If you thought the crockery at Crabtree & Evelyn’s Tearoom was pretty, be prepared for chintzy china overload at Orchard Garden Café & Restaurant. Fans of floral prints rejoice – this lot practically puts the Chelsea Flower Show to shame!
We popped into Orchard Garden Café on one of my frequent (as you’re rapidly discovering!) pit-stops for afternoon tea. The cuisine is Japanese Western and, yes, there were the as-usual bizarrely heavy tea set options, but their desserts and drinks menus appeared to be as long (if not longer) than the one for main meals – meaning it’s clearly my kinda place!
I’d already had the inkling that it would be my kind of place when my magpie instinct kicked in upon entering the premises. Similar to my experience at Pomme, I wanted to steal almost everything inside – from the sprigs of flowers on the tables to the colourful splashy artwork, the squishy white sofas to the telephone number of their interior designer. It almost makes the steep climb up several flights of stairs to get there worth it; amongst the mayhem of Mong Kok, it’s a refreshingly light bright modern space, best enjoyed in the quiet lull of the afternoon.
I chose my Honey Apple Tea ($35) simply because it had the prettiest crockery in the menu – a teacup and saucer emblazoned with royal purple pansies. I spent so long cooing over it that I barely had time to be impressed by the fact it was served with slices of genuine fresh fruit and a jar of golden runny honey (rather than being made with a shop-bought formula out a pot, a Hong Kong speciality). It was a sweet, summery tea, made all the more so by the delightful ware in which it was served. My auntie’s Ginger Lemon Tea ($32) was similarly splendid – an exquisitely decorated teacup, a dish of fresh fruit and a piping hot, fragrant cuppa.
Meanwhile, the size of the desserts (a vast array of waffles, pancakes and sundaes were available) was somewhat at odds with the dainty china; the portions seemed designed for hulking sweet-toothed giants whilst the crockery arrived straight from a pixie’s tea party. I went for the caramel custard (known by the more discerning diner as a crème caramel, $28) simply because it looked like the only dessert I could polish off on my own. That was true enough but on tasting it, I didn’t want to. Overly-sloppy, overly-sweet, a bobbing slobbery mass marooned in a sea of syrup with an odd powdery aftertaste to boot, it didn’t even have flowery crockery to redeem it.
Much better were my auntie’s Crispy Fruit Rolls ($48) – think sweet spring rolls and you’re halfway there. Crispy filo-pastry encasing a medley of fresh strawberries, blueberries, banana and mango with a squirt of whipped cream, served warm, with a bizarre dip of custard sauce. The flaky crunch of the golden pastry matched with the gooey fruity mess inside made for an inspired combination but it was still too big and too filling for even the pair of us to finish. On the plus side, the contemporary cornflower plate may have been my favourite yet.
Whack on a 10% service charge and it’s frankly a little too dear to justify not being more delicious (in fact, it cost more than our lunches combined, which can’t be good). It would probably be better if you’re sharing as a group… or if they installed a lift… or if they allowed you to simply purchase the pretty plates instead of the superfluous desserts that came with them!
See all Orchard Garden Café & Restaurant locations in Hong Kong here