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Best Pastry/Cake shops in London?


Ylee
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Hi all,

I'll be briefly in London in a couple of weeks time, and am interested in checking out any good pastry/cake shops. Am wondering if anyone has any recommendations as to the best ones to visit. After looking on the internet, I currently have Macaron, Laduree (I've been to the Paris one) and Parlour at Sketch (apparently they serve very good little cakes there) on my list.

Thanks!

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Sure I've had this discussion before by the bottom line is that London is poorly served on the Patisserie front, but there are some gems out there. My selection in order of preferece:

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Sketch: IMHO still best pat in London despite horrendous dumbing down of room. Some of the cakes such as the Florence (not currently on at mo) or Cardinal are a marvel. Macarons best in London and half the price of Laduree.

William Curley: Always founds his Pat a little too old school and less exciting that Sketch. Also lacks some of the delicacy sometimes. Nonetheless top-notch stuff and gratifying choice of chocolates and other goodies also available.

Paul Young: Islington chocolatier also has some killer sable pastry work going into his tarts and other goodies. Pity he remains wedded to the cocoa bean - he has background in more general Pat too.

Laduree: Runs Sketch close on the cake front. The macarons I would not recommend - horrible overpriced and slightly flat compared to Sketch. The Ispahan too is thuggish and a shadow of Hermes version from Paris. The ?hazelnut millefeuille is a marvel though.

CHAMPIONSHIP:

Yauatcha: Far Eastern attempts at Western pat in a nutshell: Looks fantastic, tastes like cardboard. I have always been disappointed by the cakes from this place. The macarons too lack flavour. They could do so much better. Did I say the stuff looks nice though?

Maison Du Choc: Haven't had their cakes but their box of chocolate macarons pleasantly surprised me.

Konditor and Cook: Not strictly patiesserie but fantastic selection of reasonable priced slices and cakes - real old school "tuck shop" stuff. The millionaires shortbread highly recommended.

Wolesley: Haven't had the cakes but if the rest of shop is anything to go by should be more than worthy. Formerly under the aegis of Claire Clark, ex-Bluebird and now uber-patissier at some joint called the French Laundrette or something just along from Lake Tahoe. :raz:

Macaron: My claim to fame is I wuz the first person to ever buy a cake from this place (was rambling by randomly the day they opened so popped in for champagne, free macs and cake). Good for its location (ie south of the river) but never going to set the world on fire. Macarons are too dry. Cakes consistently underperform (and why do they use those nasty plastic cases for their rum babas - it just looks cheap). Time Out recently awarded them some gong for cake shop of the year - a mistake, IMHO. But as I said, good for the area.

Minamoto Kitcheon: I may have the spelling wrong, but this is the kooky Jap place next door to Maison du Choc on picadilly. Some kind of internationalist chain (have also found them in a basement in Singapore, bizarrely). The gear is exquisitely presented and the jellies and candied yuzu are quite winsome. Unfortunately their forte is bizarre japanese concoctions made with bean paste, which are definitely an acquired taste. Unique, however.

RUMBELOWS LEAGUE:

Paul: A franchise which has nothing to do with the French operations. Cakes are serviceable and fine at a pinch.

Pat Val: Bog standard cake.

Maison Berteaux: Soho standard. Pat Val but with fewer branches.

That should keep you busy

ta

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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my top pics (chemical-free, fresh each day):

Ottolenghi, 287 Upper St, London, N1 2TZ - great viennoiserie, tarts, cakes

Peyton and Byrne, The Heal’s Building, 196 Tottenham Court Road, London W1 - the British hub for Roger Pizzey, MPW's longtime pastry chef

Clarkes, 124 Kensington Church Street, London - just the pastry (not talking bread), the fresh-baked tarts and bars, good nougat.

and from Jon's list (omitting the chocolatiers)

Sketch

Laduree

Konditor and Cook

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Poor old Maison Berteaux! Perhaps I’m just being sentimental as I’ve been going there for so many years, but I think it’s unfair to put them in the same league as the perfectly horrible Patisserie Valerie (or Amato’s, for that matter). Sketch they are not, but on the simple basis of what I enjoy, I’ll have to tip my hat to Maison Berteaux.

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Not based in the UK, I have nothing to add to your list, but do want to say how good Laduree is - if you know and like the Paris shops, you will not be disappointed in the one at Harrods.

William Curley is very good but a little expensive. If you like yuzu, you can find it in some of his products. I think Paul Young may be better value for money, but when I visited it was mainly chocolates and not much pastry. Even when Claire Clark was there, the Wolsley was a bit "mittle european"; I am sure the French Laundry gives her more scope.

All in all, I think Jon's list is very well informed and about right.

Petrus

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm kinda sorry I'm only going to be there for a week now, as there seems I won't have enough time to do as much exploring as I would like to.

Jon - I had some trouble with the Sketch website, so need to ask, are you able to book a table at Parlour, or should it not be a problem if I drop by on a weekday??

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Jon - I had some trouble with the Sketch website, so need to ask, are you able to book a table at Parlour, or should it not be a problem if I drop by on a weekday??

No Parlour drop in anytime during they day no need to book. They are closed Sundays. If you're about at lunch also consider trying the set lunch at the Lecture Room upstairs. Its thirty something quid and is a great way to try Pierre Gagnaire's style of food at a bargain basement price

ta

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Sketch: [...] Macarons best in London and half the price of Laduree.

They are remarkably good, it's true (especially the lemon and raspberry ones), but for the record I must say the best I've had -- or at least, the most indulgent -- came (iirc) from Melt. Massive ones made with chocolate, of course, and fresh ginger, extremely dark in the middle and you couldn't tell where the ganache-like (but not over-rich) filling ended and its casing began... wonderful. There weren't any there last time I went though, perhaps a one off?

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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Sketch: [...] Macarons best in London and half the price of Laduree.

They are remarkably good, it's true (especially the lemon and raspberry ones), but for the record I must say the best I've had -- or at least, the most indulgent -- came (iirc) from Melt. Massive ones made with chocolate, of course, and fresh ginger, extremely dark in the middle and you couldn't tell where the ganache-like (but not over-rich) filling ended and its casing began... wonderful. There weren't any there last time I went though, perhaps a one off?

Thanks interesting. Not very familiar with melt. Nice website http://www.meltchocolates.com/kitchen.htm

One interesting thing is that they mention they use water rather than cream-based ganaches. How unusual - I've seen water ganaches mentioend ni Chantal Coady's Chocolate book (and tried the recipe - amazingly it does work!), but never seen them deployed professionally before.

l8tr

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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One interesting thing is that they mention they use water rather than cream-based ganaches.  How unusual - I've seen water ganaches mentioend ni Chantal Coady's Chocolate book (and tried the recipe - amazingly it does work!), but never seen them deployed professionally before.

the water based ganaches are great, they make the chocolates taste so clean and health-giving :smile:

does your recipe involve the use of MG-ish ingredients to hold the ganache together? the bloke at Melt (Damian Allsop) mentioned some interesting kit and ingredients he uses (unfortunately it was some time ago and I don't remember exactly what, but I'm thinking pacojets and alginates and things like these)

I think Melt is brilliant, imho their best can eclipse my benchmark favourites, the artisan du chocolate coutures. his bon bons are stunning, they hit you with an amazing belt of rich, buttery fruit (mango, passion fruit, raspberry etc.) then other flavours arrive in willy-wonka style some time later, like ground coffee beans or mint leaves embedded in the chocolate.

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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does your recipe involve the use of MG-ish ingredients to hold the ganache together? the bloke at Melt (Damian Allsop) mentioned some interesting kit and ingredients he uses (unfortunately it was some time ago and I don't remember exactly what, but I'm thinking pacojets and alginates and

No, as I recall the recipe is actually relatively simple. Off the top of my head its largely chocolate and water (warm maybe? cant remember). I think as you mix in the water the mixture really seizes up midway thru but later becomes looser and smoother. its really very interesting to make

Pick up the book and see - its going for a song on amazon, and also has an interesting selectin of savoury recipes which use chocolate:

ta

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Belle Epoque on Newington Green is a treasured local patisserie/cafe - Parisian patissier Eric used to make pastries at Caviar House, and they do wonderful bread, Viennoiserie, quiches etc etc... A delight

Fuchsia

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You can find some "visual" information about Paul A. Young and Melt at this post i've wrote some time ago, here

Sketch and Yauatcha are def/ly my favourite places in London.

I've once had a Sacher at Maison du Chocolat. It was not bad, but it's not something I still dream about of...

Just across the street at Fortnum & Mason's you'll find what I consider the best chocolate eclairs I've ever tasted. And if you're going during Xmas time you might get lucky and find some Imperial Torte's (directly from the Imperial Hotel in Wien) being sold in F&M's wood boxes. Def/ly a MUST taste.

Edited by filipe (log)

Filipe A S

pastry student, food lover & food blogger

there's allways room for some more weight

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Not based in the UK, I have nothing to add to your list, but do want to say how good Laduree is - if you know and like the Paris shops, you will not be disappointed in the one at Harrods.

William Curley is very good but a little expensive. If you like yuzu, you can find it in some of his products. I think Paul Young may be better value for money, but when I visited it was mainly chocolates and not much pastry. Even when Claire Clark was there, the Wolsley was a bit "mittle european"; I am sure the French Laundry gives her more scope.

All in all, I think Jon's list is very well informed and about right.

Petrus

Much like our lauded 'great' and 'world class' footballers in England our home grown pastry chefs do not do so well abroad...French Laundry or not Claire Clark did not make the cut to the last 50 of this years 10 best pastry chefs in the US in Pastry Art and Design magazine....

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I've once had a Sacher at Maison du Chocolat. It was not bad, but it's not something I still dream about of...

Had a slice of sacher from kipferl once, which i suppose should be good given its london's only austrian deli!

actually always find it a bit underwhelming. i have a problem with the sacher torte recipe - all that sponge and only a thin layer of apricot jam. the balance just never seems right...

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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....actually the bloke at Melt is not Damian Allsop who left Melt in July to start his own business but Keith Hurdman an Anglo-Swiss chocolatier.....

that's interesting. the conversation I mentioned was before July I think, but I don't remember noticing any dramatic change in the chocolates since then...

will his new business by any chance involve selling chocolates, which I might get to eat? :cool:

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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...Keith has kept most of Damians stuff and added some ideas of his own...it makes for a very interesting mixture of styles...Damian wanted to set up his own business before Christmas but it has been delayed now untill early 2007. At present I believe he is demonstrating, teaching and doing some consulting work for Angala Hartnett.....

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....actually the bloke at Melt is not Damian Allsop who left Melt in July to start his own business but Keith Hurdman an Anglo-Swiss chocolatier.....

that's interesting. the conversation I mentioned was before July I think, but I don't remember noticing any dramatic change in the chocolates since then...

will his new business by any chance involve selling chocolates, which I might get to eat? :cool:

I think he has set up Damian Allsop Xocolates Ltd. but I have yet to see any on sale anywhere.

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Not based in the UK, I have nothing to add to your list, but do want to say how good Laduree is - if you know and like the Paris shops, you will not be disappointed in the one at Harrods.

Actually, I was very disappointed by Harrods' Laduree precisely because I know the Paris shops (the one on the Champs-Elysees was perilously next door to my husband's office). The London macarons are baked in Acton with far less delicacy, and they are ruined by refridgeration. Gummy, overly sweet, and cold.

Jon's list is right on the money, except for the part on Minamoto Kitchoan. It's the real deal from Japan, not as prestigious as Toraya, but up there. I never understood most Westerners' inability to appreciate red beans in a dessert. I'm eating a yuzu rabbit pastry as we speak in honor of the harvest moon. They were baked in Japan, so naturally getting a fresh batch is key.

Edited by Culinista (log)
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....it looks like William Curley and suprisingly Melt who have only been open 8 months are the big winners of this years chocolate awards. Paul Young appears to have slipped a little with L'artisan not doing as well as expected...

hmm. hardly what you'd call a blind tasting, given who's on the panel! some seemingly anomalous results there too -- e.g. hotel du chocolat's appearance (how graciously unsnobbish) and G&B's milk chocolate rated level with l'artisan's tonka bean bar :blink:

what do you make of the absence of any of the l'artisan coutures from even the bronze section of the 'best filled chocolate' list? (other than that "the panel didn't give them enough votes" obviously...)

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

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