A few months ago I bought a William Curley dessert bar voucher for @bmcboy who loves chocolate (who doesn’t?). We also bought one for our friend Francois’ birthday so we could go together and spend an afternoon tasting chocolate cakes.
At least this is what I, naively, expected. Having been a fan of Curley’s chocolate for a while, I was interested in the ‘dessert bar’ experience and in my head for some reason I thought it was going to be mostly chocolate based and a choice of 3 cakes from their menu. Instead, it’s actually a tasting of 5 desserts, from a fixed menu plus a non alcoholic drink. It is available on Saturdays and Sundays and one cannot book, but rather, turn up and wait. We actually did not have to wait anytime for a table for four, on a January (detox effect?) afternoon.
Over the course of two hours, we got to taste a slightly odd set of tasting portions of dessert out of which, sadly, only one was a chocolate based pudding.
We started with a light rhubarb ‘granita’. More of a sorbet, it was surely refreshing but, in my opinion, a strange way of opening a tasting, especially in winter. This was followed by another cold dish. A salted caramel ice cream which frankly, was quite bland, with crunchy hazelnut crumble.
|Caramel ice cream, hazelnut crumble|
The third offering was kind of out of place: a coconut pannacotta with pineapple cubes (again, we’re in the middle of winter here…not in the Bahamas). Served in a glass cup so without the classic ‘wobble’, we really could not taste any coconut although enjoyed the delicacy of the texture and the fresh pineapple. @bmcboy, not able to eat pure dairy desserts, did not eat it.
After the pannacotta, my favourite piece arrived – a warm clementine custard tart with merengue on top, it was really very good, crisp base, tart filling, warming, wintry flavours.
Then, some chocolate. A moelleux with pistachio ice cream and morello cherries. The warm, soft sponge with expected gooey centre was delicious, yet the third ice cream of the tasting also had no flavour whatsoever. The cherries were ok.
Finally, ‘petit fours’. A strangely assembled trio: a chocolate, a macaroon and a slice of sponge cake. The chocolate was good, of course. The macaroon was technically great, precisely shaped and of perfect texture but beetroot and something balsamic which I forget, were not actually that nice. Finally the slice of chestnut sponge cake was way too buttery and heavy to finish with.
While we had a good couple of hours chatting and eating, and for £20 per head I think this is very good value nonetheless yet I was disappointed. Not enough chocolate, and some weird choice of dessert types (pannacotta), plus the fact that you can’t really choose and you just get what is coming to you (but that is more down to me misunderstanding what I bought!).
I expected a bit more. I cannot fault William Curley’s chocolate, but I was not blown away by the cakes and puddings we tried, and even less so by the ice creams.