Gateaux et M’amie
Desserts. In a country that seems hell bent on the denial of butter* and cream, desserts are incredibly popular. Ice cream, waffles, sweet breads and cakes abound, mostly shared between groups of friends with buckets of coffee and conversation on the side. Seoul is overwhelmed with cafes offering coffee and and a handful of sweet treats, which are mobbed by customers daily until the late evening. One such place is Gateaux et M’amie in Hongdae, which serves a well executed bunch of French desserts, alongside interestingly flavoured hot chocolates, think rosemary, and other homemade drinks.
The headline dish here is the chocolate fondant (pictured top), which, although not as rich as expected, is a pudding they have down to a fine art. Choose your accompaniments: real creme anglaise; vanilla or chocolate ice cream; or raspberry coulis. That fruit sauce brings back memories of the 90s, with which I’m unprepared to be reacquainted just yet but the fine anglaise, drizzled over the pudding is a lesson in profligacy. The vanilla ice cream is flecked with vanilla seeds and tastes real, if you could only get at it, served as it is in a comically tiny bowl. I feel the urge to pick it up and lick it like an ice cream cone, it’s such a fight to get a taste that it takes two spoons and the ever present risk of overflow.
Still, the pudding is all cakey exterior holding in the gooey ooze of molten centre. Served still steaming and cutely decorated, it ticks all the right boxes, with extra points awarded for consistency over a number of visits. Plus, it’s affordable and served in a comfortable room decorated with the kind of vintage-y kitsch I’ve come to expect in Korea.
In addition to the requisite fondant, a small jar of soda adorns most tables. Most are different shades of lurid pink, raspberry flavoured, in a cute container. Citron, rosemary, and, passionfruit are available as well. This homemade carbonated drink is seems to be the touch of sourness required to offset the desserts sweet.
But sweet is what I come here for and time and again I leave sated. Full of chocolate and warmth and not missing readily available cream and butter one little bit.
*Most supermarkets only stock margarine. Imports are notoriously expensive here. In the cafe I was limited to purchasing only 1kg of butter per week (when it was in stock, which was rarely), and a 450g block of New Zealand Anchor butter cost 7,500 won. I just saw the same block of butter for sale in a cafe for 12,000 won (that’s $10.30AU for 450g of butter, eeep).
Gateaux et M’amie French Dessert Cafe
Chocolate Fondant 4,800W
+ Creme Anglaise 800
+ ice cream 1,500
+ Raspberry coulis 800
Opening hours: 14:00 – 23:00. Last order: 21:50.
The above google map isn’t perfectly accurate. Here is a better one.