1903 in Paris marked the opening of bakery-tearoom Angelina, an upscale institution which grew to attract perpetual lines for its high-priced confections. The now- legendary Parisian pâtisserie expanded to Japan and Dubai before recently making its way to Shanghai, where it’s recently landed between luxury clothing brands on the gleaming white second floor of Lane Crawford. Chandeliers and crown moulding frame backlit glass shelves, on which take-away edibles in brightly coloured boxes resembling designer cosmetics containers are on display.
The service is superb, as it should be, with prices so exorbitant – éclairs come at 68RMB a piece, while a chocolate-almond tart will set you back 83RMB. The reason for the high prices must lie partially in travel expenses, since Angelina’s pastries are airlifted from their Parisian point of origin. The products’ flavour and texture also suffer – perhaps due to the freezing-thawing process required for shipment – and many of the pastries have been reduced to mediocrity by the time they touch down in Shanghai.
The millefeuille (88RMB), for example, is currently afflicted by simultaneously soggy and chewy layers of puff pastry, instead of flaky sheets that shatter between the teeth. The signature ‘Le Mont-Blanc’ (88RMB), composed of meringue topped with whipped cream and coated in chestnut cream ‘vermicelli’, is overpriced and underwhelming, with an unpleasant gelatinous texture. More satisfactory is the signature ‘L’Africain’ hot chocolate (73RMB), a pleasantly bitter, rich drink served in a pitcher with a side of unsweetened whipped cream. However, the Shanghai version also fails to live up to the frenzy it has inspired at its Paris location. What’s more, an irresistible, ultra-thick hot chocolate can be found at Taiwanese comfort food restaurant Charmant for a fraction of the price (28RMB).
Until Angelina improves to the standards set by their flagship, it’s not worth the hype or the cash.