Desserts have often been considered an afterthought, but with an increasing number of ‘dessert-only’ sites opening, they are fast becoming the venue of choice for younger generations seeking an alternative to meeting friends in the pub and for consumers looking for an indulgent treat following months of restrictions. “The pandemic stole a lot of joy away from people and desserts are a great way to replenish that. You can be so creative in terms of the flavours, colours and textures that you use. Dessert-only restaurants offer a level of escapism and whimsy.” Comments Adam Mani from Creams Café, a national chain of outlets serving flamboyant desserts.
Francesca Strange operates another dessert-only café and recently opened The Proof, the UK’s first profiterole bar in Dalston, London. Her business was previously a delivery e-commerce enterprise, but such was the demand for her products, she has since added to her portfolio and enhanced her brand with a physical presence. Francesca’s desserts are nut-free due to the severity of her nut allergy and heavily influenced by her Italian upbringing, she states: “I get my inspiration from vintage cookbooks and strive to offer something different. We are growing our vegan menu as there is such demand for desserts such as vegan lemon meringue tart and vegan sticky toffee pudding.”
Creativity and indulgence is top of the menu for dessert bars. Creams Café regularly change their desserts, introducing new and innovative dishes including a dessert poke bowl, a mince pie waffle for Christmas and popcorn chicken waffle bites. In the Midlands, Birmingham-based chef Andrew Sheridan has opened a dessert bar at his restaurant 8. With one sitting at 2pm, the menu features a twist on traditional desserts including carrot cake with clotted cream, lemon drizzle with marmalade and apple pie with crème brulé.
Also proving popular is the pairing of beverages with a sweet treat. Number 79 in London’s Soho pair dessert mousse with tea or coffee, proudly offering delights such as peach mousse cake and mango and passionfruit mousse cake. Whereas Blondies Kitchen takes us back to childhood memories with a ‘Milk and Cookie Bar’ in Selfridges department store in London. Due to popularity, they have expanded with an outlet in London’s Covent Garden and offer freshly baked and finished hand rolled cookies. The range includes personalised cookies, cookie dough bars, red velvet cookies and white choc bite sized cookies to name a few.
Trends within the dessert bar sector are broad-reaching, Soraya from the London Dessert Festival which takes place between 12-14th August says “on one hand consumers are looking at comfort food from their childhood in new and exciting formats, but we are also seeing many completely new creations emerge. Many brands in the Festival’s “Start Up Village” began a dessert business in lockdown. The entrepreneurial spirit of these individuals means that the desserts sector remains an exhilarating space to be in.”