What: A high-end patisserie at Knightsbridge hotel The Berkeley. Offering views over Hyde Park, the multi-faceted space combines a lab-like chef’s counter and a retail counter and also services the [also newly opened] The Berkeley Café.
Who: French pâtissier extraordinaire Cédric Grolet. His technically impressive creations - including his mind-bending trompe l’oeil fruit desserts and Rubik’s Cube inspired-cakes - have bagged him over 2m Instagram followers. His CV includes renowned pâtisserie brand Fauchon and famed Parisian hotel Le Meurice. Alain Ducasse took over the latter’s restaurant in 2013 and gave Grolet - then only 27 - a chance to create a lighter dessert menu that focused on natural flavours. Needless to say he excelled and was promoted to head pastry chef. Soon after, he was charged with opening a ‘pastry boutique’ within the hotel that cemented his position as one of the world’s most exciting pastry chefs. He remains executive pastry chef at Le Meurice but recently struck out on his own with a standalone site in the French capital’s Opera neighbourhood.
The vibe: Designed by Remi Tessier, Grolet’s eight-cover The Pastry Lab combines polished stainless steel with white stone and a gold leaf-gilded counter. The walls feature lemons and carved flowers and the scallop floor tiles represent the apple slices in the tarte aux pommes Grolet enjoyed as a child.
The food: Already attracting snaking queues, the takeaway part of Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley offers viennoiserie, cookies and cakes alongside the chef’s aforementioned trompe l’oeil as well as his equally famous flower cakes (above). The Pastry Lab offers a six course tasting menu - five sweet and one savoury - for £135. There are three sittings seven days a week (10.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm). The Berkeley Café, meanwhile, offers various menus including a set breakfast menu for £50, a goûter menu (a menu designed for the afternoon) and a dessert menu that offers a small selection of plated restaurant-style desserts for £25 a pop.
And another thing: At the risk of tooting our own horn, BigHospitality predicted the resurgence of dessert bars and dessert-only tasting menus last year. We approached Grolet for an interview but the answer was a resounding ‘non’. Apparently he does a maximum of two interviews a year and - not being Vanity Fair - we are understandably not one of them.