Patisserie Valerie, All London
Sugar. Always the perfect pick me up for a busy afternoon and the gigantic cakes and desserts from Patisserie Valerie are loaded full of them. Not overly so, mind you. First opened in Frith Street, Soho, 1926 by Madame Valerie, there are now over 100 stores littered about the United Kingdom. It’s become one of the more prolific patisserie chains, offering a wide range of “lovingly handmade cakes” to the masses.
I’ve been to my fair share of the London Patisserie Valerie stores. The quality of the product is extremely variable. That’s due to some items veering away from being fresh, depending on what you choose. Some of the stuff is quite good, or was quite good, but it’s hard to navigate as the menu selections are oh so extensive in themselves.
Patisserie Valerie is a lot more corporate these days. As of 2006 Risk Capital Partners owns the controlling stake of the business and they have driven it’s expansion rapidly. The guys have their hands on other places like Pizza Express, Giraffe and Strada so you can idea of what kind of treatment this chain has.
It was very cool walking into the original store in Soho, which was the one closest to our office building. It still feels a lot like a relic itself, with the original fitouts being mostly intact. Crazy to think its encroaching on a hundred years since opening. Over the months we’ve had the occasional cake from the shop in the office and I would say these are very good indeed. They always go down a treat, and they always go.
I was less than impressed when it came to some of the individual selections. The fruit tart and vanilla custard slice both tasted like it was two days out. It all looks so good in the window too, but once you take a bit you realise how heavy this all tastes. It’s a bit of a lottery getting something freshly prepared, it might be worth asking your server if they’re willing to divulge.
Some of the other slices, including the lemon cheesecake, were more palatable. I had one in their transit store in the King’s Cross station. This is a cold set orange and lemon zest cheesecake with cream cheese and sour cream on a biscuit base. We took a seat and divvied up the slice. This is recommended as Patisserie Valerie portions are outrageous and surely intended to be shared. Or savoured. Or for greedy peoples. This one was nice.
I’d return to Patisserie Valerie for their celebration cakes but would pass up on their sometimes good, sometimes bad, individual items.