In town where French restaurants and bakeries rub shoulders like buttery layers of a freshly baked croissant, you may be surprised at how exciting it is when another patisserie pops up. But it is, especially when it's the first solo venture of popular French pastry chef, Jeremy Herzog.
Jeremy first arrived in Vientiane at the ripe old age of 19 - he's actually only 23 now - and worked about town flipping pancakes and pretending to sear steaks, before becoming pastry chef at the Landmark Hotel. Then it was onto Acqua, whose very popular lunchtime buffet was the best value in town for the dessert alone.
Now Jeremy is branching out with his own patisserie.
You won't see many spaces like this in Vientiane - it's white, minimal and spacious. Jeremy's creative streak isn't confined to the kitchen; he designed all the decor and layout, keeping everything to simple shades of grey and white. [Photo credit below: Jeremy Herzog]
Inside there are 3 wall murals of women, all painted by Lao artists. Jeremy says he likes to have a feminine touch because although he looks like a big bear, he's actually a big softie... that was my interpretation anyway!
When I visited I was lucky enough to try a selection of Jeremy's amazing pastries (and he gave me a doggy bag to take home; I dropped some off at my husband's office who were very impressed!).
Jeremy's signature pastry is a double shelled, light pastry cannoli, dusted with icing sugar and filled with a heavenly whipped cream. It is just amazing. If it looks familiar, that's because this pastry is also the Patisserie Jeremy Herzog logo.
It was difficult not to gobble the whole thing down but I was trying to be professional! Plus there was more...
The classic eclair with a fresh layer of chocolate glaze and filled with chocolatey cream.
A very lemony, lemon tart with scoops of meringue, Vietnamese honey and Lao limes. The lime gives it extra acidity which "keeps it light". Light in texture but a rich and delicious treat that you might want to share!
And last but never least, croissants, light and buttery with - you guessed it - chocolatey goodness inside.
Jeremy is joined behind the scenes by fellow Frenchman, and marketing guru, Pascal Ferreira. Pascal started one of Paris' first food blogs, restoaparis.com, in 1999, before moving to Cambodia about 10 years ago. He also manages the Patisserie Jeremy Herzog Facebook page that has had Vientiane locals drooling in anticipation for months.
Pascal says he's persuaded Jeremy to stagger the rolling out of the patisserie's delicacies. So, they will start with a selection of 10 pastries and cakes, as well as the croissants and birthday cakes (including this delectable "donut" cake - you knew it was a cake, right? Photo credit: Jeremy Herzog).
In a couple of months time, they plan to start a "creative" lunch menu so keep your eyes peeled for that one.
Jeremy plans to use only Lao ingredients in his food, though for now there's a combination of Lao, Vietnamese and Thai. That's due to availability, quality and cost factors; Thai butter for example (there's no Lao dairy industry) over French, Australian and New Zealand. But Jeremy hopes to be able to source the majority of his produce here in Laos in future.
Jeremy wants to make food that's available to everyone - "everyone can eat cakes", he says. Imported ingredients make the end product more expensive but it's also a matter of educating people to appreciate quality. Pastries and cakes are not just about sweetness, he says, but also texture, complexity, delicacy, etc.
I for one will be putting my hand up to learn.
Patisserie Jeremy Herzog is downtown on Quai Fa Ngum, just along from Dairy Queen. Street parking only. An ATM is conveniently located right outside. It opens 10 October.