Afternoon Tea: Axis Bar & Lounge @ Mandarin Oriental

This was not in my list of to-go but while I was searching for an afternoon tea that starts serving during lunch time, I found this place.

The afternoon tea was a treat from me and friend A to celebrate the birthday of friend B, whom I have known for gasp…more than 20 years!!

I have a fixation with lightings …whenever I look at the interior decor of a cafe, restaurant or hotel, the lightings draw my attention first. Sadly, after looking intently at ALL that lighting stuff, it didn’t make me a brighter person. 

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

I was greeted warmly at the entrance by a gentleman, who showed me to my table, telling me I will see a nice rainy view of Singapore (it was drizzling then).
He showed me the tea menu and told me it will be “one of life’s most difficult decisions” (to pick a tea from there). Such wry sense of humour! I felt bright and happy already as I waited for my friends to arrive.

Starter: Lemongrass barley jello

With a silver foil

Quite a novelty.

My tea, Eternal Summer (rose, raw berries and peach).

My two friends each chose Mandarin Oriental Exclusive Blend (Green tea with a mix of citrus) and Grand Jasmine (Green tea with jasmine blossoms).

Beautiful aroma of Jasmine but unfortunately, it was too bitter by the time I tried it because it was oversteeped. This is a common problem with such afternoon tea if you choose green tea. By mid way through the long tea session, the tea becomes bitter which is the reason why I seldom choose green tea.

No pictures of friend A’s Mandarin Oriental Exclusive because her pot of tea has no label and I dismissed it as ugly. Hahaha. It’s pardonable to be evil to a friend of more than 20 years, methinks!

As usual at each tea session, we bicker over whoose tea is the best, insisting our choice is the wisest. I guess some things will not change no matter how old we are…or how long we have known each other.

It felt warm and fuzzy as we sipped our tea, occasionally looking out at the dreamy rainy view, jabbed at each other, giggled like (old) school girls and rattled on about our life in between mouthful of food. I hope our friendship will grow on strong for another 20 more years and beyond and we’ll spend leisure times like these frequently.

Food was served in batches. From front to back:
Sardine spiced sandwich: I may be bias because I don’t quite like sardines done like that.
Laksa salmon corn wrap: Weird combination and very dry texture.
Both the mini roti john and french toast with durian and butter were however pretty nice.

Poached Hainanese chicken roulade with chilli and ginger: The taste was quite ok although texture was a wee bit dry. Still, I give my stamp of approval as a true blue Hainanese. *Chopped Pass*

Rojak: Pretty refreshing!!

Carrot cake with scallions: Average tasting to me.

Durian scones and Tahitian vanilla scones : delicately flavoured and very pleasing. I really liked these! Friend B however didn’t quite like these as she felt the taste was too mild.

Chilli crab puff:  Oh..Lovely.
Beef rendang pot pie: Taste was good but the beef was tough. The pastry was not flaky enough and couldn’t tear easily. It’s hard to have a bite of the pastry and meat together. You have to eat a whole sheet of pastry first before you could eat the meat.

A tier of sweets (not named in order to the picture): Gula Melaka durian souffle roll, durian slice, durian pate a choux, muscovado crunchy, durian creme brulee, coconut dacquoise strawberry jellified compote, D24 durian tea cake.
Phew…that was ALOT of food items.

The menu changes every month and for the month of August, it was a THORNY affair. Durian is the widely featured ingredient for the menu to mark the nation’s birthday!!

I have a little apology to make. I should have posted this review way earlier so that if you are a fan of the King of Fruits, you could have booked an afternoon tea in August and be “durian-fied” like me! But alas, I have been preoccupied with my day job that funds all my cafe hopping activities. Oh wait, how about I have a day job that allows me to contribute to the society and makes me a better and useful person? Hmm, sounds too lofty and pretentious. Fine, let’s just stick to the mercenary reason of funding my cafe hopping activities and credit card bills..

SG50! So patriotic. SG50 is to commemorate Singapore’s 50th Birthday!

I’m not gonna comment on the taste of the individual items for the 3 tiers but most of it were pleasant.

Food mix was good with an equal distribution of sweet and savoury items.
Friend A felt that the variety at Anti:dote in fairmont hotel was wider (I have reviewed this earlier on) but I prefer this.
I like that for the savoury items, they made an effort not to serve boring finger sandwiches. To me, finger sandwiches seem like a feeble attempt to make up the food items in an afternoon tea, almost as if they have no time to brainstorm for new ideas. The usual smoked salmon, egg mayo, ham and cheese with cucumber finger sandwiches are so passe. If one has to serve such finger sandwiches, at least make sure they don’t taste like ready made sandwiches at convenience store.
As with all afternoon tea, you can’t have everything tasting fantastic. There were hits and misses. But I think overall, the food was good.

I was also happy with the impeccable service. I like that we periodically had someone popping over to check if we need to top up water for our pot of tea and yet they didn’t hover around us, intruding our space.

It was also good thinking that the food items were served in batches and each time, they serve, they’d give a brief introduction on the items. When I couldn’t remember or catch what they say, I could refer to the menu to check.  I find that this is better than to serve everything at one go and then have someone rattle off the list of food items which I can’t remember at all. Also, I note that some hotels don’t even list the food items in the afternoon tea.

When I made a reservation for the afternoon tea, they took the initiative to ask if it was for any special occasion. I mentioned it was for a birthday celebration and on that day, they remembered to send a little cake to our table towards the end.  When we requested to have the small piece of birthday cake being packed away (obviously..after all that food, how could we finish the cake?), the lady told us that she gave us a new piece of cake because the previous one had a small hole (from the birthday candle) and didn’t look presentable anymore. Wow…I’m impressed with the small gesture. How thoughtful!

Axis bar is on the 4th storey so do not expect to see a skyline of buildings. Nevertheless, I find the window view good enough.
I do like this place and wouldn’t mind coming over again. Afterall, they seem to change their menu every month. So never mind about missing out on the durian food items, there could be something equally good the next month..or the next..or the next?


Axis Bar & Lounge 

5 Raffles Ave, Mandarin Oriental, Singapore 039797

+65 6885 3500

Nearest MRT: Promenade


Tea session (S$42 per person, S$80 for two. Prices before taxes).

3 – 5pm (Mon – Sun)

12:30 – 2:30pm (Sat-Sun & Public Holiday)

*Do check their menu on the website before booking.

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