Today I was at “Laurence & Chicco”. I have been once before, but it was before they launched their savoury bites as part of their full high tea service. So I figured it was a good time to return and get a more fulsome review of their food and what’s it like dining with them.
The cafe is known for its colourful and outlandish decor. A setting with flare, befitting of owners with a rich background in fashion. High back chairs with over hung canopies were the centre piece. They were crafted to look like monsters with scaly arm rests and glass eyes on tentacled legs. Though they didn’t stand out all too much in their neon swamp-like dining area. With glass table tops sitting on cactus stumps, and pom pom stools that look like they could grow legs, rise up, and skitter away. A couple even match the monster throne in colour and yarn texture, with pearled detailing and spiralled legs. Others were outfitted with pleats and ruffles like that off a dress. All the above sits over their lovely mosaic tiled floor, a swirl of shimmers and blues in a gradient pattern; under a mural of human sized flora and fauna with monster like speckles and pastel colours, to finish off the scene. All the details and craftsmanship pulls you into their wonderland. Truthfully I came just for this elaborate scene and I have no regrets.
Recently they have also started showcasing “Laurence and Chico’s” line of eccentric fashion. Fur lined winter coats with wide eyed goldfish embroidered on the back, jeans with rips and tears crocheted with strings of plastic pearls, and purses made from round puffs topped with plastic animals. Nothing is priced, for those interested in shopping the entire collection, you can leave your name and contact information for them to reach out and set up an appointment.
Don’t forget to visit the washroom. Whether you need to go or not, it is certainly worth a trip to the one person stall. One is themed with all to wall mirrors reflecting your reflection in black and blue light. The other, a rubber ducky overload with the yellow bird with orange beak plastered on every wall, ceiling, and floor.
There is so much more I can go into detail on, regarding their decor; but I will save my words, and instead direct you to some of the photos I have taken.
The music is inquisitive a series of chimes and horns like it’s asking you questions through its melody. The cool chill of the air conditioning and the gentle vocals of opera playing set the stage for a great cafe stop, a place to take your time and enjoy some sweet treats and/or a warm beverage.
You pick and pay at the counter and if you are dining in, it gets plated and brought out to your chosen table. Though I suggest all of it to be served as take out, given how whimsical their cake box and paper cup packaging is.
Green monstrous features against a baby pink backdrop. I couldn’t help but salvage everything to take home with me as souvenirs of our time spent here.
During my first visit we tried a handful of small desserts, picking what we wanted from out of the glass showcase. It was a hard decision with all the cake pops, cream puffs, and ice cream macarons to consider. But eventually I just let my eyes doing the choosing.
Strawberry white chocolate choux. It was chewy dough and sweet cream, and you could tell it wasn’t made fresh.
The mango and raspberry cheesecake was standard. Another tangy and salty combination. But at least the presentation was on point.
I really like how the Black Forest mousse tart looked, it almost mimicked the monster theme; and in taste too given how strong it all was. Overwhelming bitter chocolate with the tart cherry made your lips pucker, with the cheesy tang lingering long after you swallowed.
During today’s visit we tried more cakes as well as their tea set.
This is their travel ready tea set, served in a caddy that comes with straps that you can wear over your shoulder like a handbag. Its pink rectangular box is a stylish accessory for sure. Two savoury and two sweet bites with a small cup of tea. For $29, you are more or less paying for the travel caddy. Each snack was secured in place with a pearl topped skewer. Chicken liver onigiri, smoked tuna wrap, brown butter caramel mochi, and a chocolate cream puff.
I was most excited about the pink rice ball, only to be disappointed by the rice. When I asked, the clerk confirmed that everything was made in house, but sadly it didn’t taste like it was made today. In fact the hard, dry rice mound was still cold. The paste in it would have been enjoyable if warm and served on a crisp cracker, as it was tasty. My guest likened it to eating day old sushi you kept in the fridge overnight.
The smoked salmon wrap faired better cold. The filling had a potato salad feel to it with cream, celery, and pickles. Although I didn’t really taste the salmon.
The cream puff was hard and hollow. The dough was ashy and not enjoyable to chew through and the cream lacking, there was barely any left to moisten the pastry; let alone enjoy. And it didn’t taste like chocolate. My guest said it was worse than frozen cream puffs from the grocery store. It was at least the prettiest cream puff I have ever seen.
The yellow cake gave us more dry and old dough that crumbled under your utensil, whereas you wanted the pastry to be light and fluffy. A spongy base to balance the density of the caramelized compote. I think it might have been burnt too as I got a bitter, acrid taste; and thought there must have been an acidic fruit somewhere in the mix. Dry and disappointing, but sadly one of the better out of the four. I just really didn’t enjoy having to eat this, as to not let our $29 go to waste.
But luckily we got the box and tried it before any more of their new savoury options. Each, boxed up in plexi, sitting on top of the display counter. The prices are a little steep, the portions small, and if the quality is the same as our box above, definitely not worth trying.
Therefore, I would suggest forgoing $4 scones the size of a baby’s fist, and the $4.25 sliders, finger sandwiches, and mini croissant. Instead, direct your attention to their collection of mini cakes. Not only are they spectacularly constructed, but a lot better tasting then what I just described above. Or maybe just because the bar was set so low prior.
The “Royal Autumn’s Nest” was the last in the showcase and just looking at it, I knew I wanted it. A non bake cheesecake with almond streusel and raspberry sauce. It was a delicious light cheese whip, best enjoyed with the crunchy crumbs and crispy noodles.
“Laurence’s Kiss” was another I had to order just for its look alone. Coffee flavoured chocolate brownie with raisins and walnuts, coated in a purple meringue with gold leaf. It looks like a giant kiss. It easily falls under your fork. Its texture was like what you’d want from a chunky fruit and nut bar. It wasn’t too sweet, the chocolate was more or on the bitter side. So if you wanted, you could easily smear off the purple.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Overall their coffees and teas are what they do best, so I can easily recommend them as a coffee shop. A funky place to sit and enjoy a cup with a friend, and a selfie photographer’s paradise with plenty of photo ops. Snap a pic while sitting on a thrones, or have a friend capture you trying on designer gloves. Even going to the washroom is a fun affair here. Although, I would suggest avoiding the food, unless you want a cake or the boxes their take out comes in. They do make great gift boxes to be repurposed. Don’t deny your cravings.
LAURENCE & CHICO
833 Bute Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 3Y4