An ode to pastéis de nata

Say hello to your new sweet obsession, pastéis de nata. I didn’t quite believe the hype at first either – a Portuguese custard tart, and a mini one at that, dubbed as better than chocolate and other more carnal pursuits, I don’t think so – but believe it you should.

My love affair with nata began on a bright spring day, I remember it well. Alex has a Spanish friend at work, who insisted they order a bunch of natas to the office one day and when they arrived everyone went nuts over them. So, he needed me to know too, hence we found ourselves roaming the back streets of Covent Garden looking for I Heart Nata.

I Love Nata is tucked away and quite unassuming. The branding is lovely though, bright yellow and black with a fun font and sign outside that promises the nata you’re about to consume is one of the healthiest pastries around. Good job, ’cause you can’t have just one.

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The pastry is filo-like, but lighter and sturdier all at once. It surrounds a gooey (not stiff like your average custard tart) filling of warm and silky custard, which is topped with a veil of slightly browned skin. It’s really sweet in the middle and the middle oozes out – it’s rather satisfying to watch and to eat! With a self-serve dusting of icing sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon, it’s perfect.

The team at I Love Nata are poised and ready for regulars and newbies alike. They can tell the difference because repeat customers have learned to order more than one. One for now and a box of six for later should do you. Even at £2-ish a pop, you’ll soon be following suit. Trust me. And don’t worry if the nata hot plate is empty when you arrive – just hang around for a while and a fresh batch of yellow cups of joy will appear.

If you want to eat in, there are a couple of tables but it’s pretty snug so you might want to make plans to take your natas to go. Or like my family, when I introduced them to the tasty treat, if you can’t wait, position yourself on the bench outside and tuck in straight away in the pouring rain. What rain?

I Love Nata do a good assortment of hot drinks too, and I’d recommend enjoying the main attraction with a late but be careful, they serve it lava-hot.

Pop along to 61 Endell Street, WC2H 9AJ and let me know what you think.

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Freelance writer, eater, drinker and cook living in London.

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