Salted Chocolate Caramel Tart at Pizza East

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Rich. And I mean really rich. This is your traditional basically-truffles-smeared-on-pastry. But it’s far from your ordinary take on that. The salt sharpens the richness whilst contradictorily taking the edge off it. And the milky caramel adds a sweetness that punches into the richness in a so-sweet-its-almost-bitter way. I like this dish. I particularly like that the salt is sprinkled on top, adding visual contrast and shouting about its ingredients. Though I couldn’t swear there wasn’t salt in the ganache itself. A sprinkling of nuts also added an earthen flavour and gave a hint of natural goodness (wishful thinking perhaps!), and was a good addition to the plate in a way that the cream (which I mistook for ice-cream, which definitely wouldn’t be necessary) probably wasn’t.

“This struck me as as close to an objective fault with a dish as you could get”

But this dish has a problem. I don’t know if you can see from the picture, but the caramel is sandwiched on top of the pastry and below the chocolate. This meant that

  1. it oozes out the sides, and uselessly spread onto the plate from where even the most dedicated plate-clearer (and yes, that does mean me) isn’t going to rescue it and
  2. the chocolate slides about on the caramel slick, and the dessert’s integrity is compromised.

This struck me as as close to an objective fault with a dish as you could get. It was simply a mistake to stack the dish in this way. Okay, so it might take an architectural feat to avoid the problem, such as sandwiching the caramel between two, thinner layers of chocolate, but, frankly, I think it needed it. It’s like making lasagna where you decide that for effect you’ll have the pasta super-al-dente, but which has the side-effect of making the dish impossible to eat.

Perhaps I was unlucky. Maybe the chocolate was too cold, and therefore rigid. Maybe the caramel was too warm and therefore liquid. Maybe the pastry was too fresh and therefore difficult to cut through. But even so, you need to make sure that everyone who orders a dish can eat it as intended, and I’m pretty sure you weren’t supposed to eat this in the train-wreck form mine ended up in.

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I can forgive this. It was delicious. There was also too much of it – a slice half the angle would have done – but I guess you have to offer a large enough portion that diners won’t feel hard done by, even if for a second before they taste how rich it is. If Chris’ cheese plate was anything to go by, they like to be generous.

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Yes, that really is five people’s worth of cheese – at least judging by the, to be frank, slightly miserly portions you frequently get elsewhere.

I’d eat this again, especially if I’m in the joint for a pizza. Or maybe I’d get the cheese between the whole table!

35/100 Time Out’s best dishes in London

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