Laurent Bernard — the very name commands attention. Twenty years of culinary experience means French artisan chocolatier Laurent Bernard is a prominent figure in the Chocolatier sphere and by no means a stranger to the beloved cocoa bean.
We had the opportunity to speak to Laurent himself, and he impressed us greatly with his food philosophy. The well-renowned Chocolatier is strictly uncompromising on the quality of the ingredients he uses in order to produce a final product of high calibre. He believes in learning the provenance of the produce he uses, sourcing strawberries from a particular farmer in Spain, vanilla from Tahiti and cocoa beans from Trinidad, Venezuela or the Dominican Republic.
This close understanding between farmer and Chocolatier makes each delicate chocolate you savour at Laurent Cafe a far cry more personal and intimate, which I believe is the true allure of the Laurent Bernard chocolate brand.
Laurent Bernard’s first chocolate boutique, Laurent Cafe & Chocolate Bar, has been around in Singapore since 2006, chocking up an impressive ten-year history. The continued success of the chocolate parlour can be attributed to the fiery passion and unwavering commitment of the chef himself.
It also helps that the cafe is situated in a great spot along food and nightlife spot Robertson Quay, promising diners a easy-breezy ambiance by day and a livelier crowd at night.
The cafe interior is chic, welcoming, and quite casual too. It’s not at all pretentious or overly formal like other luxe dessert parlours tend to be. I really like the sunflowers and lightbulbs that brighten up the space.
There’s also a rather large and modern outdoor seating area if, for some reason, you decide to savour your desserts with a side of the smouldering Singapore heat.
The attention to detail in Laurent Cafe is rather astounding, with little decorative Parisian touches that add to the atmosphere and remind you of the Chocolatier’s authentic French roots.
That being said, nothing demonstrates Laurent Cafe & Chocolate Bar’s knack for detail quite like its finely crafted artisan chocolates. The cafe has been the recipient of The Best Chocolates Award from Singapore Tatler four years consecutively, from 2011 to 2014, attesting to the prime quality of its offerings.
There’s a special retail corner of the cafe dedicated to showcasing the fine cocoa creations. Each decadent piece of chocolate is intricately developed by Laurent and his team, and crafted with great care and creativity.
Though their chocolate boxes make for great gifts and hampers, Laurent Cafe’s mainstay remains very much their smaller desserts. Most of these intricate sweets are chocolate-based and, bearing sultry names (such as ‘The Fetish’ chocolate tart and the ‘Pleasure’ hazelnut cake), are all ready to arouse your endorphins the moment you step into the cafe.
We had the opportunity to sample some of these sexy desserts and boy, they did not disappoint.
Intuitively titled Blackforest ($10.50), this dessert sees the classic cake reimagined in the softest, most sinful dark chocolate mousse with a delightfully tangy jellied cherry centre. I will never tire of the pairing of sour berry and sweet chocolate, so this dessert really hit the spot for me.
The Satin ($10.50) was a crunchy affair. It comprised hazelnut cream, layers of chocolate cake and a thin, crisp, almost wafer-like base. I really liked the textures at play in this one, as the gritty mouthfeel of the hazelnuts stood out in nice contrast to the cream.
Freshly baked on order, the Dark Chocolate Souffle ($18.50) is remarkably soft and fluffy. The Tahitian-vanilla ice cream and vanilla sauce that are served alongside the souffle add a rich density to the aerated cake.
This souffle might leave you awestruck for a little bit.
The Waffles ($14.00) at Laurent Bernard Cafe & Chocolate Bar are made from scratch, following an authentic Liege recipe. Not your usual crispy waffle, these babies are soft and slightly sticky within. The strawberry compote was sweet and fresh, with chunks of real strawberry detected inside, adding extra bite to each mouthful.
We around the table unanimously gave this waffle a thumbs up.
The Exotique ($10.50) is the most vibrantly coloured of all Laurent Cafe has to offer. Its sprightly sunshine hue is an accurate reflection of its substance.
The bright, zesty flavours of mango and Japanese Yuzu are hidden amongst layers of sweet, moist sponge, while the whole dessert is finished with a marshmallow tossed in dessicated coconut. Mmm, tropical.
Glossily glazed in chocolate ganache, the Desire ($10.50) is just about the most alluring hemisphere ever to exist. It has a tart raspberry filling in its center, which cuts the richness of the smooth, melty chocolate mousse encapsulating it. The velvety chocolate mousse is infused with Earl Grey, and the tea’s characteristic Bergamot fragrance really comes through with each bite.
Be still, my heart.
For those who can’t take too much chocolate, the Lemon Tart ($8.80) is a great alternative. It was a really pretty, delicate thing. The meringue topping was angelically light and airy, the smooth lemon curd within delivered the right amount of tang, and was well balanced by the buttery tart shell.
The Coupe Chocolate-Chocolate ($16) and Coupe Summer ($14) are essentially a Hazelnut Chocolate sundae and a Summer Berry sundae respectively. Served in a classic sundae glass, these were a nice sight to behold. I liked the look and taste of the crunchy caramel and cocoa nib brittle that sat atop the sundaes. Even standing alone, the scoops of ice cream and sherbet were tasty.
These sundaes are quite a substantial portion, so they’d be the perfect frosty dessert to share between two people.
If boxed chocolates, small plates and rich sundaes aren’t enough to satisfy you, there’s also the option to purchase Laurent Bernard’s full-sized cakes. Washed in a rich ganache and decorated simply but elegantly, these chocolate confections are a sure crowd pleaser at any party or event.
Now that all’s bean said and done, Laurent Cafe and Chocolate Bar is worth a visit if you’re someone with a fine eye for quality or an insatiable sweet tooth. The tempting creations here aren’t necessarily the most economical everyday nibbles, but they ooze undeniable charm and would make for an indulgent treat.
At present, Laurent Cafe is having a Tea Time promotion that runs between 2:00pm-6:00pm every Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Under this special, chocoholics enjoy a 1-for-1 pastry for dine-in, meaning sweet savings and an even sweeter afternoon.
I’ll conclude this review with this charming quip courtesy of Laurent Cafe.
“Chocolate doesn’t ask silly questions. Chocolate understands.”
Expected Damage: $12 – $20 per pax