When Chef Albert Adrià of El Bulli and Tickets fame launched Cakes and Bubbles at Hotel Café Royal this week in London, a lengthy queue of hundreds formed outside. Fans of the Spanish chef were lining up for his legendary cheesecake that originated at Tickets, made with hazelnuts, brie cheese and a white chocolate rind that makes it look like a soft cheese rather than a piece of cheesecake. It is a sweet dessert but the brie adds not only a super creamy texture to the cake but a savory edge, pleasing to those who enjoy cheese at the end of a meal rather than dessert. The cake was taken off the Tickets menu in Barcelona when Cakes & Bubbles opened, making London the only city where it can be enjoyed. Londoners should be prepared for flocks of Spaniards and other fans of this treat to travel to the capital; it’s that good.
Albert Adrià was in residence at Cafe Royal for 50 days in 2016 giving Londoners a taste of what was to come. Albert is perhaps a little under the radar outside of Spain because he’s the younger brother of Ferran Adrià whose name is synonymous with El Bulli, what was once the most famous Michelin-starred restaurant in the world. Albert joined his brother at El Bulli at the age of fifteen and it was there that Albert quickly developed his superb patissier skills that Londoners will now be able to enjoy right on their doorstep. Since his days at El Bulli, in addition to Tickets, Albert has opened a number of bars and restaurants in Spain, including the Michelin starred “Pakta” and “Hoja Santa”.
Albert Adrià, who was voted “The World’s Best Pastry Chef” in 2015 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, says of his first opening outside of his native Spain: “it’s a project that excites me as a pastry chef – I’ve never opened anything specifically related to the sweet world.” Cakes & Bubbles was inspired by “La Dolça”, the section in Tickets in Barcelona reserved for all things sweet. Cakes & Bubbles serves only desserts and drinks, with an emphasis on Champagnes and sparkling wines. Traditional hot chocolate is of course on the menu too, along with a decent selection of red, rose, white and sweet wines.
The sweets menu is compact yet innovative. In addition to the famous cheesecake, cakes include frozen caramel and lemon cake and passionfruit, chocolate cake with hazelnuts and ice cream. And Albert makes an effort to make them healthier than most with less added sugar than usual and no artificial colorants or frostings. Also on the menu is a light chocolate eclair stuffed with peanut praline, weighing in at only twelve grams (most are are at least three times that size). While style is not valued over taste, some of the menu items are pretty spectacular, including the frozen coconut and chocolate flower and the crema catalana presented in golden eggshells.
It’s no surprise that churros would be on a Spanish chef’s menu but Albert’s version isn’t the typical Spanish fried donut. These churros are purple as they’re blackcurrant flavor and are served with yogurt and melted dipping chocolate. Albert Adrià comments that with Cakes & Bubbles, he “wanted to go a step further than just eating cake and a dessert; we want to offer an experience that will start with some sweet tapas for nibbling, combined with sparkling and sweet wines, then sharing a cheesecake and some of the specialities we’ve developed over the past 30 years, which are what make us truly unique.” Cakes & Bubbles seems an ideal fit on the ground floor of the elegant Hotel Café Royal, offering a tempting menu of sweet treats by one of the world’s top pastry chefs.
Cakes and Bubbles, Hotel Café Royal, 70 Regent Street, London, W1B 4DY T: +44 (0)20 7406 3310
More Info: forbes.com