A few days after our wedding, I met my good friend Sarah from Vancouver and her husband Kevin for tea. I was told to pick the location and as it usually does, I was all nerves as I wanted to get this choice right! I opted to meet them at Piccadilly Circus with a few ideas on my mind. After learning that Kevin was a bit of a chocoholic, I knew where we’d go – La Maison du Chocolat.
My treats from this most Parisian of chocolate shops have always been takeaway – chocolates, cakes, even their divine hot chocolate. However, I noticed that they’d put in a little cafe corner in the shop a while ago but I’d not had a chance to try it out. All the tables were full when we arrived at a little past 3pm on a Sunday but a couple had just finished and we got a table after a little wait. Throughout our time there though, many other tables freed up and then stayed empty…shame as the little place is great! After choosing from the menu, the waitress came back with three glasses of tap water for us – a nice touch and quite forward looking as we really did need this to wash down all that chocolatey goodness.
It was a hot day and I wanted some ice cream. La Maison has ice creams and sorbets in little tubs but I had my eye on their verrines – layered ice cream desserts in a glass. Of those available, I chose la Verrine Pistache Framboise Chocolat – a layered dessert with a fresh raspberry sorbet, a rich and sticky chocolate ganache, creamy pistachio ice cream and topped with a candied pistachio “gravel”. With a long teaspoon, I was able to dig through all the layers and then … swoon as the combination hit my tongue. (I hope I find some time to go back again this summer while the ice creams are still available.)
I can’t remember what the name of this pastry was (Sarah and Kevin split this) but there was chocolate, passion fruit, banana and coconut all combined inside. We noted that the orange square on top looked disturbingly like a Kraft single – not to worry: it was coloured white chocolate. Actually, a Flickr search brings up a possibility of a name – Ile de Maracuja. It went down very well with the two of them.
Kevin went all out and had one of their fantastic hot chocolates (made with a fabulously ludicrous chocolate to milk ratio – it’s almost like drinking pure melted chocolate) to drink while we girls stuck with tea. These were not the cheapest teas by any means (I see from my photo that it’s a Dammann Frères tea) but the blow was lessened when each drink (only the teas and coffees) came with one of their lovely chocolates (we had raspberry).
The total came to £20 for the three of us (I think most of that was my verrine!). Sure it’s not a budget cafe but the pastries here are far better than your average tea shop and I’m happy to splash out a bit for a treat once in a while and especially if you’ve got friends visiting! Thank you for tea that day, Sarah and Kevin, and it was so nice to see you guys again! I miss you both!
La Maison du Chocolat
London W1J 0DS