Fancy French patisserie has enjoyed something of a renaissance in London over the last couple of years, with macarons and eclairs at the helm of the movement and Londoners and tourists alike travelling miles to sample the best choux pastry creations the city has to offer.
Though traditionally filled with chocolate or coffee cream, today's eclairs come in a dazzling array of flavours with ever more elaborate adornments, which only adds to their Instagram appeal. But we're not interested in style over substance, so have tracked down the city's best eclairs, where the proof really is in the pudding.
Maitre Choux is the only patisserie in the UK to boast a three Michelin star-experienced chef. Joakim Prat is still the tender age of 30 and has already put his stamp on the eclair scene. Prat's hand-crafted designs are baked throughout the day and can even be filled upon ordering for maximum crispiness. Flavours are contemporary and imaginative, with varieties including salted butter with caramel, Spanish raspberry pink and Persian pistachio alongside regularly changing specials; he's currently showing a Maille mustard creation with strawberries and mascarpone which is not as odd as it may sound.
Maitre Choux, 15 Harrington Road, SW7 3ES
French patissier Eric Rousseau's choux work is legendary, and the three eclairs offered at his beautiful stores are well worth travelling for. Chocoholics will love the Totally 66% which is choux pastry filled with caraibe cream patisserie topped with caraibe glaze and decorated with dark crunchy pearls and dark pieces of chocolate. There is also an English-inspired coffee and walnut variation or a spangly gold number filled with vanilla crème brulee.
Belle Epoque, Islington, Newington Green & Selfridges
Melba at The Savoy
Situated on the corner of The Savoy, Melba is a decadent takeaway stop for all manner of intricate French patisserie care of executive pastry chef Ludwig Hely. Choose from peach melba (actually created at The Savoy itself by Auguste Escoffier for Dame Nellie Melba), lychee, salted caramel and more. Prettily boxed they make excellent gifts if you can resist eating them on the way home.
Melba at The Savoy Strand, WC2R 0EU
No 11 Cadogan Gardens
For something really special, take a seat at No 11 Cadogan Gardens — a plush Chelsea townhouse — for the flora-inspired afternoon tea curated by chef Alexis Gauthier. Using only plants, flowers and herbs currently in bloom, the Flower Afternoon Tea features British finger sandwiches and a host of French pastries, the highlight of which is the lavender cream eclair where crisp choux pastry is topped with seasonal flowers and chocolate curls.
No 11 Cadogan Gardens, 11 Cadogan Gardens, SW3 2RJ
Whilst chocolate and coffee are the traditional flavours for authentic French eclairs, the brothers at Rabbit restaurant have broken all protocol and created a savoury version as part of their 'Mouthfuls' menu. Farm to table eating enthusiasts can try their mushroom, Marmite and confit egg yolk eclair for a nominal £1.50 ahead of a meal of wood pigeon with rainbow carrot tart tatin or Nutborne lamb and marjoram gnocchi and other foraged delights.
Rabbit, 172 King's Road, SW3 4UP