Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Saturday night desserts, are they dangerous?

I forgot to mention that instead of going to Just desserts after Taste of London , we decided to go to Brookmans. A new bar and restaurant in the centre of Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire , a small but very lovely affluent little area just outside North London.

It used to be a little traditional British affair of a hotel with 6 rooms ,called "The Brookmans Park Hotel" .

At only 6 rooms it must have been quite small and stuffy hotel, but as a contemporary light glass ,black chandelier and stone filled restaurant the space works really well. The real downside is and I'm showing my old age , the loud thumping banging music in the bar!!!!!

Despite this and a rather put out bar girl , the usual I- don't know -what -to- do- as -you've -asked for- something-we-don't-normally-do attitude, found so often in this country, we had some really lovely desserts and drinks; Creme Brulee, although a little stingy on the caramel topping, Cheese plate , with a lovely combination that was very tasty, fresh ice cream scoops of chocolate & passion fruit sorbets , all served very stylishly , although predictably with the ubiquitous raspberry coulee and chocolate twill and a 4th one of a wine glass full of trifle!
We phoned especially, earlier in the day, to make sure we could have just desserts, excuse the pun, and drinks, but when we asked about ordering them all hell broke loose! Once she recovered from her desserts in the bar fright, normal service resumed sort of!
A little more passion from staff about what they are serving also wouldn't go a miss in these new glossy places. They all look stunning and the menus certainly are appealing , but when the "front of house" , don't know what they are serving and don't really care, its a real shame for the whole concept. I asked what the ice cream flavours were when ordering and got a distinct shrug and a "I don't know" combined with whatever face! It seems such a let down , its like shiny exterior , but dodgy structure. It wont last unless its strengthened and fortified from the inside. I'm still deciding on whether to let the management know of our little altercation!! You kind of want these places to work , but only if they are nice to customers hey!!!

and why this big no no on being able to order only desserts in restaurants or bars of restaurants? I remember being summarily turned away by the Maitre De from The Rock Garden , despite there being empty tables, at 10:00 one Saturday night in Covent Garden, because I dare ask If we could have some desserts! Surely its hugely incremental for most, especially in this financial climate? Or is it that no one wants to eat desserts for fear of ruining diets on Saturday night in the UK ? Or is is it very unusual or not cool for school enough for UK younglins? Are we so programmed now into healthy food choices due to the likes of Jaimie Oliver et al , I'm not knocking him here by the way, I admire what he does immensely, that dessert only places are taboo? I don't think so , what with all the cocktails being knocked back around us!!!

So I feel there is something greatly lacking in this country and that is somewhere to go out and have desserts, after a meal at home. Being of Jewish descent , everything centres around food , everything ,even drinking and sitting noshing with drinks in a nice loungy surrounding sounds quite appealing doesn't it? Apart from central London Hotels, Ive been stumped on finding places to go do this very thing! Well apart from the odd bright quick ice cream parlour and may be Haagen daz in Leicester Sqaure?

New York has them in droves ,as written about here in a NYC publication. Desserts and pastry chefs are BIG business there. Up to the middle of 2007 there was about 6 of these dessert only places ,and I know several more have been opening . As the chocolate market is one of the main sectors of growth in the food industry , it seems fitting that they are the new stars. The 1st was ChikaLicious in 2003 , and seems to be fairing well and another, which was the 1st more progressive of this style, is a famed place called Room 4 dessert, were its all gorgeous stylish sweet creations on a plate and cocktails, how amazing is that? I was very disappointed to not get there on my trip to NYC last year , as we just had so much to cram into 4 nights. Alas it has now permanently closed ,which makes it even worse that we didn't visit before its doors shut. However the founder of Room 4 Dessert , Will Goldfarb opened another place in collaboration with a famous chocolatier Michel Cluizel at the end of last year. I haven't yet read much about it and may yet get to try his creations , if we ever get back to NYC in the near future that is! He seems to be the talk of the town and even has a virtual restaurant in the online community called Second life , see this intriguing blog here for more wacky details of our changing world!!!

Image of Sugar Mama , Will Goldfarbs Second life online dessertary ! care of Sasy Scarborough at Ramblings.
Well anyway that's across the Atlantic, for now I'm in London , so I'm yet to continue my hunt for dessert places in here, anyone care to point me in the right direction?
Tell me I'm wrong here , Im used to being humbled , but I may have a long wait as the UK are always about 6-8 yrs behind America in terms of lifestyle progressions, so may be by 2016 , we may see a Room 4 dessert in a Soho address as yet.
Soooo come on Heston , get a move on !!!!


Chloe said...

Thats just about sums up the majority of british customer service in my opinion.
Good service is few and far between these days.
I think you have found a niche in the british market though.
Dessert bars. They'd be a complete hit!
I know my parents love to go into restaurants and just have desserts. My mum especially. I blame her for my sweet tooth.

Hana Mi said...

I suppose in the USA its seen as a proffesion wereas here its just a means to an ends to work in a bar or a restauarant. Unless that is , you work in a top central one , were it is a career.

See my mums the same, they dont want to go bars , but a dessert bar would be great. Theres is definataley an untapped market there, but there has to be some style and atmostphere to the place, so its more an event than a passing quick space to go in and out of. Im sure revenue per table is higher with desserts and drinks rather than just drinks? Or is the UK too much of a just drinking culture? I think it appeals to all ages to.