Pearls before Swine – Euphorium Bakery (The City, London)

Raisin Scone

If one smashes their head against a wall enough times, repeatedly cursing the wall, perhaps they should look inward rather than blame some helpless concrete.  Entering into these cafes with expectations is dangerous, and, yet, I found myself wandering into another eatery, hoping for a respite from my extended sojourn from proper scones.  What I encountered was – who could doubt it – another raisin scone.  If I were told that the economy of the United Kingdom operated wholly on the distribution and use of raisins in various products, I would not question it.

Nevertheless, a scone sat before me, glistening, plump, and looking slightly jaundiced in color.  But, to my astonishment, it was completely acceptable.  In order to fairly review this scone or, moreover, to hold any of these reviews as valid, I would need to delude myself in to thinking that my now over a year-long exile in this godforsaken land has not affected my ability to differentiate true scone mastery.  Yet, as pragmatic as I am, I am equal parts quixotic, and will stop at nothing to continue my scone reviewing mission until I find the ideal pastry.  And so I continue.

The scone had an impressive size and was accompanied with no doubt glorious jam (had I been able to apply it).  The golden color indicated that I was in for acceptable crunch.  The raisins looked bold and full-bodied.  The shape was pleasingly odd.  I could not help but think that this scone looked to have the face of a bird, with raisin eyes that pierced me to my very soul.  Before quickly massacring my new avian friend, I remained concerned that, if one removed the raisins, this item would easily be categorized as a biscuit in my homeland.  As such, I anticipated extreme dryness for the interior, but was pleasantly surprised to find perfectly tender, if extremely dense innards.  The raisins were a highlight of each bite and were present with appealing frequency.  Best of all, crunch was not isolated to corners, but along the sides as well.  For all these positive qualities, the scone remained bland and uninventive.  A raisin scone, through and through.

Overall, the scone proved perfectly acceptable, if not slightly above average.  In our jaded society, where every scone must either be the best or worst, it is comforting to know that mediocrity, in its best possible iteration, can be found just down the road.

6/10

-DANG

In Search of Lost Scones – GAIL’s Artisan Bakery (Bloomsbury, London)

Sour Cherry and Belgium Dark Chocolate Scone

As memory fades, I’m no longer certain I can recollect the feel of a scone in my hands; the crunchy first bite.  It’s all slowly vanishing.  This melancholia led me to trudge to a distant area of London, where I imagine that people of my ilk are not a common sight.  Desperate to acquire my next fix, I found myself ordering a blueberry and apricot concoction from GAIL’s ‘Artisan’ Bakery in Bloomsbury.  What I erroneously received was perplexing at first.  It burst with chocolate and a berry so bitter, I thought I was encountering yet another drab raisin-based creation.  How I was wrong.

Most often, I am skeptical of chocolate scones.  It is as though bakers see that a recipe calls for chocolate and they take this instruction to mean that they should dump every ounce of any cocoa-based product they can get their grubby hands on into the nearest blender.  Yet, this scone, which I later found out was actually ‘Sour Cherry and Belgium Dark Chocolate,’ managed the rare achievement of a high frequency of chocolate without overwhelming one’s senses.  While the outside of the scone was misshapen, leading to an unfortunate uneven distribution of the multitude of ingredients held within, the crunch was superb and consistent along the scone’s exterior.

The quality of the chocolate demanded my attention, even as the sour cherry attempted repeatedly to steal it.  This combination seemed to clash more than compliment, but the dark chocolate subdued the flavors enough to make it all work.  Still, this poor combination was a rather tragic misstep.  Given greater thought toward the balance of flavors, this scone could have better fulfilled its potential for greatness.  Finally, it’s worth noting that the dollop of sugar that topped the scone will please no person capable of discerning taste.

Overall, this scone was a worthy bandage on a pernicious wound.

7/10

-DANG

The Scone Also Rises – Fleet River Bakery (Holborn, London)

Jam and Cream Scone

I had to guess about the type of scone, because it was modestly listed as just ‘scone’ in the café.  However, any categorization for this scone other than simply ‘sugar’ is probably misleading.  Also, before I go further, I should note that the jam on this scone is allowed per my reviewing code of conduct (it was applied before purchase).

This scone offered an interesting predicament: how to eat it.  I prefer my hands as a means to shovel a scone into my mouth, beginning with the corners and moving inward.  The dimensions and precarious construction of this monstrosity precluded such an approach.  None too pleased, I was forced to resort to the use of a fork.  The loss of convenience pushes this scone clearly into the category of dessert, a conclusion any blind man with a half decent sense of smell, working taste buds, and at least partially functioning salivary glands could determine from a single bite.

The cream was tasty and likely handmade.  The jam was topnotch, creating an interesting mix with the thick cream that was somewhat similar to the flavor of strawberry shortcake.  From top to bottom, the scone presented decent crunch.  The use of quality ingredients was evident.  Powdered sugar at the top was a nice touch.  Unfortunately, the scone quickly devolved into a massacre, which offered no satisfactory plan of continued attack.  I fought vehemently, but it required real work to conquer.

While tasty enough, this scone is entirely unsustainable.  I am certain that this is the first and the last time I will have it.  Still, I enjoyed it while it lasted.  The one night stand of scones; thanks for the memories.

5/10

-DANG

Pitiable and Burned – Peyton and Byrne (Covent Garden, London)

Raisin Scone

The epitome of the English scone, this is probably the best iteration I have had yet of the classic raisin concoction.  While that may sound like high praise, it is in fact a condemnation of the state of the scone in England.  This deplorable pile of baked refuse served its purpose of nourishing me, but the moments of joy were few and far between.  Small and hard (like nearly all English scones), this scone was as tasteless as expected.

(As a side note, some will object, stating that this scone requires jam or butter.  While that would certainly make this subpar dreck more appetizing, I refuse to integrate jam into my scone reviews unless the scones are treated with the substance before I make the purchase.  Otherwise, factors that are uncontrolled for such as spreading skill, quantity of jam provided, and jam quality would make each scone different and, therefore, the very enterprise of scone reviewing moot.)

On a positive note, the outside of the scone had a mild crunch and, while the inside was too dense, the raisins were tasty enough.  However, between those nuggets of joy, there was a center that I can only describe as bread-like.

3/10

(This would be a 4/10 if one adjusts for the dearth of quality scones to be found in this godforsaken country.  But, I am not here to give charity, and grades must be legitimate across all continents.)

-DANG