Based on original content by Joanne Gould.
The sweet toothed among you will be happy to hear that 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, Tufnell Park and 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 feature classics like strawberry and pistachio, alongside more creative concoctions such as wild plum and greengage. Enjoy your scoops naked, top 'em with sauces or blend 'em into shakes. We're extremely interested in the hard shakes: two scoops of ice cream blended with a choice of flavoured gins, Tufnell Park honey and whisky. Basically, if you want to dive head first into ice cream (and who doesn't?!), you're in the right place.
Ruby Violet, 118 Fortess Road, NW5 2HL and Midland Goods Shed, 3 Wharf Road, N1C 4BZ
Cutter & Squidge, Soho
If your sweet tooth is crying out for a fix but you're not sure where to start, Cutter & Squidge has all the choice you need says Londonist's Ruth Hargreaves. This 100% natural bakery is a pudding playground, filled with cakes, brownies, tray bakes, truffles, meringue 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 a prime opportunity to stuff your face. The themed afternoon teas are also legendary, with a Harry Potter-themed Potion Room that's all kinds of magic (see our review here).
Cutter and Squidge, 20 Brewer Street, W1F 0SJ. Second, smaller branch at Royal Exchange, Bank.
Crosstown Doughnuts, Victoria, London Bridge, and 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's 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. Sea Salt Caramel and Banana, Rhubarb and Ginger, a deeply indulgent Chocolate Truffle — you're positively spoilt for choice. Our recommendation? Londonist's Lydia Manch opts for the Peanut Butter and Blackberry, "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
Basement Sate, Soho
Basement Sate is a decadent, dimly-lit cocktail bar with a twist; you can indulge in some delicious dessert action while you sip your Negroni. Hidden behind a red door on Soho's Broadwick Street, Basement Sate is festooned with cushions, candles and low tables for you to relax and order one of its seven desserts. Currently on the menu are creme fraiche panna cotta with charred peaches, smoked chocolate cigars and a rather impressive cheesecake popsicle. The artistry is top notch, with cheffy flourishes like biscoff mousse, praline flakes and matcha parfait.
Basement Sate, 8 Broadwick Street, W1F 8HN
Chin Chin Ice Cream, Camden and Soho
Chin Chin in Camden already had a strong following thanks to its Heston-esque nitrogen ice creams, crossed with more than a little Willy Wonka. Such was their 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 Banana Jam Pie which is brûléed on top to crispy perfection, 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 cinnamon toast? The world is your sweet, frozen oyster. Clouds of nitrogen and blow torches abound.
Chin Chin, 49-50 Camden Lock, NW1 8AF and 54 Greek Street, W1D 3DS
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 dessert bars full of sweet treats 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 Mille Crepes a particular standout. Multiple layers of paper-thin crepe come sandwiched between delicate custard cream filling. So soft, so creamy and also available in chocolate, vanilla, earl grey and durian flavours if matcha isn't to your taste. Chiffon cakes, short cakes and cheese cakes also make an appearance — each as picture perfect as the last.
Kova Patisserie, see website for locations.
Creams, Brixton, Walthamstow, and locations across London
Londonist's Lydia Manch nudges you towards Creams Cafe for their unrelenting, brazen indulgence and commitment to bringing Londoners incredibly excessive desserts. Expect a lot of Americana, 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 hundreds and thousands, Biscoff crumbs, strawberry slices, and a splash of custard? Creams is a safe space to get as experimental, weird, or just straight up horrifying (extra custard, we're looking at you) with your order as your heart desires.
Their recently launched cookie dough menu's worth checking out: we'd steer you towards the Banana-Scoff (waffle, stuffed with milk chocolate cookie dough, topped with banana slices, whipped cream, banoffee gelato, Lotus spread, and crumbled Biscoff), as heavily flamboyant as you'd expect — and away from the sundaes (don't deliver that well).
Other reasons to make Creams your next dessert pitstop include a decent vegan menu, relatively reasonable prices (when you factor in just how extra every dessert is, you're looking at a lot of cream, icecream, stickily laden carbs and toppings per pound sterling), 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, see website for locations.