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English desserts in London

p
peelmeagrape Jan 21, 2007 03:30 PM

I'm planning an early February trip to London and have a quite specific request.

I'm obsessed with English desserts, especially steamed puddings, custard and other "school food"-style sweets. It doesn't matter whether the presentation of the food and the ambiance are very casual or very fancy - I'm more concerned about quality and the variety of options. (For reference, I've enjoyed the desserts at the Rivington Grill in the past.) Is there somewhere you can think of - maybe a bakery or dessert cafe - that does a fairly wide range of these? I don't know if it might be a better idea to buy a large assortment from a nice food hall and coax our hotel to (gasp!) heat them up for us so we can have a dessert-only picnic in our hotel room.

Also, how about a rec for a bakery that does English baked goods of the more breakfast-y variety (hot cross buns?)? The pastry shop recs I've seen on the board are all French.

Thanks in advance!

P.S. An aside: The February Gourmet mentions a new place called St. Alban that's owned by the same people as the Ivy and the Wolseley. Has anyone been and is it worth a visit?

  1. s
    Simon Majumdar Jan 21, 2007 04:08 PM

    St Alban?

    My brother quite liked it liked it

    http://majbros.blogspot.com/2006/12/i-recall-when-i-was-small-how-i-spent.html

    I did not. Not at all

    http://majbros.blogspot.com/2006/12/s...

    St John Bread & Wine is a good place to pick up a few British things ( the Eccles cake is, of course, the stuff of legend

    )

    The more gastro pubby type places could be the place to try. The Fox ( close to The Rivington) have things like crumble etc on the menu.

    S

    1. mnosyne Jan 21, 2007 06:20 PM

      There are lots of traditional British puddings on the menu at Sweetings, a fish restaurant in the City, only open for lunch and worth the trip.

      1. c
        clb Jan 22, 2007 07:17 AM

        St John B&W is a definite both for the Eccles cakes and the steamed puddings - hope for the steamed treacle pudding. Sometimes they have fine doughnuts to take away, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: clb
          emily Jan 29, 2007 03:58 PM

          The Spotted Dick pudding was wonderful at St. John. Heavy stuff, though -- I don't think I've ever felt so full.

        2. p
          peelmeagrape Jan 22, 2007 12:47 PM

          Thank you all for the suggestions. Simon, your experience is enough to keep us away from St. Alban - there are plenty more solid options on our list. Sweetings sounds like exactly my kind of place, though it will be somewhat difficult to schedule a lunchtime visit. Couldn't find a menu online but the traditional-sounding ambiance and mnosyne's rec makes it sound promising. Do they do a good fish and chips? Is St. John Bread and Wine owned by the same people who have St. John, the restaurant? I had a terrible experience at the restaurant...my worst meal over the course of several trips to the city. It does sound like they have the right kind of desserts.

          1. h
            Howard V Jan 22, 2007 07:33 PM

            The Rivington near Old Street does good trad. British desserts. I had an excellent sticky toffee pudding there recently. The sloe gin jelly is also really good. I see they have Bramley apple crumble on the menu too.

            1. wleatherette Jan 22, 2007 08:06 PM

              there's a cafe underneath the smallfish record shop in old street that does amazing desserts, usually with organic ingredients - various kinds of fruit crumble, flapjacks, bread puddings, ginger cake, banana loaves, etc etc. i really miss it (waistline is smaller, though).

              1 Reply
              1. re: wleatherette
                h
                Howard V Jan 22, 2007 09:56 PM

                Sadly Smallfish and the cafe below closed a while ago . . .

              2. wleatherette Jan 22, 2007 10:04 PM

                that's HORRIBLE news. i never bought anything at the shop but ate at the cafe frequently. for my money, they had one of the best burgers in london and really, some of the best casual food in that area. i haven't been since last march and was really looking forward to a visit when i'm back in june... ah well.

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