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Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

  • Restaurants
  • Knightsbridge
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  1. Photograph: Calvin Courjon
    Photograph: Calvin Courjon
  2. Photograph: Calvin Courjon
    Photograph: Calvin Courjon
  3. Photograph: Calvin Courjon
    Photograph: Calvin Courjon

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Frenchman Cédric Grolet is a big deal. He’s one of the world’s best pâtissiers (he won the title of Best Pastry Chef in 2018). He has more than 2 million Instagram followers and is famous for creating trompe l’oeil-style desserts that look like fruit (sometimes nuts and flowers, too). Now, he’s hopped across the Channel to open his first pâtisserie outside France with this ambitious café and high-end ‘pastry lab’ at The Berkeley Hotel. Since it opened in February, there have been endless queues and people going mad over it on social media. 

On my Monday-morning visit, I was greeted by five pastries that looked like works of art displayed in their own glass cloche. It reminded me of the enchanted rose from ‘Beauty and the Beast’, but with less wilted flower and more buttery, flaky goodness. I took a seat on one of the eight pink stools at the clinically white polished steel counter for my two-hour, seven-course pastry tasting menu.

It's direct from the oven and straight to you.

Sadly, there was no sign of Grolet himself in action, but his team of pastry chefs were on hand to explain ingredients and techniques. ‘We’re proud of the fact that there’s no fridge here,’ my pastry chef said, handing me my first plate. ‘It's direct from the oven and straight to you.’ 

The menu started with a bang: a delicate and intricate web-like croissant cracker with a luxurious Peruvian dark-chocolate swirl that felt properly decadent, both bitter and sweet. It was swiftly followed by a transcendental flaky pain suisse au chocolate – a layered croissant with a silky vanilla crème pâtissière and a chunky chocolate core. I bit into the ASMR-worthy crackly ridged top. My eyes rolled back in delight and I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing at one point: a masterclass in silky and crusty textures and contrasting cooling and rich flavours.

The same couldn’t be said for the next two courses, though. A croissant sandwich with avocado, spinach and smoked salmon, topped with a dainty dollop of caviar and a thick drizzle of hollandaise was prepared in front of me. Sadly, the lemon-and-vanilla marmalade was far too bitter and overpowering thanks to the citrus. It wasn’t too bad when the components were eaten separately, but it was far too rich.

Next, a nod to the UK, with a take on a scone. It arrived as a dense and crumbly chocolate-covered cube that was sprayed to look like a scone. But it tasted nothing like the scone that we all know and love. Although, the plate of clotted cream, orange marmalade, strawberry and blackcurrant jam it comes with was lovely and I scooped up every last bit with my finger. 

To finish, a slightly too-tart lemon granita with thyme and finger lime (popping lemon caviar from Australia) palate-cleanser served in a hollowed out lemon half. It was refreshing and cut through the heaviness from the previous dish. The menu then ended on a high with a light and buttery madeleine straight out the oven, presented in front of me to pluck off the tray. I left the restaurant feeling hyper and giddy like a child (probably from all the sugar) but shortly after I came crashing down (definitely, from all the sugar) and I couldn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.  

So, do I think that this multi-course tasting menu is worth the eye-watering price of £135? No, probably not. But then where else can you get a pastry chef’s table experience with such attentive service? This is definitely a special-occasion sort of place. And for those whose budget is more Greggs than Grolet, but still want to try some immaculate sweet creations there's a slick ’70s-style café attached to the restaurant, where diners sit on fluffy round chairs and try individual takeaway items from £7 to £25 apiece.

The vibe A clinical scientist’s lab meets groovy, ’70s-style café.

The food Posh pastries, straight out of the oven and on to your plate.

The drink Freshly pressed juices, Jing teas and Laurent Perrier rosé.

Time Out tip It’s pure luck what’s available on the day, but expect masterful desserts

Angela Hui
Written by
Angela Hui


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