“It’s not about quantity, it’s about pleasure,” the legendary chef Albert Adrià said of his innovative dessert-and-Champagne restaurant concept, which opened in London at the end of 2018. “Opening a bottle of Champagne is about happiness, always: it’s the closest thing to being happy”, he told Eater.
“If you want to make your family happy: bottle of Champagne. If you go to a wedding: bottle of Champagne. And when you come to eat a dessert made by Albert Adrià: bottle of Champagne...I want people to come here to treat themselves.”
He doesn’t need to ask us twice.
Adrià’s restaurant Cakes & Bubbles is housed in London’s chi-chi Hotel Cafe Royal, and with his esteemed background as previous co-owner (with his brother Ferran) of elBulli in Roses, Catalonia and Tickets in Barcelona, it’s the ultimate place to splash out on this most decadent of duos.
Whether it’s our longer working hours, or the cost of a three-course-meal becoming too expensive, going out to simply have dessert and a glass or two of fizz seems the perfect solution to add a touch of luxe to daily life.
And while a tasting menu at any other top London restaurant is upwards of £150 (and takes two or three hours to munch through), Adria’s offerings are a set menu of four light and delicate desserts for £29 - including the signature cheese cake, a mini cake created to look like a wheel of cheese - with a glass of bubbles from just £9.
It’s a concept that’s been a hit since it opened. Reviews of the restaurant have been, well, really sweet. Time Out London said: “Marie Antoinette, eat your heart out”, Secret London said: “Soho is about to become one helluva lot sweeter, while another food blogger noted: “the concept works and the desserts are exceptional”.
And, where the Adrià brothers pioneer, the rest follow, which is why we’re saying hold the starter and the main, please. Consider one of these establishments to let yourselves eat cake.
For dainty, fragrant Asian-inspired bites, try this new way of dining at a classic restaurant: Yauatcha. Their macarons are the best this side of Paris's Ladurée, with the Soho venue boasting intriguing flavours such as bergamot pistachio and matcha yuzu, perfectly matched with their Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs Brute.
Head over to Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social for a touch of savoury-sweet dishes, such as the bitter chocolate pavé with olive oil ice cream or the lemon, lime and olive sponge with honey crackling and basil sorbet, which should be teamed with a flute of Ruinart Rose to lift the mini-dinner experience to heady new heights.
Meanwhile, Duck & Waffle might be famous for its fried bird and carb-heavy side, but the desserts are still just the right level of deluxe. If dinner is just one dish, might as well make it a good one, and any table that orders the chocolate fondant with peanut butter ganache will be in raptures when it arrives. Sip a sharp, zesty champers alongside it - like the NV Taittinger Brut Reserve - which will cut through the richness of the pudding for a total taste sensation. This venue gets extra points from us for the amazing bird's eye view of London, and - possibly the best bit - because it’s open 24-7, and we never know when that dessert-and-Champagne craving is going to kick in.
When it does, we know exactly where to head.
Main image credit: Mats Silvan via Getty Images