Based on original content by Joanne Gould.
The sweet toothed among you will be happy to hear there's no longer any reason to wait until the end of dinner to indulge in dessert; simply head to one of London's best dessert-dedicated bars instead. Different to your standard bakery or run-of-the-mill restaurant, we're talking about venues exclusively specialising in the sweet stuff, where you can get your sugar fix well into the evening. From a darkly decadent cocktail bar with a very fancy dessert menu, to sophisticated ice creams and Hong Kong inspired waffles, if you're in need of a pudding pitstop, London can easily accommodate.
Ruby Violet, King's Cross
Ruby Violet is already an utterly brilliant little ice creamery. The high-end ices and sorbets are traditionally made with local, seasonal ingredients and singing with flavour. Weekly changing menus are extensive and exciting in equal measure. Bank on classics like strawberry and pistachio, alongside more creative concoctions such as basil and juniper, or stilton and cranberry.
Enjoy your scoops naked, top 'em with sauces or blend 'em into shakes. We're extremely interested in the boozy cocktails: two scoops of flavoured ice cream blended with gin, rum or vodka. Basically, if you want to dive head first into ice cream (and who doesn't?!), you're in the right place.
Ruby Violet, Midland Goods Shed, 3 Wharf Road, N1C 4BZ
Cutter & Squidge, Soho
If your sweet tooth is crying out for a fix, Cutter & Squidge has all the choice you need, says Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves. This bakery is a pudding playground, filled with cakes, brownies, tray bakes, truffles and their signature biskies — a creamy cross between a cake and a cookie.
The cake flavours are super fun (think peanut butter jelly, vegan blueberry lemon and chocolate chip cookie). Plus, everything you see is made from scratch, often with all-British ingredients, so it's a celebration of local produce as well as an opportunity to stuff your face. Afternoon teas are £32.50 with vegan, vegetarian and wheat-free menus available.
Cutter & Squidge, 20 Brewer Street, W1F 0SJ
Hans & Gretel, Camden
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Leaning heavily on the fairy tale theme, Hans & Gretel in Camden Market is a feast for both the eyes and mouth. A line-up of big hitters awaits on the dessert-centric menu, from bubble waffles and chimney cakes to good old candy floss.
Simple, right? Wrong. Customisability is the name of the game here — a nifty tactic designed to bring out the child in us all. Not hard when you're faced with a Willy Wonka-style wall of pick 'n' mix sweets or the eye-wateringly bright gelato selection. The decor is just as kaleidoscopic. Be ready to weave through the Instagrammers and oglers on your way to the counter.
Hans & Gretel, Unit 91 Camden Market, NW1 8AH
Crosstown Doughnuts, locations across London
The queues at Crosstown's myriad locations around the capital are testament to just how much of a good thing it's got going. It has raised London's doughnut game considerably, opting to use sourdough to give the rounded beauties a heartier texture and scrumptious tang.
But it's the fillings and toppings where things get really exciting. Blood orange, rhubarb and jasmine, a deeply indulgent chocolate truffle — you're positively spoilt for choice. Our recommendation? Londonist's Lydia Manch opts for the peanut butter and blackcurrant, "the star of the regulars, a square slab of Americana topped with peanut butter glaze, blackcurrant compote and toasted nuts".
Crosstown Doughnuts, see website for locations including Cannon Street, Soho, Brick Lane, Marylebone, Victoria, Hammersmith and more
Chin Chin Ice Cream, Camden and Soho
Thanks to its Heston-esque nitrogen ice creams, Chin Chin in Camden already had a strong following. Such was its popularity that a second branch in Soho followed, offering up a similarly scientific ice cream menu, plus a bonus range of dippy puds.
There are cookie sandwiches where you can choose your sorbet filling, a banoffee ice cream pie which is gloriously gluten-free, and of course all the classic ice cream flavours that made it so popular is the first place. Burnt butter caramel with marshmallow fluff? Tonka bean with hazelnut sand? The world is your sweet, frozen oyster.
Chin Chin, 49-50 Camden Lock, NW1 8AF and 54 Greek Street, W1D 3DS
Cakes & Bubbles, Mayfair
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If you like your puds with a little extra pizzazz, Cakes & Bubbles is bound to hit the spot. It's housed inside a five-star hotel and led by a Michelin-starred chef for Pete's sake. Albert Adrià, pastry chef extraordinaire, elevates the simple dessert to something rather special indeed. We're talking cheesecake made with premium, brie-like Baron Bigod cheese, dark chocolate and lime ganache tart, and a lychee 'rose' that's a work of art all on its own.
As you might have guessed from the name, Champagne is the liquid accompaniment of choice although hot chocolate and fruit juices are available. Don't come expecting a bargain. But for pudding on a premium level you won't find a finer dessert bar in London.
Cakes & Bubbles, Hotel Café Royal, 70 Regent Street, W1B 4DY
Kova Patisserie, locations across London
Tracking down the best desserts in London is of course a feat of indulgence. But it's still possible to find sweets that don't scream excess. Londonist writer Ruth Hargreaves recommends Kova, the Japanese patisserie where the cakes are feather light.
Matcha features heavily, with the signature mille crepes a standout. Multiple layers of paper-thin crepe come sandwiched between delicate custard cream filling. So soft, so creamy — and available in chocolate, vanilla, earl grey, oreo and durian flavours if matcha isn't to your taste. Shortcakes, cheesecakes and brownies also make an appearance — each as picture perfect as the last.
Kova Patisserie, see website for locations including Soho, South Kensington and Battersea
Creams Cafe, locations across London
Londonist's Lydia Manch nudges you towards Creams Cafe for their brazen indulgence and commitment to bringing Londoners excessive desserts. Expect a lot of Americana from this lip-smacking chain, with a diner feel to their venues, and waffles, crepes, sundaes and shakes on the menu. There's a lot of bespokeability. Want to pile your waffle high with Biscoff crumbs, strawberry slices and a splash of custard? Creams is a safe space to get as experimental as your heart desires.
The cookie dough menu goes big on chocolate, while the waffles and crepes give you a fighting chance of ingesting a piece of fruit or two. In our experience, the sundaes don't deliver as well — opt for one of the many, many ice creams or sorbets instead. Other reasons for a pitstop include a decent vegan menu, relatively reasonable prices, and the fact that with so many locations it's actually hard to live somewhere in London where you aren't in their delivery radius.
Creams Cafe, see website for locations including Brixton, Walthamstow, London Bridge, Kentish Town, Old Street, Marble Arch, the list goes on
The Proof, Dalston, Dalston Square
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Sometimes Colin the Caterpillar gets the job done; other you need to crank up your occasion cake game another notch or seven. In the latter scenario, you could do worse than to call on The Proof. This Dalston-based outfit spins sugar, flour and eggs into the stuff of fluffy dreams — 'shag' sponge cakes with a multicoloured fur of icing, lemon meringue pies singed on top to perfection, and the flagship 'Proof-iteroles', available with classic chantilly cream and dark choc, or a tantalising twist — e.g. stuffed with Hackney-made Madagascan vanilla ice cream. Scoff them in situ at the Dalston square cafe, or get them delivered to your door — this could be the difference between a good party and one that people are still going on about in 6 months' time.
The Proof, Dalston Square, E8 3BQ