From gourmet doughnuts to Japanese-style French toast, here’s a round up of the delectable desserts I’m digging at the moment, along with an initial take on the Melt Room. And no, the irony isn’t lost on me that this post follows on from one featuring my top picks for healthy hangouts in London… but what is life about after all, if not finding a balance?
1. Crosstown doughnuts. Far from your average doughnuts, these gourmet hybrids pull off a cross between sourdough and yeast that gives them a distinct doughy texture encasing the dreamiest fillings from Belgian chocolate truffle to sea salted caramel and banana cream! The creme brûlée is particularly enticing with its crisp, golden, caramelised exterior while the centre is all gooey, stuffed with a rich vanilla custard…
While Crosstown Doughnuts can be found at Broadway and Leather Lane market, as well as at their pop-up within Piccadilly Circus station (until end May), they recently launched their first permanent shop in Soho – a small but sleek space with a few bar stools for eat-in. The store is the first-ever to serve Assembly coffee, a unique collaboration of coffee experts from across London (including the likes of Embassy East, Esters and Noble Espresso) centred on an interactive sensory experience for coffee drinkers. I love the packaging of this label, as the colours in the artwork reflect tasting notes from sweet berries to a sharp citrus running through, to the nutty undertones, letting you decide what you taste!
Fun fact by the way, in case you’re looking for a reason to justify the indulgence: Crosstown are also (relatively) healthier than your average doughnuts, as the more resilient sourdough crumbs absorb less fats when deep-fried!
4 Broadwick Street, London W1F 8HJ
2. Biskies from Cutter and Squidge. A mix of biscuit, cookie and cake, biskies are pretty and delicious little hybrids sandwiching delicate fillings from caramels and homemade jams (naturally flavoured with fresh fruits) to a light buttercream that halves the amount of butter and sugar normally used in baking – it gives a whole new meaning to those wise words by Julia Childs: “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream!”
My favourite so far is “OMG It’s Green” (pictured upper left), a unique combination of green tea, white chocolate and raspberry thats simply heaven for matcha lovers everywhere…
No. 4 Brewer street, Soho, London, W1F 0SB
3. Nutella and mascarpone melts. Joining the growing ranks of niche eateries in London is the Melt Room, a new cafe in – you guessed it – Soho specialising in sourdough cheese toasties. The cheese-spiration is felt in the decor and vibes of this 12-seater cafe too, from the yellow tiles and signage to the cheesy photos and music, creating a light and airy, all-round happy setting.
I have to confess though, when it actually came to the grilled cheese, my friends and I were a bit disappointed. We tried a selection including the classic (grilled with their secret special cheese blend) and portobello mushroom (with thyme, roasted peppers & provolone cheese). Good but not exceptional. Also quite greasy, which left us slightly confused as to why they’ve been described as gourmet in more than one review we’ve come across.
Still, its hard to begrudge the Melt Room when they also have these divine nutella and mascarpone melts on the menu, sandwiched in a milky bread. The combination is pure genius and we don’t doubt that we’ll be back for seconds soon. And perhaps to give their grilled cheese a second chance, likely after a late night out in Soho before.
26 Noel street, London, W1F 8GY
4. Choux time. Eclairs are undergoing a massive makeover at Maitre Choux, a specialist choux patisserie newly opened in South Kensington by a Michelin experienced chef!
Joakim Prat brings a contemporary spin on tea-time classics with much-loved flavours such as tiramisu and lemon meringue. Crisp, golden and oozing pure decadence, we polished them off in no time at all. We got our selection to go on the day, but we expect that we’ll soon be lured back by their fun and inviting store display and the promise of a rich hot-chocolate based on the legendary Basque recipe passed down by Joakim’s grandmother.
15 Harrington Road, London SW7 3E
5. Kinako french toast at Shackfuyu (the pop-up by Bone Daddies serving up Japanese junk food). Possibly the most photographed and hyped dessert on Instagram this year, and with good reason. A friend and I trudged up Old Compton Street in Soho one fine spring afternoon just to see what all the fuss was about, and were quite simply blown away. Soaked overnight and then fried to crispy perfection on the outer edges without losing it’s melt-in-your-mouth buttery centre, then served with a soft-serve matcha ice cream… there’s really nothing quite like this, it’s a must try.
14A Old Compton Street, London W1D 4TJ