January – the only month of the year paved with good intentions – has been and gone. Detox done, fitness regime back on track, it seems about time to indulge in the odd treat again (especially as February is invariably dark, depressing and bone-chillingly cold). Well, the calories-be-damned French will tell you that one of the best remedies to the winter freeze is a lovely cup of hot chocolate and no one does it in Beijing quite like chic little Central Park patisserie L’Atelier – one might even venture that this bijou, glass-fronted cafe serves one of the meanest cups of chocolat chaud this side of the Tibetan Plateau!
Served in a glass carafe, the rich melted chocolate contents are rather more soup than beverage, and are served alongside a choice of whipped cream, cinnamon and vanilla sugar. It may also prove hard to resist their fresh-baked selection of buttery melt-in-your-mouth viennoiseries, including the standout sugar-topped chouquettes, chausson aux pommes, glazed brioche, and flaky little heart-shaped palmiers. And if there’s one thing the French know, it’s how to make cakes with utter calorific abandon: cue shelves laden with tarte au citron, chocolate éclairs, vanilla cream mille-feuille, and candy-coloured macaron piped with their house-made praline. Allons-y, mes amis – treat yourself!
G/F / Tower 20 / 6 Chaoyangmen Wai Dajie / Central Park / +86 10 6597 0724 / daily 7am-7pm / jiangmaitang.com