Saturday, February 09, 2008


C says:

After a very enjoyable lunch experience with my friend S at Canele’s new Raffles City branch a couple of weeks ago, I was pretty psyched for A to try it too, in particular the dessert crepe that I had. So on Saturday we headed down to their outlet at the basement of Paragon for brunch.

This time wasn’t quite as pleasant as my previous experience, unfortunately. For our mains, I ordered a Croque Madame and A ordered the Herb Foccacia with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. There was a smaller selection of main courses here than at Raffles City, but to be fair, Canele was always meant to be a dessert café, with some simple salads, sandwiches and pastas thrown in for a more balanced menu. The new Raffles City branch has a much expanded food menu that includes at least 3 more selections in each category, and a new baked rice category as well, but I think this is the exception rather than the norm for Canele.

My Croque Madame comprised of thick slices of toasted white bread with gruyere cheese, ham and a sunny side up egg. Healthy this certainly wasn’t – in fact I think there was another fried egg lurking in between the slices because I had oozing egg yolk coming from somewhere but the egg yolk on top remained intact – but it was quite yummy. I still preferred the baked rice bolognaise that I had at Raffles City but again, it’s unfair to make the comparison in the first place.

A’s was a little more boring and made less of an impact. While the egg was nicely scrambled, the smoked salmon was a little bland and lacked the distinctive flavour and savoury oomph of a well-smoked salmon.

Ironically, the one dish that I specially went there for turned out to be the most disappointing. I ordered the Nougatine crepe for us to share – a crepe filled with Nutella, served with nougatine (hazelnut) ice cream, vanilla Chantilly cream, caramelised filo pastry and drizzled with salty caramel. In fact, here’s the description on the menu (take note of the words ‘salty caramel’ – I’ll get to that in a bit):

The one I had at Raffles City was great – it tasted like a Snickers bar, and the salty caramel sort of muted the sweetness of the rest of the ingredients. However, when I tasted this one, the caramel was a bit sour, so at first I thought it was off and asked the kitchen to check. I mentioned that I had it at Raffles City before and it was distinctly not sour. After checking with the kitchen, the waitress informed me that it’s meant to be a passionfruit caramel, so the sourness is intentional, and in fact Raffles City had used the wrong caramel.

I find this a little hard to believe, but after a second tasting I had to admit that the sourness definitely did have a distinctive passionfruit edge, so at least I knew it wasn’t off. We finished it because we didn’t want to make a scene, but I’m not exactly pleased by this event. If I order something on the menu that clearly says “salty caramel”, I’m sure I’m not alone in expecting that to be what I get. If they want to change it to passionfruit caramel then fine, but change your menu accordingly to reflect it then. I’m still not sure who cocked up – did Raffles City really use the wrong one, or did Paragon make a mistake and try to pin it on Raffles City?

Has anyone else tried this particular sweet crepe at any of Canele’s outlets? I’m just curious to find out which version is the “correct” one.

A says:

Service was slow as there was only one woman at front of house when we got there. She was very helpful and impressed me by serving customers in the order they arrived, even though we skipped the takeout queue and went straight to a table.

Overall, the store there seems to be more for takeaway desserts than for proper meals. Food there is pretty good, but there are plenty more dining places I’d rather pick from at Paragon.

290 Orchard Road
B1-25, Paragon
Tel: 6733-8893
Open daily: 11 am to 10 pm


JY said...

Hi C,

I had the Nougatine at the Paragon branch when it just opened this time last year. The caramel I had was a salty one. In fact I think the salty caramel should be the correct ingredient for the Nougatine because it was Chef Pang who made the crepe for us (he happened to be there when the cafe just launched).

Honestly apart from my first visit to Paragon's Canele, the rest of my visits to the branch were getting sorely disappointing. Service has not been satisfactory (imagine 3 young girls at the counter chatting away when customers were waving for their assistance), and it seems some of the counter pple rather attend to customers who are more well-dressed (atas-looking), even though there are others who are earlier in the queue.

I hope the Raffles City branch won't be like Paragon's in the coming months...

atetoomuch said...

Hi JY, thanks for your comment; at least now I know what I should be expecting. I've been had!! Hmph. I knew something was fishy when they said that Raffles City made a mistake. How could RC have been wrong when they in fact served the dish with the CORRECT menu description?!

Service at RC branch was pretty good when I went. Paragon was ok but for the caramel incident, but that could be because of the particularly good server we had. The other waitress who attended to my caramel query was a bit less than friendly.

M. said...

i had a similar experience with bad service at the Paragon branch as well. Our Le Royale cake tasted like the feuilletine layer was flat (should be crunchy) so we asked the male manager if the cake was fresh. He simply replied to say the cake was delivered that very day (but it does not mean it was fresh, no?) and looked at us as if we knew nothing about fancy French cakes. Then he took the cake away, without service recovery like asking if we would like a different cake as replacement. He eventually didn't charge us for it, but still, we were pretty unhappy with his attitude.

Anonymous said...

m: I suspect some of the pastries (Paragon branch) may not be freshly made on the same day as the colours sometimes don't appear very fresh to me. And I wonder if it's actually appropriate to display the cakes in an open-window concept, without a glass panel to cover the cakes...

Anyway I wonder if that male manager is the same guy I spoke to when I was enquiring abt their X'mas log cakes. As it was 1 week away from X'mas, that manager haughtily claimed they could only accept the last few limited orders and it was on a "one-to-one" customer basis. When I asked what he meant by "one-to-one", he reluctantly picked up the phone and called the Robertson Quay branch to check if they were still able to make ONE more cake. My goodness, by that time I had already lost interest in the logcake.