Éclaires make the world a better place ...
Although I'm a huge fan of typical English afternoon tea - you know the kind, carousel of cakes, sandwiches and scones, endless tea etc. But sometimes a shot of espresso and a single, beautifully decorated éclair are more preferable to a table laden full to the brim with cakes and teapots. If you haven't heard of Maître Choux - the South Kensington (a.k.a. 'Little France') patisserie which opened in spring last year - it's worth popping in to marvel at their pretty - and tasty - wares. (But you'd better get here early, most of them are guzzled up come mid-afternoon...)
All the goods are baked on-site, starting at midnight before the next trading day. You can take your pick from a chorus line of glamorous éclairs with different flavour fillings and icing (pistachio pastry or Tahitian vanilla with pecans anyone?), as well as an 'éclair-macaron' hybrid and some tasty choux buns: crunchy little spheres of cream-filled pastry topped with 'a chocolate hat' as they put it.
This little sugary scrumptious paradise is presided over by its founder, pastry chef Joakim Prat who has 15 years of pastry-crafting under his belt, scooping up several awards in the process and working in London for the likes of L'Atelier and The Greenhouse in Mayfair. If you know anything about choux pastry, you'll know it's fairly tricky to make at home - trying to get that light crispiness that makes it so delectable and moreish, hence why its craft is so highly prized both in France at over here. I have to admit, I prefer it to stodgy, carb coma-inducing English scones and Victoria sponges...
Lest we forget to mention their 'chouquettes' - little puffs of sugary pastry that go down a treat with their homemade hot chocolate - which I'm guessing will be a big draw once the weather gets colder.
So if you don't want to push the boat out for a full-on English afternoon tea with all the trimmings, this sweet Parisian paradise is a nice little alternative.
15 Harrington Road, London SW7 3ES - 020 3583 4561
Open: Monday to Friday - 8:00am to 8:00pm; Saturday & Sunday - 10.00am to 8.00p