Treat of the week was a trip to the recently opened Patisserie Valerie.
A new experience for both of us; coffee and cake is always good, but this takes it to a whole new level.
It is, quite simply, a beautiful experience. Stylishly laid out with comfortable red leather and Art Nouveau décor, Patisserie Valerie was jam packed with all kinds of everyone. And so nice to see the younger generation enjoying proper afternoon tea.
The staff were absolutely charming - friendly, polite and attentive. Despite a short wait, due to the abundance of customers, we were given wonderful service, starting with huge mocha coffees (which were excellent and the right balance of bitter sweetness) and there were many apologies for the short wait.
But the delay was barely noticed, as there was so much gorgeous cakiness to look at and admire. I had asked permission to take photos, which was freely given, and snapped away happily.
Our waiter was charm itself and soon our cakes arrived.
The cake portions are properly generous and almost too exquisite to eat. Joe opted for cheesecake, adorned with a small piece of modern sculpture.
I went with the double chocolate gateau, with a fat, sticky profiterole nestling on top. Both were perfection to look at - and eat. My chocolate paradise was densely cocoa flavoured without being over rich, with a light, moist sponge and a rich, oozing filling. We exchanged forkfuls, but not many words. Cake eating is a serious business.
Afterwards, with happy sighs, we laid down our sticky forks and sat back. It was a complete meal in itself. We watched people coming and going, some queuing for tables, some popping in for take away portions. All the time, there was a constant crowd of people peering in at the window, admiring the pretty display.
We agreed that this has to be a regular event. And best of all, there are not only branches across the UK, but one has recently opened in my patch, Shrewsbury. So there will still be cake at Patisserie Valerie, even when Joe moves down to the cottage.
Sometimes you look forward to something, only to be slightly let down by the actual experience. This exceeded expectation and we are now loyal customers. It only took one cake each and superb customer service.