Super Strict Score [understand my S3]: 6
Opéra noisette [hazelnut Opéra]: 7
Bûche chocolat [chocolate log]: 6
Gâteau framboise [raspberry cake]: 5
Charlotte framboise [raspberry Charlotte]: 4
In 1 word: Bébé copy
Assortment: cakes [~20] | tea cakes | cookies
Having opened only in the 2nd half of 2012 & without a website, there is not all that much online info to be found on pâtisserie Avalon. However, on tabelog, a Japanese online portal sort of comparable to yelp, delicacies like a pistachio génoise-white wine crémeux-raspberry pastry or a lemon-nuts tranche beckon temptingly.
Hitting the store, 2 surprises hit wattwurmnashi – Surprise 1: The cakes look & read like a branch of previously wattwurmnashi reviewed pâtisserie Bébé, down to details such as the use of Pecq couvertures. Surprise 2: To great wattwurmnashi demise, at the time of the visit, none of the most appealing cakes are available, but wattwurmnashi’s gotta live on something so meet the stand-ins:
Almond praliné, meringue
The rich taste of roasted almonds that pervades the whole cake is further exemplified by the roasted & caramelized almonds on top. Its creamy texture is starkly contrasted by the enclosed crunchy meringue.
- Hazelnut Opéra
Hazelnut praliné crémeux, ganache, nut génoise
A nicely textured hazelnut génoise provides the cake’s nutty foundation & goes well with the creamy components, but the indicated hazelnut praliné crémeux seems to take away from its taste rather than add to it.
While Paris-Brest is one of my favorite pastries, Avalon’s doesn’t look promising – like a watered-down exemplar. However, there is some proper crème pralinée tucked beneath all that praliné whipped cream so it is nuttier than expected. The pastry is very nice – soft & a bit moist, unlike for example Bébé’s, which is a perfect representative of Japan’s usually hard & dry Paris-Brests [if you can manage to find one].
- Chocolate log
Chocolate butter cream, chocolate mousse, génoise
The combination of chocolate butter cream [described as such, I think it is actually mousseline] & mousse au chocolat gives it a bit of an interesting air. The butter cream isn’t as all-out rich as expected & hoped for & as Avalon don’t use Domori, unsurprisingly, their chocolate log falls short of Bébé’s Luxe.
Chocolate butter cream, génoise sandwich
A very fancy-looking cake, it has good textures, the hardish chocolate génoise making for a good butter cream counterpoise. In comparison to Bébé’s Bûcheron, it’s obvious that Avalon’s boasts less butter cream which could do with some rectification as it ends up a tad dry.
- Raspberry cake
Raspberry jam, almond cream, ganache, génoise
On paper a slightly different take on the classic chocolate-raspberry cake, this pastry contains borderline amounts of alcohol which dominate unpleasantly. The chocolate is strong enough to make a bit of a stand, but the cake needs much better balancing as particularly whatever almond is contained doesn’t make an appearance at all.
Génoise, cream, strawberry
A sort of dryish, unsweet, bready, hard génoise which I’ve also encountered at Bébé distinguishes Avalon’s Ichigo from run of the mill strawberry shortcakes, relatively speaking. While it can be considered an interesting approach, I doubt it will appeal to ‘true’ strawberry shortcake lovers. Besides, considering in Lunier I had a very similar cake at Bébé which I was unequally more impressed with, Avalon’s Ichigo plummets into the depths of all strawberry shortcakes.
- Raspberry Charlotte
Génoise, raspberry mousse
Rather than the usual ladyfingers, Avalon’s Charlotte features their special génoise as well. However, while they work in for example the bûcheron, in the raspberry Charlotte it strikes as unbefitting. Sour raspberry would go nicely with something soft & sweet. As it is, the raspberry mousse contains disproportionate amounts of alcohol, probably large enough to kill off one’s intestinal flora, definitely sufficient to kill off any budding flavors.
Clearly, the first visual impression of unexpectedly finding myself in Bébé II is confirmed by the type of génoise & the overuse of alcohol. According to the website of famous Tokyo pâtisserie Il Pleut Sur La Seine, Avalon’s owner & chef pâtissier Makoyo Kawase is a former pastry chef of theirs. There is virtually no info on Bébé’s chef pâtissier out there but apparently he trained in Tokyo as well & where exactly that was is anyone’s educated guess. Either way, Bébé has the better of Avalon by far, although Avalon’s chocolate & nut based cakes allow room for optimism.