Located at the foot of downtown skyscrapers, Belle Epicurean is a ravissante boutique. But this is not the average patisserie de quartier. Due to its location, it is designed for men in suits and women in tailleur, willing to enjoy a French break in the middle of their long busy days. In fact, this is not really a boulangerie, since I saw no baguette. It is a patisserie or a salon de thé, just like a Starbucks Coffee, but in a French version.

On the walls, diplomas from the famous cuisine school in Paris, Le Cordon Bleu—I had never heard of it and it seems they have a firm in New York, so how can it be a good school?—and an article from a local uninteresting rival of The Stranger.


I asked for a croissant, paid for it, and was waiting for it at the counter when the register told me: “I will bring it to you.” I thanked her, but I was intrigued. She had pronounced every single syllable in a very distinct way. She had articulated and her language was clear. I had never heard such a delightful thing among American people. You just swallow words and syllables, emphasizing some and keeping some other silent for unexplained reasons. Puzzled, I took a sit and waited for my croissant.

Every time you order a croissant here, they put it in the oven for a few seconds so it is warm when you eat it. Not a microwave, this evil machine that kills taste and murders the pleasure of cooking, but an oven. The woman put the croissant on my table and in order to check if my suspicions were true, I asked her if she was French. And yes, she was. That explains why her English is so lovely, and delicate, and clear, and understandable. She told me she had some suspicions about me too, since my pronunciation of “croissant” was perfect, and we had a nice French chat.

After this wonderful meeting, I was a bit disappointed by the croissant, which had a salted taste that I did not appreciate. I really wondered how the author of the article on the wall could have written that the amounts of the different ingredients in each pastry were balanced, so that the taste was excellent. Not a French writer, for sure.

This place earns a B-.

Good points:
•The location is great. It’s like a shelter of humanity and warmth at the feet of these cold and stone skyscrapers.
• The French register with a French accent. Lovely.
• The warm croissant. The taste is so much better when it’s warm.

Bad points:
• Too much salt in the croissant.
• Too many diplomas on the walls. A bit of modesty, please. Only French people can look that arrogant.