Friday, June 03, 2005

Jin Patisserie

I do believe it's possible to build up something in your head so completely that it can't possibly live up to the hype. I know I'm guilty of this, I have done it many times before. I do it most often with movies, but restaurants hold a close second. So it really didn't surprise me that my experience would be a tad underwhelming when I finally set foot in Jin Patisserie, a place I'd been looking forward to for months.

I worship at the alter of the chocolate shop. Beautiful and luscious dessert creations top my list of favorite foods. So when I heard about Jin Patisserie, a zen garden of dessert heaven, I was instantly intrigued. Stepping through the gate into the outdoor garden at Jin feels like you're entering a private party in someone's yard. Once you realize you're not trespassing, this is a welcome feeling. On the day I arrived, there were many children joining their parents for afternoon tea. The ruckus caused by small people can be rather loud, and given that I was expected a more zen-like garden, I was surprised.

We made our way into the inner sanctum to look at the dessert gallery and buy something to taste. The desserts were everything that I expected: gorgeous, precious, delicate, and beautifully arranged in a glass case that encircled the shop. The glass counter at the register contained the truffle offerings and a few packages of chocolates to go. Two customers preceeded me in line, and after an inordinately long wait, I was finally helped. Had I been in a hurry, I might have been peeved. As it was, I noticed, but I went with the flow.

After a brief deliberation, I decided on four truffles in the cute little gift box. I love the contrasting orange ribbon and the beautiful logo. (You can see the logo much better on their website, which I will share at the end of my post.) I believe that I chose Earl Grey, Lavender, Cinnamon, and Black Roasted Sesame. I might have selected Ginger instead of Cinnamon, but I don't remember. And therein lies the problem. None of the truffles tasted enough like the flower or tea or spice that they were said to contain for me to differentiate much between them. I had this same issue with the truffles I bought at Jacques Torres for a Mother's Day gift for my Aunt (that we collectively devoured. Sorry, Aunt Lil). With the exception of the ancho chili truffle, they all pretty much tasted like dark chocolate with a hint of something unidentifiable in the center. They were all delicious and chocolately, but I was hoping for that little something extra, just like chocolate apricot caramel bar I'd enjoyed from Chocolat Moderne. That chili truffle was exquisite though. Sweet, smooth, and spicy, with a smoky finish that changed a bit each time. I was left wishing that they'd all been like that one. Too bad it was the first one we tried and not the last.

So I walked away from Jin with a moderate reaction. Not quite as zen or as exceptional as I'd been led to believe by the legions of praise in all the magazines, but it was certainly pleasant. One visit hardly makes a full experience however, especially considering I haven't tried the cakes or sandwiches on the menu. And for the price, I certainly hope they live up to the hype. So I'll be back to Jin, mind wiped clean, ready to experience it fresh once again. I'm rooting for them. I really am.

Jin Patisserie

1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
t 310.399.8801

Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Closed Monday


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