot et mijoté dans le néo-popu par un binôme, de frais réenchanté, s’appliquant à bien faire.”
  • Blue Valentine (75011)Emmanuel Rubin had very little to say about the adorable bistro except that “les compositions impressionnistes d’un de ces jeunes chefs nippons raffinant la bistrote.” Read more reviews on our page for Blue Valentine.
  • MandooBar (75008)François-Règis Gaudry had a moment with some orgasmic Korean raviolis at this new 12 seat space.  “Ces raviolis aux légumes font trempette dans une coupelle de sauce soja et d’huile de sésame avant de vous dispenser en bouche le plus sensuel des baisers: l’élasticité délicate du voile qui se déchire, puis l’émotion glissante d’une farce où s’entrelacent le tofu, le poireau, le ciboule, les graines de sésame, les algues et cette irrépressible envie d’y retourner aussi sec… Les mandoo à la viande, dont la farce mi-bœuf, mi-porc à la ciboulette a mariné un minimum de 5 heures, sont tout aussi… érotiques.” Read additional reviews on our page for MandooBar.
  • Filakia (75002) – Gourmet street food options continue to expand in Paris with fancy pita pockets from ex-Cyril Lignac employees. Emmanuel Rubin tried two different versions and said “Filakia de porc rôti à la sauge: bonne variation de moelleux. Filakia boulettes de courgette et feta: svelte.”
  • Peco Peco (75009) – For François-Règis Gaudry, “Le succès de cette cantine de fortune arrimée à deux longueurs de baguette du Moulin rouge tient en 3 mots-clés” which are pork tonkatsu, donburi rice bowls, and kushiagé kebabs.
  • Le Bon Georges (75009)Caroline Mignot found the food at Le Bon Georges frustratingly delicious because of the small portions. “L’œuf poché et sa blanquette de légumes. Pas très généreuse la blanquette me dis-je en voyant arriver l’assiette. C’était avant de goûter… Au premier coup de cuillère, j’étais encore plus frustrée. L’œuf délicat et sa note maîtrisée de vinaigre, le crémeux de la liaison, son goût presque sucré par les légumes, les divers légumes en coupés en brunoise et la verdeur du persil plat ciselé créaient une synergie extra.” John Talbott enjoyed both the looks of the “really cool, really old, really friendly joint” and the food as “right now this stands Number 3 on my Great Hits List for 2014.” Emmanuel Rubin said “un bistrot bien campé dans le parigot entre sérieux répertoire comptoir et fameux bagout viandard (notamment un fameux bœuf de chez Polmard).” Jerôme Berger had a slightly disappointing but ultimately still promising meal. “À l’arrivée, même si l’addition à la carte plombe et si les vins déçoivent quelque peu, le lieu et ses promesses poussent à revenir. Tradition, quand tu nous tiens…” Read additional reviews on our page for Le Bon Georges.
  • Liberté (75010)John Talbott found the canal-side bakery “beautiful and teeming with good stuff.” Read additional reviews on our page for Liberté.
  • La Recoleta (75017) – Argentinean beef, beef and more beef are on offer at La Recoleta. Emmanuel Rubin wrote that “Longtemps délaissée au rayon des exotismes parisiens, la veine argentine rejoint, mine de rien, les nouvelles tocades des appétits contemporains… Ce n’est pas encore le grand fauteuil au bouquet mais ce n’est déjà plus le strapontin.”

Not New, but Noteworthy

  • Les Enfants Rouges (75003)Not Drinking Poison in Paris had a more or less adequate experience at this neo-bistro near the covered market. “Les Enfants Rouges under Shinozuka points no new directions in Paris dining, and at first glance manages to underwhelm despite terrific cuisine and serviceable hospitality. But Shinozuka, evidently no fool, has made all criticism moot by opening on Sundays and Mondays, which instantly renders Les Enfants Rouges one of the most useful addresses in Paris, let alone the quality-starved Marais.” Read additional reviews on our page for Les Enfants Rouges.
  • Clamato (75011) – John Talbott’s found a Sunday mainstay “where the price is right and the food correct.” Read additional reviews on our page for Clamato.
  • Pizza Chic (75006)François Simon finally made it to Pizza Chic and falls for its fashionable allure. “Ce qui me plaît chez Pizza chic, c’est cette envie de ne pas transformer la pizza en bric à vrac, trop chargée, trop fourre-tout, trop vide-tupperware. La carte aide à cibler son goût et  l’entraine plus loin. Cela doit être ça le nec de Pizza chic: choisir son goût et ne point trop mélanger, ni le sacrifier.” Find additional reviews on our page for Pizza Chic.
  • Pirouette (75001)John Talbott couldn’t say enough good things about his meal which was “special, inventive, mind and palate expanding and fun” and had “the most wonderfully welcoming owners, staff and chef on the planet.” Read more reviews on our page for Pirouette.
  • L’Assiette (75014) – Caroline Mignot visited the restaurant of the newly named co-host of the t.v. show “Mon bistrot préféré” and walked away feeling “Du goûteux, du genre bistrotier bourgeois et généreux, des produits nobles, le client amateur est heureux.” Find more reviews on our page for L’Assiette.
  • L’Ecailler du Bistrot (75011)John Talbott has had some mixed luck at the seafood oriented restaurant from the Paul Bert team as “their Utah Beach oysters are exceptional but their fish dishes are not always on target” but would return despite slow service because “at 19€ [for lunch] it’s quite a bargain.” Read additional reviews on our page for L’Ecailler du Bistrot.
  • Café Trama (75006) – The café’s ability to ace the basic minimum standards of quality restaurateurism with style make it a notable achievement in the Parisian dining scene for Not Drinking Poison in Paris. He raved  “With a mild, unshowy menu by chef Bruno Schaeffer, a brilliant wine list by Le Rouge et Le Blanc editor Paul Hayat, and a welcoming, well-appointed dining room run by owner Marion Trama, Café Trama is like a beacon showing the way home to wayward novelty concepts citywide.” Read additional reviews on our page for Café Trama.
  • Miznon (75004)François Simon is back from his world travels and enjoying Israeli falafel from the “mythique” Miznon where “tout est préparé sous vos yeux derrière le comptoir par une armée de cuistots venus pour la plupart d’Israël. Sono remontée comme un coucou, affluence des grands jours, attendez vous à un petit choc frontal qui devrait faire se pâmer quelques foodies en mal de sensations fortes. Tout était bon, quasiment donné (en dessous et au-dessus de 10 euros).” Read additional reviews on our page for Miznon.
  • CheZaline (75011) – Not Drinking Poison in Paris is still haunted by an octopus salad he had over the summer at this “jewel box diorama of the low-key chef’s ideal restaurant” where “beyond the impeccable quality of her ingredients, Zampetti deserves praise for also assiduously avoiding daintiness in preparation and portion size. What she offers is chef food…” Find more reviews on our page for CheZaline.
  • La Roca (75015)Not Drinking Poison in Paris wished for a sommelier to shape a better wine list, but enjoyed the service and the fare that is “precisely what Parisians wish to eat these days: sweetly accessible variations on menu staples, finessed to a sheen and enlivened with the odd exotic ingredient (seaweed tapenade, kumquat). Prices are extremely reasonable. But Giesbert’s cuisine is hobbled by the restaurant’s far-flung location, and an almost punitively boring wine list.” Read additional reviews on our page for Roca.
  • La Gazzetta (75012) – Jerôme Berger for A Nous Paris paid a post-Petter Nilsson visit and found the new chef Luigi Nastri staged “un joli coup de Botte! Attention, pas le sempiternel trio mozza-pizza-tira’, non! Mais une façon de cuisine ritale: inspirée par la mamma, dressée pour la fashionista.” Find more reviews on our page for La Gazzetta.
  • Le Rafaël (75017) – Emmanuel Rubin was impressed by the new chef Simone Zanoni’s ability to creatively work within the confines of kosher regulations. Zanoni “s’y emploie avec ce mérite premier de l’audace et de l’intention… Voyons déjà là comme l’élégance d’une proposition qui gagnera peut-être bientôt à s’inspirer aussi de l’imaginaire culinaire juif.”
  • Udon Jubey (75001)Emmanuel Rubin has thrown down the gauntlet and declared that beloved Kunitoraya’s successor in their former space is, in fact, better. “Kunitoraya déménagé à quelques baguettes de là, son successeur reprend, avec son exotisme d’étuve, le battage de ses pâtes udon en bouillon.”
  • Frenchie To Go (75002)Aaron Ayscough believes that “In the not-too-distant future, when Paris drops the pretense of being French, Le Fooding will organise several multinational corporations to erect a statue in honor of Frenchie founder Gregory Marchand.” For the record, our Editor doesn’t very much agree. But you can’t deny that it takes balls to bite the hand that feeds such delicious pulled pork. Read additional reviews on our page for Frenchie To Go.
  • Caillebotte (75009)David Lebovitz had the “the menu du jour (€19 at lunch), which included a choice of any of the first courses from the menu, and the main course of the day, which was leg of lamb with a hazelnut crust” and is interested in “coming back and having a full-on meal here. It’s €35 for three courses and I can’t forget to mention that the staff could not have been nicer. It’s great to see the younger generation of French sincerely interested in providing good, helpful, professional service without a hint of pretension or exasperation.” Read more reviews on our page for Caillebotte.
  • Goust (75002)Not Drinking Poison in Paris will also not be returning for dinner after a disastrous lunch that he left “convinced that the restaurant was sourcing an entirely different, cheaper register of ingredients for its lunch service.” He doesn’t know “what kind of easily-tickled grandmothers are currently handing out Michelin stars, but Goust’s elevation to the firmament possesses dispiriting implications” as he finds it “a Michelin-starred nursing home.” Find additional reviews on our page for Goust.
  • La Coupole (75014) – What once may have passed for stylish at La Coupole now comes off as sad for Alexander Lobrano whose “heart went out to the friendly dignified man who showed up in a children’s birthday party Maharajah’s costume to serve the curry” and who “found it embarrassingly deflated, or devoid of any glamour whatsoever.”
  • Artisan (75009) – Killer cocktails and a legitimately good croque monsieur? David Lebovitz discovered the Parisian equivalent of a unicorn at Artisan. “A big feature of the place is the zinc cocktail bar, where you can get excellent drinks… Bijou came in a slender cocktail glass, and was a delirious blend of gin and Chartreuse… The thinly sliced Iberian ham was a nice treat alongside as was the fried mini croque monsieur, that was perhaps the best I’ve had in Paris.” See more reviews on our page for Artisan.
  • Pan (75010) – Lindsey Tramuta enjoyed the modern bistro where “the cocktails also got our collective thumbs up but the location – a somewhat remote and quiet pocket of the 10th arrondissement- will be an even greater factor influencing my return visit.”
  • Little Breizh (75006) – The ownership of Little Breizh changed hands back in October, but David Lebovitz has found that the quality remains the same. “This friendly Breton café offers crêpes and buckwheat galettes that are delicious, and generous. I had an excellent buckwheat galette, flecked with little nubbins of dark, toothy buckwheat embedded in the batter. I chose from the reasonable lunch menu that included a glass of cider and another crêpe for dessert, for less than €10.” Find additional reviews on our page for Little Breizh.
  • Procopio Angelo (75010) – Good Italian food in Paris? Apparently it does exist! For €17, David Lebovitz had a “two-course meal, including coffee. I started with a marvelous block of stracchino, a soft, young cow’s milk cheese with roasted radicchio and potatoes, and she had a crostini of zucchini, scamorza (smoked mozzarella), and bacon that was pretty terrific… The staff and owner are very engaging and it’s a nice place for lunch, if you’re in the neighborhood.”
  • Le Tagine (75011) – David Lebovitz was unimpressed with the main courses but will return to Le Tagine for the natural wines and interesting desserts. “The wine list is impressive. Not in length or breadth, but because the wines are natural wines… Mains were, well, fine – but I wouldn’t cancel a trip to Morocco for them… The hit for me were the desserts, all made in house. There were gazelle horns, crescent-shaped cookies filled with almond paste, makroud, semolina cookies filled with dates…I would go back just for that.”
  • L’Insolite (75018)John Talbott wouldn’t cross town for the bistro per se, but recommends it as a great neighborhood choice as “The welcome, service and au revoir from waiter and owner was great, the food as advertised was fresh, made in-house and reasonable, and the passing scene a great distraction. A destination, no, but for the ‘nabe, good choice.”

In the Shops

  • Du Pain et Des Idées (75010)Caroline Mignot raved about the apple tarts with “Un feuilletage fin et bien beurré, très croustillant aussi, des lamelles de pommes fines, des accents d’amandes… Terrible! Surtout que le dessous est ultra caramélisée, ce qui la rend collante, démoniaque… Un plaisir rare donc, mais très efficace.” Read additional reviews on our page for Du Pain et Des Idées.
  • La Grande Èpicerie (75007) – The giant department store was recently renovated and John Talbott found it much improved and “even more fabulous.” Find more reviews on our page for La Grande Èpicerie.

Down the Hatch

  • Red House (75011)Hipsters in Paris said “Ain’t no better place to get cracking cocktails for €6 on Happy Hour. Red House is the perfect mix of high-brow drinks in a low-brow setting. The music is always awesome and the salsa always spicy.” Read additional reviews on our page for Red House.
  • Le Perchoir (75011)Lindsey Tramuta has some reservations about Le Perchoir but is ultimately won over by its Instagrammability. “My impressions of the restaurant at this ultra-hyped 11th arrondissement rooftop hangout are anything but glowing but the ability to linger over a cocktail or bottle of wine with friends during the winter with an Instagram-ready view of the city makes it worth a visit.” Find more reviews on our page for Le Perchoir.

Want More?

To read about past months’ food and wine buzz, check our Word of Mouth archives.

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Arnaud Larher Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

Mapped: Paris’ Best Lemon Tarts

Earlier this week, we published the results from our taste test of the best lemon tarts in Paris and you’ve been clamoring for a map of the addresses ever since. Your wish is our command. Go forth, eat tarts, and let us know which tarte au citron you want to be your main squeeze.

1. Arnaud Larher – 93 rue de Seine, 75006

2. Sébastien Gaudard – 22 rue des Martyrs, 75009

3. Sadaharu Aoki – 35 rue de Vaugirard, 75006

4. La Pâtisserie by Cyril Lignac – 24 rue Paul Bert, 75011

5. Jacques Genin – 133 rue de Turenne, 75003

6. Blé Sucré – 7 rue Antoine Vollon, 75012

7. Carl Marletti – 51 Rue Censier, 75005

8. Carette – 4 place du Trocadero, 75016

9. Pierre Hermé – 72 rue Bonaparte, 75006

10. La Pâtisserie des Rêves – 93 rue du Bac, 75007

11. Ladurée – 21 Rue Bonaparte, 75006

12. Hugo & Victor – 40 boulevard Raspail, 75007

13. Gâteaux Thoumieux – 58 rue Saint-Dominique, 75007

14. Stéphane Secco – 75 Boulevard de Grenelle, 75015

15. Liberté par Benoît Castel – 39 rue des Vinaigriers, 75010

16. Helmut Newcake – 36 rue Bichat, 75010

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Lemon Tart Line Up Photo Catherine Down

Taste Test: Paris’ Best Lemon Tarts

Each month we’ll put the focus on a particular Parisian pastry, collect the best examples of classic & creative interpretations, then invite an esteemed panel of food experts & enthusiasts to evaluate them in a blind taste test. This month: Lemon Tarts. 

‘Tis the Season for Citrus

Citrus is in season right now and lemon tarts, a perennial Parisian favorite, are in abundance at pâtisseries all over town.  Because your time – and calories – shouldn’t be wasted on mediocre pastry, we organized a panel (more about our judges below) to blind taste and identify the best tarte au citron.

The Results: 

Our favorite comes from MOF pastry chef Arnaud Larher

Lemon tarts from Sébastien Gaudard, Sadaharu Aoki, and Jacques Genin all ranked highly, with more #1 votes than the tart from Arnaud Lahrer. However, those tarts were more divisive, and dissenting votes brought down their overall scores. The meringue topped tart from Larher had very high marks – if not always the highest – and that accounts for the upset victory.

1. Arnaud Larher

Arnaud Larher Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

Almost all the judges were surprised by the big win from Larher, but it was consistently rated across the board for good lemon flavor, buttery crust, and an appealing top hat of meringue. 

2. Sébastien Gaudard

Sebastien Gaudard Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

Gaudard’s brightly flavored lemon curd was excellent, even if a bit messy and loose. One judge lauded it for its “soft, strong lemon taste” and another found it had “the best crust to date.”

3. Sadaharu Aoki

Sadaharu Aoki Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

The elegant presentation, balanced lemon flavor and crunchy crust made this a favorite of one judge who said “I thought Aoki nailed it pretty well.” Another said there was “a grittiness to the crust, but I liked it” while others found it a little two sweet.

4.  La Pâtisserie by Cyril Lignac

Cyril Lignac Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

This outside the box lemon tart, inside of a box, was mostly well-received. One judge noted its “well-balanced flavor but not very useful meringue as there’s too much bitterness.” Another raved about the drops of lemon emulsion between the small peaks of curd.

5. Jacques Genin

Jacques Genin Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

This made-to-order lemon tart was a favorite of the PbM editorial team (both our Editor-in-Chief and Assistant Editor ranked it as their top pick) but one judge wrote “I was disappointed. It wasn’t as subtle as in my memories, compared to the others.” Opinions were divided about the incorporation of lime zest and basil – one judge declared that it “smells amazing, like pure spring!” and another felt these overshadowed the lemon.

6. Blé Sucré

Ble Sucre Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

The tiniest of the tarts had an eggier consistency and rustic crust. It was solidly liked by the judges who declared “tart but not too sweet” and “wow so much lemon!” but found the crust a little too thick.

7. Carl Marletti

Carl Marletti Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

The well-cooked crust was generally a hit, and judges noted the balanced acidity of this silver topped tart. One declared the curd “a little artificial tasting.”

8. Carette

Carette Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

The texture of the curd was generally applauded but judges were divided on the intensity of the lemon flavor. One found it “quite strong and very fruity” while another declared it “one note.” Several judges noted that the crust was a little too thin.

9. Pierre Hermé

Pierre Herme Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

Judges were surprised that the “Picasso of Pastry” didn’t perform better. The presentation was stunning, but the darker crust overpowered the too subtle “milky tasting” lemon tart with “acrid” candied lemon on top.

10. La Pâtisserie des Rêves

Patisserie des Reves Tartes au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

The whimsical lime scented meringue cap was striking, but ultimately overwhelmed the lemon curd which one judge declared “too mellow”.

11. Ladurée

Laduree Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

 This was another surprise– Ladurée actually exceeded most of the judge’s expectations and performed much better than anticipated despite an eggy and sweet curd. The “well cooked crust” was a hit, but one wondered if it was “too buttery?!” Another found the texture too loose and the glaze too old-fashioned.

12. Hugo & Victor

Hugo & Victor Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

The crunchy meringue peaks were captivating, but contributed to the judges’ unanimous declaration that the tart was “too sweet”. The thin lemon curd to thick crust ratio was another drawback, with one judge stating it was “too candy like.”

13. Gâteaux Thoumieux

Gateaux Thoumieux Photo Meg Zimbeck

The sablé crust was given demerits for being “overly thick and sandy”, “too buttery” and “dry and tasteless.” The lemon cream lacked intensity and was “not bright or acidic enough”.

14. Stéphane Secco

Stephane Secco Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

Judges liked the buttery crust and all-natural look of the tart with the inclusion of the candied rind and seeds, but were put off by the harsh, abrasive lemon flavor that one described as “really acrid and inedible.” Another loved it and was “quite sad for Secco’s tart, which was so powerful in lemon and acidity.”

15. Liberté par Benoît Castel

Liberte by Benoit Castel Photo Meg Zimbeck

One of the most visually distinctive tarts, the dominant flavor was not lemon but overwhelming vanilla flavor from the shortbread-like crust. Descriptors included: “rubbery”, “artificial”, and “synthetic tasting”.  One judge will “definitely stay clear!”

16. Helmut Newcake

Helmut Newcake Tarte au Citron Photo Meg Zimbeck

This gluten-free tart put up a good fight against its carbo-loaded brethren, but just didn’t have the same crisp texture and buttery flavor sans flour. “Too crumbly” came up in several comments. The overly sweet lemon flavor and curd to crust ratio could have been improved as well. Note: it wasn’t penalized for the unfortunate squishing it received in transport. Several judges noted the “nice meringue.”

The Process

We asked for your recommendations on Facebook and Twitter (thanks!) and sought the opinions of trusted French pastry experts and Contributing Editors Dorie GreenspanPatricia Wells, and Camille Malmquist about what makes a quality tarte au citron.

It’s not an easy pastry by any means. As Dorie Greenspan explains “Lemon tarts are tricky business. Almost by definition the filling must be puckery tart and scream lemon, but the line between tart and bitter is a fine one, and so the fruit’s bite has to be tempered by just the right amount of sugar.  And there needs to be butter, too – butter to thicken and smooth the texture and to make the lemon flavor last and last… As important as the filling is the crust – it’s not just something to hold the filling in place.  The crust should be golden brown… and thick enough to play crunch-and-crumb to the velvety smoothness of the filling.”

Patricia Wells feels “a good chocolate tart and lemon tart are two of the most essential pastries in the world… To my mind, the ideal lemon tart has a truly crunchy crust that will  contrast perfectly with a bright-flavored, tart lemon curd.”

Camille Malmquist explained that for the best lemon tart “You want [a crust that is] thin and crisp, but it needs to support and balance the lemon flavor, while also contrasting the texture of the curd. The curd should be very smooth with no graininess at all. Obviously, you want really good lemon flavor. That’s the most important thing…”

The Judging Parameters

To that end, our score sheet was divided into five components with the most weight being given to pure lemon flavor, above all other criteria.

  • Lemon Flavor
  • Texture of Lemon Curd
  • Flavor & Texture of Crust
  • Flavor Enhancements
  • Aesthetic Embellishments

Judges tasted each tart blindly and were asked to tally up their scores, then rank each tart accordingly.

The Judges

Many thanks to our panel of judges that included:

Additional Reading

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