Review: Café Forty One (London)

Way back the week before last we went up to London for a one day trip and ended up staying three more days. It’s a long story but when we thought we were only staying one day we decided to treat ourselves to a trip to Café Forty One, a vegan pâtisserie.

After a brief debate about the merits of tarts we decided to splash out on the Valentine Afternoon Tea (available until the 28th). We were advised to start with the still warm scones. They were served with a berry compote that was wonderfully fruity and perfectly straddled the line between too tart and too sweet, a yummy clotted cream and a vegan honey substitute. As we’d just come from Devon the addition of honey was puzzling to us. Not that it was bad but… honey… on a scone?

Going down to the patisserie layer we had plenty of perfectly crafted treats. Our favourite was the Pistachio and Milk Chocolate Brioche. The pistachio creme was heavenly: light, soft and sublime. Kate also enjoyed the shortbread with chocolate cube and caramel creme pâtisserie although she was a little dubious about the gold leaf. I really liked the Black Forest entrements, griotte, dark chocolate and vanilla chantilly. The pecan and almond cookie was nice but not quite as show stopping and neither of us were keen on the redcurrant macaron. We didn’t think the redcurrants really worked.

On the bottom layer we get to the fancy sandwiches which was my personal favourite. Kate claimed the brioche roll with dill cream cheese and smoked carrot ‘salmon’. She was impressed with the realism of the carrot salmon. I enjoyed the BLT with aubergine ‘bacon’ which was also unexpectedly realistic with that wonderful hit of sweet, salty, smokey. The chipotle cheese with caramelised onion chutney and rocket on rye was amazing. The best vegan cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a few. The hummus and cucumber was a little disappointing but I suppose every tea has to come with some form of cucumber sandwich and every vegan tea has to come with a hummus sandwich so you might as well combine them and get the boring stuff out of the way.

It would be wrong to finish up without mentioning the price which is a nice, steep £35 per person (not including the service charge) but there are a couple of things that mean I don’t regret paying that. First of all the food is really well done; you can see the craftsmanship. Second, you do get a a good amount of food. We left absolutely stuffed. We give this place two thumbs up. If you have a special occasion coming up Café Forty One is absolutely perfect.

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