My husband and I were in SM Aura before even the Mall was open due to an early morning appointment. We haven’t had breakfast, which meant I didn’t have my morning coffee, a bad combination considering I had been awake roughly around 6:30 am to rush through my morning chores to be on time. Needless to say, I was not in the best of moods and sought solace in the one shining beacon in that deserted mall that early weekend morning: Paul Boulangerie.
The interiors are decidedly French cafe chic with comfortable chairs, sturdy wooden tables and wonderful accent lamps, as you are greeted by the scent of freshly baked bread. If you are alone and desired privacy, you can ask the wait staff to seat you off to the side where the tables for two with the cushioned and super comfy chairs can be found. I find this spot much more quiet than the main room which can get fairly noisy once the usual mid-morning crowds arrive. The très chic setting, gentle lighting and barely there muzak all contribute to create a relaxing atmosphere that makes it a perfect place for brunch or for afternoon tea.
I’ll be honest, this isn’t my first time here. I’ve been trying to blog this place since my first visit, but I never get the chance to take photos and notes, only remembering them when I am usually halfway through my pastry (or several) or when the meal was over. I plan to rectify this.
The breakfast menu at this hour at Paul’s tends to be fairly straightforward: crepes, eggs, croque-monsieur (or madame if you like it with egg on top) and coffee is standard fare. For that morning, the husband and I had the “Omelette Complete” which is essentially an omelette with all the trimmings: cheese, farmer’s ham, some potato hash and button mushrooms. It came with a lovely side salad that helped refresh the palate.
The omelette was rather filling. The farmer’s ham was obviously not the sweet ham often used here, and the mushrooms were cooked in butter (swoon) and the potato mash provided the additional weight in the meal. We paired this with a Cafe au Lait. The coffee was quite nice, much better than Starbucks and comparable to many of those indie coffee places. The coffee was good enough that adding any sort of sugar felt like sacrilege.
I actually ordered an additional Pain au Chocolat, that I forgot to take pictures of. It’s basically a chocolate croissant. It’s delightful, and absolutely buttery. I loved every bite. I’ve had it before when the husband bought it as a bribe coming home late, but having one fresh from the oven was still a hundred times better.
Unfortunately, the pastries at that time were not yet available–they were still setting it up. But we did come back late in the afternoon, for some bit of well deserved afternoon tea-my appointment had gaily informed us he was going to be late–for five hours.
The madness of the weekend crowd compounded with my ill temper for that delayed appointment sent us back here to at least partake on their pastry delights.
Unfortunately I didn’t have photos. I will most likely dedicate a separate article on their pastries next time. I just feel like this has to be mentioned because their pastries are absolutely to murder for.
The wait staff are very professional. The uniform is clean and pressed. For the women waitstaff, their hair is pulled away neatly in a bun (it helps if you want to avoid hair falling into your food). They are confident and accommodating, and are well informed of the items in their menu.
Unlike most places, they will not just dump all the food on your table in one go. If you have an entree, they will serve your pastry last, your hot drink first without coaching. Unless you mention it otherwise, this is the norm.
I’ve watched them help out customers who were in wheelchairs and the elderly, without prompting. Young children are easily accommodated as well, as they offer the high chair automatically to the parent if they need it.
The only one problem I’ve found is that they tend to get easily flustered when there’s a line of multiple customers, especially if they’re foreigners. Though I think, that can be easily fixed with enough exposure.
Over All Experience
It was a very pleasant time, and almost guarantees that I’ll visit Paul at least once if I’m ever in SM Aura. Given the prices they ask for, is fairly worth the food and service I received. It’s not a place I can afford to go to every day, but it is a place I would see myself visiting often enough.
- Atmosphere: 4/5
- Food: 5/5
- Service: 4/5
- Prices: Entree’s start at Php 250 – 650
Pastries: Php 150 – 260
1 = Abysmal, 2= Poor, 3 = Fair, 4 = Excellent, 5 = Extraordinary