LONDON | London is a great place for desserts. From the perfect wobble on a custard tart, to rich almond frangipane studded with seasonal fruit, or the glory of a sticky toffee pudding, surrounded by a lake of caramel sauce. Pastry chefs are not often celebrated – but they should be: so here are 10 (ok 11) of the best London desserts.
Allan Pickett’s new restaurant hasn’t been open for long – but it’s already attracted five star reviews. He’s a former patisserie chef of the year, and it shows in his excellent desserts – not least the peerless tarte tatin, sticky and spicy with red wine poached pears.
92-94 Newman Street
London W1T 3EZ
Honey & Co.
Walk past this tiny shop front and you will stop in your tracks at the window display overflowing with cakes and desserts. Sairt and Itamar are especially famous for their cheesecake on a kataifi pastry base – but my favourite is the butternut squash cake, better than the best carrot cake you’ve ever had – and of course the babka. Always the babka.
Honey & Co.
25A Warren Street
London W1T 5LZ
Holborn Dining Room
Head chef Calum Franklin heads a 30 strong team, including a quietly brilliant pastry section. Here you can find the sine qua non of custard tarts: rich, creamy, indulgent. There’s more custard, too, with the lemon sponge pudding. Order it.
Holborn Dining Room
252 High Holborn
London WC1V 7EN
Pastry chef Kira Gidhoni is simply a genius. The ‘dessert bar’ she set up at Robin Gill’s Clapham restaurant the Manor is like a playground of treats – juggling flavours and textures and clouds of liquid nitrogen excitement into some utterly unique desserts. She’s now at sister restaurant Paradise Garage – go there for the pumpkin tart.
148 Clapham Manor Street
London SW4 6BX
The aforementioned pumpkin tart from pastry chef Kira Gidhoni. Do it.
254 Paradise Row
London E2 9LE
A London classic – old school of the best possible kind. Jeremy Lee’s sticky toffee pudding is quite simply, the best you’ll ever find – and I’ve done extensive research. The almond tart and the St Emillion are also the best possible examples of their kind.
26-29 Dean Street
London W1D 3LL
Their recent Michelin star was well deserved – and they haven’t neglected the pastry side of their menu. There’s often a beautifully light choux bun filled with clouds of praline cream: on one visit, we had a light-as-air mille feuille layered with pistachio creme patissier, and a chocolate tart of dreams.
113 Great Portland Street
London W1W 6QQ
Talking of tarts – former St John chef Jon Rotheram has recreated the honey brown butter tart which was so popular at his former gaff, One Leicester Street. It’s become so popular at this Hackney gastropub that people have been known to ring days in advance to reserve a slice. It’s advice you’d do well to follow.
254 Hackney Road
London E2 7SJ
Yes, we did order all the puddings between two – and the unexpected winner was the ‘cookpot of apple and quince’ – meltingly soft, thin slices of fruit, in their own dish – with brown butter sable biscuits and a caramel ice cream, all the flavours of tart tatin in freeform. The disc of subtly orange praline with salted caramel and the crunch of feuilletine is rather fabulous too. The Knightsbridge of desserts.
Bulgari Hotel & Residences
London SW7 1DW
Quite literally, the poshest garden centre ever. From the River Cafe stable, it might not be cheap – but the fabulous food is worth saving up for a special treat. Depending on the season, desserts might include a rhubarb frangipane tart with rhubarb ripple ice cream, or a steamed ginger and pear pudding with pouring cream. Such a treat.
Church Lane (signed posted ‘St Peter’s Church’)
Off Petersham Road
Surrey TW10 7AB
Stevie Parle’s latest place, in the unlikely surroundings of the O2 centre, has a short list of desserts – but the warm dish of creamy nutmeg spelt rice pudding with the thinnest crust of caramelised sugar and – on our last visit – some roasted quince – is worth the trip in itself. Not to mention the best caneles you’ll see this side of Bordeaux.
London SE10 0SQ