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Afternoon tea in Singapore: Great restaurants for ladylike lunch

Hankering for a proper spot of afternoon tea? There are plenty of top-notch restaurants offering teatime in town, with sugary desserts, exotically spiced cuppas and more. Check out our favourite hide-outs below…


The Pantry
75 Loewen Road | 6474 0441

Tea times: Until 6pm on weekdays; 4pm on Saturdays
Why we like it: No matter what you’re wearing, you’ll blend in here, whether you’re in workout clothes after a Body Temple session, capris and cotton dresses like the White Lodge mums, or dolled up for your own private tea party, like we were in the fun gallery above. This hideaway spot in Dempsey Hill’s shady Loewen Gardens makes us forget we live in one of the most densely populated cities in the world.
Best bite of the afternoon: The homemade passionfruit lemon curd here is universally loved.
Honourable mentions: If you’ve got a group with no dietary limitations, stack a three-tiered stand with quiche Lorraine, Bakewell tarts and lemon drizzle cake; otherwise, choose the gluten-free orange cake, organic vegan banana bread and dairy-free chocolate banana cake (from $3).
And, of course, the tea: Sip English breakfast, Earl Grey, chamomile, peppermint or honeydew tea for $4.50 a pot.


Trays of treats at 10 Scotts 

10 Scotts
Grand Hyatt Singapore, 10 Scotts Road | 6732 1234

Tea times: Two seatings daily, 12 noon to 2.30pm and 3pm to 5pm.
Why we like it: This den in the back of the Grand Hyatt is like tea at home without all the baking and dish-washing. The “living room” area is decked out with comfy sofas and coffee tables, and you don’t have to rush to the buffet (as at some other places), since a tiered stand with an unlimited supply of goodies like salmon brioche sandwiches, mozzarella crostini, curry puffs and popiah rolls is delivered to your table. That means you only need to get up when the mood for imported cheese and sweet stuff strikes.
Best bite of the afternoon: Hands down, the salted caramel sous vide chocolate cake. It’s baked in a small, clamp-lidded jar and then submerged in a 60-degree hot water bath until just done. The result is an entire dish that is the consistency of the middle part of a molten cake – that perfect part that’s neither liquid batter nor solid cake. Forks won’t help you here; it’s strictly spoon territory.  
Honourable mentions: The raspberry macarons are filled so high that full raspberries stand at attention between the biscuits. Scones are shuttled straight from the oven to your table, and waiters keep a close eye on baskets that need replenishing.  
And, of course, the tea: It’s unlimited, as is all the food ($43 for adults, slightly more on weekends). Though there’s a free-flow Perrier-Jouët champagne option, we were satisfied with three pages of tea options, plus another of coffee, all of which can be served hot or over ice.


Indocafe's delicious bites 

35A Scotts Road | 6733 2656

Tea times: 3pm to 5.30pm (show at 3.30pm)
Why we like it: The gorgeous black-and-white colonial houses it occupies, for one. Number 35 serves lunches and dinners; 35A is reserved for the elegant Peranakan high tea, a genteel introduction to the fusion Straits-Chinese culture that developed centuries ago. At 3.30pm, the half-hour “cultural show” will be lapped up by visiting mums and aunts.
Best bite of the afternoon: Of the four savoury bites, the mini steamed Penang otah with pan-seared Hokkaido scallop; of the sweets, we’d say the mango dessert.
Honourable mentions: Love it or hate it, the strong hint of chilli (garam masala?) in the rich and spicy chocolate cake was certainly memorable. While relatively bland, as Malay desserts can be, the Nyonya kueh kueh (cakes) are good for taking home to the children.
And, of course, the tea: Your basic Peranakan high tea comes with tea or coffee ($34); we chose a blend of organic green mango and peach, and another of bael and lemongrass, which came in individual glass diffuser pots – nice! A more adventurous choice is the kopi luwak set ($64), made from coffee berries that have been eaten and defecated by civet cats. You’ve got to try everything at least once, right?


We'll take ALL the cupcakes, please 

The Marmalade Pantry
55 Fairways Drive | 6467 7748

Tea times: 3pm to 6pm daily
Why we like it: If you’re looking for an afternoon tea in a relaxed, won’t-break-the-bank fashion, this is it. At $20, it’s excellent value for money, and the colonial “country” setting makes it a lovely way to spend the top of the afternoon. Finger sandwiches, scones and little cakes are served on a traditional cake stand, and you also get to pick a large cupcake from a choice of ten. You won’t be leaving here hungry.
Best bite of the afternoon: Of all the cupcakes (and there are many), the Limonata is the best. It looks plain compared to the elaborate designs of the others, but this lemon-glazed offering is tart and extremely lemony, which is how we like our cake.
Honourable mentions: The scones here are bite-size and have orange and cranberry pieces rather than the more typical raisins. Break them open and they’re hot and moist inside – being small, they’re less dry than regular scones. An absolute winner. 
And, of course, the tea: There are 13 Gryphon teas to choose from, like the refreshing Sakura made from cherry blossoms, and the Bombay Chai; we requested hot water refills for both. Note that the use of loose leaves makes the tea stew rather quickly, so you can’t linger over your pot for too long.


Anyone else feel guilty eating too-pretty frosting? 

Little House of Dreams
6 Eu Tong Sen Street, The Central #B1-27D/E | 6222 2972

Tea times: From 11am (or 12 noon on Sundays)
Why we like it: You can have your cake, decorate it, and eat it, too, at this basement bakery that embodies all things pretty, pastel and polka-dotted. Cake-decorating costs between $40 to $60 a person, which includes a baby cake (shown here) that you can decorate and eat on the spot, take home or give away as a gift.
Best bite of the afternoon: They may not be novel, but that hardly matters when you’re serving classic red velvet cupcakes (from $2.20) and cake slices ($6.50) as good as these. 
Honourable mentions: The chocolate salted caramel cake with pretty-in-pink frosting top is simply excellent, and the best-selling layered rainbow cake gets a jolt of sophistication when it’s in shades of the same colour (from $35). Eat-em-with-a-spoon cake jars (from $6) – in flavours like cheeky monkey (chocolate with bananas), strawberry shortcake and Oreo cheesecake – make great birthday gifts.
And, of course, the tea: It’s all by a brand called Amuse Projects, with choices like rose-petal Sri Lankan gunpowder green tea, creamy caramel maple tea and a light, aromatic white Riesling tea.


The Chocolate Corner at L'Espresso 

L’Espresso at Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road | 6730 1743

Tea times: Monday to Thursday, 2pm to 5.30pm; Friday to Sunday, 12 noon to 2.30pm (1st seating), 3pm to 5.30pm (2nd seating)
Why we like it: As much as we love a good ol’ champagne brunch, the price tag, calorie intake and hideous hangover deter us from indulging every weekend. This afternoon tea is the perfect solution – a miniature bubbly affair ($68, or $45 without champagne). With a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne each and an extensive buffet of hot and cold nibbles to enjoy, this is perfect for a lighter catch-up with the ladies.
Best bite of the afternoon: The kurobuta pork in hot pot served with Hungarian sweet paprika brioche is a delight not to be missed. For something sweet, the new Chocolate Corner is packed with brownies, truffles, mousse and a towering chocolate fountain.
Honourable mentions: The shepherd’s pie and freshly baked scones typify homey goodness. Slather on the clotted cream and tangy raspberry compote and you’ll be transported to a quaint little Devonshire café.
And, of course, the tea: Choose from the coffee and TWG Fine Tea selection. For a pick-me-up, a Café Panna espresso with a dollop of whipped cream hits the spot. But if you’re heading for a Sunday afternoon nap, we recommend the Sweet France Tea – a blend of green tea, exotic flowers and chamomile.


A colourful spread at Flutes 

93 Stamford Road #01-02, The National Museum of Singapore | 6338 8770

Tea times: Weekends and public holidays from 3pm to 5pm
Why we like it:  Located on the ground floor of the National Museum of Singapore, Flutes offers a luxurious English afternoon tea that’s so reasonably priced, you won’t have to wait for a special occasion to indulge. Priced at $28, this afternoon tea in an elegant setting includes a generous tier of tasty treats and a pot of gourmet tea; if you’re feeling extra-fancy, add a glass of champagne for $22. 
Best bite of the afternoon: The super-sweet caramel cream puffs are a must-try, and a lovely addition to the traditional scones and cream and other sugary classics like lemon curd tartlets and mini-Victorian sponge cakes.
Honourable mentions: Warm green pea soup shooters add some extra savoury flair to the spread, together with cucumber and smoked chicken finger-sandwiches, spinach quiche and bacon-and-egg pie.
And, of course, the tea: Choose from black teas like Bombay Chai and Duchess Grey, and green teas such as French Vanilla Sencha, as well as oolong, herbal tisane, rooibos and herb selections like Pink Rose Bud and Peppermint. While the delicious Chocolate Truffle Mint is a popular black tea favourite – trust us, it’s not as sweet as it sounds – the sweet Mangosteen and Pear green tea blend is a nice option for those who prefer fruity flavours. You’ll have the chance to get a smell of each before settling on your tea of choice, served in lovely, candy-coloured pots.