Ipoh Cafe Series – Ben & LynetteJanuary 31, 2014 | 6,112 views
Ben & Lynette Maison Patisserie opened its doors barely two months ago; owned by the same people of Secret Garden
Happy Chinese New Year dear followers of Motormouth From Ipoh. The moment that I set my gaze upon the huge IPOH sign greeting travelers along the North South Expressway, my heart instantly melted. The body felt energized, the mind working into overdrive compiling a list of MUST-EATs this time around, and the sheer joy of reuniting (not that we were apart in the first place) with families and friends set the pulse racing.
The recent surge of cafes dominating the food and beverage scene has kept many foodies excited; some embarked on cafe marathon while others proudly embraced the shutterbug spirit in them and clicking away and sharing them through social media platforms.
I have to admit that Motormouth’s a bit rusty in this department. Once a month excursion back home could only rendered me with so much (or little) time for cafe runs; especially when you know this local Ipoh boy soul is still very much endeared by old school, straight up, no frills Ipoh hawker food.
Lest we need to remind you once again, the New Year belongs to the Horse. Stallions. Ponies. Unicorns. Or whatever you wish for your year to be represented by.
The list was compiled in a half-hearted manner though. This list of cafes (and by cafes I removed our delightful coffee shops from the list, obviously) consisted of almost a dozen names. Though I don’t reckon that I can achieve grand success of trying them all and writing about them this round (also contributed by the fact that some may be closed for the season), I shall try.
Here’s the first chapter on Ben & Lynette Maison Patisserie ….
A Sandwiches and Salads counter for your DIY ensemble for a lighter meal, and the relatively sparse counter (for a patisserie) displaying breads and various pastries
A new kid on the block so to speak, Ben & Lynette is run by the same group that manages Secret Garden and MyGopeng Resort. This refurbished bungalow occupies the plot of land adjacent to Secret Garden; sharing the same parking space even. Stepping in into the retro-fitted, minimalistic decor populated by vintage paraphernalia and mono-toned furnitures, the cafe did manage to bring back a sense of nostalgia; akin to stepping back in time when this could be the exact emotion that our grandparents felt upon setting foot in English mansions.
The menu on the board displaying the entire range of fares offered at Ben & Lynette, while some of their specials (including the probably more popular All Day Breakfast selections) are written at the counter.
It was clear that Ben & Lynette (let’s call them B&L) capitalizes more on the current popular trend of all-day breakfasts, breads, pastries, cakes and coffee. Dishes with more substance like pastas, pizzas and soups do not come in pages after pages of details but instead displayed on the black board hanging by the counter. Since you must order and pay at the counter, this probably saved them the hassle of compiling a menu anyway.
The two signatures at B&L denoted a significant need to bring a party of people and share; the Sandwich Train (RM38.90/USD13) and Charcoal Burger Tower (RM48.90/USD16) brought fun, party food back to the table.
Smoked salmon, poached eggs, boiled asparagus, baby tomatoes and lettuce on a thick toast (RM17.90/USD6)
The All Day Breakfast selection was tempting; and we settled for the girl’s recommendation of the Salmon rendition of their breakfast platter; consisting of a few streaks of smoked salmon, two poached eggs, boiled asparagus stalks, halved baby tomatoes and lettuce on a piece of thick toast. Complete with a dash of black pepper, the presentation appeared passable at a glance.
Digging in further into the ensemble of relatively guilt-free materials; the smoked salmon slices were evidently chilled for quite some time. The poached eggs were alright, but the asparagus tasted bitter and fibrous. Still, the portion justified the price paid and could be more than enough for a light eater.
The hanging light bulbs concept has been done to death over in the Klang Valley; yet is still relatively fresh over in this part of the country. They retained the mosaic tiled floor, yet should not have blocked all natural light streaming in through the large window panels.
Cutlery, sauces and serviettes are available at the self-service counter. So this is generally a DIY cafe except the fact that you don’t have to carry your own food or drinks.
The latte and mocha (about RM12/USD4 each) came with coffee art at the very least, but both were not stellar in their classes. The mocha was a tad too sweet according to my dining companion, while my latte was not as smooth and could do with a little bit more milk.
A point to note here was that the girl spilled the mocha and made a slight mess around the cup, apologized profusely while serving the drink yet made no effort in wiping the plate dry or change it. And to add salt to the wound, when we asked for a piece of serviette to clean it up ourselves, she mentioned that serviettes are self-served items and we should get them from the counter. Ahem. So much for pleasantries. We did not spill the coffee in the first place, remember?
Hawaiian Pizza (RM22.90/USD7.50) – Chicken, Pineapples, Capsicum, Onions and Olives.
Then, after a good 20 minutes or so (thankfully time flies when you’re catching up on grandfather stories), we noticed that the pizza we ordered reached the next table. And we were the first to arrive. Without even noticing anything amiss, nobody attended to us despite the lengthy wait. Thus, I walked up and checked with the same girl.
“Oh, okay … maybe it was our mistake. Let me check with the kitchen”
Good thing was that she did check, come to our table and apologized again. She said it will take them another 5 – 10 minutes to serve our pizza. Expectations did run slightly high that moment, though the pizza was barely worthy of the wait.
Served on a chewy dough base, the cheese and tomato salsa sauce made a really salty combination; to a point of over-the-top. The chunky bits of chicken and juicy pineapples saved the day, at the least. But we did not polish the 8″ pizza off though; the wait must have exhausted our patience and somehow satiated our appetite.
The spilt Mocha; that had too much chocolate in it; rendering the drink with an inherent sweetness that may not be up to everyone’s taste.
The mansion looks elegant and inviting. The upper floor is an office, so the seats are limited to one side of the building (a crowd of 20 at most) and al fresco dining area under the porch.
Goes without saying that the experience was far below our expectations, though for new eateries in Ipoh, always take everything with a pinch of salt and let nature runs its course. Teething problems related to service can be solved in time should the management take heed and starts gaining grounds with the locals. However, the prospects of all day cafes in Ipoh still remains to be seen, with more than a handful of them over-charging and under-delivering in terms of quality of food and coffee.
A quirky, vintage or modern contemporary ambience can only get you so far in roping in new customers, but staying power should always be measured from a point of substance and service. Ben & Lynette has a long way to go, but here’s wishing them galloping success ahead.
BEN & LYNETTE (Facebook page)
No. 42, Lorong Cheah Cheang Lim
30350 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Business Hours : 9am – 12.30am daily
Please read Secret Garden’s review for the map and directions to B&L. They are within the same compound.