Freddo price-hikes notwithstanding (oh, Jeremy Corbyn...), chocolate is an uncontroversial pleasure — and never more so than at this time of year. With Easter comes a certain laissez-faire vibe that makes it temporarily ok to eat a chocolate fondant for breakfast, or finish off a cone of mint-choc-chip while waiting for the night bus. Leave the eggs at home and feast on Eater’s top of the chocs.Read More
13 of the Best Places to Eat Chocolate In London
With Easter on the horizon, here’s a pick of the capital’s finest places to enjoy one of the most universally appreciated foods
Everything on the counter in Claire Ptak’s café bears witness to the Californian lightness of touch and lack of pretension that won her a devoted following on Broadway Market before she set up shop in Wilton Way. From bundts to traybakes and brownies, including the famously chewy, gooey rye ones, chocolate abounds, wholesomely paired with mugs of tea. Photogenic, yes, but in a way that feels completely natural and unforced — form follows function here. Truly one of a kind. (With a sort of Royal seal now, too.)
Pizza Pilgrims Shoreditch
There’s calzone on the menu at each of the seven London Pizza Pilgrims, but this, for the moment, is the only branch offering a build-your-own chocolate option. Choose a favourite bar from their revolving selection of four (the Kinder Bueno gets an especially big thumbs up) and the obliging team will wrap it up in a doughy blanket and bundle it into the oven. They also do a ring of pizza dough stuffed with Nutella and salted ricotta which is bellissimo *Italian chef kiss*.
The Quality Chop House Shop
Rejoice: Farringdon’s finest has just opened a cafe in what used to be Noble Fine Liquor, which means more doorstep sarnies, and for today’s purposes, much more chocolate. QCH has long shared a bed with Pump Street, the Suffolk baker-cum-chocolatier, whose brown-paper-wrapped bars are on sale along with the likes of condensed milk brownies, Black Forest cheesecake, brownie-batter doughnuts and bake-at-home chocolate fondants. Keep an eye out for the Mini Egg doughnuts.
Young British Foodies 2017 winner Happy Endings has, happily, found a permanent weekend home in Old Spitalfields Market. The retro ice-cream sandwiches are all present and correct, including The Malty, which is effectively two giant chocolate digestives with a scoop of frozen malted milk in the middle. Supplementing them are desserts include The Fancy Pants (textures of chocolate sprinkled over milk-chocolate soft serve) and a self-saucing chocolate tart with boozy cherries.
Duck & Waffle
London’s loftiest round-the-clock restaurant serves preposterously chocolatey desserts, including a textbook chocolate fondant with peanut-butter ganache, vanilla ice-cream and crispy praline bits that’s also — admirably — on the breakfast menu. Team it with a black-chocolate tea or a chocolate cocktail: the list has previously featured a white-chocolate gin fizz, a beetroot and chocolate royalé and a blue cheese and chocolate martini (really).
Chin Chin Dessert Club (Chin Chin Ice Cream)
Bigger than the Camden parlour and with a menu to match (chills, multiplying), this is a proper one-stop choc-shop. From the chocolate-glazed Ring Ding cake — a massive, American Wagon Wheel — to the melting-middle cookies and a tiramisu brownie sundae, everything comes with Chin Chin’s 80% Valrhona chocolate ice cream, flash-frozen using liquid nitrogen for a dense, super-velvety texture. A lot of thought has clearly gone into the optics, but fortunately everything tastes just as good as it looks.
Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates
Anyone can bake a rough approximation of a brownie, but nailing the perfect sugary-crisp top and fudgy centre is a true art form, and Paul A. Young has mastered it. His Soho store is a Tutankhamun’s tomb of baked treasures, from trad brownies to seasonal specials like the hot-cross brownie and bite-sized squares dipped in melted chocolate. It’s all a prelude, though, to the truffles, which come in out-there flavours like salty popcorn, apricot jam tart and prunes with custard. The sea-salt caramel billionaire’s shortbread makes a superb self-gift.
SAID dal 1923
Italian hot chocolate makes the homegrown British stuff look like washing-up water. The insanely rich, thick, stand-your-spoon-up-in-it variety is hard to come by over here, but Said in Soho has it on tap (or, rather, in vats). The only UK outpost of a famous Roman chocolate shop, it feels a bit like a chocolate-only medieval apothecary, with glass jars of truffles and ingots of unadulterated “Napoletani” grand-cru chocolate. The hot chocolate itself comes in dark, milk or nutty gianduja, with optional — though highly recommended — whipped cream.
The first eat-in Bread Ahead doesn’t disappoint. Behold the pyramids of brownies on the counter — choose from plain, hazelnut-and-almond and the occasional seasonal special. Then turn around and gaze in wonder at the doughnuts piled high in the window! (The selection changes, but velvet-chocolate-caramel and chocolate-orange are regulars). It’s worth getting there early and settling in, and there’s plenty of space in the back for laptops, making this a sweet spot for sweet-toothed freelancers.
Also featured in:
Bob Bob Ricard
Here be the wellspring of those melting-orb desserts that collapse in pervy slow-mo every Christmas during the ad breaks. There’s no denying that Bob Bob Ricard’s ‘BBR Signature Chocolate Glory’ (shades of Ronseal in the naming, there) is a class act: pouring the hot chocolate sauce onto the shell causes it to crumple elegantly, revealing chocolate mousse, a brownie layer, berries and passionfruit-and-orange jelly. The new off-peak pricing scheme means it’s 25% cheaper from Monday to Thursday at lunchtime, and on Monday evenings.
From milk chocolate with hazelnuts to Bonet (chocolate, coffee, egg yolk, rum, caramel and amaretti biscuits), Snickers and bitter chocolate sorbet, Gelupo’s flavour board is a chocoholic’s paradise. Deep, dark brownies and inventive hot drinks complete the picture: there’s Bicerin, a combination of melted chocolate, espresso and cream, plus a dairy-free hot chocolate, as well as a white chocolate and matcha version. Gelupo is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays — it’s safe to say stopping off on the way home for a cone of fresh mint straciatella is one of London’s life’s greatest pleasures.
Dominique Ansel Bakery
Just reading Dominique Ansel’s menu makes the fillings hum. The Cronut’s inventor is a modern-day Willy Wonka, and his Belgravia patisserie is an unabashed celebration of all things sugary. In terms of chocolate, the offerings range from DIY frozen S’mores and salted caramel brownies to coconut pains aux chocolat, chocolate-chip cookie “shot glasses” topped up with milk, and blood orange and hazelnut milk chocolate pavlovas filled with gianduja ganache. And for afters? A lie-down.
It may only be open Thursday to Sunday, but this is London’s best chocolate shop — no ifs, no buts. Like a Joanne Harris novel come to life off Bellenden Road, Melange is owned by Isabelle Alaya; a self-taught chocolatier and founder of The Chocolate Museum in Brixton (who’s very generous with the samples). She’s put together a range of 15 signature bars: six dark, six milk and three white, featuring mind-expanding flavour combinations like raspberry and rosemary, coffee and aniseed and white pepper and vanilla. The hot chocolate regularly tops best-of lists, and the white chocolate blondies are worth crossing town for.