By some freak coincidence, DC and I were both at business meetings in the Portsdown area on a weekday. It was just too bad that our favourite place in the area was closed, so we plumped for Laurent Bernard Chocolatier instead. I wasn’t expecting a great deal, mainly because I’d been disappointed at its Robertson Quay branch before (rude service, not particularly great food). This place surprised me.
I went for a healthy niçoise salad, which turned out more substantial than I expected as it came with a well-toasted piece of rustic farm bread. It went beautifully with the rare seared tuna chunks and the generous portion of salad. DC found the tuna a bit fishy but I liked it that way. It’s probably the best version of niçoise I’ve had as it doesn’t have the stuff I don’t fancy (boring boiled potato and squeaky boiled string beans) and has lots of green leaves and plenty of tuna.
DC went for the goat cheese sandwich, which turned out very similar in style to my salad! There was the same slice of toast and a fairly substantial heap of salad greens, a bit less than the stuff for my salad. The main difference was of course the grilled goat cheese, which was of course fantastically oozy and runny under a crisped up crust. He loved it.
Dessert was where we misstepped. I’m surprised that the dessert here didn’t fare too well. We ordered the cherry soufflé to share and had high hopes seeing as they had an extensive soufflé section in the menu. I really like Blackforest-style sour cherries and it’s hard to find a place that does it well. Our soufflé was obviously fresh from the oven as it started to quite rapidly lose height once it landed on the table. The dessert itself wasn’t too bad, although it was a tad weepy. I think the chef overwhipped the egg whites and undercooked it slightly. Still, it was light and airy with a tender, slightly crackly top. The raspberry sauce accompaniment was rather quotidien and didn’t do very much to help the soufflé along. I liked the cherries, although there was some kind of liqueur or flavour added that gave it the typical cherry cough syrup flavour when I had more than a mouthful of it. I suppose it would suffice if one were truly craving cherry, but not otherwise.
Laurent Bernard Chocolatier
5B Portsdown Road #01-02
Telephone: 6475 9410
I’m getting old. My aging brain keeps referring to Laurent’s Cafe & Chocolate Bar by its old name, The Chocolate Factory. It still has rather decent, though often patchy, offerings. Shinta and KK shared a molten chocolate cake that was accompanied by vanilla bean ice cream and chantilly cream. None of us were too impressed as the cake was a bit overdone. Only the very centre of the cake was molten, with only the tiniest ooze. The chantilly cream was fake. Sure, it was better quality fake stuff, probably not from a can, but it was definitely not real dairy cream. Eeyore and I, the cream experts, sniffed at it and then looked away. Oh, and by the way, what on earth is that raspberry sauce posing as? Whoever plated this dessert has a ridiculous sense of aesthetics.
Shinta and KK’s chocolate souffle fared better. It was baked just right and was chocolatey and yummy. KK made the hole in the picture so she could pour in the chocolate sauce. The tart raspberry sorbet went winningly with the souffle. Two thumbs up.
Onwards to the Grand Marnier souffle I shared with Eeyore. It’d risen quite impressively in the ramekin and went nicely with the vanilla custard sauce. Too bad the inside wasn’t cooked enough. It was as if the souffle was only cooked on the outside. On the inside, there was still plenty of raw whipped egg white that was just on the verge of weeping. I didn’t like the feeling of damp foam in my mouth. The orange liqueur flavour was very good though.
I’m still not completely convinced by this place. This time, the service had improved from abysmal to decent with nothing to complain about. The food was pretty much hit and miss. I’d only come here if I was craving souffle very badly and wouldn’t mind an inferior version.