37 Newington Green, Stoke Newington, London N16 9PR
Everything you could want from a proper French patisserie, without the bother of going to France. Pastry chef Eric Rousseau has presided over this Art Nouveau-esque Newington Green café/bakery for 10 years now, which as well as delighting local regulars also supplies businesses all over London with authentic Gallic cakes, tarts and breads. Linger over a morning coffee and succulent almond croissant by the large picture windows at the front, or head for the Provencal-themed tearoom at the back. Freshly baked quiches make this a good lunchtime choice, too, while the back garden is a welcome retreat in summer. At teatime it’s hard to resist the pretty multicoloured macarons and delicate fruit tarts, their honey-sweet strawberries glistening like jewels on top of a rich custard filling. The deli section offers a wide range of imported terroir delicacies, but it’s the array of oven-warm French breads, like the pain de campagne and, of course, those irresistible pastries, that keep the customers streaming in. Note that Belle Epoque is also one of the few places in these parts that offers free wi-fi.