The Connaught Hotel hasn’t been immune to the effects of pandemic that continue to cause aftershocks. Yet the team behind the exquisite hotel located at the heart of Mayfair in Carlos Place has been hard at work behind the scenes, led by the Executive Pastry Chef Nicolas Rouzaud. On Monday the team added The Connaught Patisserie to its exquisite crown.
On a grey & damp Tuesday I made my way to Mayfair, curious to take a peek at The Connaught Patisserie in motion. Nestled at the side of the hotel, with its own entrance on Mount Street, you are welcomed by the masked Connaught member of staff, entering through the grand columns, with pink flag flying proudly above the entrance no matter the weather forecast. From now on & each day of the week, delicious pastries and patisserie will be sold or served to customers in the intimate rose-hued surroundings, alongside expertly made coffee, artisan tea and, if you can be further tempted, by the elegant flute of champagne.
The Connaught Patisserie is a peaceful oasis of calm & serene reverence to the artisanal craft of the French patisserie. With the Executive Chef Nicolas Rouzaud ( who started his pastry chef journey aged 17 ) at the helm, you would need to exercise restraint when faced with the elegant display of the jewellery-like patisserie in front of your eyes.
Chef Rouzaud joined the Connaught three years ago, after working for eight years in Paris, at the luxury hotel Le Bristol. Alongside his team he created each and every single patisserie to tempt all of your senses at the same time.
Loaf cakes and ‘gâteaux de voyage’ – cakes historically designed to last throughout long pilgrimages – sit on the counter, proudly presenting themselves for acquaintance. The choice presented – an array of ten seasonal patisserie – is bound to tempt even the most sophisticated gourmands. From Lemon Madeleines to Walnut Financiers and Chouquettes that are so adored by the little children, there are also the classics such as the Hazelnut Paris-Brest, Apple & Mascarpone Tatin and St. Honore. Chef Rouzaud also chose to showcase more contemporary ingredients through his deliciously mesmerising sweet oeuvres d’arts, such as the Zuzu & Honeycomb Eclair, the Mango and Passion Fruit Mousse Cake, as well as the Chocolate Tonka Tart. But there will also be an ever-changing daily cake, because true patisserie chefs never rest on the laurels and are constantly striving to push their own creativity with the dash of magic further & far.
One more surprise is a special exclusive from The River Café, a long-time friend of The Connaught Hotel. Their Chocolate Nemesis will be hand delivered daily to The Connaught Patisserie – the first time the cake has been available outside of its home on Rainville Road.
I had the pleasure of asking Chef Rouzaud what was the patisserie that he was most proud creating for The Connaught Patisserie before the the opening. According to him it was the Connaught Hound, which graces the hotel emblem. He has reimagined it as a chocolate hazelnut cake, creating the breathtakingly detailed work of art in miniature form, which will be the Connaught Patisserie ‘signature’.
“If I want something fruity, I will go for the Fig-Walnut patisserie.
If I want something yummy, I will go for the Paris-Brest.
If I want something chocolate, I will go for the Black ForrestPersonal favourites by The Connaught Patisserie Executive Pastry Chef Nicolas Rouzaud
The Connaught Patisserie also creates cakes to order, be it for a birthday or a special celebrations. These exquisite creations can be collected from the Patisserie, or, if customers live or work in Mayfair, the team can arrive at the door, looking re-splendid in true Connaught fashion.
Note on Interior Design: “The Connaught Patisserie was designed by London-based design studio Ab Rogers Design. It’s Director Ab Rogers is the son of Sir Richard Rogers, a favourite collaborator to The Maybourne Hotel Group. ARD designed the space as if it were an intricately crafted jewellery box, with every element celebrating the craft of the artisan, to echo the precision and artistry of the cakes. Rosa Tea pink marble floors and pink polished walls cocoon and provide warmth, whilst curves dominate in the form of voluptuous body-hugging chairs and intimate circular marble tables. Hand blown hot pink crystal lights hang over the tables, while mirrors add further lightness to the interior, with the design “pièce de résistance” being the warm white marble counter that is the cooly warm heart of the shop.”
Staff uniforms – the theme being elegant shades of pink – be it shirts or face masks, only enhances the refined atmosphere. A subtle, but gentle reminder that we all need beauty in the face of continuously evolving world-wide crisis.
Buying a patisserie to go – and at £8 each it does feel like a touch of luxury that you choose to bestow upon yourself, reminded me that the opening of The Connaught Patisserie is as timely, as the lightheartedness of Darren Star’s “Emily in Paris” on Netflix. At a time when all of us face daily negative impact of news reports, mixed with a constant state of worry, little luxuries of any kind are more important than ever. Simply because they help us put one foot in front of the other, while safeguarding our sanity.
My patisserie, chosen after a few minutes of internal deliberation – so much choice, so little time – was placed securely in the beautifully sturdy box and then hidden, like a Matryoshka doll, in the signature Connaught Patisserie carrier bag. And I will be honest and admit that I didn’t carry it all the way home! I walked to Berkley square, looked at the sculptural form of the giant kneeling bunny, placed artfully on the grass across from the entrance, and got my sustainable steel spoon out. The setting might have not been as elegant as The Connaught Patisserie, but the pleasure can and should be had in the moment in time before it runs away from us.
Not too sweet, light yet substantial, I felt like all the troubles and worries melted into the background, disappearing while I savoured every single spoonful. My heart filled with gladness and appreciation that while for now Paris’s Angelina might be our of bounds due to the quarantine rules, there is a beautifully joyous place in London that one can walk into, pressing pause on the world. A place that showcases the work of incredibly talented team of the artisans who also need support during pandemic times. And let’s be honest, most of us, with all the goodwill in the world, won’t be able to re-create those cakes in our kitchen at home.
The Connaught Patisserie is the exceptionally beautiful gem in the heart of London, where truly passionate & professional team tries to make the world slightly lighter and brighter on any given day. Popping in makes you feel like Eloise, who has been promised a very special treat, which will continue to generate happily indulgent memories long after the patisserie will all but be gone from the bone china plate or the marble counter.
The Connaught Patisserie is open seven days a week. The opening times are 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday. Cake orders can be made by calling 020 7314 3535. Delivery is available in W1.