A French Patisserie With A Twist: Café Forty One

by Ramana Ganger

Enjoy mouth-watering vegan food at London’s only vegan patisserie.

Just a three-minute walk away from Hyde Park in London is La Suite West, a hotel with a Japanese minimalist vibe. As soon as you walk through the white doors to the reception, there is a sense of peace and serenity that makes you instantly relaxed.

La Suite West has garnered a lot of buzz in recent months, thanks to Café Forty-One, London’s first and only vegan patisserie. Head chef, Clarisse Flon has defied the stereotypes that surround plant-based food with a delicious contemporary alternative to patisserie favourites. Clarisse attributes her passion for food to her background, noting that she “grew up in France. We are a country that really loves our food, and my parents have always been great cooks. So I started at a very young age. You start baking cakes, so I got involved quite early.”

Café Forty-One is a vegan gem. The menu itself is impressive, French toast with roasted plums on “The Early Vegan” menu, truffle polenta and wild mushrooms in Dijon sauce with vegetables on the “Unbelievably Vegan” menu, not forgetting the mouth-watering patisserie menu which includes French delicacies like Chocolate and Praliné Millefeuille, and much more.

French foods often feature meat, cheese, and eggs heavily. French deserts are known for being delicate and light, but to veganise them is not an easy feat. Speaking of the process, Clarisse said:

 “It took me a very, very long time. It took me five years to veganise my French patisserie recipes. I’m still developing them on a daily basis. It’s always quite complicated and fascinating, because you get to study what role each product has in a cake. I have worked out a lot of products avoiding eggs; we do not use a chemical substitute in our kitchen, so we try to use corn-starch, aquafaba, etc. There are still things you have to tackle, like chou pastry for example.

The long haul in putting together a mouth-watering menu for La Suite West has definitely paid off. Café Forty-One does not disappoint from flavours and textures to the selection on the menu itself. Clarisse has created a menu that offers a unique spin on traditional French food, making Café Forty-One the go-to for those with special dietary requirements. But what inspired this exceptional head chef, and how does she keep developing a delicious menu that satisfies taste buds?

I spend a lot of time on Instagram looking up what people do, mostly on the patisserie side. It’s pleasing, and it’s always quite complicated. I read a lot of cookbooks, I look up the works of other chefs, I watch documentaries. Not only vegan, because I think that most of the time, I get really inspired doing new dishes. Looking at non-vegan food and thinking, “how can I veganise that, how am I going to make this vegan?”

So what’s veganism like in the place all of this originates from?

In France, it’s complicated. I think people are a lot more closed-minded. There are a lot of stereotypes and ideas of what veganism is. People are attached to tradition. So it’s quite complicated for the vegan movement to grow, but we are seeing more and more things which is very exciting. VG Patisseries is the first full vegan French patisserie in Paris. Jo and Nana Cakes create amazing patisseries on Les Champs Elysees and the restaurant Le Potager De Charlotte offers excellent vegan food.”

We all know the French are considered the most romantic, and from the 14th-16th February, Café Forty-One are having a special Valentine’s pop up dinner. For unique creation of French delicacies with a British twist, Café Forty-One is your new go-to vegan restaurant that we love.

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