A sugarholic’s guide to the best dessert places in the UK
Six teaspoons is the recommended daily intake, just so you know
From the age of five, I was getting through a packet of golden nuggets or coco pops a week. Aged seven, my dad decided I was at a responsible age to manage pocket money (how wrong you were, Robert) meaning I spent a good £5 every Saturday on toffee crisps, milky bars and enough 1p sweets to feed a small family. By the time I’d reached 11, I’d had eight teeth removed to my exasperated dentist’s dismay (Sorry, Ian) and had enough spots on my face to play dot-to-dot with.
Did this stop me? Nope. Instead, I’ve just moved on from Hubba Bubba Atomic Apple and Toxic Waste and delved into the world of indulgent sweet treats, from Pizza Hut Cookie Dough (which now comes in Red Velvet and Raspberry and White Choc) and the Coop’s Salted Caramel Cake. There’s no escaping it; I’m a self-confessed sugarholic and always will be.
So when I’m not scoffing a 100g pack of Dairy Milk or Green & Blacks, I’m looking for new places to feed my addiction, mainly around my hometown of London, or Birmingham, where I study. With a little help from my friends, I’ve compiled a list of all the places in the UK that a sugarholic should visit. Enjoy!
Blue’s Kitchen, Shoreditch, London
If you haven’t been to Blue’s Kitchen, where have you been? The restaurant/late night bar is unbelieably popular, there’s one in Shoreditch, Brixton AND Camden. While everyone goes crazy over their BBQ ribs, burgers and pulled pork, there’s only one thing on my mind, and that’s their Oreo doughnuts. Like eating oreos by the pack? Imagine 10 of them, deep-fried accompanied with salted caramel sauce and you’ll think you’ve reached Nirvana. Whoever came up with the idea is owed a Knighthood. If deep-fried oreo doughnuts aren’t your thing, don’t worry – there’s an indulgent chocolate brownie (with sour cherry and butterscotch), Alabama mess, milkshakes in all the flavours you could want, and hardshakes (milkshakes with alcohol) if you’re a fan of messing up your liver and give yourself diabetes at the same time.
[email protected], Portsmouth
This American diner specialises in typical American meaty dishes such as hotdogs and chargrilled steaks, but their desserts are the real winners. There’s everything an indulgent dessert-lover would want, from pancakes and waffles, to cheesecakes and pies. Not just any old pies too, you can get your sugary fill with their Tennessee Grasshopper Pie (peppermint mousse, on a biscuit base with chocolate fudge icy) and their Old Orleans Orange Pie (with orange mousse). Plus, they have sundaes galore.
Smokey Joes Coffee Bar, Cheltenham
If you’re into retro and vintage, this coffee bar is the perfect pick. If you fancy an afternoon tea, you should book ahead, but if you’re just popping in to get your sugar fix, you can spoil yourself with their waffles and cakes, as well as other American diner favourites like hot dogs and burgers (they have veggie and gluten-free choices too). Plus, they have event nights so you can enjoy a Swing Night or Open Mic, while deliberating over the 15 different flavour milkshakes.
Cakeadoodledoo, an online hand-made cupcake website set up their own, little café in Exeter. With cute, quaint tables adorned with flowers, and polka-dot cushioned chairs, it’s an adorable place to stuff yourself silly with cake. Everything is hand-made, and the kitchen is open for customers to have a chat with the staff. There’s also a garden, so you can scoff muffins, cupcakes, fudge and lemon drizzle cakes and more al fresco.
The owner, Kate, also made the press for introducing a ‘Breastfeeding Mums Allowed’ sign, in response to the whole Claridges/UKIP fiasco who denounced breastfeeding without a cover a ‘discomfort’ to others – you’ve got to love a coffee shop which causes a bit of a political stir.
Brew Coffee Company, Bristol
This cool, new café is not only renowned for its avocado toasts and other brunch choices, it’s also celebrated for its vast array of cakes. Brew Coffee Company caters to everyone, milkshakes, cakes, to flapjacks and even vegan tiffins, because vegan sugarholics do exist.
This artisan chocolate company, made by a husband and wife duo, in 2002, sells chocolates which can be bought from Liberty, John Lewis and Harvey Nichols, as well as offering workshops, selling chocolate cookbooks which were published worldwide, and now has a café based in Winchester. There’s not only chocolate to indulge in (but if you’re a chocoholic, go ahead), there’s also pastries, pies, cakes, ice cream, shortbreads, and other desserts. There’s also a good range of chocolate drinks on offer as well as a chocolate fondue option, complete with fruits, pretzels and marshmallows for dipping, so this is the ideal place for chocolate lovers.
The newly-opened Yorks Bakery Café, near Grand Central Station is the perfect place for all times of day, with a menu for breakfast & brunch, as well as lunch and later. Yorks also have an Espresso Bar based in Birmingham, and a Yorks Kitchen opening soon, but if you’re a sugarholic, the Bakery Café is for you. Dig into the banana, date and pecan loaf, try out their compost cookies and their alfajores (a Spanish confection which is like a soft cake-like cookie)
Great British Cupcakery Bakehouse and Parlour, Newcastle
This family-run cupcakery screams Mary Berry, and is a fave for those who love all things baked. Open every day, you can treat yourself to freshly-baked cupcakes, brownies and other delicious things. Their real treasures though, are their heart-attack inducing milkshakes, which can be piled high with whatever you choose, from whipped cream and strawberries and various-flavoured sauces, to doughnut and brownie toppings.
Love cakes? Lovecrumbs is the place for you. Declaring itself as somewhere that ‘doesn’t do any lunchy type stuff or take bookings’, it’s the perfect, non-fussy place for cakeaholics. The selection changes from day to day, and the five female bakers who prepare everything hand-made, use as many British and seasonal ingredients as possible. Favourites are the pumpkin and chocolate bundt and coconut and beetroot cake, amongst florentines, biscuits, brownies and pies – could you ask for more?
Real Italian Ice Cream Company Co, Bath
If you’re more of an ice cream lover, this family-run gelateria is for you. Pick from their huge range of flavours, from apricot, blueberry and wild fruits, to stracciatella, dark chocolate with amarena, and their speciality, oreo, made in proper Italian style. Don’t fancy ice cream? Fear not, you can go for a crepe or waffle, with Nutella, maple syrup, marshmallows and even more.
Other good places?
Known as the world’s largest milkshake bar company, there are stores in more or less every major town or city, from Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Bristol, to Edinburgh, Liverpool and Nottingham. Whatever milkshake you’ve ever dreamed of having, from Ferrero Rocher and Kinder to chocolate brownie or strawberry cheesecake-flavoured, Shakeaway will have it, not to mention frozen yoghurt flavours galore.
Boston Tea Party
If you didn’t already know Boston Tea Party, you must have been living in a bubble. With cafés everywhere, from Bristol and Birmingham to Exeter and Plymouth, it’s a must for breakfast, brunch, lunch and coffee breaks. The Marathon Milkshake (with chocolate, caramel syrup, peanut butter and milk) is the dream.
Near to Bath, Cambridge, Canterbury, Edinburgh, Oxford, Windsor or York? Then you have to head to Fudge Kitchen. It’s gluten-free, and there are even options for vegans and those who are dairy intolerant. Dig into their hand-made, gourmet fudge, or if you want something a little different, try their drinking fudge.
Known nationwide as one of the best places to get delicious and dainty cupcakes, Lola’s Cupcakes has stores all across the UK, from Mayfair, Canary Wharf and High Street Kensington, to Covent Garden, Selfridges, and even Topshop on Oxford Street.