Call me bias if you must but I firmly stand by my opinion that European cakes are the best in the world. America always goes over the top with sugar where Asia don’t add enough, Great Britain’s cakes are a bit like their weather – soggy. Europe’s love affair with dessert started very early with first baked cake recorded in 17th century. From then on baking became an art form adored by everyone from Paris to Russia. Patisseries in Europe are amazing. We saw some examples of a grand patisserie first-hand in Lisbon. From the decor to the selection of cakes, your tea time in Europe has been transformed to a formal affair with silver service.
You can imagine my delight as I spotted a Hungarian patisserie in Hampstead. As soon as I spotted the sign I started dreaming of fluffy Hungarian cremes… unfortunately they didn’t have them on the menu, so I opted for a very similar cake called ‘Creme Slice’. This slice was not as sweet as it looks. It was a gorgeous combination of creme lighter than air and crispy layered pasty. Of course the portion was bigger than one can eat, so had to be shared.
Cheese cake is not as you and me know it. Hungarian cheese cake reminded me of polenta cake by texture. It didn’t even smell of cheese, with a slight sweetness and lemon flavoring it seemed a bit dry. A little bit disappointing. Perhaps it’s a good excuse to go back and try all Louis Patisserie’s cakes.
The decor takes you back in time. The galore of cakes is displayed on the front window, main room is a mixture of dark brown leather covered sofas and wood paneled walls. Sweet old lady with white apron serves tea in sets are delightfully floral. She doesn’t speak a word of English which in my book enhances the experience of a foreign cafe.
Louis patisserie was dead quiet despite a few tables with customers. Everyone was talking with hushed voices, slowly flipping pages of a newspaper and quietly sipping on their coffee. It was quite nice and relaxing for a change.
For £12 we had a cappuccino, hot chocolate and two desserts. It’s a little pricier than your regular coffee shop but worth paying extra for a taste of Hungary.
P.S. Beware – they only accept cash.
32 Heath Street, London NW3 6TE
Isn’t Hampstead beautiful in the sunshine? We found ourselves wondering in the heath for hours, trying to soak in this lovely spring sun. Our walk certainly made us very hungry, wasting no time we popped into the first cafe we came across that was open for an early lunch.
Fish Cafe does what it says on the door. Their menu was a plethora of aquatic animals, all options available grilled or steamed. We kicked meal off with classic prawns in garlic butter. Couldn’t fault them, they were big and juicy. I loved fresh zingy salad that came with it.
For me fish is something that is very hard to get wrong. The beauty of a well grilled piece is that it stays succulent and the accompanying dishes let the natural flavors of the fish shine. I like sea bream for it’s meatiness and the fact that there are not too many small bones, most coming apart from the meat when you pull the spine. My sea bream was juicy with nice crispy skin, steamed veg was presented in a fun manner, whole dish was simple but kind of perfect.
Fish pie was another story. It’s a risky item to order unless you are by the seaside where pies come straight out of the oven. But our hungry tums always fall weak at the sight of a pie on the menu. This was a huge portion. Pastry was thick and the fish stuffing was a little bland, had to be fixed with a little salt and pepper.
We were the only customers at the restaurant, at the end of our meal the manager of the restaurant came over for a chat. And what a chat it was! In less than twenty minutes we have felt we knew absolutely everything there is to know about Christian. Such a good laugh. He made us feel extremely welcome and for that reason we are very likely to come back.
Fish Cafe is a no fuss restaurant with uber fast service, I would definitely recommend popping in for some great grilled fish.
71 Hampstead High Street. Hampstead. London NW3 1QP.