As winter is well and truly on the way, I felt a real sweet treat was necessary this week. And it doesn't get much sweeter than at the relative newcomer to Lincoln High Street, Patisserie Valerie.
Bundled up against the lashing wind and rain, myself and a fellow dessert-loving friend made our way to the café. A couple of customers were dotted about but otherwise we had the place to ourselves.
We sat down and a friendly waiter came straight over to hand us a selection of menus – regular and the special winter selection where two courses are priced at £9.99.
Ranging from Carbonara and Arrabiata for mains to pancakes and chocolate brownies for dessert I was tempted, but had set my sights on one of the delicious gateaux slices on display.
Had it not been for that, I would have definitely had a mug of the premium dark hot chocolate made up of 70 per cent Ecuadorian cocoa solids.
I could have quite happily chosen an entirely cake and cream-based meal but I was intrigued as to whether a café which prides itself on hand-made patisseries would provide a good standard of savoury meals.
A good selection is offered from all day breakfast and brunch to speciality sandwiches and salads.
The Croque Italienne jumped out at me, packed full of my favourite ingredients, while my dining partner chose the Valerie Club sandwich.
We didn't have to wait long for our dishes. My grilled sandwich came with a nice side salad and although the size wasn't huge, the topping of rich gruyere béchamel sauce meant it was erring on the sickly side.
However, there was plenty of filling with prosciutto ham, mozzarella and sundried tomatoes.
Although the menu said it also came with black olives I couldn't really detect them. It was a nice snack but if creamy, strong flavours aren't your thing I would steer clear.
The Valerie Club was packed full of grilled chicken breast, ham, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. It looked so good I wished I had ordered it!
After a slight break and much deliberation we chose both a Mille Feuille and slice of chocolate gateaux to share. They arrived and their size meant one would have been quite sufficient between the two of us. The Mille Feuille (or huge vanilla slice) was simply sublime. Two layers of creamy, thick vanilla custard sandwiched between crisp and light puff pastry with an iced topping – perfection.
The slab of chocolate gateaux was as you'd expect consisting of rich, light chocolate sponge with even richer chocolate ganache layers.
A profiterole placed on top is an extra touch to push you over the sugar limit. Although one of my all time favourite desserts, I had to admit defeat after a couple of mouthfuls. This would definitely be a treat to have on an empty stomach.
If cakes, cream, pastry and sugary treats are your thing then Patisserie Valerie is sure to delight. But remember to make sure you take along a healthy appetite, or take a treat home to enjoy over a couple of days!
THE FOOD: Valerie Club £8.15; Croque Italiene £6.70; Mille Feuille £3.95; Gateaux slice £3.95; Sparkling mineral water £2.05; Diet cola £2.50.
FINAL VERDICT: Great cakes and pastries, but lacks a little in atmosphere.