Louis of Hampstead

At last, London is basking in the warm sunshine! Anyone who lives on this isles long enough knows how precious this kind of weather is. Let’s make the best of it because who knows what happens next week. We may have snow again…

London has been my home for a long time and I love the city very much. However, one huge drawback of it being so successful as a city in recent decades, is a relentless hike in rent on our high streets. As a result, independent shops which have been familiar faces of the streets for years start to disappear, and large chain stores move in, using their fat wallet. Chain stores are like crown-of-thorns starfish, aren’t they? A badass starfish who ravages and destroys coral reefs. I just hate the way they muscle in and alter the original character of the area. Thanks to their insatiable appetite for expansion, our high streets end up looking identical wherever we go. Why are they so ubiquitous? Are we not sick of looking at the same names in every direction we turn to? What is the point of diluting and marring the character which made the area unique in the first place?

Unfortunately, Hampstead High Street has gone down more or less the same way. An exception of La Crêperie, chain stores, such as Gail’s, Paul, Maison Blanc, Gap, etc litter the street and make the scenery boring and depressing.

Has it gone all south in Hampstead? Is it not worth a visit anymore?

No, not entirely. Because a Hungarian patisserie, Louis, is still there on Heath Street…

Every time I step into this unassuming confectionary, it feels like a time-trip to old-time London…

Behold their sweet butterscotch hued decor. Isn’t it gorgeous? Once upon a time in London, a privately owned patisserie like them was found on every prominent street. I remember a bakery on Earl’s Court Road. They were selling so-called croissants which were nothing like the real one but tasted delicious nevertheless. Another Eastern Eiropean patisserie in Swiss Cottage was offering insanely delectable baked cheese cakes. Apart from their gateaux, I also remember their distinctive decor. Plush burgundy leather banquet seatings and dark wood wall panels were the most memorable feature of the tea room. All the clients sat at their table quietly, reading or were deep in thought, with their tea and cakes. It is so tragic that most of them are now consigned to oblivion.

My chestnut cake…

It’s so worth the trip.

I sincerely hope they will continue to keep their wonderful patisserie open on the current location so I have something to look forward to when I visit Hanpstead.

By the way, I was so gutted recently when I discovered that the optician on Long Acre, which used to sell an amazing variety of spectacles and sunglasses, was replaced by a mobile phone shop. Why? Why? Why???

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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