The long, glass-topped display in the centre of the room makes you instinctively stop and stare. Like sirens on a rock, each one calls out to you; will it be the red velvet cheesecake or the dainty lemon tarts?
You could look at dessert all through your meal or push past temptation and take the narrow staircase at the back of the room to more seating upstairs. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can barely see the chefs working behind the frosted display kitchen in one section of the room. It’s the perfect setting for discreet assignations, or even a business meeting.
Poetry, positioned as a dessert bar and all-day café, is Love and Cheesecake’s attempt at a new direction of business. The confectionery brand, which already has two popular patisseries in the suburbs, is looking to add a little spice to the mix.
The menu is not unlike most other city cafés. It’s a mix of popular cold-pressed juices, smoothies and flavoured iced teas; salads with exotic greens; fashionable small plates and sandwiches; the indispensable pancakes, waffles and eggs.
But Poetry rides the wave, stamping its own identity on the food. Our silky gazpacho was missing an acidic bite, but we quite liked the sweetness of the tomatillo and the saltiness of the feta cheese.
Their vegetarian interpretation of the Caesar salad, crisp, crunchy and bursting with freshness, was pleasantly surprising. Long leaves of lettuce and toasted slices of overlapping baguette were topped with a tart Caesar’s dressing and grated parmesan. Piled on the side were triangles of mixed peppers and cucumbers, halved cherry tomatoes and sliced black olives, all tossed in the same dressing.
For the mains, we went with sandwiches. The hearty but elegant croque madame, crowned with a fried egg and oozing with a cheesy béchamel sauce, was perfect comfort food: uncomplicated and easy on the palate. The unappetisingly named but trendy BLAT — a classic BLT with avocado — tasted much better than it sounded. They could have been a tad more generous with the lettuce, but this was as perfect a rendition of the salty, sharp, crunchy BLT as any.
Strangely, apart from the moist but delightfully light caramel cheesecake, the desserts that were the most disappointing. The layered chocolate sin was chaste — a characterless mass of chocolate. Their signature red velvet cheesecake, with mascarpone and red sponge, had the appeal of a shiny, pretty bauble. We left both half-eaten.
Though Poetry will continue to attract customers for their desserts, it’s their savoury food, and the diligent service that truly shines.
(HT pays for all meals and reviews anonymously)