First peek into Seven Oaks

When Alicia asked me to lunch, she said I should pick the place but it turns out that she chose Seven Oaks because she’s heard so much about it.

Seven Oaks retail level for breads and pastries
I’ve not dined in this café before so I readily agreed to her suggestion. 

I’m familiar with the site where Seven Oaks Bakery Café is situated and I watched as the building took shape.  When its doors were opened, there was a great deal of hype, particularly for their famous molten salted-egg croissants.  While, I’m a great fan of salted-egg flavoured food, I did not join the mad queues for a taste of the much-touted croissants.

One of the considerations about dining in Taman Pelangi is the challenge of finding a proper parking space so as we are driving there, we send up an arrow prayer for a parking spot within a reasonable distance from Seven Oaks.  And lo and behold – when we turn into Jalan Serampang, an empty lot is waiting for us!

Dining hall on upper level
A security guard, who also doubles up as the doorman, politely opens the door for us. 

The ground level is the retail section for bread and pastries while the café is on the upper floor.  It’s just one flight of stairs up but there is also an elevator for guests to ride up and down more conveniently.  Later I notice that there is yet another flight of stairs up to the next level of dining area, so it makes sense to have an elevator for guests with young families and senior citizens.

Fsrom the façade’s ornate design, I expected the decor in the café to be equally opulent and I was not wrong.  Salon brocade chairs, upholstered chairs, crystal chandeliers, heavy curtains, wallpaper with brocade designs, wrought iron balustrades and a vintage scallop-edged lampshade with tassels, simply reek of the Regency era.  I thought I had walked into the pages of Pride and Prejudice and half-wished to meet with my Mr Darcy here!

Elevator service!
The tableware and cutlery are well laid but an electronic call button on the table seemed rather incongruous to the lavish setting.  I guess this call button is necessary, especially for guests at tables that are situated behind the staircase and elevator shaft, who needed to call for service.  So from time to time, I can hear that “ding-dong” chime over the piped-in music.

The wait staff seem to be well-trained to a point.  She leaves the menus with us with an assurance that she will be back to take our orders. 

I’m quite excited to see Lobster Bisque and Clam Chowder in the menu but before I place our soup orders, I ask the waitress if they are made from fresh ingredients or if it was from a can.  She replies, without hesitation that it was all own-made.  Alicia then picked the bisque while I chose the chowder.

Besides the main menu, there is a separate page for lunch promotions.  We take our time to look through the choices before making a decision on our main course items.  When we are giving our orders to the waitress, only then are we told that the particular item picked from the lunch promo menu, is not available.

Crystal chandeliers and wrought
iron balustrades
I can’t help feeling rather miffed because the waitress should have mentioned ahead that all items in the promo menu are available except this or that item.  Then we need not waste time considering those choices which are already no longer available!
So a few more minutes are spent in making an alternative main course choice.  After our meal order was taken by one waitress, another came to our table with the order print-out to request us to confirm if the order was accurate.  Order-takers are wearing hands-free speakers and some sort of a radio transmitter in their pockets that emitted scratchy sounds – which I can hear when they are nearby.

The waitress also gave each one of us, separate print-outs with our free WIFI user names and passwords that are valid for four hours’ use.  This reminds me of my experience at a coffee place in New Zealand that offered limited usage of their free WIFI with the password printed on the bills. 

Vintage scallop-edged lampshade
with tassels!
But here, each diner receives individual print-outs with passwords!  I guess the culture of photo-taking and instant posting in social media, is much encouraged.

Our soup is served in elegant bowls and even before we finished, our main course items arrive at the table.  I tell the waitress to set it down while we finish our soups.  I thought that with the number of wait staff equipped with radio transmitters, they could have been more attentive to keep an eye on guests who have finished their soups before sending the freshly prepared main courses to the table.  They were, however, attentive to remove empty dishes from the table while we continue with our meal.

Alicia said that she didn’t want any coffee after the meal because lately, she was not sleeping as soundly as she wished.  This gives me an opportunity to use the call button to summon the waitress and she comes soon after the “ding-dong” chime sounded.

“Do you serve decaf coffee?” I ask her, in the hope of getting a decaffeinated coffee for Alicia.  But the waitress responds with a puzzled look and I safely conclude that they don’t have any because she didn’t even understand what I wanted. 

Ornate framed mirror with matching
ornate table for the sink in the restroom
After a moment’s hesitation, she tells me that she will check.  When she comes back with a negative reply, she repeated my coffee order – less one for Alicia.

As in any café or restaurant, I must have a peep into the restroom.  When I see the dual sign on a single door, Ally McBeal comes to mind.  As I enter, I’m forewarned that I may meet a male user in the restroom…

While the individual toilet cubicles are designed with modern fixtures and opaque glass doors, the centerpiece in the restroom must be the ornate framed mirror above the sink, complete with a brass decorative faucet, set on an equally ornate table!

On my way back to our table, I pass a cake counter with rows of beautifully decorated pastries and pause for a closer look.  Assistant Manager, Pancho Galvez, welcomes my interest in their cakes and pointed out that their best-seller is the D’or, a rich chocolate confection with a hint of cherries. 

D'or, a rich chocolate confection with a hint of cherries
I simply have no room left to savour their cakes so I agree with Alicia that we should probably keep the cakes for another visit to Seven Oaks for afternoon tea.

When we paid the bill, the waitress gives us a feedback form to complete.  I ask in jest if I may be brutally frank and she replies, "Yes!" with a smile.  I ask Alicia for her comments as I complete the form and return it to the waitress.  Its good to know that this cafe is serious about providing quality standards in food and service and I hope they will take the feedback constructively, to make all the necessary improvements.

Seven Oaks - There's always room for cake!
It is a little after 2.30pm when we come downstairs to the retail level to look at the bread and pastries.  We are inevitably seeking out their popular molten salted-egg croissants but in vain.  One of the helpful sales assistants must be listening in to our chat because she supplied us with the answer to our futile search.

We are so naïve!  Apparently, fans of the molten salted-egg croissants are aware that the daily batch should be ready for sale at 2pm and they will join the queue to buy, from about 1.45pm.  When they start to sell the croissants at 2pm, she said they would be sold out in about 20 minutes!

Ah!  No wonder there is not a trace of the elusive molten salted-egg croissants then!  So this is yet another reason to visit Seven Oaks again – timed to join the queue at 1.45pm – to ensure that we can buy a croissant or two when they go on sale at 2pm!

Seven Oaks Bakery Cafe is at No. 134, 134-A & 134-B, Jalan Serampang, Taman Pelangi. Johor Baru.  Tel: 607 - 338 3377.  Website:

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