There are 171,000 people following Savannah Sachdev's 'run streak' on Instagram. An undeniably impressive feat which has seen her run for over 800 consecutive days (yep, that's over two years), fitting in the odd marathon and ultramarathon in the mix. Child's play, am I right?
And, as someone with the average running pace of a broken-down vehicle and a commitment to sporting endeavours as inconsistent as Zara's clothes sizing, I am in awe of Sachdev's athletic prowess, persistence and determination. But it is not her running we're here to talk about – Sachdev has another pertinent skill that puts her on the map.
A connoisseur of croissants (or should we say kwoissants), Sachdev is no stranger to running great distances at ungodly hours to hunt down the plumpest pain au choc, flakiest almond croissants and most decadent cinnamon swirls. But why the croissant?
"It's the texture that gets me going – the perfect combination of flakiness with a buttery, stodgy centre. They also travel really well, you get them in any country, there's so much variety, and you can get really disappointed by so many other pastries", says Sachdev, "It's honestly lots of trial and error, and I've really put myself through it to find out the hard way that croissants go really well with running. I never have anything that deep to say about it. I love moving, and I love sweet things."
It’s honestly lots of trial and error, and I’ve put myself through it to find out the hard way that croissants go really well with running
So when did this lamination love affair begin? "I've got a massive sweet tooth, and I'm known in my family as the one who would choose sweets over a meal. If you put a full-out roast or a pick n' mix in front of me, I'd always go for the pick n' mix," laughs Sachdev. "I've literally been to restaurants with my family where I'll get two desserts over a main. I have such a crazy sweet tooth, and croissants just pair really well with running".
In terms of securing prime pastries, Sachdev advises getting to a bakery early to bag the best, and if you've got your eye on a specific one, call ahead of time to make sure it's in stock. She's also weary of the viral croissant gimmicks (we're looking at you, cube croissant). More often than not, classic tastes better.
Now, onto the heavy-hitting questions. "If you could only eat one type of croissant for the rest of your life, what would it be?". This is a tough query to most, but posed to the queen of croissants, it carries particular weight. After several minutes of deliberation, almond was the conclusion. But, I must add, a well-executed, plain croissant was a close second.
So, after securing the answers to life's big questions, here's Savannah Sachdev's pick of the best croissants in London, which, thankfully, you don't have to run marathon distances to get hold of.
The best croissants in London
95 Notting Hill Gate, W11 3JZ
Describing its almond croissant as "probably one of my best to date", KURO is a recent addition to Sachdev's list and might just take the crown as her favourite bakery. Aside from the almond croissant, the bakery's signature pastry, the Sākuro should also be on your hit list. A kind of 'croissant roll', the Sākuro encases an unctuous chocolate or vanilla cream filling in a flakey, sugar-dusted croissant exterior to make for a god-tier pastry. "The vanilla custard tastes like rice pudding", beams Sachdev, "it's so good".
48-50 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0BB
The name is perhaps a misnomer because Donutelier is one of the capital's best spots to bag a good pastry. And while you might get swept through its doors by the hypnotic croissant rings filled with an ostentatious amount of hazelnut praline cream, for Sachdev, it has to be the strawberry cream croissant. An extravagant butter croissant with a flaky pastry, sliced in half and filled with strawberry jam, clouds of chantilly cream and strawberries and dusted with icing sugar.
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Aside from serving killer croissants and top-notch coffee, Sachdev recommends Sally Clarke in Notting Hill as an excellent spot for people-watching, "They have single tables, so going on a hot girl date by yourself is such a vibe". In terms of croissant options, the bakery doesn't veer too much from the classics (if it ain't broke, don't fix it), so expect a counter filled with well-executed pain au raisin, pecan swirls, pain au chocolat, plain and almond croissants.
172 Piccadilly, W1J 9EJ
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If you're unaware of a cruffin, it's time to get up to speed. This croissant-muffin hybrid is a permanent fixture to the offering at Richoux – a cylinder of flakey croissant dough baked into a cupcake case and filled with drool-worthy flavour combinations. Case and point: caramelised white chocolate and sea salt; praline chocolate latte; apple crumble and banana, chai and hazelnut praline. Richoux is no stranger to going viral on Instagram for its cruffins, so it's worth heading there early to avoid disappointment.
Feeling bored with your classic croissant repertoire? A trip to Pavillion will breathe life into your breakfasts with a devourable selection of glossy-topped turmeric knots, smoked salmon, cream cheese croissant dough sandwiches and strawberry, lime and mint danishes. Anything you purchase from Pavillion is a guaranteed corker, but for Sachdev, the croissant of choice has to be the almond pain au chocolat. A crispy exterior with a thick almond paste crust that shatters upon chewing, filled with a rich, nutty chocolate-almond filling. It takes a lot to secure top rankings in the croissant leaderboard, and Pavillion knows how to deliver.
Hart and Lova
213a Belsize Road, NW6 4AA
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A particular favourite of Sachdev's because it's practically on her doorstep, independent bakery Hart and Lova provides ample fuel after she finishes her runs. "Everything looks really homemade and is so big," says Sachdev. And we can testify to the scale of these baked goods – pain au chocolat the size of your head, huge cinnamon rolls swirled into thick, sugar-dusted spirals and hunky danishes loaded with heaps of syrupy fruit compote. If you like it large, head to Hart and Lova.
Perhaps better known for its coffee, Blank Street has a handsome selection of viennoiserie to match its caffeinated kudos. Sachdev's pastry of choice oscillates between the almond croissant and pain au chocolat – mainly because of their large, flakey anatomies. Plus, with 16 Bank Street coffee shops in London, you're never far from your next pastry pitstop.
57 Golborne Road, W10 5NR
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For Sachdev, a key indicator of a good bakery is the queue outside, and the constant string of local Portuguese residents pouring out of Lisboa Patisserie's doors provides that seal of approval. "Everything here is filled with vanilla custard and tastes so good", says Sachdev, "It's filled with grandmas who are feeding their kids the good stuff". Whether you opt for a custard-filled croissant or a pastel de nata, Lisboa Patisserie is a failsafe spot.
Fair Shot Cafe
3 Slingsby Place, WC2E 9AB
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Aside from serving amazing croissants, cakes and brunch, the premise behind Fair Shot Cafe is an incredibly important one. It's a social enterprise that trains and supports young adults with learning disabilities through a year-long hospitality programme to become the next generation of skilled baristas and cafe assistants. "Everything from here is chef's kiss," says Sachdev. Need we say more?
9 Newport Place, WC2H 7JR
Okay, this isn't necessarily a croissant recommendation (pastry police come at us), but Sachdev insists the pandan cake at Chinatown Bakery is worth the pilgrimage. "It's a really good flavour combination, not as heavy as other cakes and is really fluffy," she promises. If it's not the pandan cake, the Nutella fish, AKA the Chinatown Bakery trademark product, should be on your radar. And no prizes for guessing what's inside it.
Check out Savannah's running streak and croissant recommendations on Instagram @savannahsachdev