Antoinette, a name often heard whenever I asked for suggestions for a good afternoon tea. She is reputed not only for its artisanal pastries, but also for the unique dining experience that she offers to the diners. And today, I finally get a taste of what these are all about.
I made my way down the shophouses in Penhas Road to where the flagship Antoinette is located. As the doors closed behind me, I found myself being taken out of time. Her ornate interiors, Neoclassical style furnishings and pristine display of patisseries. Ladies, eased into their womanly demeanour, taking each bite of their exquisite pastries with grace. It's not difficult to notice that most of the guests are here simply for their desserts only. That is a pity. With such an ambience, dining experience can definitely be more wholesome. Hence, Chef Pang, the founder and soul of Antoinette, crafted a new menu with a greater selection of savories, and sweets, of course, to draw the diners' attention to her all-day dining menu.
Summer Salad 4.5/5
And so, our quaint evening started. The Salade d'Été or Summer Salad ($16.50) set the scene tonight. Quinoa spread across the plate, like a seabed. Rooted on it were cubes of bright red watermelon, roasted orangy butternut squash. With some rocket leaves and sour dough chips surfacing on the top, pumpkin seeds and feta cheese buried in the seeds. The quinoa was surprisingly flavourful, with just a touch of extra virgin Olive oil and sherry vinaigrette. Spooning all the elements, what I got was a gift of flavours and textures interlaying each other, creating a satisfying taste and mouthfill. Almost like barley which I'm sure many of you are familiar but the quinoa was alot more springy with a crunch at the end. The feta cheese added a slight sharpness to the taste and worked well with the sweetness of the pumpkin and watermelon. The pumpkin seeds further crisped up the texture which made this dish even more moreish. I love this dish!
Poached Egg with Red Wine Sauce 3.5/5
If you want to take a break from your usual Egg Benedict, try L’oeufs en Meurette or Poached Egg with Red Wine Sauce ($17.50). I learnt that Sauce Meurette is a classic French cooking - a dark concentrated essence of red wine, stock, and vegetables. The yolk oozed out as I sliced open the poached egg. Together with the sautéed mushrooms and smoked pork belly, the sauce tasted much milder than I expected and well balanced. I wouldn't say that the taste is outstanding, but it is certainly an interesting choice for brunch.
The Grand Garden of Antoinette 4.2/5
Next came the meats. We started off with Le Grande Jardin d’Antoinette or The Grand Garden of Antoinette ($30). Grand indeed. The roasted duck breast was gently seared. Surrounding it was an array of greens, roots, and fruits. Pickled pears, roasted asparagus, baby carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cresses, flowers, mixed greens, sunflower seeds, button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, lotus root chips, lavosh crackers and caramel orange dressing... Amazing, isn't it? Unlike the usual duck meat which may be slightly tough, this was particularly fattier, finer and more tender.
Black Angus Ribeye Minute Steak with Shallot Red Wine Sauce 2.8/5
I was rather disappointed with our next dish, Entrecôte Poêlée à la Bordelaise or Black Angus Ribeye Minute Steak with Shallot Red Wine Sauce ($28.50). It was just too heavily salted. A real pity.
Shrimp Capellini 3/5
For pastas, we had Shrimp Capellini ($26). The pasta was firm and springy. With the crustacean oil penetrating every strand, every mouthful of it was a pleasant experience. I wouldn't expect this dish to be as good if a thicker pasta has been used. However, I find it relatively plain compared to other dishes and rather forgettable. Perhaps, the portion of sea shrimps and Sakura ebi can be improved to make it tastier.
French Toast with Ham and Cheese 4/5
Before we moved on to the desserts, our last savoury item of the evening was the French Toast with Ham and Cheese ($14). This is truly a comfort food. It was creamy, cheesy and sinfully sweet with all the Chantilly cream and maple syrup. This Chantilly cream was like a vanilla ice cream that one indulges in. As the Swiss Gruyère cream cheese also carries a slight sweetness, I thought what could have bettered this dish was to lightly salted the Brioche bread to balance the overall taste.
Baked Alaska 4.5/5
Lights went off. Entered Omelette Norvégienne or Baked Alaska ($25). Gently, the waiter poured the flamed Grand Marnier liquor over. And in split second, the touched black current meringue was glowing elegantly with a blue flame. Eyes turned to our table, and the lights came back. And yes, it was time for what they have always been known for, their desserts. For the first time, Plated Desserts is being introduced into their menu. I always appreciate plated desserts for the amount of effort and dedication put into crafting them, be it their visuals, their taste, the components involved. Eagerly, we sliced it open. Enveloped in the meringue was vanilla ice cream with “griotte” cherries cooked in kirsh, orange confit, and almond nougatine. I can't imagine the amount of effort being put into designing and creating this dessert. The melt-in-your-mouth meringue, the use of nougatine for the crunch, the cherries that carry the bitterness of the kirsch. It completely stole the show.
The Queen’s Vacherin 4.5/5
Another masterpiece presented to us was Le Vacherin de la Reine or The Queen’s Vacherin ($25). Wow, what a Posh lady with her ethereal spunned sugar crown. The alluring rose petal meringue was filled with yuzu cream who gave the Queen a zesty accent. The tanginess from other fruity components (lychees, strawberries and raspberries) paired well with the vanilla ice cream and Chantilly cream. Again, every taste of it I could sense the the chef's effort to perfect this beautiful dessert.
Strawberry Baba 4.5/5
Baba aux Fraises or Strawberry Baba ($18) was slightly more subtle but nonetheless just as delightful to my taste buds. The baked baba dough was not cloying despite being soaked in citrus vanilla syrup. Perhaps, it was the booziness from the aged dark rum that has toned it down and how I wish there was more. A tweak to the original Rum Baba, this baba dough was served with kirsh macerated strawberries in strawberry sauce which gave it a little tartness and Chantilly cream on top for an extra indulgence.
Fondant Au Chocolat 4/5
Feeling greedy, we decided to go ahead with another dessert, Fondant Au Chocolat ($16) served with caramel orange ice cream. What is uncommon is the slice of 12 hours orange confit on top. Imagine tasting a piece of dark chocolate with orange bits. This is definitely the richest Warm Chocolate Cake I have ever tried. Caution: I would suggest sharing it with at least 4 friends, especially if you just had a big meal. With such a rich and dark profile, I feel a plain simple vanilla ice cream would have accentuated it a lot better and vice versa.
Chef Pang also shared with us his take on desserts and tea pairing. Most of us would have thought of pairing desserts with English Tea such as Earl Grey, teas with a stronger taste profile. However, as most desserts are infused with a few elements of flavours and smell, Chef Pang's personal take is that Chinese Teas might be a better choice with their cleaner and lighter profile. With that, Rose Chinois and Iced Lychee, Mint and Kaffir Lime Black Tea were recommended for tonight's pairing.
After trying Rose Chinois, I do agree with his rationale behind it. This Chinese black tea does not confuse my senses, allowing me to fully appreciate the complexity of the desserts. The ice black tea was refreshing, with a faint lychee and mint taste. A great way to clean my palate before moving on to the next dish.
Well, the plated desserts are definitely the stars tonight. They are rare, at least to me. With each and every pastry looking so exquisite and almost enchanted for some. I can see why the ladies and sometimes gentlemen are willing to endure the long wait just to get their hands on that little piece of craft. It is all about that experience which has far surpassed the taste itself.
With the expanded all day dining menu, now diners have the beauty of enjoying both savoury and sweet not only at the flagship Penhas Road outlet but also at Antoinette Palais Renaissance and Mandarin Gallery outlets.
Written By Si An. A girl who is allured by travelling, loves the feel of freedom, smell of the rain and the aroma of fine coffee and food.
30 Penhas Road
Tel: +65 62933121
Nearest MRT: Lavender (EW Line)
Mon-Thur: 11am - 10pm
Fri & Eve PH: 11am - 11pm
Sat: 10am - 11pm
Sun & PH: 10am - 10pm
1) Alight at Lavender MRT station. Take Exit B. Walk to V Hotel Lavender. Walk down Horne Road and turn right onto Penhas Road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]