If you’ve been to Paris, or just find the thought of it alluring, you’ll understand my desire to find a good croissant. By that, I mean golden pastry with a thousand different layers, shattering with each bite and causing a mess. Eating a well-made croissant should never be a tidy affair, after all.
I’m not the only one who craves this – Janice Marta went to Paris eight years ago, and fell in love with French pastries. Once home, she found herself frustrated she couldn’t find the same in Richmond, and decided to make them for herself. This began years of a self-taught pastry education that’s now resulted in the creation of L’Opera Patisserie on Minoru Boulevard. She and her mother, Mei, opened the business just months ago, and have slowly but surely begun to build an adoring clientele.
The shop’s interior is grand enough to match its name – it’s like being inside an opulent box seat at the Paris Opera House.
It’s wallpapered in a rich, red and gold brocade, with vintage-looking chandeliers and sconces.
Each day, they make all their products (including puff pastry) from scratch, and along with croissants offer a number of desserts and petite, colourful, French macarons. Take note, gluten-free eaters!
Open from Wednesday to Sunday, they’re now offering High Tea every day, though still require tea reservations to be made 48 hours in advance. I asked Jillian, my Official High Tea Pal, to join me yesterday, and we rode the Canada Line to Paris in the early, sunlit afternoon.
The tea menu changes regularly, but always includes a pot of tea, sandwich, pastry, macaron of your choice, and four other sweets. The tea pot comes on a cast iron stand with a tea light below to keep it warm.
Currently, they only have a small selection of teas, but I imagine this will grow as things get busier. We chose Earl Grey, and it was nice.
Our goodies arrived on a lovely, two-tiered silver tea stand, with the sweets tucked in around the bottom and our savouries on top.
You can see Janice and her mother have an eye for detail; the top handle was tied with a little gold ribbon and teapot charm;
the sandwiches were carefully wrapped in parchment and sealed with “L’Opera” stickers;
the teacups fit the décor beautifully;
and the dark-chocolate covered strawberries came in a finely spun caramelized candy basket.
The quality of the food was excellent, and it’s utterly impressive that Janice is self-taught – clearly, she has the meticulous soul of a pastry chef. The tuna and cucumber tea sandwiches were on fresh white bread, though my one complaint about them is that they were a bit bland. It needed curry, or mustard, or perhaps just a sprinkle of salt? Something to give it a little boost.
The mini-brioche was buttery, buttery, buttery. It came with two pots of raspberry preserves, which Jillian and I both loved.
The bottom tier was the star of the show. We made our way through the sweets slowly and happily.
There was a mille-feuille (a.k.a. Napoleon), which means “a thousand leaves.” It consisted of light pastry cream and six fat raspberries sandwiched between two sheets of delicate, flaky pastry. The raspberries were ripe, and it tasted like spring.
The mini tarte au citron was topped by a blackberry, and had a crunchy, skillfully-made pate brisee crust. The lemon curd was creamy, and not too sweet.
The burnt sugar puff was like a little cream bomb – this picture gives no indication as to just how much cream was hiding in there! The round burnt sugar crust gave it crunch, and tasted of dark caramel.
The strawberries were ripe, and dipped in a good quality dark chocolate.
The last treats were our macarons; I picked lemon, and Jillian chose rose raspberry. They were very well done – light, chewy, and the perfect little hit of flavour. Macarons are finicky little beasts to make well, but certainly easy to enjoy.
In addition to our tea, we also tried a ham and cheese croissant, just the thing I was raving about at the beginning of the post. It tasted strongly of good butter, and was messy, so guess what – I loved it! See what I mean about a thousand layers?
Before she got a machine to roll out the dough, Janice did all her puff pastry by hand. This is a job I used to do in a bakery, and I can honestly say it’s one of the best arm workouts there is. Knowing she did it makes her that much more legit! The fruit Danishes also looked tempting.
L’Opera Patisserie is truly a hidden gem in Richmond, and certainly worth a visit. At $25 per person, the High Tea is a steal, and your friends will worship you if you show up at their door with a box of Janice’s croissants or macarons.
As for me, I’ll certainly be back. A trip to Paris for the price of a Canada Line ticket? Remarkable.
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian and gluten-free options available
Reservations for High Tea must be made 48 hours in advance