Fauchon is a haven of chic design and delicious French delicacies, says Penny Fray. In other words, it’s the perfect haunt for Oman’s lunching ladies
If you thought Holly Golightly was prowling outside Tiffany’s because she wanted a diamond – you’d be wrong. She was probably wishing that she was in Paris putting some meat on her bones with a decadent breakfast at Fauchon, the legendary French food shop – not having cold coffee and a stale Danish in New York.
If you didn’t know, Fauchon has a well-earned reputation as one of the most rarefied places to eat pâtisseries in Oman, although the new café is nowhere near as chic as its flagship store behind the Madeleine church in Paris, France.
Established in 1886, it’s one of my favourite places to buy pâté, honey and privately labelled bubbly when crossing the English Channel. Its history and gourmet credentials may help in making it a destination stop for many, but for me, it’s all about watching teeny, tiny, Chanel toting, French women resisting the temptation of a calorific treat. It makes for cruel entertainment.
Here in the Sultanate, however, expats come to Fauchon for hard-to-find foreign foods while those with a sweet tooth make a beeline for the pâtisserie counter for airy, ganache-filled macarons.
Prices can be eye-popping but the pink and monochrome packaging is so beautiful that you don’t mind parting with your hard earned rials for a bit of luxe. Even its location in Muscat’s Opera Galleria instantly makes you feel polished. So, when arranging lunch with one of the city’s glossy posse, it’s the obvious meeting point.
I had previously been to this store-cum-café a couple of times for tins of posh tea but never had the opportunity to sit down to sample its menu.
Whilst waiting for my dining companion, I was bombarded with beverage options from the over-attentive waiters. Not wanting to disappoint, I ordered the aptly named Afternoon in Paris, whilst scouring the eclectic carte-du-jour for my near future feast.
When my Arab friend arrived, bang on time in a haze of perfume and panache, a trio of complementary breads and oils were placed on our table. And wow! Fresh, flavoursome and very French – they were far too good to ignore.
My Aries chum, a regular, knew exactly what she wanted without so much as a glance at the menu – a bowl of Fauchon’s fabulous Caesar Salad. I considered being equally lady-like with a bowl of fresh leaves but opted for the more calorific gourmet burger instead. Both dishes arrived fairly promptly and seemed suitably smart on white crockery with potted, sauced accessories.
The burger looked huge next to the beautifully arranged stack of chunky chips and special dip. Luckily, it wasn’t a case of style over substance because this somewhat overpriced RO11 burger ticked all the right boxes.
The beef pattie, encased in a fresh bun, was both big and juicy.
Aries’ salad, with delicate slivers of chicken, looked equally appetizing.
“Oh, it never disappoints,” she revealed, taking a sip from her Evian water. And neither do the desserts.
I was half expecting to have to arm-twist the slender yummy mummy to have cake with me but she took little persuading in ordering a millefeuille. I would have ordered some of the famous eclairs as well had I not been so full.
The sweet slice, made up of three layers of puff pastry and two layers of crème pâtissière, was little less than sensational. I even adored the little edible tag with the Fauchon brand on top – it was très tasteful.
Chic, airy and with attentive staff and amazing treats, I can’t think of a better place in Muscat for a girly get together.
Swanky stop with stellar staff and lots of sweet surprises.
Opera Galleria, Muscat
Opening Hours: Daily 9am-11pm
Lunch for two, including tea and soft drinks: RO30