Suzette is a bold dessert bar and outdoor picnic concept by Lola’s Café, which (or whom) should be no stranger having graced the quiet neighbourhood of Kovan for about three years now. They’ve subsequently introduced On The Table to the family, serving up the same familiar fusion fare. Think homely Honey Paprika Crispy Wings, Nacho Cheese Fries, stew, coffees and pastas that never left the menu since day one.
Lola’s family has always been embracing of the old and new, evoking nostalgia for an experience that’s yet to even be. It works somehow, because as promised, “food served from the heart is most delicious” and more importantly it is affordable for the youthful crowd it attracts.
Suzette’s arrival is a bit of a shocker. She warns to “keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable”. Located at The Esplanade, she’s the life of the picnic party and her experimental offerings suggest you take it or leave it. Glassy-eyed in soft and striking hues, she blends right in and even adds a pop of chic to the garden city’s arts hub.
The Lychee Rosewater Cake, sold in their other cafés as well, is a signature. Whole cakes are priced at $58.
The cakes range from $5-8, and tarts cost $6 except for the White Chocolate Durian Tart, which is going at $12.
With a grand display of gutsy single serving desserts, Suzette would pass off as snobbish if not for the many traces of heart as told by her interior, vibe, price and palate.
Picnic baskets and mats are for rent for a week at a go. The Esplanade is littered with breezy spots for perfect brunch by the river, and the kind and sporting staff at Suzette prep everything clean, disposal and fuss-free.
After deliberating for a lifetime over the eclectic weekend brunch menu as below this post, I settled for Cold Angel Hair Pasta with Seared Salmon ($18).
Every twirl of the wooden fork was an umami bomb of miso, furikake and vinegar. The salmon is dry brined and then sous vide at 50 degrees in order to retain an opaque-but-not-quite texture which I dig so. It is then seared upon order, and topped with a 63 degree egg done right. Everything came together beautifully in that simple takeout box.
I also went for the Açai Smoothie Bowl ($10) which, other than being topped with fresh fruits and cereal crumble, tasted like a very decent Açai would.
Choosing a pastry to go with my bottle of cold brew was another tough decision. These combinations among many others sounded extremely tempting: Black Sesame Tart with Matcha Cookie Shavings / White Chocolate Durian Tart / Salted Caramel Popcorn Cake – but I wanted to try Passionfruit & Basil Cheese Cake ($8) simply because it sounded the most peculiar. If Suzette nailed this, I would love to return to try the rest.
And nail it they did. The cream cheese was just dense enough to counter the sweetness and tang from the passionfruit, but none of that overpowered the fragrant chime of basil that bookended each bite – both a pleasant welcome and lure for another bite. That crunchy base and the fact that I could taste everything mentioned makes this my dessert recommendation. Of course I’m being biased; I hadn’t tried the rest.
I spy: enchanting blooms by @meadows.clouds all over
All of Suzette’s desserts are made inhouse, and recipes are developed by the boss Chookiat, whom does not have any former culinary experience – just an immense passion for food.
“Our kitchen crew generally do not have much culinary background, so they learn from scratch here,” explains Teresa, whom by name does marketing for Lola’s but prides herself in wearing many hats, serving customers and working on the kitchen floor like every other employee in the company does. “It’s a very lean team so we definitely have to multitask, which is also where the beauty of this job lies – in the exposure to various skills and opportunities.”
If you’re not a cake or tart person, you might want to save space for waffles, which are mighty yummers across their cafés.
Whether you choose to indulge indoors with sunlight, pastel, quartz and marble, or outdoors with grass, water, breeze and sun, Suzette is a refreshing experience capable of making any day a self-proclaimed weekend. Take it from someone like me, whom admittedly doesn’t have a sweet tooth but will be popping by again and again for all-day dessert and a side of my favourite book.