London may be full of history, but not many eateries can boast the kind of prestige that Maison Bertaux is in possession of. That’s because Maison Bertaux is in fact the oldest patisserie in all of London. How old, you ask? The bakery first opened back in 1871, meaning they’ve got over 150 years of trading under their belt. Not bad!
From the kitchen of their Greek Street, Soho location they knock out wonderfully traditional bakes and pastries that range from indulgent cakes to chocolate eclairs and enormous scones. Inside, the maximalist quirky interiors make guests feel like they’re eating inside a box full of someone’s personal collection of French antiques and bric-a-brac. There are only a handful of seats, but the pastries are just as indulgently delicious perched outside or eaten off a bench at nearby Soho Square Gardens.
The Maison Bertaux story
It all started when Monsieur Bertaux, a Communard fleeing from Paris, arrived in London in 1871. He had with him an armful of recipes, and swiftly set up a tiny patisserie and tea room in Greek Street, Soho. The bakery has since weathered the many changes to Soho, from its red-light days to its current status as a tourist hot-spot.
Over the years, the stead-fast presence of the bakery has ensured a steady roster of regulars, both local and internationally based. But with the years they’ve also made sure to adapt and change, with more offerings to suit a wide palette from a vast number of visitors. And now, they’re run by one-time ‘Saturday girl’ Michele Wade, who bought the bakery from then owner Madame Vignaud in the mid-80’s.
With such a storied history, Maison Bertaux has seen many a celebrity stepping through their doors. Among the many names were the likes of Alexander McQueen, Virginia Wolf, Karl Marx, Grayson Perry, Noel Fielding, and plenty more. They even made Lily Allen’s wedding cake!
More than just pastries
Situated in Soho, Maison Bertaux has been keeping the bohemian artists and creatives well-fed with their sugary wares since they opened. As such, the bakery has a certain connection to and affinity with the art world. So much so, in fact, that they have now opened a gallery space upstairs from the bakery. It was there that Noel Fielding had his first art exhibition, and in years since the space has featured artists such as Timothy Spall, Sigur Ros, Diva Zappa, Harry Hill, and more.
All this talk of pastries has made me rather hungry – meet you at Maison Bertaux for a slice of history?