Maison Bertaux, Soho
28 Greek Street
020 7437 6007
Open: Monday - Friday 9am - 10.30pm, Sunday 9am - 8pm
by Gracie Spoon
It’s 1988, and a nine-year-old Gracie Spoon imagines adulthood to be a whim-driven era of liberty far beyond parental edicts about sensible eating and working hard for things you want. It’s a world where you eat cake for breakfast, go out with Kenickie from Grease, own the full range of Pop Swatches and perhaps hold a job as a librarian with a big rubber stamp.
Eighteen years on, these tastes have admittedly changed… Turns out that, actually, muesli is nice and, you know, sometimes it does pay to work hard. But nine-year oldness isn’t completely gone and early one morning it made me walk into Maison Bertaux: world of cake. It really is such a nice place to be, all pink net and wilting flowers and accordions. And cakes. Cakes. Everywhere is cakes. On trays and in the window, tall creamy cakes, long creamy cakes, almond garnishes, puffy chocolate things, glazed strawberry toppings…
In truth – like a freaked pony - I baulked at the last moment, ordering a coffee and croissant instead. But oh my, what a croissant. Although not strictly cake, this is still far, far from being part of a sensible diet. Almost squelching with hidden creases of butter, this laudable origamied achievement of pastry balanced crispiness with greasiness perfectly*. And as if I hadn’t already picked up on the fact that I was treating myself, my bill of £3.80 (a crazy price when you start to think about it) served as a tart reminder. In 1988 that was, like, eight weeks’ pocket money.
*It has hopefully been established here that in many contexts grease is a thing to be celebrated. Please see greasy spoons/ Greasey Kenickie/ elbow grease.