Welcome to a new series exploring London’s finest food shops, from butchers and bakers to delicatessens and department stores. We continue with a new chocolate shop from one of London's finest.
Award-winning chocolatier Paul A Young, who already has three other shops in Soho, Islington and Bank, has just opened another on Tottenham Court Road. It’s located at the Heal’s flagship store, in the slim passageway between Heal’s and Habitat.
The small shop is attractively decorated in chocolate hues, with a beautiful chandelier and striking wallpaper printed with cocoa pods. What makes it different from the other branches is its open-view kitchen, where Young and his team will be regularly seen making sweet treats; plus a few seats for eating in.
Also unique to this branch is the emphasis on cakes, cookies and baked goods, with Young making his best-known recipes from ‘Adventures with Chocolate’, which won the ‘world’s best chocolate book’ category at the Gourmand Cookbook Awards.
Additionally, shop manager Caitlin Barrow says that the range of his acclaimed hot chocolates (£3.95) will be expanded in the new year to include many more flavours and bean types. And if hot chocolate is not your thing (really?), you’ll also find rare teas from Henrietta Lovell.
Young claims to be the only true artisanal chocolate maker in London: all his chocolates are made daily with fresh ingredients by hand, in small batches, on site (whereas many chocolatiers make them in factories). The ingredients are sourced directly from small chocolate producers and growers around the world, and no artificial preservatives, flavourings or essences are used.
Christmas chocolates come in flavours that are like something out of a fairy tale: pretty pistachio, ginger and cranberry mendiants in festive colours that taste as good as they look, stollen marzipan chocolates, and truffles in characteristically innovative flavours like gold, frankincense and myrrh, mulled wine, sugar and spice mince pie, and port and stilton, available individually (£2) or in boxes.
More festive items include boxes of mini Christmas cookies (£4.95), larger cookies drenched in cocoa nibs (£2.50), plum pudding brownies (£5.95) and crispy praline chocolate Christmas trees (£12.95) exclusive to this branch. Also, initially sceptical of the idea, we were won over by the delicious chocolate mince pies (£2.50), lightly speckled with edible gold.
From the brand's regular range, we were blown away by sea salted pecan caramelised milk chocolate brownie (£4.50); and if you treat yourself to only one chocolate, go for passion fruit curd (£2), which won gold stars at both the International Chocolate Awards and the Academy of Chocolate Awards earlier this year.
The shop also sells own-made chocolate bars, along with other selected brands such as Duffy’s, Menakao and Mast Brothers. There are chocolate books, too; and exquisite chocolate hampers costing between £142 to £175. Best of all is the sweet, rich perfume of baked goodies as you wander from one gorgeous display to another, trying to decide what to buy.
Paul A Young at Heal’s, 196 Tottenham Court Road, W1T 7LQ. Tel: 020 7437 0011.
By Sejal Sukhadwala
Previously in this series
Editorial note: entries in this series are chosen independently and are not part any promotion. We welcome suggestions for future instalments.