I might never have sought out Honey & Co were it not for a few choice words from the Man. ‘We should go,’ he said. ‘They make Chelsea Buns with Sour Cherries and Pistachios.’
I didn’t need telling twice. However, the restaurant being a popular place – and not yet open on Sundays or after 7pm – we had to wait a little while to get there.
Despite being less than ten minutes from most of my daily haunts, I had not gone past the shop since it opened: a small and unassuming Middle Eastern cafe, just one street back from Euston Road. Run by a husband-and-wife team, with Ottolenghi and Nopi-based credentials, it’s no wonder it has been gathering lots of attention of late.
But was it worth the minor detour?
Now, this being the Pud-Hog Blog, I won’t bore you with details of mezze or perfect pittas (though I will say that the Orange Blossom-flavoured Iced Tea was the loveliest thing I have sipped in a while). Instead we’ll go straight to dessert.
With a counter full of house-baked cakes and buns, not to mention a rather appealing selection of puddings, it wasn’t an easy choice by any means. Thankfully, one of our friends had come for the ride. And more thankfully still, she was ready for a gorge-fest of desserts.
In the end, unable to whittle our choices down to just one pudding each, we decided to go all out: order four between us and work through them together.
We started with the buns. First off was a glorious Cinnamon Swirl (£1.80, eat in), which glistened at us from beside the till.
Not gooey like its Cinnabon counterpart, it was nevertheless very flavoursome: packed with spices and crisp on the outside, with lots of cooked crusted sugar.
It was by no means the star attraction though. In the bun stakes, at least, that accolade went to the Fitzroy Bun (also £1.80, eat in) – the pudding that drew me there in the first place.
This one was far moister – thanks to the large sour cherries and syrupy glaze – with the Man declaring it a masterpiece within moments of trying his share. I loved the pistacho crunch, and was thrilled at the overall concept, but would have preferred a warmer, softer bite (alas, we ate it late in the day – it had been in the open for quite a while).
In fairness, in any other context, the Fitzroy Bun might well have blown my mind. This time, however, it was destined to be overshadowed. As it happened, also on our table were two extremely strong contenders for the Pud-Hog Pud of the Year…
This beautiful dish was none other than a Cold Cheese Cake, layered on tendrils of Kadaif pastry, and drizzled with Regents Park Honey (£4.50, eat in). Topped with fresh raspberries, mint and halved almonds, after just one mouthful my world stopped turning.
Seriously, Ogglers: if I could have frozen time right then and there, I would have. All I wanted to think about was what was on my tongue. So many complementary textures and tastes: juicy and crisp shredded pastry, bursting berries, solid almonds, cool and creamy curd-like cheese, with a subtle swirl of honey that came in like a light breeze through an open window.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. It was wonderful. Sweet, light, and perfectly balanced.
Nevertheless, almost as soon as I’d given this pudding my undying love, I found something else to distract me.
If the Cold Cheese Cake was an angel (complete with honey-coloured halo), our final cake – the Chocolate and Hazelnut Loaf (£3.60, eat in) – was the sexiest, naughtiest slut you could find to take home and debauche you.
Not only was it enormous (to eat it side-on would have led to a jaw dislocation), but this beast was rich to the extreme. Those dark brown swirls weren’t spots of cocoa-saturated bread: they were bounteous pools of gloopy, softened chocolate. Better still, there were absolutely loads of them.
We’re talking a loaf in which every bite was a moment of melting bliss, studded with fresh, whole hazelnuts.
If it hadn’t been so indecent, I’m sure I would have been in heaven. As it was, I was somewhere far, far better.
Take me now, Monsieur Loaf. I’m all yours.