Former London landmark for continental cakes
There was a time when Valerie's was a byword for swish cakes and special occasions, or the place to enjoy a quiet early-morning coffee and croissant among Soho's media movers and shakers. But earlier this century the business expanded and the three brothers sold their shares. Patisserie Valerie is now a London-wide chain, with the Danish and tall cakes produced in a production facility in east London. And sadly it shows, with further decline in quality in 2013 and 2014. The Soho branch is still the flagship and still worth an occasional visit — you can get a decent cup of coffee or tea — but it's lost dollops of the charm and atmosphere that once made it the jewel of Old Compton Street. And the cakes, pastries and doughnuts are rather industrial, without a hint of the artisan quality you'll find round the corner at Maison Bertaux [see entry]. The famous custard doughnuts and mille-feuille are no longer worth having, and they've stopped doing brioche. Allegedly designer Paul Smith owns the lovely old red-top tables that partly defined the space and which have been replaced by something altogether faux-feeling, sadly in keeping with the other aspects of the business.