It’s taken quite a while, but it would be hard to argue that it wasn’t worth the wait.
William and Suzue Curley finally opened their second London store this week in Pimlico – at the second attempt, following the early closure of their first Central London venture in Mayfair.
Now Britain’s Best Chocolatier (as voted by the Academy of Chocolate for the last three years running) is back in a bigger and better flagship store to supplement their original Richmond shop, that could only be described as – ‘fabulous’.
More like a chocolate emporium than a mere shop, the Pimlico Road store is probably the largest chocolate shop in London.
The new shop features not only the full range of William Curley fresh patisserie and chocolates, but also a dessert and drinks bar, late night opening with licensing, exotically decorated seating areas and an upmarket but laid back feel.
The shop certainly has an air of plush luxury, but is not at all intimidating to enter.
Some top-end chocolatier boutiques can make you feel like an intruder into a much loftier world, where actually you only came in to buy some chocolates. (I couldn’t level that accusation at any of the current crop of London stores though).
Curley’s new shop keeps it friendly while layering on the style, creating a space you want to hang around in, not just dive into for a few minutes for a quick shop.
The design has the usual Curley Japanese and French influence, this time with a little ‘cacao’ thrown in. One wall is covered with cacao sack style hessian, on which is printed the names of famous cacao origin countries. (Along with the odd Japanese city, which can be spotted by the eagle-eyed – it had to be pointed out to me.)
The front seating area features a beautiful gold and black mural, creating a cosy sit down area ideal for impressing a date with champagne and chocolates, while at the back of the shop there is more seating, great for long chats and business meetings.
Though you might be shopping in a heavenly chocolate environment, Curley’s prices are fair and decent and there’s no sense of products being given orbital price tags just to make them appear somehow luxurious.
It would of course be possible to leave the shop with a much dented credit card, but many small items can be had for a few pounds. Often these are priced for barely more than you’d pay in a high street chain, for something that is on the face of it a similar item.
The quality is, of course, on a different planet. Sublime brownies for a mere £2 a go are just one example.
As well as the new shop, Curley also has new bags and new packaging for solid and filled bars, which make them just a bit more gift-worthy.
There’s also a new drinks menu and a few new patisserie items available, including “Citrus entremet” – layers of hazelnut sponge, lemon ganache, chocolate sponge and dark chocolate mousse accompanied by lemon curd.
The entremet was so good, I’d taken a few bites before realising I really should take a photo. The aftertaste was excellent and really lingered.
Congratulations go to William and Suzue – Ebury Street is a real acheivement and once again the Curley’s have ‘raised the bar’ for the London chocolate scene.
This can only be a good thing as London takes another step forward to becoming one of the leading fine chocolate centres in the world.
Certainly well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Nearest tube: Sloane Square, or Victoria if you don’t mind a walk or a short bus journey on the 211. Pimlico station is actually some distance away.
198 Ebury Street
Tel. 020 7730 5522
Monday to Saturday 9:30 – 18:30
(Coming soon: Monday to Thursday 9:30 – 10:00pm)
Sunday 10:30 – 18:00