Excellent coffee and pain au chocolat in this thoroughly French café.
Maison Bertaux reviews
Someone trading for 140 years and talking about good service - all business sense really? Right, let's see how it matches up with my personal experience.
I called in to order a cake for my best friend, knowing from their website that they do deliveries. The lady on the phone said they actually DON'T do deliveries in London, please call Patisserie Valerie for delivery (what, really - kidding right?!). So I referenced their own website and she agreed to do it, for a price. (In fact, with this display of ego, attitude, whatever you want to call it, the business deal had already fallen - she just didn't realise it.)
I went along to give details where the cake was to be delivered etc and, to my surprise, the woman asked for a cheque to be deposited (really? - this is 2012 - sorry if I don't have a cheque book, I have never used one... more to the point, the cheque would take forever to clear and my delivery was for the day after) but she claimed this was normal practice.
The woman went on to explain that the delivery would be via black cab and £20 would be charged! (So, in these tough times you have the nerve to advertise delivery but don't even have a dedicated service? I mean, you might as well charter a flight to deliver cakes from now on, forget black cabs.) Finally, she said she'd call back after finalizing everything, for which I've decided to wait and gracefully decline.
I'd chosen Maison Bertaux after reading reviews, but in my experience one should always expect the unexpected there.
P.S. I really do not want to jump on the racism bandwagon as my review is more business-related, but reading comments here, trust me, I know the feeling.
by r_k, 21 Aug 2012
Extremely rude, arrogant and unfriendly boss who bosses staff and customers alike in a humiliating way, not to mention racist comments. Quality of pastry mediocre.
by hhh, 02 Jul 2012
My mum has been going to this cafe since the late '80s. It's a perfect haven for coffee, cake and a read. I love how there is a lovely gallery downstairs featuring the works of Noel Fielding, which is just brilliant. The staff are enchanting, the lady even ordered us to sit inside because it would be so cold for our little dog to sit outside for long! How many cafes do that nowadays? J'adore Maison Bertaux toujours!
by angelstrong (2 reviews
), 18 Feb 2012
As far as looks go, this places certainly looks old and dated, which definitely adds to the charm. Inside it's cramped, but on a cold winter's evening I would call it cosy. The service from the old lady was very friendly but I could see the old man was grumpy and impolite to other customers. I ordered an Almond Croissant, which unfortunately they were out of, so I went for a Pain au Chocolat instead. I must say I was really disappointed. The pastry was heavy and doughy, as if made by a complete novice. For a famous 'French' establishment, I expected much more.
by lambyjay, 12 Dec 2011
Great food, very rude staff. Being 'quirky' is no excuse for not saying 'please' or 'thank you' or for conducting a telephone conversation whilst serving customers.
by sutok, 23 Sep 2011
I adore this place, not only are the cakes both delicious and exquisite, but the atmosphere and decor are divine. Special mention has to go to the wonderful owners of this fine establishment, who are attentive and extremely charming. Ten out of ten - my favourite place in London. I only take people who I really like to this place. Thank you Maison Bertaux!
by frankleedarling, 13 Feb 2011
One of the best things in London.
by deniz, 11 Oct 2010
by paulfunk69, 16 Aug 2010
Maison Bertaux is top class!
by Whiskylover (2 reviews
), 20 Jul 2010
I don't care how much the cakes cost, they are the best I have had in such a long time and they were worth every penny. And I'd much rather enjoy the unique style and superb individual service that you get here than the 'have a nice day' service you might get in one of the big chains any day. The place, the service and the food make it an absolute treat. I love it.
by ducatiandy, 28 Apr 2010
Interesting to read all the different opinions on the place. Personally I think the reason it stands out for me so much is the really unique ambience. There's such a tiresome sameness to so many coffee shops these days that it's really refreshing to pass a half hour in Bertaux. The out-of-date decor has a retro charm to it that works because it's genuinely old rather than faked. Even by Soho standards it is quite expensive but the pastries are baked in-store and it's not part of a chain, so the overheads are bound to be high.
by Chucky Dunne, 21 Mar 2010
Well, after reading a recommendation which described this cafe as pretty much perfect in terms of pâtisserie (French pastry), quality, and charming atmosphere, I decided I must pay a visit and try some of the delicacies and have a cup of coffee.
However, even though the pastries were tasty, the coffee was fine, and the waiter was gorgeous and very kind, the place itself was tiny and narrow and felt so claustrophobic with the small tables and ridiculous maps!
So I'd say if you just want to buy the bakes and desserts to take away (or to have look at the waiter) I'd certainly recommend. But as for eating in, it's a joke.
by magnuen, 17 Jan 2010
Wonderful quirky cafe with cakes to die for. Try the 'Wormy Pie': meringue with coils of chestnut-flavoured cream. The mis-matched chairs and walls that look like they've never seen a paintbrush in the upstairs room simply add to the place's charm.
The waiter was charming and the older man taking the orders was fine and returned my wave and smile when we left.
by Hilary Miklasz, 23 Nov 2009
Some of these reviews are very funny. I have been going to Maison Bertaux for about 18 yeas on and off. I'm not a member of some little Soho clique and I don't have that overly romanticised view of 'Bohemian' life which leads naive people to see things that are just crappy as somehow cool. So I'm not contaminated with prejudice either way.
I think the 2 reasons Maison Bertaux is an amazing place are: 1) the quality of the cakes and patisseries; 2) the unique ambience of the place created by the decor and the staff - but mostly the owners - who are 2 women (not the grumpy old geezer some have moaned about).
Don't go for just a coffee - it isn't a coffee shop and you'll find better in Bar Italia
. But the patisseries are a level far above chains like Valerie's and the ambience is warm, personal and relaxed - a world away from the cool contrived modernity of Yauatcha
or the uptightness of some of the posh hotels
. But folks do have different tastes. Some people actually like Starbucks, which to me is a McDonalds of coffee shops (and many love McDonalds too). If you are one of those then don't come because you will always be offended by the prices instead of enjoying the beauty of what is given to you.
I agree that the 'old geezer' shouldn't be insulting to people if that's what he did. Personally, it would just make me laugh and wouldn't dampen my passion for another Dijon slice fresh out of the oven... but if you're sensitive, just ignore him if he's like that. The prices should also be displayed clearly - it is a tourist area and they need to be told up front that fresh home-baked patisserie is more expensive than the industrially produced and delivered variety.
But, all said, overall easily the best patisserie in London and probably in the UK.
by dbeaumont, 31 Aug 2009
An oasis of individuality in an encroaching corporate world. There is an honesty about the cakes, pastries and savouries on offer. Uniquely, they are all baked on site every day! That is why it is a little pricey, because the provenance of their food is within their own premises, not delivered daily from a remote factory. We must cherish difference wherever it still exists. If you think of it as an authentic one-off - like a 1950s rural French patisserie transplanted to the centre of Soho - then it makes for an altogether more pleasantly bizarre and endearing experience.
If the staff are grumpy, IGNORE them and report them to the lovely owners Tania and Michelle - the feuding sisters who despite their sometimes very theatrical disagreements are united in their love of the gem of an institution that is in their care. They are quite the memorable hostesses of a quirky and unique cafe, and I am utterly delighted that they are as unique and quirky and utterly welcoming as their fabulous establishment. Maison Bertaux has been trading since 1871! Hurrah!!
by torsten-fc (2 reviews
), 14 Aug 2009
This little cafe is a hidden gem. Out-gunned by the Patisserie Valerie chain (which is very good incidentally), its cakes and pastries are on a completely different level. Eclairs are a perfect balance of texture, chocolate and cream. Coconut macaroons are the highlight - best I've ever tasted. A gourmet delight that beats any other pastry shop in London.
by ed1, 13 Jul 2009
I've been going to Maison Bertaux for years with my father, and it has become a part of my life. With regards to the grumpiness of the old man, me and my father find it quite amusing, and there are several really nice waitresses who we know well. I guess since I'm not the one paying I can't complain about prices, but I think they must be reasonable since the cakes are so delicious. I think you're also paying for the atmosphere, the conversations you overhear from local characters. I think it's a great place and would recommend it to people who want something more charming and quirky than Starbucks.
by miarose, 14 Jun 2009
We stumbled across Maison Bertaux, and what a good stumble it was. The waitress was very entertaining and reminded us of Basil Fawlty. What ever you do, don't ask for a cappucino - it's cafe noir or cafe au lait, nothing more nothing less. But it's definitely a wonderful experience.
by Ellleeeeeeen x, 15 May 2009
I have been to this place about a dozen times. I enjoyed the cake, but found them and the tea overpriced. Once the lady overheard me saying this on my way out and she ran out after saying what did I expect in Soho! Still, I went back, lured in by the loveliness of the place. Again, very rude service from the older man whose cafe it may well be. How can you have such a nice place and be so grumpy? On another occasion he was grumpy too, as if he didn't want the custom - such a shame! After that I thought no, never again, you should make your customers feel welcome and at ease... If you go, go for the nice cake but be prepared to feel unwelcome. Not a good combination really! This lovely on the surface place could be so different, almost a good metaphor for life!
by karola1, 15 May 2009
Look, it's simply the best. They don't do fifty different types of coffee, but that's the fun of it. Once this place goes, there'll be no others left - it's a unique and wonderous spot in what's left of traditional Soho. Quirky, eccentric and utterly genuine. Hugely recommended.
by mike simkins, 06 Apr 2009
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