There are places whose reputation have forever left their mark on the world of pastry making –and the Savoy hotel in London is undoubtedly one of them. Indeed, it is here that the Peach Melba was invented by Auguste Escoffier in honor of the coloratura soprano Nellie Melba – a dessert which has since made its way around restaurants throughout the world. The hotel recently opened a pastry shop aptly named Melba, which offers various temptations to passersby and clients of the hotel. Among this selection, it is a vanilla, strawberry and rhubarb tart which we decide to cross-examine, for past glory should not prejudice us against the possibility of present excellence.
This tart is composed of a sweet shortcrust pastry topped with a vanilla cream, in the heart of which hides a rhubarb compote. A few slices of strawberry and three wild strawberries, glazed in a translucent jelly, are placed on the surface.
The Vanilla Strawberry Tart by the Melba pastry shop at the Savoy has a diameter of 85 mm and a height of 31 mm. The specimen we purchased weights 144 grams and costs 3.50£.
The deep smell of vanilla and strawberry wafts from this tart could leave no taster in doubt as to its content. With that settled, we feel free to start nibbling at the strawberry slices and wild strawberries arranged on the surface. They are flavorful and coated in a transparent jelly –visibly applied with parsimony so as not to cover the surrounding cream. This vanilla cream is rather rich but not very sweet. It has a long-lasting and distinctive taste reminiscent of cream in its liquid form, along with a pronounced vanilla flavor.
At the center of the cream lies the rhubarb compote, which is characteristically fibrous and has a pink Incarnadine hue. It seems slightly too runny and lacking in tartness and freshness. As for the very discreetly sweet pastry crust, its paleness seems to suggest its baking may have been prematurely interrupted. And while it does have a nice crumbliness, its taste of butter unfortunately proves too discreet for our taste.
Vanilla is by far the dominant element in this dessert, to the detriment of strawberries and rhubarb, whose acidity is indeed stifled – rather than simply tempered – by it. We find ourselves with a tart whose range of textures is rather limited, with the sensation of creaminess dominating above all else. Layering an additional element on top of the shortcrust pastry, for example, could create a greater variety in textures. The pastry crust would also gain from being baked longer, so as to enhance its crunchiness. A better balance of flavors could be achieved by increasing the presence of strawberries and enhancing the acidity of the rhubarb compote.
Score: 3.4/5 Average
Savoy Hotel, Strand, London WC2R 0EU
Open from Monday to Friday from 6.30 am to 7 pm, Saturday from 7.30 am to 7.30 pm and Sunday from 9am to 7.30 pm.
Tel: + 44 20 7836 4343