October 30, 2014

Henri Charpentier ~ Renowned Patisserie From Japan Opens In Dempsey Hill, Singapore! Lovely Place For Cakes & Desserts, But Expensive!

Think I've found possibly the loveliest place in Singapore to enjoy some pretty cakes and delicious desserts ~ Henri Charpentier! Yes, the renowned French-inspired Japanese patisserie with 81 stores across Japan has recently opened in Singapore, choosing the idyllic enclave of Dempsey Hill as the location to nestle their first overseas outlet.

My first impression of Henri Charpentier was: "It's very CHIO (pretty)!!!", feeling like a princess and full of anticipation as I sashayed down the eye-catching hot pink carpeted walkway into its spacious indoor area.

Decked in shades of fuschia and purple, with champagne-color drapery over the gazebo-like couch seats and chandelier balls glistening over its table, the entire setup utterly spells of femininity, and puts me in a romantic mood right away.

Perhaps the best seats are those next to the full-height glass windows overlooking the lush greenery. There is a great sense of serenity and laidbackness as I sank comfortably into the elegant armchairs (adorned with Henri Charpentier's logo no less), until a glance at the menu made my eyes pop opened to reality.

Aah... loveliness comes with a expensive price tag.

Beverages prices starts at $7 for a Coffee, to $9 for a Café Latte and $11.50 for a Matcha or Caramel Flavored Café Latte. Comparatively higher than most cafés, but would the taste be necessarily better?

Our Coffee ($7), described on the menu as "Henri Charpentier's original coffee blend with a clean flavor", was weak in body and diluted in taste. I asked my friend how was his Iced Royal Milk Tea ($13) which used "a generous amount of high quality assam tea leaves". His reply was "like that lor, taste like teh-peng".

Their cake selection might not be extensive, but the variety is good enough to satisfy varied tastebuds: Mont Blanc ($9) for you who like the buttery almond taste of financiers with chestnuts, Chocolatine ($9.50) for chocolate lovers, Strawberry Shortcake ($9.50) and Fruit Tart ($8) will suit those who prefer a lighter and refreshing bite.

We all liked the Lemon Tart ($7.50)! The crumbling crust was of just the right thickness and hardness, embracing a bottom layer of almond filling and topped with smooth sour lemon cream which sent our tongues tingling with zesty notes of happiness.

The Mille-Crêpe ($9), a stack of soft crêpes with rich custard cream snuggled in between and supported by a sponge cake base, was just as satisfying. I wish for a caramelized top layer for that extra bit of sugary crunch, but still, this was almost as good as the one we had at Lady M. Definitely one of the best mille-crêpes around town.

Crêpe Suzette ($22) is the signature dessert which I've already decided to order even before I stepped into Henri Charpentier. Afterall, the café is named in honor of Henri Charpentier, a famous 19th century French chef who created the crêpe suzette: Crêpe steeped in orange juice, topped with orange liqueur and lit up by a magical blue flame.

Yes, the crêpe suzette will be prepared by your tableside so get those cameras and handphones ready for photos and instavideo moments! Lol!

Each serving comes with two pieces of sweet thin crêpes, which were decidedly smooth and soaked up the warm luscious orange concoction well, but the alcoholic taste came across as a tad too strongly for a teetotaler like me. The lack of textural contrast with no toppings of any kind also rendered the crêpes monotonous after a few bites. Agreeably delicious, but boring. Best to share.

There are some Special Desserts ($15 to $29), specially created and available exclusively in Singapore. A few sounds enticing enough, such as Rouge ($19), parfait of marinated strawberries, financier and passionfruit with strawberry sauce, Coupe de Pêche ($21), a gorgeous, refreshingly cool dessert of peach sauce finished with fresh lime caramel sauce and Flower Temptation ($25), sautéed pineapple and two types of chocolate mousse are added to a flower-shaped sugar bowl and flambéed with orange liqueur, watch the flames dance like flowers in a bloom. Wow!

But wait, what if the flambé performance didn't happen as expected? Would you feel shortchanged?

Thankfully, our Dome ($29) was successfully encased in gorgeous blue flames for a few seconds, before disintegrating into a delicious ugly mess. Very impressive.

I was expecting to be overwhelmed by a flood of rich sweetness, but surprisingly, with all that chocolate and strawberry sauce, it was none at all cloying. In fact, the combination of textures and flavors was superb! A bit of crunchiness, a bit of creaminess, a bit of sweetness mingled with a bit of bitterness, and a whole load of yummilicious-ness!

We had deliberated for quite a while before deciding to order the chocolate sphere because it is rather costly, and eventually went "what the heck!". But I probably wouldn't order it again unless I'm in the right (or wrong?) mind to splurge.

The Financiers and Madeleines (which my friend described as "divine") could be the most affordable indulgence in Henri Charpentier at $2.90 a piece.

With all the hype surrounding Henri Charpentier, having to queue for a table during busy weekends is kind of expected but they don't seemed to have an efficient waiting or reservation system in place yet. Our orders then took quite awhile to come, after repeated reminders to the Japanese staff. Language also created a slight communication barrier, with us managing to get our takeaway order only after much confusion.

Still, I wouldn't say my first experience at Henri Charpentier is a bad one. Afterall, their confectionery are indeed of a worthy standard and the place is lovely for tête-à-têtes. I will be back when the craving for their lemon tart strikes, or maybe when I'm feeling tai tai and..... rich! Haha.

Henri Charpentier Singapore
Address: 9A Dempsey Road, Singapore 247698
Contact: +65 6479 5518
Website: http://www.henri-charpentier.com/shop/sin/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/henri.charpentiersg
Opening Hours: Daily 11am-10pm (last call 9.30pm)

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