Perhaps not many of my blog readers know, but I have moved back to my hometown of London.
London is one of the best cities in the world, and I am happy to be back amongst friends and family, but my soul is craving Paris. I’ve been trying to remedy this with pain au chocolats and
lots of wine, but to no avail. I decided to check out London’s Parisian Cafe scene (there are more about than you might think!) and came across Maison Bertaux, ideally situated in Soho.
The cafe has a quirky charm with its mis-matched chairs sitting on the terrace, and interiors filled with ornaments and fairy lights. It isn’t your classic Parisian cafe to look at, and clearly has a London hipster element injected into it, but the patisseries available certainly hark back to your everyday French boulangerie. And so they should, the history of Maison Bertaux goes back as far as 1871! The story, according to the Maison Bertaux website, is as follows:
Monsieur Bertaux, a Communard fleeing from Paris, arrived with an armful of recipes and opened this tiny patisserie and tea room in Greek Street. Maison Bertaux’s pastries have delighted the widest spectrum of Londoners for over 140 years, from Virginia Wolf to Karl Marx, from Alexandra McQueen to Noel Fielding and, of course, the bohemians of Soho.
It was quite exciting to try out a patisserie with such a history. From tarte aux fraises to mille-feuille, I was spoilt for choice, and wanted a taste of everything on offer.
In the end I went for the mille-feuille. I know the taste so well from many indulgent moments in Parisian patisseries, that I thought I could easily compare the taste of the London one to the French. It is also one of my boyfriend’s favourites, so I just had to try it out at Maison Bertaux.
One bite into the classic icing top and I was immediately transported back to France. The mille-feuille was every bit as indulgent as I hoped it would be, although I felt the custard slightly let it down. The vanilla taste seemed more manufactured, somehow, rather than the organic taste in most Parisian boulangeries.
The staff were incredibly friendly (another reason I knew I wasn’t in France…Just kidding!) One member of staff in particular was kind enough to tell me what everything was, revealing some exciting, and original, treats on offer, including marzipan figs.
I look forward to another trip to this quirky cafe in Soho! If you would like to see more blog post like these, about tasting Paris in London, let me know in the comments below!