Cocomaya is one of those places that had been on my “London: To Visit” list for a good year (well, it is a long list…). The collaborative project of Serena Rees (Agent Provocateur’s founder), Joel Bernstein (former head of concept at Liberty) and Walid al Damirji (accessories designer), I knew it had to be good.
So late one frosty winter’s day recently – when only a glittering chocolate box of a place would do to lift the spirits – my friend Kiki and I took ourselves off to Connaught St for some sugary soul-restoration. You won’t miss it; against the London’s inky twilight, from the outside it stands out like sparkly treasure box.
What originally began as an artisanal chocolate shop, Cocomaya now has a bakery in the neighbouring shop, where they sell the most divine tarts, cakes, bread and salads (or, as I prefer, to take home for the most perfect brunch the following morning). Though you can take tea or eat in either shop, it’s the chocolate shop I really adore. There, the tables are strewn with tiers of sugary treats and flowers in silly vases, and glass cabinets hold sets of antique china and plates and plates of handmade chocolates (made on-site; the smell of cocoa wafting from the back room whilst you sit is sheer heaven). It’s unashamedly over the top kitsch, but in the most glamorous, gilded way. In other words, it’s exactly as you imagine your posh, eccentric relative’s dining room should look.
As for our own afternoon tea? Kiki had a gorgeous quince and almond tart, and as I had skipped lunch in anticipation, I started with a white mulberry tea and pumpkin, ricotta and seeded tart (the lightest, fluffiest quiche I have ever had). Though obviously any good intentions we may have begun with were then quickly offset by the hot chocolate (which is really just rich, molten dark chocolate with a hint of milk – so the small version will more than satisfy) and handmade chocolates (in garden mint, rose geranium and chilli) which followed.
The best part about this jewel of a place is that it’s tiny, and the service is therefore attentive and friendly (something which is rarely a given when going for tea in one of the large hotels, for example), they don’t mind you lingering for hours on end over good conversation fuelled by those delicious wafts of cocoa, and will happily bring out more tiny golden cups of that special hot chocolate to fortify you against the frosty, grey streets outside.
So tell me lovelies, what do you look for in a place to linger in for hours on a wintery afternoon?
Love, Miss B xx
Cocomaya, 12 Connaught St, London W2 2AF