With no fewer than 8 new locations soon to join the 12 already open across the UK, the success of Heavenly Desserts is proving that few of us can resist temptation, especially when it comes to the sweet stuff.
If the recently introduced sugar tax on soft drinks has taught us anything, it’s that sugar is a most heinous sin to be avoided or (if you must) enjoyed in moderation. If you’re anything like me, the gluttony of indulging in a lovely pud is part of the fun, and as the occasional treat can bring a smile to anyone’s face.
It’s in this spirit that we find ourselves outside Heavenly Desserts on Northampton’s Wellingborough Road on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Having skipped lunch and feeling hungry, we’re lured in by a menu chock-full of cakes, cookies, crepes and custard, fine french slices, sundaes and sweet shakes.
The interior is cool and surprisingly classy. Heavenly Desserts positions its stores as luxurious 5 star cafés and sure enough, the restaurant has more in common with high end hotels in its look than ice cream parlours or american diners. Clinical but chique, it softens the blow somewhat when the final bill comes and you feel you’re paying a little over the odds. This is a nice environment to indulge.
For a restaurant that exclusively serves desserts, it’s a decent attempt at a diverse menu giving plenty to choose from including a range of hot drinks. The caveat of course is that a sweet tooth is required.
A specials menu offers seasonal summer drinks and in the most part the menu embraces the fun, with names like ‘I’ll have what he’s having’, ‘One last time I promise’ and ‘I’m not sharing’ .. all comments my husband has made when eating puddings in the past.
Creamy, nutty and chocolatey sums up most of what’s on offer here. There’s little subtlety and that’s fine by me. A range of ‘artisan’ french slices props up the posh end, but the waffles are given prime billing, with both American and Belgian varieties available. I could smell the fresh waffles as we walked in and my decision is made before we even sit down.
We order two milkshakes, two desserts and an ‘appetiser’ trio of chocolate shots. For the record, this is far too much for two people. We’ve made the conscious decision that we want to sample as much as we can, and if we need to be rolled out afterwards, so be it.
The milkshakes arrive, a white chocolate cherry shake and the ‘legendary Ferrero’ made with, you guessed it, a bunch of the ambassador’s finest gold wrapped treats. Both shakes are generously sized, tasty and good value even at £4.50. Thick but still drinkable, they would be plenty enough pudding for those who don’t fancy something more substantial. Half way through the drink I’m starting to feel full, uh oh.
The trio of chocolate shots are next; milk chocolate, white chocolate and Nutella. These are accompanied by a small amount of fruit for dipping. There’s either too much chocolate or too little fruit. The dipping is fun, but one strawberry isn’t enough to share and certainly isn’t enough for the amount of chocolate. We resort to spoons but at this point it’s just liquid chocolate and is very filling. We leave most uneaten.
The stand out stars are the ‘main course’ desserts and in particular, the banoffee American Waffle. I don’t need to convince you that banana and toffee is a glorious pairing, but the fresh waffle it sits upon is deliciously divine. Inch-thick and filling the plate, it seems obscenely large. That is until you take the first bite and realise it’s as light as a feather, airy with a crisp texture and moreish flavour. Somehow, despite myself I finish the lot.
The ‘Heavenly Desserts’ Cookie Dough appears tiny in comparison. Tooth achingly sweet and considerably more dense, it’s buried under drizzles of more milk and white chocolate. Both desserts are improved by generous dollops of richly flavoured gelato.
It’s important to note this is gelato, not ice cream. That goes for all desserts, scoops, sides and shakes. I feel it’s a distinction worth making as the slightly lower fat content of the Italian frozen dessert makes for a different texture that depending on personal preference you may or may not like. Personally I find gelato a little gloopy but my husband loves it.
Behind the counter you can browse all the different flavours including some fun additions that kids will love such as bubblegum which is an almost fluorescent blue that I’m sure tastes a lot better than it looks.
Before our visit we had checked out some online reviews of Heavenly Desserts and noted that stores outside the county have had some issues with poor service. The reviews for Northampton are far more positive and that reflects the experience we had.
Our waiter on this (admittedly quiet) Saturday afternoon was enthusiastic, polite and we were never left waiting. When we arrived he made it very clear that nothing on the menu was alcoholic, which made me paranoid for a moment that we looked like the sort who indulge in a different vice of a saturday afternoon, but we quickly realise this is something everyone is made aware of.
We finish, settle the bill and leave happy, feeling twice the size we were when we arrived. As we walk out families with small children are enjoying their weekend treats and a big party is in full swing at the back of the restaurant. I consider how appropriate a pudding party is, lots of smiles, laughter and a bit of fun. After all, isn’t that what desserts are all about?