This tiny, 19th-century Soho institution prides itself on being London’s oldest French pâtisserie. Whether it’s still also ‘the best’ is neither here nor there: you drop by because it’s there, because it’s quaint and as far from corporate as can be, because it’s an old and familiar friend, or because it’s on the tourist trail.
Hardly anyone uses the upstairs room, with habitués preferring to squeeze on to the pavement if weather permits, or to cram themselves by the old piano, surveying the memorabilia, peeling plaster and spangly swags of stuff while nibbling an almond croissant. Tea and coffee have no more caught up with modernity than the non-automated till; service is endearingly chaotic (asked if I’d like a coffee with my pastry, I was promptly presented with tea) and rather geared to the event order facility that ensures Maison Bertaux’s survival.
Prices alone are in touch with current trends, but they seem a small sum to pay to ensure the survival of an icon.