Newly opened patisserie in Vinohrady is keen on details
The creations at Milleme are almost too pretty to eat. The display case of several types of artfully layered Opera cakes, éclairs and tartes is enough to induce a literal act of leche-vitrine (window-licking). But it would be a shame to only admire the brightly colored layers of cake, ganache, glossy fruit and whipped toppings, because the French pastries and cakes deliver a taste that is out of this world, or at least country. The 2-month-old French patisserie on náměsti Jiřího z Poděbrad uses French recipes, techniques and ingredients, right down to the beurre, to recreate treats that would hold up in Paris.
Owner Daniel Biguine and his three partners, Jana Došková, Martina Kapičková and Valexia Panier are newcomers to the restaurant business. But Biguine calls himself a gourmand, and his sole credential is his palate, cultivated in his native France. A former racecar driver and pilot, Biguine moved to Prague in 1990 and invested in real estate before deciding to open a bakery. His initial thought was to open a Japanese bakery, but he decided a blend of French technique with occasional Asian influences would find a wider market.
“I think it would be too different for the Czech market right now,” he says of his original idea. “So, instead, we use a good mix of French and Japanese products, for example Macha green tea, lychee and sesame.”
The modern yet warm interior of his shop and gourmet attention to detail wouldn’t be out of place in a ritzier part of Prague, but Biguine was never interested in setting up in Old Town. “I didn’t want to be in Prague 1, because your business tends to be tourists,” he says. “If you are Czech and you want a good French product, you might not want to go all the way down there, where it’s hard to park.”
Milleme features a simple menu, which Biguine expects to expand modestly in the future, that offers salads and sandwiches made with traditional French delicacies such as confit de canard, rillettes de thon and a variety of French cheeses. Baguettes, croissants and pains au chocolat are made continuously throughout the day from imported flour. The imported ingredients are not an indication of the poor quality of Czech products; Biguine simply wants his products to taste as authentic as possible.
“Butter is good in the Czech Republic, but it’s not right for our patisseries,” he explains. “If you are cooking goulash, you would not want to use French products.”
The standards of authenticity extend to the kitchen, where even the ovens are French imports. Chef Jan Flegl, however, is Czech, though his training is thoroughly in the French method. Baking begins at 4 a.m. every morning in order to be ready for the café’s 7:30 a.m. opening, and continues until closing at 9 p.m., Monday through Sunday.
The name Milleme combines the old French word for grain with the sound of aime, or “to love,” and could be translated roughly as “beloved grain.” Biguine hopes the café offers a quiet environment to enjoy fine French products. Alcohol is served, but hidden from view, and the establishment is nonsmoking, except for the terrace on the square. The prices are certainly higher than those at local supermarkets (baguettes run around 26 Kč/$1.50), but Biguine believes the value is in the ingredients and service, and is confident the clientele he is trying to build will appreciate the difference.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is hosting a dinner in honor of Canadian Thanksgiving Day at the Corinthia Hotel Sunday, Oct. 4, starting at 6 p.m. The meal includes all the trimmings, with cranberries, pumpkin pie and, of course, turkey. The cost is 1,000 Kč for nonmembers and 750 Kč for members. Babysitting and entertainment will be provided for children. For more information, check Gocanada.cz.
Le Grill Restaurant at the Kempinski Hybernská hotel has introduced a new A la Carte menu that includes additions such as a beef consommé “Surf ‘n Turf” adorned with half a lobster for 590 Kč, poached turbot with celeriac jelly with sautéed clams, asparagus and lobster foam for 750 Kč, and a pineapple tart tatin with frozen pink-pepper cream for 200 Kč.