Wednesday, April 4, 2012

L'etoile - A Remote "Star" Discovered

I eat when I'm stressed. I eat when I'm happy. I celebrate special occasions, a project completed, getting a new client - basically whatever 'excuses' that  I can find for the moment, with eating.

And I don't just eat at "the usual places" (though there are favourites that I keep going back to). Instead, the hubby and I would go on a hunt for somewhere new. We love both the excitement of the hunt and the satisfaction and delight from finding a gem.

And we've been exploring a few places lately, the L'etoile cafe being one of our latest find. It was an overcast Sunday afternoon; the boy was napping when we decided on a whim to head out for afternoon tea. I did a quick check on google for new cafes and found L'etoile. We love it that it's not in the city; there's something attractive about an off-the-beaten-track location. They usually make for good getaways from the daily hustle and bustle, don't you think so?

L'etoile, which means "star" in French, is housed in a white, two storey shophouse at the junction of Owen Road and Dorset Road in Little India. Other shops nearby were closed on the day of our visit, so I can't say if it will be equally peaceful on a weekday (I've never been to this part of Singapore before this).

The Vibe: The indie cafe is inspired by French-themed Japanese cafes that the owner used to frequent when she was living in Nagoya some years back. This explains why the cafe exudes an eclectic charm that is both homely and inviting - simple, modern furniture such as wooden tables with red plastic chairs and sofa seats on the first floor, while a different world awaits the unsuspected customer as he ascends the staircase and steps into the spacious second floor: pretty lace curtains, black fans twirling lazily from the ceiling, old pieces of furniture and vintage items like a typewriter, grandfather clock and sewing-machine-turned-coffee-table are scattered around the room, with eye-catching, hand-painted bird cages adorning the walls.

Not surprising then, that all the seats here were occupied and we had to make do with the only vacant table on the first level (it's near the toilet and unfortunately, there was some unpleasant smell whenever someone opened the door).

Top right pic: Can you see the sewing-machine-turned-coffee-table at the bottom right corner? Bottom pics: there are plenty of reading materials, another reason why you might just end up staying longer.

Being a "lifestyle shop cum cafe", L'etoile sells knick knacks that friends bring back from their holidays (see top left pic).

The food: We weren't particularly hungry, so only ordered the macha azuki cupcake and carrot cake to share. I read that the cakes here are made by a Cordon Bleu-trained patissier, and I eagerly tucked into our orders. 

We both fell in love with the macha cupcake. It wasn't too sweet, the green tea cream was very fragrant and we thought the cupcake had a little caramel taste to it. The carrot cake was, in comparison, a bit lackluster. It was lighter in taste than most carrot cakes I've eaten but the saving grace was how every bite was full of  crunchy walnuts. 

We also enjoyed the pot of aromatic Earl Grey with lavender tea - it was an uplifting drink on a lazy afternoon (we aren't exactly coffee drinkers). However, we thought it was a bit too little for two person. We probably get a pot each the next time.

L'etoile also sells pies, crepes, scones and sandwiches. Brunch is available till 4pm on weekends and on most public holidays.

Family factor: If you have young kids, the cafe has highchairs available. Older kids might find it interesting to explore some of the vintage items on the second floor (most likely they have never seen an old sewing machine or a typewriter), just make sure not to spoil them!

By the way, if you drive, finding a place to park could be a challenge. We managed to park at some parallel lots further down from the cafe, but only because we were lucky to have spotted the only available lot left. Later, I checked and found another car park:

Map taken from

But like many Singaporeans, there's nothing to stop us when there's nice food and drinks awaiting.

160 Owen Road
Operating hours: 9am to 8pm.
Closed on Mondays
Tel: 6298 2872


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