I have a dream to one day open my own restaurant in London serving ONLY desserts. I have the name, I have the dream location, I have a team of people behind me who think it’s a great idea… I just need some money now… and this dream is inspired by the sufficient lack of places to find a decent pudding in London – I know; i’ve looked, and I think this needs to change!! But there are a few hidden gems dotted around town that are seeing me through until that lottery win finally comes through, and so I guess it’s only fair I let you in on these sweet little secrets… until my shop opens, of course…
Cafe Des Amis, Covent Garden
A lovely little restaurant down one of the many ally ways in Covent Garden, this is a great place to come for a bit of reasonably priced dining in the heart of central, or a great place to go pre- or post- theatre, but the thing that makes this place so great is the chefs selection of 4 (£16.50) or 6 desserts (£22.50), which contrary to what the name suggests, is your own choice of the fantastic dessert menu. It’s the cheapest and most indulgent way to experience as much of this menu as possible, and there are some items which simply MUST be ordered, including the indulgent Soup Au Chocolat with black pepper ice cream, which is literally a chocolate soup! Incredibly rich and delicious. As well as this, the marinated strawberries with pink muscatel sorbet are refreshing and sweet with a small undercurrent of tartness which balances the richness of the chocolate soup nicely. And finally a must try dessert has to be their Vanilla Cheesecake with Fig Coulis; creamy, sweet, and with a lovely texture which sits nicely on the pallet. The others are your choice, but with the above, you simply cannot go wrong.
The Diner, Carnaby Street
The Diner, as you already know, is a great place to come for a burger, but if you find yourself craving something a bit sweet after your meaty lunch, then the Blueberry and Peanut Butter Sundae is a must at £4.50. But, if like me, you’re not a huge fan of Peanut Butter, then don’t hesitate to ask your server to substitute your PB with a healthy dollop of Nutella! It works perfectly – a sundae rich with chocolate spread, sweet with blueberries and cool with ice cream… and don’t be surprised to find a cherry on the top too. This is probably designed for one person, but it works nicely as a sharing pudding as well. Having said that, it’s so tasty, you might not want to share.
Tom’s Kitchen, Canary Wharf & Chelsea
A friend of mine works for this Michelin Starred chef in Canary Wharf, and so we decided that we should take a trip very east to visit her and the newly opened restaurant in the name of Tom Aitkins. I’ve enjoyed meals at both the Chelsea based restaurant under the same name, as well as the brasserie in Somerset House, but both times have only experienced brunch, so this time I had the opportunity to test out their puddings. Recommended to us were the Chocolate Pot and the Cheesecake, but for me, I felt I needed to try the impressive looking Baked Alaska (£13.50) – a dessert i’ve never tried before. Well, I think it’s safe to say that this marshmallowy, alcoholic, hot and cold dessert has managed to debut itself in my top 5 favourite puddings of all time. This large sharing dessert has a topping of soft, creamy and sweet marshmallow, an inside of fresh and fruity raspberry ripple ice-cream, and a drizzling of a very strong alcohol that is set alight (whiskey or cognac) which sent a warm rush through my body.
The Ivy, Covent Garden
One of London’s oldest and most famous restaurants positioned just off of St Martins Lane, The Ivy is the place to go if you want to catch a glimpse of a glamorous celebrity indulging in some high quality fine dining. It is also the place to go if you want to experience one of the simplest and yet most luxurious desserts I’ve ever tried. For £7.75 you can enjoy a plate of Scandinavian Iced Berries with a White Chocolate sauce. It sounds simple, and maybe it is, but the combination of the sweet, tart berries and the creamy chocolate sauce (which is so light, it would take a lot of it to become too sickly to enjoy) works so well, it’s almost a stroke of gastronomic genius!
Paul A. Young, Soho
While not strictly a restaurant (in fact it’s not a restaurant at all… it’s a shop) if you are looking for an after lunch or dinner (open until 9pm some nights) chocolate fix, this is the place to come. The staff in here know everything there is to know about their products – how the chocolates have been made, how the flavours work and what complements them, and they know how to tempt you into buying a fortunes worth of chocolates too. But if you’re able to exercise some self discipline, then all you really need to purchase from this luxurious award winning chocolatiers is their chocolate brownie (from £3.75) – a deep rich chocolate flavour which sticks to the roof of your mouth allowing you to get the best value for money of any brownie in London. Delicious heated up at home, but also perfect ready to eat straight out of the delicately wrapped packaging. The sea salted caramel flavoured brownie is probably the best, but the great thing about the store is they will provide some samples… just so you know you’re about to purchase something really quite special.