This might be one of the fanciest dessert spots I have been to. Located inside Macy's right across from Union Square, with picture-perfect views of downtown San Francisco, and colorful displays of beautifully packaged pastries, cookies, dessert sauces, jams and whatnot all around the store, Tout Sweet looks stylish and expensive. When I arrived they seemed to have some sort of promotional event taking place because it was very busy and - if I'm not mistaken - a handsome young guy looked very much like the one on the poster by the entrance, Tout Sweet's owner Yigit Pura.
Yigit Pura is the winner of season 1 of "Top Chef Just Desserts". Born in Turkey, he started his professional culinary training in San Francisco and later worked in New York City as well as Las Vegas, before joining the TV show and taking the title. I didn't know all of this at the time, but Tout Sweet is his very first own store and therefore kind of a big deal. The fact that the rather small space was so full of people caught my attention, so I entered to have a quick bite before continuing my sightseeing. Actually, sitting by the window inside Macy's in San Francisco and eating something you have never had before counts as sightseeing in my world. So I did.
The store design is all sharp edges, sparkling white walls and furniture, colorful shelves, and glass. It almost seemed a little futuristic and intimidating to me, and I immediately wondered what I looked like and if I was appropriately dressed to fit in. Also, don't forget that you are eating calorie bombs right next to size zero womens' clothing, so you better feel very comfortable about your figure and don't plan to overindulge. Not my favorite kind of place, but it obviously has a very specific target clientele and the style matches the prices they ask for.
That being said, the food is gorgeous! Some of the pastries they sell look like small pieces of art; I would have felt uncomfortable destroying them with my fork. You can definitely make out the chef's preference for minimalistic design, as most desserts have only little decoration, and at the same time his love for color and floral themes, which are represented in the take-home food items and the store's logo.
A friend of mine once posted a picture of a vanilla bean crêpe cake she had in New York on facebook, and I have been waiting for my chance to try one ever since. Here was my chance: Pura's version is called "Mille Crêpes" and is basically a huge cake made up of layered thin crepes and orange flower water scented vanilla custard (I know - that is a long, complicated description). They brulée the crêpe on top to make it look crunchy. When I asked for a piece, the lady behind the counter took quite a while to cut it and put it on a plate, and I can imagine that it must be difficult to keep the cake intact with all these layers. It made me feel good though because it confirmed that this is definitely not a dessert I could try to make at home. It's worth paying 6 Dollars for.
So I took my sweet time enjoying it. The custard was rich with a strong orange note, the crêpes were obviously not crunchy anymore but had the consistency of soft pancakes. It did not taste too sweet, which I appreciated, because the portion is really quite big for one person and it could have easily given me a sugar shock for the rest of the day. I still think the atmosphere was not cozy at all, even though Tout Sweet only seats 20 guests at a time, and there is a long, communal table in the middle of the room inviting people to interact with other guests while they eat. Nobody went near it during the time I spent there.
I would go back to try some of the other patisserie items (the "5th Element" looked outstanding), and maybe I'd even sit there if I could get a table by the window. But taking the food home and eating it at my very own dining table (or in a bathrobe on the hotel bed) would still be my first choice.
Brownie Points: 2 out of 3