After our picnic, we checked out the offerings at the NFT, browsed through the South Bank Book Market, and then after looking at our watches, decided to find someplace for tea. I had originally suggested gelato and we wandered around the Covent Garden area trying to find Scoop gelato. I stupidly hadn’t written down its address in my notebook and after a disappointing 20 minutes, we gave up and walked towards Soho for one of the cafes where we usually take tea. After taking stock of all the cafes we’d visited, I decided upon Maison Bertaux. They always have the best cakes and you can sit there for hours without anyone disturbing you. You can’t say that for most of the Chinese cafes!

I had eyes only for the sweet treats on offer but Blai pointed out a tray of puff pastry slices topped with cheese, onions and peppers. OK then, our very first savoury item from the window. I was originally drawn to one of the chocolatey delights but finally chose a simple strawberry tart. Thoughts now turned to drinks and while I would have settled for a pot of tea as usual, Blai inquired into cold drinks. “Yes!” said the waiter. “We have iced coffee and iced tea.” Two iced teas, please!

Iced Tea

After a bit of gentle persuasion from the waiter (“You never know when the next sunny day will be in London!”), we sat at one of the small tables on the sidewalk outside the cafe. We’ve usually sat at one of the cozy tables upstairs and were really looking forward to seeing how it had changed since the smoking ban. Oh well, the weather was beautiful and most of the tables were in the shade anyway.

Cheese, Onion, Pepper Pastry

Our pastries were plated and brought to us immediately; it took a little longer for our iced teas. They were well worth the wait – tall glasses of cold tea with plenty of ice and lots of fruit! The fruit was an unexpected surprise: strawberries, raspberries and nectarine slices. There was sugar on the table but what would have made it better is some simple syrup – cafes, take note! The savoury slice had a secret layer of mustard between the pastry and cheese and made for a rich first course. It’s something I can see myself making at home in the future…but with ready made puff pastry. The pastry here was flaky and I liked that it wasn’t all air inside; there was a bit of body to it! The strawberries on the tart sat on a thick layer of creme patissiere and whipped cream and the pastry base was delightful and just perfect. The strawberries too were perfectly ripe and it would have been difficult to better this tart. Most of it disappeared before I even knew it.

Strawberry Tart

The total bill came to £13.50 – so while not the cheapest place, I think it’s worth it for the occasional treat. The most delightful part of the cafe is its ability make you utterly relaxed. As mentioned before, there’s no pressure on you to free the table and everytime we find ourselves there, we have the best conversations, something we’ve been missing for the past month or so due to many work commitments. Thank goodness for places like this.

Maison Bertaux
28 Greek Street
London W1D 5DQ

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