With approximately 300,000 French residents, London is France’s sixth biggest city so the question is where are they all getting their dose of French delicacies that keep them sane during spells of homesickness? I feel like bakeries are experiencing a resurgence with more and more artisanal producers of sweet and floury treats setting up shops, stalls and kiosks all over the city. There’s a seemingly never-ending hype around doughnuts and sourdough breads (can’t forget pizza); but are people still talking cupcakes? Unfortunately not everyone lives up to the hype – that’s for another post – one place that does live up to my hype every single time is Boulangerie Bon Matin!
When I think of France a lot of things come to mind (foie gras, canard, pâté, fromage, baguette, macaron: shout out to Pierre Hermé, tarte aux fraises), all food related of course, but pain au chocolat, or chocolatine if you really know your stuff, is definitely up there on my list. Exposure is a wonderful thing, it can open your eyes to ideas and concepts that were once unimaginable to you. Like with all good things exposure also has a bad side because once you have experienced a freshly baked pain au choc in France, as I have while I was an au-pair, you simply cannot settle for commercial nonsense in London that doesn’t represent a pain au choc in any way but its name.
Now don’t get me wrong I too have been tempted by the alluring smells that confront you as you enter your local Lidl. The butter is almost lingering in the air, taunting you, encouraging you to give in but then you snap out of it and remember that it most likely will not be worth the calories. Well my friends I have good news not only are the pain au choc at Boulangerie Bon Matin worth the calories they are also worth the trek if, like me, you happen to not live close by. I discovered this place whilst I was living in Finsbury Park for a few months and saw voluptuous pastry perched in the window. Once I tasted one chocolatine, I could not help but stop every morning and there were many mornings that they were all gone. Now living in Brixton, once in a while I wake up extra early to jump on the Victoria Line in pursuit of layers of buttery pastry gently encasing two stems of dark chocolate and I am never disappointed. I often pair this with freshly squeezed orange juice, a cappuccino and savour the moment, escaping to some street in the 8th arrondissement with my newspaper in hand.
If for some reason you do not feel like indulging, this fine bakery have other things to get your teeth stuck into like sandwiches and plenty of healthy vegetables and salads. I only go for one thing but I urge you to go and discover what craving they can feed.
Boulangerie Bon Matin, 178 Tollington Park, London N4 3AJ
Nearest Station: Finsbury Park
Best For: Pain Au Chocolat
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