Café Madeleine Bistro, Oasis Square

Café Madeleine Bistro

My better half told me about a café cum bakery that’s supposed to be quite good and we drove down to Oasis Square to check it out. It says Restaurant Madeline on the signboard but this is actually Café Madeleine Bistro – they have several other outlets in Sunway and Monash (even one in Sunway Medical Centre I remember from my doctor shopping days).

Café Madeleine

There’s an vague Australian vibe in the interior décor with the large central table/bar and magazines lining the shelves on the sides and it seemed like a great place for weekend brunches. The service was a little on the Chinese side (it’s unusual to see so many local Chinese waiters in the era of foreign help) but functional, if unremarkable.

Affogato (RM 8.50)

Affogato

This is a bit of a disaster – the ice cream in this affogato is instantly recognizable as the cheap locally produced Nestle “ice cream” (not sure if it meets the criteria for ice cream since it’s quite low in real butterfat and undoubtedly has palm oil as a substitute). I tasted it and my dear tasted it and we looked at each other and said “Nestle“. That’s how bad it was. To be fair, the whole thing tasted better after the shot of espresso was poured in, but if I wanted Nestle crap I would have made it at home, even my home has higher quality ice cream.

Hot Chocolate (RM 11)

Hot Chocolate

This was my better half’s order and it seemed to go down alright.

Cappuccino (RM 10)

Cappuccino

The waiter actually forgot my order – he thought I just wanted the affogato. I had to remind him to get my drink. Like I said, the service was dreary but I got the feeling that they did try their best…their best is just not good enough. smirk

Teacher’s Pet (RM 15)

Teachers Pet

This is a croissant sandwich with a filling of tuna or chicken ham. Yeah, I didn’t know it was pork free either. My dear’s order, she tried valiantly to finish it. Notice the pepper? I’ll go into that soon.

Madeleine’s Signature Chicken Bravo (RM 25)

Madeleine Signature Chicken Bravo

This is supposed to be “Cajun marinated whole leg served with 2 side dishes”. There’s nothing Cajun about it, and it was way too salty. It also looked like they spilled the pepper shaker on our dishes – everything was covered with pepper! This wasn’t an optional “Hey, I’ll grind a bit on your plate if you want some” deal, it came out like this! Pepper on everything, including the side salad. I was aghast and had to force myself to eat it, although I didn’t finish it. The sauce was disgustingly salty and it was pre-poured on everything, even the (pepper filled) mash potatoes.

Macarons (RM 4.50/piece)

Café Madeleine Macarons

This was the only redeeming feature of our lunch. My dear told me they’re better known for their baked goods (it’s called Madeleine Patisserie after all) and we had one each of Lemon, Summer Love (mixture of berries), Salted Caramel. They’re nowhere close to the likes of Pierre Hermé, Ladurée or even Adriano Zumbo of course, I only made the comparison due to their faux French name. The macarons tasted good, but until today I’m not sure if it’s coz the meal was so bad that they tasted good in comparison.

Café Madeleine Oasis Square

I’ll say avoid at all costs unless you plan on just having the baked goods. The kitchen didn’t impress at all, the food was horrible and overseasoned. I also didn’t like the use of cheap commercial ice cream in their affogato. The bill came up to RM 83 for the two of us, and we would have had a much better meal pretty much anywhere. We won’t be coming back when there are so many good cafes out there. Don’t be fooled by my dear’s great food photography, this place is at best a 1/10.

Rebellions Coffee Bar, Kota Damansara

Rebellions

We were at Rebellions Coffee Bar over the weekend to see what it’s like. It’s the first time we’ve all been here, my better half had an appointment with a New Zealand Trade representative (thanks for all the stuff from NZ) and we decided on this place to have coffee. Interestingly, we were told that it looks very similar to a popular café in Auckland in terms in interior décor.

No 106 Cold Brew

I had the No.106 Cold Brew (RM 13). This is the Black version which consists of Finca Santa Teresa beans from Panama. It’s served in a 150 ml bottle (about half a pint) and came under the heading “Filter Coffee”. It came with a cork stopper and is supposed to be poured over ice cubes – this tasted very fruity and lacked the caffeine punch I’m used to.

Tafufa Cheesecake

We also had the Taufufa Cheesecake with Gula Melaka Ginger Syrup. I thought this was a really interesting slice of cake! It’s made with tau fu fa (tofu/soybean pudding) as a local twist, further compounded by the use of palm sugar. It’s not as rich as a traditional Philadelphia cheese cake but that’s the point. The lightness is wonderful and I like how the ginger syrup cuts through the richness.

Flat White

This is the Flat White (RM 11) which the NZT representative had. She just came back from New Zealand and it’s noteworthy to point out that flat white originated down under too, first in Australia and then in New Zealand. Rebellions Coffee Bar made it with nice latte art on top.

Lychee Rose Macaron Cake

We also had a slice of the Lychee Rose – a decadent three-layered cake with frosting covering each layer. It also had a smattering of toasted pistachio nuts and a lychee rose macaron on each slice. I shared the macaron with my better half and while it wasn’t mind-blowing (we’ve had the best macarons in France and the famous Zumbarons from Australia) the cake as a whole was quite decent.

Nutella Chocolate Bomb

My better half ordered the Nutella Chocolate Bomb (RM 16) which according to the barista is a *calorie bomb*. Haha. Yup, Rebellionz also serve chai, milk and hot chocolate based drinks under “Maybe Something Else”. There’s a ball of ice cream inside the drink which tastes like chocolate. It’s not very sweet although it seems like it would be. I like how the lip of the tall glass is smeared with Nutella, much like how the rim of a margarita would be crusted with rock salt – it’s a very nice touch.

Rebellions Coffee Bar

I thought Rebellions Coffee Bar is a nice new addition to the Dataran Sunway area with good coffee and cake. There are a lot of cafes here though and F&B outlets don’t last long – a good example would be Flaming Melt, which closed down months after opening. The traffic is horrible but if you can survive there is a captive market here.

Cold Brewed Coffee

Rebellions Coffee Bar
2-1, Jalan PJU 5/4
Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara

Traditional Afternoon Tea @ The Palace Tea Room, QVB

afternoon tea palace

The Palace Tea Room is a wonderful Victorian experience in the heart of Queen Victoria Building (QVB). The gilded gold chandeliers and mirrors, the delightful period décor and the impeccable service all makes this an afternoon tea to remember. Oh, and they also have a separate drinks menu with *over 30 different kinds of tea*!

the palace tea room

I was quite chuffed when I heard that we’ll be having afternoon tea here. Contrary to my image, I do like the occasional dainty finger sandwich and I’ve heard nothing but good things about The Palace Tea Room. They only use Royal Albert – 100 Years of Royal Albert, 1950s Festival and Wedgwood Harlequin fine bone china!

tea room

The décor is meant to awe but the friendly service makes this feel like you’ve gone back to the Victorian era and you’re having tea in your own drawing room with friends, which the wait staff pulls off with aplomb. The picturesque scene of quiet congregation (everyone seems to talk in whispers here, I felt the same urge) was only broken with the oohs and aah of satisfaction with their afternoon tea offering.

palace waiters

You can choose a Devonshire Tea (AUD 20) if you’re not particularly hungry or go for the full experience of The Palace Traditional Afternoon Tea (AUD 38). I highly recommend the latter, it comes with a fully loaded 3-tier platter of dainty delights!

tea menu

I asked the waitress for a recommendation, since I couldn’t decide after browsing through six (6) full pages of tea. She suggested the Paris Vanilla Tea, which is one of the more popular offerings but I noticed something called Indulge Chocolate Tea and asked her about it. She couldn’t decide between the two either, since both are good in their own way, so I asked what she would order if she were in my place – and Indulge Chocolate Tea it was!

indulge chocolate tea

I was very happy with my choice of tea. It’s indulgent, smooth and rich. The menu describes it as “wicked” and I very much agree. You can smell the chocolate when the tea is steeping and everyone wanted a cup of my choice (each order of tea comes in a pot). It has strong highlights and afternotes of chocolate, which I found delectable. The Indulge Chocolate Tea is an extravagant choice that you won’t regret (but everyone else will, and want a sip of yours).

wedgwood harlequin china

The manager personally came out and explained each of the beautiful creations on the 3-tiered fine china platter (each edge is gilded with *real gold* banding and highlights – from the teapot spout to the plates) – there’s scones, crab coronets and crust-less finger sandwiches on the bottom tier and the first two tiers are filled with sweet cakes and pastries.

traditional afternoon tea

I loved the cone shaped crab coronet – it was so tasty I wish it didn’t disappear in a bite. There are three kinds of finger sandwiches too – egg salad on white bread, tuna on brown bread and Chicken Caesar sandwiches on brown bread. There’s also a tiny morsel which looks like two biscuits sandwiching a salmon roe paste – it turns out to be a little cheese shortbread sandwich filled with creamy red capsicum mousse. It was my favorite bit from the savory offerings at the bottom tier.

finger sandwiches coronet

I absolutely loved the scones and demolished them with hearty helpings of clotted cream and raspberry jam (since no one else wanted them). There are two scones – one plain and one filled with fruit. The blowtorch finished mini lemon meringue tart and tiny vanilla cupcakes topped with lemon sour cream are delicious! I think the only bit that let me down was the coconut macaron since Adriano Zumbo Patissier is just downstairs.

macaroons scones

However, the chocolate macaroon (with double o’s) dusted with toasted coconut and filled with a sweet passionfruit filling was spot on. I also liked the lamington (it’s an Australian cake) but the most wonderful item on the platter is a marvellous creation of white chocolate, raspberry and basil (!!!) mousse layered sponge cake.

palace me

The flavors works so well together and it’s just too bad that there’s only one (1) of some items in this 2-person sharing platter so you’ll have to cut a tiny pastry into half. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful experience and if you appreciate the subtleties of tea, you’ll be pleased to know that all their teas are proprietary house blends. The owner told us they’re always so full that reservations is a must and also divulged that they’re bidding to buy over the opposite establishment so they can renovate it and take it over, which says everything about how popular The Palace Tea Room in QVB is.

the queens letter

Interesting tip: There’s a sealed letter from Queen Elizabeth II in QVB (Queen Victoria Building) which was written by Her Majesty in 1986 to be opened 100 years in the future in 2085 by the Lord Mayor of Sydney at that time and read aloud to the People of Sydney. It’s at the top floor and worth a detour before you head for afternoon tea, even if you can’t read the contents of the letter. I just love the idea.

queen victoria building

The Palace Tea Room
Shop L1 20-22, Level 1,
Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

Pierre Hermé “Les Incontournables de Paris” macarons from France

Pierre Herme Macarons

The macarons from Pierre Hermé are the best macarons I’ve ever had in my entire life! It was the first place my better half wanted to go to when we were in Paris earlier this year. We went to two of his shops – the original one is at Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé Paris in Bonaparte but their Macarons & Chocolats Pierre Hermé Paris boutiques at Galeries Lafayette has seating arrangements!

Macarons Chocolats Pierre Herme

Pierre Hermé also sells a wide variety of fantastic chocolates and pastries but we were here for the macarons so we got a pack of 7 macarons and opted to eat at the beautiful rooftop with an amazing 360 degree view of Paris instead of at the boutique itself.

Lafayette Roof

My dear liked the Les Incontournables De Paris (The Essentials Of Paris) box so I got that for her. It costs €18 for a box of 7. The friendly attendant was even kind enough to let us pick the flavors (it’s supposed to be a fixed box set) and even include *limited edition macarons* from the Pierre Hermé Paris ‘Les Jardins’ Collection 2014!

pierre herme france

Pierre Hermé has a total of 23 (!!!) flavors of macarons at any time. However, most of their box sets have a theme e.g. the Initiation 20-piece Assortment (€59) only has 4 different types of macarons. There’s no set price per macaron, it depends on what you get and the price can range from €2 – €3 per macaron. We got ours for slightly over €2.50 each (about RM 11 per macaron).

pierre herme chocolates

The French guy serving us allowed us to choose anything (including limited editions) from the 23 different flavors for the 7-pack, so we took turns choosing macarons:

pierre herme les jardins collection

HUILE D’OLIVE & VANILLE
Olive Oil Fruite Vert, Vanilla & bits of Green Olive

CRÈME BRÛLÉE
Vanillas & Caramel bits

MOGADOR
Milk Chocolate & Passion Fruit

MILÉNA
Fresh Mint & Red Berries

MONTEBELLO
Pistachio & Raspberry compote

JARDIN DES 8 TRÉSORS
Lotus Seed, Red Date, Wolfberry, Rosebud, Dried Orange Peel, Dried Longan Fruit, Chrysanthemum and Osmanthus

INFINIMENT ROSE
Rose & Rose Petals

Les Incontournables De Paris

I just love how weird and quirky the flavors are! It’s not just for the “wow factor” too, the combinations works very well! My first choice was the delectable Huile d’olive & Vanille with bits of *real* green olive!

olive vanilla macaron

I’ve never had an olive macaron (with REAL olive pieces inside) before and we both loved it!

Pierre Herme

My dear went for the Crème Brûlée which actually tastes remarkably like the real thing! I couldn’t believe it.

rose petal macaron

The delicate Infiniment Rose is made from rose and has rose petals (!!!) in the macaron!

milena macaron

We loved every single macaron – there were no duds or mediocre ones in the box, every single macaron was balanced well, not the sickly sweet macarons we get here but an amazing symphony of perfection.

Jardin des 8 Tresors

The other highlight was Jardin des 8 Trésors – the April 2014 monthly limited edition macaron from the Pierre Hermé Paris ‘Les Jardins’ Collection 2014 with 8 different Asian treasures packed into 1 macaron – lotus seed, red date, wolfberry, rosebud, dried orange peel, dried longan fruit, chrysanthemum and osmanthus with incredibly complex flavor and texture profiles.

mogador macaron

We were munching on the macarons in a sky park on top of Galeries Lafayette on a sunny spring day with lots of other locals camped out to enjoy the fresh air and the amazing panoramic view of Paris.

pierre herme us

It was one of the highlights of our trip – enjoying good food, each other, and the Parisian experience!

montebello

I have never had a better macaron than Pierre Hermé in Paris! Adriano Zumbo comes close and Ladurée is a distant third. I highly recommend eating the original ones from France in France, you can’t keep it for more than 4 days and I dub Pierre Hermé the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life and my dear agrees! :)

Zumbarons @ Adriano Zumbo Patisserie

zumbarons adriano zumbo

I have heard about the wonderful macarons from Adriano Zumbo in Australia for quite a long time. Thus, I took the opportunity to purchase the entire range of macarons (affectionately dubbed “Zumbarons”) from Adriano Zumbo Patisserie when I was in Sydney. smirk

mylo can

Adriano Zumbo is also credited with making the Zonut, and his version of the croquembouche – the Macaron Tower (available in 65 and 95 pieces). He also makes a lot of beautifully quirky and delicious pastries and cakes like the mylo can.

i heart zumbo

He’s been regularly featured in MasterChef Australia and I’ve wondered just how good his macarons taste compared to Ladurée at Champs-Élysées, Paris and Pierre Herme – both of which we tried during our trip to France earlier this year.

passionfruit honeycomb

I actually went to two of his shops, the bigger of which is located at The Star. The shop also doubles as a cafe and carries 12 different flavors of his macarons. I bought a 12-pack which comes in a nice sliding box with one each of the entire Zumbaron range in the shop:

zumbarons

  • salted butter caramel on toast
  • hazelnut praline
  • malted milkshake
  • francesco brownie
  • passionfruit & honeycomb
  • caramelized white chocolate
  • fingerbun
  • berry brulée
  • lime & mandarin
  • caramel au beurre sale
  • salted butter popcorn
  • toasted marshmallow

zumbarons macarons

Adriano Zumbo’s two most popular (famous?) macarons would be the salted butter popcorn (with real popcorn covering the shell of the macaron) and the malted milkshake (a rather interesting blue hued macaron).

adriano zumbo macarons

Each Zumbaron retails for AUD 2.50 and there are *no bulk discounts*. You can get a nice 2-piece box of Zumbarons for AUD 5 and the 12-piece long box costs AUD 30. That comes up to almost RM 8 per macaron!

adriano zumbo

It’s worth every cent though! I had two of them fresh and bought one to eat on the spot too. There’s a sign that says Zumbarons don’t travel well and I made sure to keep a gentle hand on mine since I wanted to bring the 12-piece sliding box with every single Zumbaron flavor I managed to find back for my better half to try.

adriano zumbo star

Adriano Zumbo actually has 40 different Zumbarons that rotates seasonally but those are only available with a pre-order. I visited a couple of his shops and found that the one with the most variety on offer is at The Star at Sydney with 12 different flavors on offer.

salted popcorn malted milkshake

We both liked it and we thought it was way better than Ladurée and slightly better almost on par with Pierre Hermé in France. I particularly liked the salted butter caramel on toast (which actually has toast) and the francesco brownie (which actually has bits of brownie). My dear also liked the lime & mandarin which packs a refreshing, zesty bite.

zumbarons pack

His malted milkshake Zumbaron is pretty good too and the salted butter popcorn is just pure genius with bits of popcorn on the shell – no wonder it’s the two most popular flavors. His macarons are made for the adult palate and doesn’t have excessive amounts of sugar – some of them even taste slightly salty!

zumbaron kit

I also bought a bake-at-home Zumbaron kit so we’ll be making our own salted caramel macarons soon! :)

zumbaron range

You can find Adriano Zumbo Patissier in Melbourne and Sydney. Adriano Zumbo at The Star is their latest exciting concept store and carries their full range of cakes, pastries and Zumbarons. It’s the main one I went to and you can find them at:

Adriano Zumbo Patissier
The Star
80 Pyrmont Street, New South Wales

Ladurée macarons at Champs-Élysées, Paris

Ladurée Champs Élysées box

Ladurée is widely credited as inventing the macaron as we know it today! The double decker macaron with a ganache filling was first made by Louis-Ernest Ladurée (which the shop is named after). We actually tracked down their biggest tea room and bakery in Champs-Élysées and took the Metro right to the place before even visiting the Arc de Triomphe. :)

Ladurée Champs Élysées

Champs-Élysées is a very prestigious address in Paris, the equivalent of Fifth Avenue in New York (although it was Parisian culture which started the latter). It’s very expensive to maintain a presence here coz the real estate is incredibly desirable. Ladurée actually calls their branches as “houses” or “boutiques” even though they’re technically a tea room – that’s how seriously they take their heritage!

Ladurée Bakery Paris

Their restaurant, tea room and bakery at 75, Avenue des Champs-Élysées flies their famous green-and-gold Ladurée, Paris sign and is a huge old and stately building that has al-fresco seating during spring. This is the place that we’ve been looking for and we made a bee-line right into their bakery…

Ladurée queue

…to run into a long, slow-moving line of people.

Ladurée Paris

It was more than a queue, it was like watching the human equivalent of rabbits breeding! There are tourists, locals glaring at the camera toting tourists, and bemused passer-bys who got dragged in by the sheer force of the crowd swarming for Ladurée macarons. It was chaos, but organized chaos.

Ladurée menu

We were each passed a brochure listing their macarons, including the seasonal specials. My better half wanted to get ½ a dozen so I asked the patient and professional Ladurée wait staff for their recommendations. I only changed one and here’s our list:

Laduree macarons

  • Vanille (Vanilla)
  • Reglisse (Liquorice)
  • Fruits Rouges (Red Fruits)
  • Pistache (Pistachio)
  • Marie-Antoinette
  • Caramel Fleur de Sel (Salted Caramel)

Ladurée France

The blue Marie-Antoinette and the Red Fruits macarons are seasonal specials for Spring 2014!

fruit rouges macaron

The six (6) macarons are all awesome and there’s one thing I noticed about vanilla in France – no one uses vanilla flavoring, it’s like it’s a culinary sin! Every place we’ve been, from Michelin star restaurants to cafes uses real dried vanilla fruits (which is the second most expensive spice after saffron!) and it makes a lot of difference!

Ladurée macaron box

I quite liked some of the Ladurée macarons – the Marie-Antoinette, Salted Caramel and Vanilla are awesome but the best one is the one I switched to – Liquorice (swapped this for the recommended Lemon). The Liquorice macaron is black and when you bite into it, you get a mouthful of dry ash and acrid bitterness…and then the mild sweetness of the licorice filling hits you, for just a short while before it disappears and leaves a pleasant aniseed aftertaste in your mouth.

marie antoinette

It’s ephemeral and epitomizes the macaron perfectly. I’m not just trying to alliterate my words, but that’s how I felt about the Liquorice macaron. However, as for the others, I felt that Pierre Hermé macarons tastes better.

Champs Élysées

I’ll do a review of Pierre Hermé macarons soon – we tried both of the great French maracons and both were good! I know that both has branches here or close to us but they taste totally different. Macarons are supposed to be temperature controlled and eaten within 3 days and it doesn’t take well to importation or local ingredient substitution.

ladurée seasonal macarons

You can never get macarons here that’s as good as the ones in France and I’m glad we managed to eat these delicate French creations during our Europe trip! Oh yeah, our 2 Michelin star meal at Relais Louis XIII is coming up next! :)

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