Tuxedo Café & Pâtisserie @ Carlton Hotel

Impeccably proper pâtisserie

Located at lobby level, the cafe was impeccably proper in black and white. The contrasting colors would’ve been dull if not for the warm earth tones of the highly polished walls and floor, while lush carpets provided a little luxury. There were even bow tie motifs on chairs and menus for a touch of whimsy. Pleasantly quiet and laid-back, we were glad to have found a nice chill out spot on Saturday right smack in the middle of an overcrowded city area.

Arriving at seven-ish, the pastry counter looked rather forlorn. Two cakes caught my fancy but only one piece each were left standing amid the sparse selection. We decided to reserve them while we had sandwiches first.

The drinks came lukewarm. Not impressive though they weren’t too shabby.

K chose from a range of hand-pulled italian coffee and the café latte ($7.30) wasn’t overly bitter. We didn’t need to add sugar as there’s no sour aftertaste.

I had hot chocolate ($7.30) which was a tad milky though sweetness was alright. Still, it’s a far cry from how I liked the drink to be.

The baguette with tuna, capers, parsley and sliced cucumbers ($8.50) appeared dry at first glance but it wasn’t too bad, while the baguette was soft with a crispy crust.

On the other hand, the sourdough with roasted beef, brie, spinach and seeded mustard ($10.50) could really use a bit more dressing, though the meat was tender and flavorful.

Despite featuring freshly baked breads, we thought the sandwiches were unremarkable and portions weren’t as hearty as we expected, especially given the prices. However, the pastries were more memorable so our trip wasn’t a complete waste.

The apple pandan cheese cake ($5.80) comprised of a top layer of apple jelly – its tanginess went well with creamy cheese – while the base of kueh lapis offered a distinct pandan aroma. We discovered it’s best to eat the dense cake base on its own since the pandan flavor tended to be overshadowed by the apple jelly. No doubt the unique combo produced an enticing texture but in terms of taste, the three elements didn’t quite work hand in hand.

Our favorite turned out to be the chocolate raspberry cake ($5.80). The pairing of luscious chocolate with tart raspberry was simply marriage made in heaven. Moist chocolate sponge alternated beautifully with smooth chocolate mousse while the raspberry compote in the center added some zest to the richness. Gleaming with a thin coat of dark chocolate ganache and topped with raspberry bits, this decadent piece of sweet indulgence rested on a crispy layer of hazelnut praline.

As an afterthought, we ordered a croissant ($3.50) before calling it a day. Not only did it lack a good crisp, it’s also prone to collapsing but the flavor was adequate.

Curiosity brought us to the open kitchen across the lobby on our way out. A chef was seen retrieving perfectly shaped croissant dough from a carton box for baking. Nothing out of the ordinary, except big bold letters on the side screamed DELIFRANCE. Now, that really got me wondering…

Our experience left something to be desired but considering the peaceful atmosphere, we wouldn’t mind returning to try the savories – pies and tarts seemed positively mouthwatering.

Total damage: $57.30