Louise Jones provides a unique guide to London for the sweet-toothed… Britain’s capital is famous for many things and is truly a city with something for everyone. We recently spent a totally indulgent weekend exploring London’s cafes, restaurants and bars and discovered that this is a city with a lot to offer the discerning chocolate lover! First stop should be Roast + Conch on Monmouth Street in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden where you can see chocolate making in action in the basement kitchen before taking time to sample in the coffee and cocoa cafe-bar or purchasing from the Hotel Chocolat shop. They even have weekly ‘Tasting Adventures’ where you can learn all about pairing chocolate with different wines. Sounds like bliss! While in the area, Gelatorino on nearby Russell Street serves divine homemade ice cream and sorbet. Not far away in trendy Soho, you can test out some truly exotic chocolate flavours at Yauatcha on Broadwick Street, such as spiced orange, or jasmine tea (lavender and honey was our favourite).
For fabulous gifts, or just to stock up for the next few days, visit Chocywoccydoodah at Fouberts Place, just off Carnaby Street (which, by the way, is a great spot for all kinds of shopping and home to London’s most beautiful department store, Liberty’s). It’s an eccentric kind of shop, cafe and confectioners where you’ll find an enormous array of decadent cakes and delicious chocolates. We found it hard to tear ourselves away. And if it’s cupcakes that you’re after then the Primrose Bakery at Tavistock Street, Covent Garden seems to be the place to go, the cakes are mini works of art and they also sell delicious cookies… although our favourite cookies can be found in a number of spots around London at Ben’s Cookies (Covent Garden, High Street Kensington and Bond Street) where the cookies are often fresh out of the oven, warm and soft with generous chocolate chunks. It is also our opinion that the best chocolate brownies in London can be bought at the stalls of the fabulous Borough Market, by London Bridge. Here you will also find Artisan du Chocolat, where exquisite chocolates, truffles, gifts and hot chocolate, made with great love and care by Irish-born master chocolatier Gerard Coleman. On a sunny spring day you can walk off the calories along the Thames Path nearby and take in the views of the city and Tower Bridge. Alternatively, for something a little more formal (albeit pricier), the Landmark Hotel on the Marylebone Road serves a delectable Chocolate Afternoon Tea in their winter garden.
Those with a serious passion for all things cocoa can join a Chocolate Ecstasy Tour. Taking place at weekends, these guided tours introduce you to the wares of all the best chocolatiers of Mayfair, Chelsea and Knightsbridge. You’ll get some great insights and tastings and some shopping discounts too. Alternatively you can grab some tickets for next month’s London Chocolate Festival taking place in Islington (April 11th to 13th) where you’ll be able to sample and buy from Britain’s top artisan chocolatiers. You can kick back and relax with a chocolate cocktail, join the best ever brownie trail, or even soothe your senses with luxury cocoa beauty treatments at the chocolate spa. You’ll be in heaven. Louise Jones