Pastries are as much icons of Paris as the Eiffel tower is, so I was very excited when I found this 100% gluten-free patisserie, cafe, and tea room in not only Paris, but one’s of its newest trendy neighborhoods, the area around the Canal Saint Martin. The Canal Saint Martin is in the 10th arrondissement between the Gare du Nord and the Place de la Republique. Features of the neighborhood are footbridges over the canal, walking and biking paths, and plenty of cute boutiques and restaurants, one of them being Helmut Newcake, whose name is a play on that of German-Australian photographer, Helmut Newton.
This cafe is a great stop for brunch, lunch, or afternoon tea. There’s a vast array of pastries, and a daily menu for savory dishes which they often post on their Facebook page. Behind the magical deli glass are picturesque confections including Eclairs, Madame de Fontenay Chocolat, fruit tarts, cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, and sweet breads, among others. Their menu features dishes such as a green salad, cream of zucchini soup, a spinach and goat cheese quiche, and risotto with prawns and fennel. When I was there for lunch I had the salad and soup, the latter of which was a bit creamy for me, but still delicious. The salad was very fresh and light. I didn’t have too much because I wanted to save room for desert.
I had a Chou a la creme (creme puff) alongside my red rooibos tea, both served on, and in, adorable china decorated with flowers. The cream was thick and vanilla-y, and the bread part was very soft and moist, with a little bit of powered sugar sprinkled on top. It was probably the best cream I’ve ever had, something that my Clover whipping cream and hours of Thanksgiving whisking are no match for. Even with cream being a main part of the pastry, I was happily surprised at how light the whole thing was; it was indulgent but didn’t feel heavy in my stomach afterwards. I also bought a chocolate cookie that I enjoyed later that day midway up the steps leading up to the Sacre Coeur as I admired the view of the city in front of me. The cookie was really good, it wasn’t typical chocolate chip, but more of a cross with a sugar cookie and a snickerdoodle because there weren’t a bunch of chips, and there was a little bit of cinnamon.
Two day later, with my suitcase rolling behind me, I set off from my hotel near the Pere Lachaise in the 20th arrondissement and walked across a good chunk of the city to have a spot of tea and slice of ginger lemon spice cake before jet setting back to Florence. It was a sunday, when only a reservations-required brunch is served, but I was still able to have a quick tea and treat since there was room.
I really liked the decor of Helmut Newcake; it reminded me a lot of Brooklyn because of the general light and airy minimalism mixed with items from Ikea, and worn-in, mix and match china sets. It’s modern, rustic, and fun. One of the walls of the main room is exposed beige stone, then there’s an interior covered patio with white walls featuring a couple of pieces of bright pop art. The patio is separated from the main area by glass windows and a door which bear the restaurant’s name. The seating is a mix of patio chairs, and more comfy, sofa-like ones, and the china sets go from white and blue with flowers, to red with oriental patterns. On part of the stone wall is a system of shelves which houses items for purchase like organic teas, cereals, dried pasta, and condiments. Also over there is an assortment of pastry-themed books to look at, including a cookbook for Babycakes, a popular vegan and gluten-free bakery with locations in LA and NYC.
For more gluten-free eating in Paris, there’s a chain of natural food stores called Naturalia which seemed to pop up just about everywhere I walked around. There’s also another gluten-free restaurant called No Glu at which I only tried a mini carrot cake muffin because its lunch hours were just about over. The menu looked pretty good, and unlike Helmut Newcake, they’re open for dinner, but it seemed like reservations would be necessary. The decor in there was pretty Brooklyn-esque too, but in the more, dark, sleek, and with lots of wood, way. Then of course there are restaurants than can accommodate those who are gluten-intolerant. Over all I was pretty pleased with Paris’ gluten-free and natural foods options.