A good pastry goes a long way, but a bad one can definitely leave a sour taste in your mouth. It needs to have that perfect level of flakes without falling apart, while still retaining that lovely buttery flavor.
A pain au chocolat accompanied by a croissant are two of the must-haves when it comes to choosing a pastry to accompany your morning coffee or tea. But here at MyLondon, we’ve heard there’s a place in the corner of East London that sells the best almond croissant in the whole city.
Not much different (or so I thought) from a regular croissant other than the almonds that cover the top and the sugar sprinkles that adorn the croissant. I never felt the need to try an almond croissant in the past, as I thought it was another hipster invention that would be too expensive and taste too much to enjoy.
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As I left St James Street Station in Walthamstow I looked across and saw a lovely cafe which challenged me to enter. Looking out the windows, the words “Eat, Drink, Shop” piqued my interest.
The aptly named St J’s is raved about online, with reviewers praising the excellent coffee and snacks on offer. In addition to an incredible bread (which you can smell as soon as you cross the threshold), the almond croissant has a lot of interest.
It’s not just a cafe – there’s a full shop inside. Items such as prints and paintings on cushions as well as ceramics and candles. There was much more than a cafe between these four walls.
Fresh sourdough bread is also on sale as well as locally produced baby clothes and drinks. There is such a range of products here that you don’t expect anything when entering.
Once I settled in and remembered what I came for, I approached the counter and ordered. Unfortunately there were no almond croissants when I got here, but there were vegan ones.
I imagined the difference would have been minimal, so I said hastily that I would take it as it was the last. I was determined to ensure that this trip was not ruined. To wash it down, I went with an oatmeal hot chocolate and jam donut for the trip home.
Sitting at the table and admiring the croissant, I was impressed. The almond flakes on top sat beautifully, the golden crisp of the croissant shone in the light, and the almond filling hidden inside was a big surprise.
As I bit into the flaky goodness, I had to stop myself from drooling. “That’s what a croissant should be,” I repeated to myself in my head. There was an explosion of flavor in my mouth and I experienced something I had never had with pain au chocolat.
I’m usually never full after eating a croissant and it’s a short term hunger relief that I get. It was different. Once I was done I was sitting up feeling really happy and didn’t feel like my belly would be rumbling anytime soon.
Sitting and watching the locals come and go was also a welcome touch. It seemed like everyone liked coming here and there was a range of different people walking through the door I had walked through 20 minutes earlier. People would come in for their coffee, pick up a print, or in some cases pick up a bottle of wine at 11 a.m. No judgment on my part here.
St J’s opened in 2019 and stocks local produce, helping to showcase the talent that lies within the Walthamstow community. The local feel was clear as people of all ages came in and ordered with smiles on their faces. The atmosphere in the store is relaxed, people are seated at tables to work, parents with their babies or those catching up with friends.
St J’s has become a destination for locals, but certainly worth the trip if you are coming from further afield. It was the first almond croissant I have ever tried and it made me believe. London has no shortage of bakeries, so there’s competition everywhere, but St J’s certainly holds its own.