Fancy schmoozing with your friends over some cakes and pastries at a place with elegant decor? Zest Cafe at The Empire Hotel & Country Club might just be the place for you if you’re looking for a place with great atmosphere and decent pastries.

My first experience with the pastries from Zest Cafe came in the form of scones served at a reception in the hotel. The scones were perfectly soft and creamy, way better than the ones I had in boarding school in Britain. Unfortunately, the cafe was out of scones after the reception was over so I had their pain au chocolat instead. I really liked the chocolate croissant and it made me pretty eager to go back to this cafe to sample the other items in their menu. I also thought that the pastries are reasonably priced for hotel food; the croissant is about BND 2 and many of their delectable slices of cakes are between BND 4 – 5.

On my second trip to Zest Cafe, I was tempted by the wide selection of drinks offered in the cafe. They ranged from mocktails to smoothies to lattes. However, the prices for the beverages are not as attractive as the menu, which did not surprise me too much considering that the cafe is in a very fancy hotel. After much deliberation, I went ahead with the virgin strawberry mojito (which was mintless by the way, because they ran out of mint leafs).

Can’t say that I was too impressed by this saccharine drink that was pretty much artificial strawberry flavouring, soda and ice. Man, I expected more from a drink worth BND 6. My sister definitely got a much better deal with her Cinnamon Latte. I did not have a sip of hers because I have a slight aversion to cinnamon but I could tell from the aroma wafting across the coffee table that it was one decent latte.

My pastry of choice was the apple chausson, also known as an apple turnover by fellow Americans. I just learn ten minutes ago that chausson means “slipper” in some language that I can assume to be French. I am learning something new every day!

This tasted a lot like apple pie and I really liked it. While I regretted the choice I made for my beverage, I am officially a fan of the pastries at Zest Cafe and am looking forward to trying their other pastries such as their jaffa ganache cupcake and different flavoured macarons. And although this is unrelated, I would like to add that the sunset at the beach by the hotel is magnificent and added to my high tea experience. I have definitely taken for granted the many different types of clouds, from the fluffy to the wispy, that adorn the Bruneian skies that are devoid in California.

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