Since the dawn of civilisation, there has existed a single day of the year, that has struck fear and terror into the hearts and minds of studentkind. It is a day that no student dare speak of. A day of infamy and anguish. A day so dark, that not even the comfort of comfort food could comfort the soul. That day, is results day.
Whether delivered by envelope or by email, waiting for exam results can be a most nauseating experience. The sheer agony and tension is enough to reduce any group of sane individuals into a state of nonsensical madness – never mind a group of young dentists, whose collective mental stability is already rocky at best. On that fateful afternoon, we all huddled together and relentlessly refreshed our phones, until their batteries screamed for mercy, and their touch screens filed for restraining orders against our violent thumbs. The clock struck 2, and not an email stirred. 2:01. Still, no peep. The minutes continued to trickle by, until finally, the signal was sound – “The composite has set!” Fear. Panic. A sigh of relief. We Are Bartans had survived BDS Part 4.
After two hours of perpetual anxiety, all we could do now was sit in calm silence – at least for a moment. Naturally, it was time to celebrate, in the only way that dental students know how – by spitting in the face of Dentistry itself, and rotting our teeth to hell and beyond. And so, after a quick lunch, we promptly headed over to the recently opened “Sweet” dessert bar in Stepney Green.
As Mrs. Bean, Grumpy Dwarf, Fishwonger, Paanwala and I squeezed into a booth with a great deal of concern as to whether we’d be able to squeeze out again, we were taken aback by the rather vast menu at Sweet. After much negotiation, we finally settled upon two freakshakes or “altoshakes” – (“The Shard” and “The Torch”), a ferrero rocher cheesecake, and a good old milk chocolate cookie dough.
Death from above
“The Shard” was a nutella-based freakshake, which, consequently, came with a messy nutella-smothered rim, topped with small, salty pretzels, and a heavy dosage of light and fluffy whipped cream. It certainly looked the part for a villain in a diabetic horror-film, but, as decorative as it was, the actual milkshake was thin in consistency, and light and weak in flavour. Given the richness of the rest of our order, we didn’t particularly mind, but I’m certain that if we had ordered this shake alone, we would have felt substantially underwhelmed.
The Torch on the other hand, was a beacon of success. This peanut-butter and salted-caramel milkshake came topped with whipped cream, toffee popcorn, and caramel sauce, with a small slab of chocolate brownie on the side. Once again, the milkshake itself was slightly thin in consistency, but the flavour of the shake was far stronger and richer than that of the Shard. The smooth, dominant flavour of salted caramel was reinforced by a subtler hint of peanut, and it was certainly the better of the two. As for the brownie – it was the ultimate accompaniment. Soft, warm, and gooey, its wonderfully rich flavour delivered an oozing sense of indulgence over the palate.
With our table well on the way to resembling a WWI-battlefield, I had to dodge the hail of hyperactive arms and shuddering shelling of spoons in No Man’s Land to make my way to the ferrero rocher cheesecake. From top to bottom, it consisted of a layer of hazelnut-topped milk chocolate fudge, sat upon a vanilla and hazelnut praline body, and a chocolate cookie base. The smooth consistency of the milk chocolate fudge blended in seamlessly with that of the vanilla and hazelnut praline body, whilst the firm but crumbly chocolate cookie base provided a fantastic contrast. Together, all three layers delivered a rich milk chocolate flavour, which was complemented well by the accompanying pots of single cream and vanilla ice cream.
Ferrero rocher cheesecake
By far, my favourite item from our selection was the milk chocolate cookie dough. Hot and gooey with a smooth and moderately rich chocolate flavour, it clashed ferociously, yet blissfully with the cool and creamy ice cream. It was, in essence, everything that a cookie dough should be.
Value For Money: 4/5
Our altoshakes cost £6.95 each, (as do all the others), whilst our cheesecake cost £4.25, and our cookie dough came in at £5.95, amounting to a total bill of £25. Generally, cakes cost between £3-£4, brownies and cookies doughs cost between £4-£7, waffles cost £5-£6, and crêpes cost £4. A helping of gelato comes in at £1.75 for a single scoop, £3 for a double, or £4 for a triple, whilst sundaes cost around £5-£6. Relative to other dessert bars in the area, Sweet seems to offer a slightly higher quality and calibre of desserts, for an equally reasonable price. The result, is a rather inexpensive way to make an expensive trip to the dentist.
Service at Sweet is both friendly and efficient. Our waitress in particular was incredibly helpful and welcoming and remained remarkably patient as we indecisively went back and forth with our order.
Having opened just a few months ago, the decor at Sweet remains fresh and modern, and one can only hope that it stays that way. The entire parlour is draped in a mixture of white, grey, black, and a touch of brown, creating a colour palette that is as vibrant as my personality. A couple of large, sketch-style murals of the London skyline can also be found at the front and the back of the parlour – no doubt serving as a reminder of where you are in the world, should you eat yourself into unconsciousness.
Elsewhere, brick-tile walls add a glossed retro touch, complementing the dark, tiled floors, and the mixture of dark leather booths and wooden chairs. You may need to inhale sharply, amputate your legs or not have any dessert in the first place to get into some of the booths, but for the most part, it’s a relatively comfortable set-up. The venue itself is not overly spacious either, but then, few dessert bars are. Sweet can be found right next-door to Stepney Green station, so rest assured, you won’t have too great a distance to roll over to get back onto a train. Parking spaces may be available on nearby residential roads.
Whilst you may have to endure the occasional burst of hyperactive rowdiness, the environment within Sweet is both comfortable and relaxed. The lively atmosphere makes it incredibly easy to kick back with your friends and let go of all your reservations, as you foster friendships based on warmth, trust, and a high risk of developing Type II diabetes.
With one of the highest rates of tooth decay in London, it’s clear that Tower Hamlets is no stranger to the decadent dessert bar. Given the multitude of sinful sugar stops already established within the locality, one would think that there’s little to no room for Sweet to manoeuvre into, nor any need for its presence. Indeed, when I first strolled past Sweet a couple of months ago, I had no overwhelming desire to visit “another East London dessert bar”. What I didn’t realise however, is that Sweet is actually a necessary addition to the East London dessert scene.
In recent years, a few of the more established dessert vendors in the area have taken up various cost-cutting measures – for example, by serving smaller portion sizes and utilising lower quality components, and as a whole, their set-up has become tired and dated. This is where Sweet comes in – to provide a modern and refreshing update to the East End’s sugar trail, and to encourage a little rejuvenation from their veteran rivals. Make no mistake – there is still some room for improvement in the formulation of certain items. But, for a new kid on the block, Sweet does incredibly well to deliver a high calibre sugar-rush at a wonderfully affordable price. So long as they abide by this formula and stay true to their customers, they should do well in the sugar-mad borough of Tower Hamlets.
Address: 169 Mile End Road, London E1 4AQ
Telephone: 0208 127 0500