Patisserie Mimi – what next?

Update: Shortly after I published this post, I was tweeted news that Patisserie Mimi had closed down in the past week. It is such a pity and a shame to learn that what was Belfast’s first and only patisserie was so short-lived, and a loss to Belfast’s food scene. It’s going to sound rather melodramatic, but I’m truly am trying to get over knowing that I no longer have anywhere convenient to get my macaron fix and might never taste another raisin swirl as delicious as Mimi’s for as long as I am in this city. (T_T)

Today, let’s talk about Patisserie Mimi.

This is yet another belated post – I’m clearing my backlog now that I’m firmly back on Belfast soil – but so much has changed since I first visited Patisserie Mimi in Jan this year that a follow-up post had to be made.

I raved about Mimi in this post after I dropped in, gushing over their macarons, their tarts, and their customer service. I’d placed an order with them for a cake to celebrate E’s birthday, and couldn’t wait to pick it up.

On the scheduled date, we both went into the shop. The staff on duty hunted high and low for the reservations book that my order had been written in, and flipped through the baking orders for the day.

“I’m sorry but your reservation isn’t here”, she said. Apparently, the staff member who’d taken my other the other week had left Mimi and the reservations book had gone missing with her. So – in the presence of the birthday boy – we were given an apology, the promise of a voucher (still unused) for the value of the cake even though I hadn’t paid a penny, and an offer to purchase some of the other small treats at a discount. I was slightly disappointed, of course, but the treats were delicious and we were all good.

Capture

Peanut butter macaron

Fast-forward to October, and I found myself back at Mimi after a long absence. I was surprised to see that they’d installed indoor and outdoor seating and now serve tea and coffee to accompany their baked goods. The macarons had dropped significantly in price – from £2 each to about £1.25 – while their viennoiseries had gone up by about 20p each. At the same time, Mimi had also introduced a “4 for £4” offer on their viennoiserie, as well as the perfect breakfast or tea time deal: any sweet treat and coffee/tea for just £2.75.

I love that they’ve made these changes. Well, perhaps not so much the increase in their viennoiserie price, but £2 for macarons was way too steep – considering that centuries old, premier macaron makers La Duree sell their macarons in central London for about the same price. Coffee and sweets are a tried and tested recipe for success – as proven by the steady, unending stream of customers as we sat there enjoying our afternoon tea. Moreover, Patisserie Mimi do the best raisin swirls and pain au chocolat in town, which – unlike their macarons which have dropped slightly in standard – are delicious and hit the spot every single time.

However, the biggest shocker was the realisation that Mimi no longer sell the small gateaux and pastries that they used to. When asked, I was told that the French chef who made them has left, and they haven’t found someone to replace him. Hence, while Mimi has the recipe for their macarons and are still able to make them, instead of French pastries and confectionery Mimi now sells – brace yourself – brownies and peanut butter blondies.

And my only thought was, and still is – oh my goodness, what is going on?!?

I was so excited when I first learnt of Mimi’s existence. I truly discovered my love for food in Japan, a country dotted with numerous bakeries selling quality, delicate and heavenly French(-inspired) patisserie. I ate so much cake and confectionery in my two years there, that instead of losing weight like most of the other JETs did when they switched from a Western diet to a Japanese one, I gained weight instead. While it’s harder to find patisserie to the same standard as Japan’s, Singapore has more than its fair share of shops selling decadent cakes and desserts too – but there was not a single place in Belfast that sold such items until Mimi came along.

And, in the short span of less than a year, even this seems to be in danger of being lost. While writing this post, I tried accessing Mimi’s website to see what changes there are, but it seems like the site has been suspended. This development, added to the changes to Mimi’s offerings and the departure of their chef, does not bode well. Patisserie Valerie, with branches all over the UK, was reported in April this year to be setting up shop in Northern Ireland, but there has been no further news since either.

What does this all mean for patisserie in Belfast? I don’t know, but I certainly hope it does not spell a temporary end of patisserie’s too brief appearance here.

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