Welcome to Ask Eater, a new column from Eater London in which the site’s editor and contributors offer to answer specific or particularly troubling requests from readers and friends. A new question and answer will run every Thursday. Have a question for us? You can ask it here:
Hi Eater London,
I have a question about cookies that has nothing to do with GDPR. It’s really simple. Where can I find London’s best cookie?
Dedicated Follower of Cookies
Hi, Dedicated Follower of Cookies,
You’re coming in hot with a big question here. Thanks to Alison Roman’s remarkable recipe, cookies are one of those foods this year. But then, haven’t they always been? The reasons are obvious: a buttery, almost melting dough; hefty chunks of chocolate — melting too, if your cookie game is strong and you eat them warm — small enough to eat on the go, as much a furtive breakfast as an afternoon snack. They can sandwich inventive ice creams; be deconstructed, natch; inspire bizarre life choices. But you already know this. You know your cookies.
As you’ve been marching around London’s bakeries on your noble quest — with chocolate stained fingers and dropped crumbs in your wake — you’ll probably have found that the search for London’s best cookie crumbles easily. Why? Consistency is not your friend. Between Ben and Milly — London’s cookie oligarchs — you’ll have found some serviceable snacks; the chocolate chunk shortbread at Starbucks is far from half-baked; London’s essential coffee shops will have something snappy, but they’ll probably be wholesaled. They’ll taste the same, day in day out. They’ll be good. But they’ll never be the best.
That is to say that London’s best cookie is fleeting, transient, elusive. The search for it can be self-destructive: a long trek in search of crumbly, chocolate-chipped perfection, greeted with an empty display or counter: imagine the pain. You probably don’t have to imagine, and for that I am deeply sorry. Anyway, the contenders. The quality (chop) shop at Quality Chop House bakes a mean chocolate classic. Chiswick’s Outsider Tart does a whoopie pie you’d happily use as a cushion. Dominique Ansel can be relied on for something that tastes as good as it looks with a carefully chosen filter and emoji-laden caption. But we are looking for the the singular London cookie.
Tucked down Kynaston Road in Stoke Newington — between leafy pavements and (probably) a surfeit of dogs, prams, or both — you will find Esters. It is, perhaps, the platonic ideal of a neighbourhood café. Coffee carefully brewed. Breakfasts and lunches — not ‘brunches’ — that are as inventive and cheeky as they are reliable and satisfying. And, cookies. Their best cookie, and, yes, the best cookie in London, is the white chocolate and miso. It’s untraditional and inventive, but rooted in fundamentally sensible flavour affinity. The butter is browned before creaming to emphasise the richness of the miso; there’s ground coffee and a good whack of salt to leaven the sweetness of the white chocolate; there’s more of that miso than you might expect, but it’s white miso, so umami is in a happy dance with sweetness; that white chocolate couverture is chosen for its vanilla aroma as much as its hefty chunks. It’s playful and deeply serious; it’s fun and it’s clever; it changes daily so might not even be there: if there was ever a cookie for London 2018, this would be it. It’s white chocolate and miso, it’s at Esters, and it’s London’s best.
I hope you get to eat it soon, and that it’s everything you want it to be,