We noted in each a texture like that of cappellini cooked al dente, and a firm but gentle embrace of well-mellowed vinaigrette. The potato salad (also $3.25) was good too, though heavily dotted with tabs of ham. And at the end of this road we find the drastically unvegetarian pork rillettes ($4.50), a mash of slow-cooked meat mixed with fat to become a ropy paste you spread on rounds of baguette and enjoy with cornichons, the little pickles. The rillettes were slightly undersalted, I thought, but did not lack for satisfying lipidity.
No consideration of a patisserie would be complete without a discussion of the sweets on hand. Plenty of familiar faces here, from a chocolate éclair ($2.50) milk-chocolaty-ish to an elaborately layered, single-serve apple tart ($3.50) excellent pastry, mediocre apples to a fine bread pudding ($3.75), laced with large blackberries and pregnant with custard. The one standout we found was a bouchée caramel ($2.50), a disk of brioche with a shortcake-like depression in the middle that was filled with caramel. It was a bit like a crème caramel with brioche instead of custard and no ramekin to have to clean up afterward. Here, it seems to me, was the no-muss-no-fuss wisdom of the sugar cone as applied to pastry: the serving vessel was itself edible, and delectable.
Pâtisserie Philippe's greatest liability could be its location, in the middle of a dark-faced building a long block long with not much to distinguish the storefronts. I can't say I mourn the erstwhile parking lot, but the design district, of all districts, seems like an odd place to raise such a boring building. *
Mon.Fri., 8 a.m.6 p.m.;
Sat., 8 a.m.5 p.m.
655 Townsend, SF