One of our recent discoveries is a little French café right in the heart of bustling Georgetown, Penang. Heritage house? Check. Homey, unpretentious décor? Check. Excellent desserts that blow your socks off? Ohhhh yes. What’s not to love?
La Boheme is a quiet French café at Sri Bahari Road (opposite Feng Wei restaurant) and so discreet that you might not even notice it if not for the small wooden sign “42 La Boheme” hanging from the front gate.
When you first go in, you might actually take a few steps back wondering if you’ve accidentally entered into someone’s house as there aren’t many tables set up inside, maybe just 4 or 5 on the sides and they’re such an eclectic mix, it looks very cosy and unassuming. There’re a spread of magazines and newspapers provided which makes it a nice place to pleasantly while away long, hot afternoons. As with most heritage housing cafes, don’t expect air conditioning but the inside of the café is airy. The original floor tiles are untouched and are still the attractive green geometric pattern that can only be found in heritage cafes.
You get a good choice of teas in the drinks menu – we were surprised to see even Chinese teas like Ti KuanYing on the list. There’s also coffee, chocolate, apple or orange juices (which were listed on the chalkboard), bottled water and also if you ask nicely, you get good old sky juice too. Mains are chalked out on the board but as we just had lunch, we skipped it. Some of the mains spotted were quiches, ham croissants and chicken salad. We were there strictly on a mission: desserts only! The croissants and desserts are all made by themselves. Croissants are kept on the counter and desserts in a mini fridge.
We showed restraint by limiting our choice of desserts to just 4 though it was really tempting to point and pick all of the yummy-licious options in the fridge.
The chocolate croissant was a bit of a let down as we had really high hopes for croissants in a French patisserie. It was buttery and flaky but unfortunately, tasted a little stale. The chocolate filling however was quite good and reminded me of Nutella.
This was definitely a winner! I didn’t manage to get the name but it’s a lovely caramel custard that had us fighting for more. Unlike most caramel based desserts, this wasn’t overly sweet but had the right balance between that caramel smokiness and delicate sweetness.
We adore a good creme brulee so we had to try this one out and it didn’t disappoint us. It was slightly too charred on top but the custard base was creamy, smooth and utterly delectable. I’d rank this as 1 of the best crème brulees in Penang, on par with that of Ecco Café.
Ok, when I pointed at the fancy doughnut-like dessert in the fridge and asked the friendly wait staff what it was, I was confused when I was told it’s a Paris Brest (get your mind out of the gutter, people, LOL). It’s a delicious choux pastry filled with praline cream and created to commemorate the Paris – Brest – Paris bicycle race.
The verdict? La Boheme gets a huge thumbs up from us and also baby Hayden - check out his puffy baby cheeks munching on the croissant. Prices are reasonable for the authentic French pastries and we’re huge fans of how pre war houses are being maintained.
(Hayden enjoying the afternoon tea with us…)
La Boheme 42, Jalan Sri Bahari, 10500 Penang. Tel 017 9762153 Tues – Sun: 10:00 - 19:00