Scoring Creme Brulee

I have a bit of an addiction. It’s for creme brulee, which I believe, is the perfect dessert. The problem is that a lot of people try and improve it by adding ‘stuff’ which, ultimately, makes it nowhere near as good as it was originally. However, I try them whenever they are on a menu, always looking for the best (and the worst). This page will detail my creme brulee experiences, in reverse chronological order.

08 December 2019 – Bistrot de la Place, Place du Marche Sainte-Catherine, Paris. While being a complete creme brulee with nothing extraneous (not even a wafer) this goes down as one of the worst I’ve ever had. The top was actually burned. Now I realise that ‘brulee’ refers to the fact that the sugar is ‘burned’ or melted but this top had been incinerated. The sweetness had been replaced with a sort of cinder-like quality. The custard was watery and not very tasty. I’m not sure how anyone could make custard lack taste but this one certainly did. It was so watery that the bottom of the container it was in was swimming in liquid once the custard had been removed. And there was no vanilla. I have to give it 3 points for the fact that it was a real creme brulee and one point because it was in a proper container. That’s it though. 4/10.

07 December 2019 – Brasserie les Deux Palais, Paris. I really thought a creme brulee in a typical French brasserie would be pretty good. I guess I need to change my expectations a bit when it comes to brasseries in the heavy tourist part of town. This place is on the Ile de Citie directly opposite the Palais de Justice and caters for thousands of tourists. My creme brulee looked okay but the top was a bit gooey when it should have been crisp. This always makes the sugar too obvious. The custard was of an excellent consistency but lacked vanilla seeds. The taste was a bit bland and, therefore, I can only give this one a 7/10…and that’s being generous.

05 December 2019 – Artisan Truffe, Paris. The combination of custard and truffle was, I have to admit, delightful. In terms of a creme brulee, though, it suffered from the inclusion. There were plenty of good points and, had there been no truffles, it would easily have been a perfect score. The custard was perfect, the burnt top perfect. Because of the truffle I have to score it 8/10 though.

08 March 2019 – The Hunter’s Lodge Inn, Dorset. This was a bit odd because it was delicious and yet not really a Creme Brulee. Actually, I’d say, it was a dessert in the creme brulee style. It looked perfect, if a little bit big. The sugar on top was perfectly crisp and burnt. The custard was of an excellent consistency. The only trouble was that, rather than proper custard with fresh vanilla, it was actually a custard made with Bailey’s and white chocolate. That is definitely a good combination but it’s quite difficult to score. I’m going to go with a 4/10 because the main creme brulee elements used were perfect. Something else was the slab of shortbread that went with it. That was delicious but could have been an awful lot smaller. Still, if anyone has the opportunity to try one of these, I’d say go for it!

29 September 2018 – Casserole & Bouchons, Caen, Normandy, France. I couldn’t score this very highly I’m afraid. For a start it had lime juice through it. Mind you, the lime juice actually worked very well it just didn’t constitute a successful Creme Brulee. The main problems were, excluding the lime, the sugar top was pathetic, there was too much custard and the bowl was far too deep. On the plus side there was plenty of fresh vanilla seeds in it and the custard was set perfectly. When I told Darren about my Creme Brulee fetish he asked me what my score was for this one. He thought I was being a bit harsh but 2/10 is as high as I can go.

11 July 2018 – Restaurant de l’Abbaye, Cadouin, France. A real disappointment. It looked good but that was about it. The sugar wasn’t solid, there wasn’t any vanilla seeds and the custard was a bit tasteless to boot. The consistency was good but that was it. It only gets a 6/10.

09 July 2018 – Au Bon Accueil, Limeuil, Perigord, France. It looked fantastic. The top was burnt perfectly. There were fresh vanilla seeds in the custard. It was in a wide dish. It had everything going for it but the consistency let it down. The custard, instead of being set was almost runny. I could only give it 8/10.

07 June 2018 – Alla Cucina delle Langhe in Milan. An Italian one! And it was very good. My only fault would be the lack of fresh vanilla beans. However, the size, the sugar and the custard were all perfect. It even had chill custard and warm sugar, something that happens rarely. I have awarded it 8/10 only because the vanilla makes such a big difference.

04 March 2018 – Chez Jenny, Paris. Perfect. The sugar was perfect, the consistency was perfect, the custard was perfect. I couldn’t fault it. Such a plus when I haven’t had one for a while. A joyful 10/10.

11 September 2017 – Les Saveurs Gourmandes, Menerbes. Firstly, I can’t believe it’s been a year since I last had a creme brulee but I guess it’s the whole lo-carb thing and this was on our next French holiday. Anyway…this was delicious and, though it had lavender sprinkled on the top, scores pretty highly. Sadly, it wasn’t set enough and there wasn’t enough fresh vanilla seeds in it. 8/10

12 September 2016 – Brasserie de la Plage, Locquirec. Almost perfect. The only thing that let it down was the burnt sugar. Where it was burnt it was excellent but there were too many gaps where the sugar was just granules. Even so, it was close to perfection. 9/10

09 September 2016 – The Unicorn, St Malo. It was okay. Consistency good, flavour good though not strong vanilla…which was odd because the menu boasted about the vanilla. It was a bit wide and the burnt sugar too thin. Couldn’t really give it more than 7/10.

02 May 2016 – Les Saveurs, Brantome, Dordogne. Not good at all. A shame because the rest of the meal was excellent. Anyway, the custard was a good consistency but that was the end of it. There was something else in the custard. I knew the taste but couldn’t place it. The sugar top was not burnt at all (which means it wasn’t ‘brulee’) and the whole thing was too big. 2/10.

18 April 2016 – Loch Fyne in Farnham for Mirinda’s birthday. Great sugar top and the consistency was pretty much perfect. The only thing missing was the vanilla. I assume it only had vanilla essence rather than fresh vanilla. It was served with a lovely piece of shortbread. 8/10

29 February 2016 – Printemps restaurant (under the dome) in Paris. I couldn’t fault it. It had the added benefit of being in a square dish. It really was the perfect dessert. 10/10

17 April 2015 – Oakenden Manor restaurant, Cuckfield. An almost perfect creme brulee. The consistency, the flavour, the sugar crust…all led to a wonderful combination. All that was missing were the vanilla seeds. Perhaps they were filtered out or perhaps they were never there. I don’t know but it slightly spoilt the visual effect. Taste wise, it was delicious but I felt there was something ever so slight that was missing (the vanilla?) – 8/10

02 January 2015 – Cafe Rouge, Farnham. Perfectly set, though the sugar was a little bit too burnt. Also there wasn’t any vanilla seeds in the custard. Even so, it was one of the better ones. 8/10

01 January 2015 – Savoy Grill, London. A very disappointing brulee at a fantastic restaurant. The vanilla wasn’t strong enough and the custard wasn’t set properly. 7/10

21 October 2014 – Chez Gaz, Farnham. The sugar wasn’t burnt enough (according to Mirinda it wasn’t thick enough either) and the custard not quite solid enough. I blame the fact that my hand whisk died while I was whisking the custard. Anyway, in truth I can’t give it more than 7/10.

29 June 2014 – Panoramic Terrace, Domme. Sugar top not thick enough by a long way and not burnt enough. Effectively it was a layer of warm sugar. The custard consistency not right, almost as if it was a few hours short of setting properly…or like it hadn’t seen the inside of a fridge all day. Basically, it was too wet. No fresh vanilla. Because there was nothing extraneous, I’ll give it a generous 5/10. [NB An American behind me had one and gushed at the waiter about how delicious it was. Clearly not an expert.]

28 June 2014 – Cenac, Dordogne. In a small terraced restaurant behind a Bar/Tabac. There was nothing extraneous, which was a good sign. It looked good. Sadly, the sugar top was neither thick nor crisp enough. The custard was too runny and it had no fresh vanilla in it. I could only score it 6/10.

26 & 27 June 2014 – Ile d’Aix, France. At the Restaurant Josephine, attached to the Hotel Napoleon. When it arrived at the table, it almost lost points for the wafer thin sugar biscuit and the half strawberry placed on top. However, I was able to remove them both without making any difference to the creme brulee itself. Normally, anything extra on the top would mean a loss of points however, this creme brulee was so utterly perfect that I couldn’t be so harsh. The sugar top was perfect, the custard was of a perfect consistency and had fresh vanilla through it. All up, this was a perfect creme brulee. I even tempted fate the next night and had it again. With the same result. One of the few creme brulees to score 10/10.

31 August 2013 – Seasons Restaurant, Dogmersfield. The creme brulee which wasn’t. As a creme brulee, I could only give it 2/10. As a dessert, however, I thought it was pretty close to a perfect 10. What the chef had done was completely deconstruct a traditional brulee and then put it back together again, sort of, upside down. The burnt sugar top was at the bottom of the bowl, a thin layer of custard rested on top of this and then lavender infused cream and various berries finished it off. It was delicious. But creme brulee? No.

13 February, 2012 – Anderson’s, Farnham. The top was like a thick layer of toffee rather than a thin slice of burnt sugar. This tended to dominate everything, spoiling the perfection of the custard mix. Also the vanilla seeds were all on the bottom rather than mixed through. While this did give a rather intense flavour of vanilla when you discovered it, I’d rather have it a little more evenly divided – a generous 4/10

07 August 2010 – Pride of the Valley, Churt. If I ignore the grapes mushed up in the middle of this creme brulee, I would give it easily 9/10. Sadly, I couldn’t ignore the mushed up grapes so it gets just 6/10.


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