[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 刘大人]
The weather in late March was like four seasons in a day, as we made our leisurely drive towards Eco Spring by pristine lakes and streams entered through a majestic bridge, but this did not dampen anyone’s spirit or spoil any fun. As we turned right at the round-about with the Eco World Gallery in sight, we spotted a cluster of quaint buildings under a prominent sign that reads Spring Labs.
向来就对深绿情有独钟，更是藤制家饰与拱形窗户的忠实拥趸，可想而知大人我到了 Tropique 后对其投下了多少爱慕的眼神了，「这藤椅是神来之笔，大人我简直迷恋投在地面上的影子曲线！」楼高两层的 Tropique 格局简约大器，箱型空间让中岛围桌自成一格，气质优雅的哑金灯具井然有序地散发暖光、大型室内植栽的沉稳驻守，好感度倍增。
Conceived as a pop-up lifestyle hub and retail concept park created with refurbished containers for the residents of Eco Spring and the surrounding community, Spring Labs is now home to many young upstart co-working, lifestyle and F&B space, including a green building which stood prominently along Jalan Ekoflora 1 called Tropique Cafe & Restaurant. Decked out with full-length windows, wooden communal counters and bright, elaborate centrepieces, the green-walled and the tropical forest deco already give hints to the theme of this café. When we enter, it feels like we had just stepped into a spring-inspired “greenhouse”, with a couple of floras in the corner, rattan furniture everywhere and even a unique “kitchen island” concept smack right in the middle of each floor.
As we chose to arrive two hours ahead of schedule (which fortunately beats the rain) to soak in the inviting atmosphere, what perfect way for lounging in their couch than to make ourselves welcome by going for their signature liquid?
果茶 Fruit Teas
距离待会儿的晚餐尚有两个小时吧，趁受邀人潮尚未涌入，大人与友人径自先点了果茶 Tropical Vibe 与 Berries Punch 在一隅自娱，「原来就连果茶也不打算随意出场，坚持姿态撩人。」
It seems to us that the folks at Tropique pride themselves with their tropical theme that by combining iced tea with some tropical fruits, the fruit teas are all about the exotic fruit and vegetable game of the tropics that can be enjoyed even on a hot day. Indeed, both the Tropical Vibe and Berries Punch deliver the right punch (no pun intended) as their names suggest!
Tropique 的幕后掌舵人 Edward 自是深明此义，顶着城中数家有口皆碑的餐饮光环：Faculty of Caffeine, The Replacement – Lodge & Kitchen 与 Shakespeare Milkshakes，对于每一个如己出的孩子自是煞费苦心经营，区隔独有 DNA 的同时，人气品质亦不容有失。占地不小的 Tropique 虽然资龄最浅，但却拥有更全面的酒食餐饮选择 (早午餐、下午茶、晚餐)，想必作为大型聚场 (底层室内外可容40人，二楼80人) 亦相当有火花呢！
Oh Hello there. Edward. With great names like Faculty of Caffeine, The Replacement – Lodge & Kitchen and Shakespeare Milkshakes as “family” members, we know for sure that Tropique will deliver. For those of us who are no stranger to the good people at Merk Management Group that brought alive three of our favourite downtown cafes, the latest offspring is a freshly-squeezed venture working with EcoWorld as part of the Spring Labs project. With no shortage of new cafes and restaurants springing up these days, locals (and Singaporeans) are spoilt for choice when it comes to good food and ambience. But rather than same copy and paste concept being repeated over and over again, Edward aspires to bring a more curated experience into the heartlands by offering an exquisite wine-and-dine spot from farm to feast, as well as a versatile and multipurpose event space for every kind of celebration. Serving up a treat for every meal, Tropique’s menu includes brunch, high tea and dinner, fit for every taste palette.
PRE-EVENT Cocktail Reception
As if we need a second invitation, we were immediately attracted by the party vibes downstairs, where ground floor with a seating capacity of 30 pax was instantly turned into a welcome reception that comfortably hosts up to 60 guests both indoors and outdoors. A delectable spread of free-flow canapes, bubbly, beer and wines then served to set the mood for the evening!
High Tea for Two
原以为这仅是鸡尾酒会的摆设之一，其实不然，原来笼中装载着 Tropique 的双人英式下午茶 High Tea for Two (附热茶、果茶或咖啡为饮料选择)，甜咸巧搭的9种精致点心：Maki Rolls, Chicken Sandwich, Brûléed Deviled Eggs, Mini Crab Cake, Crème Brûlée Tart, Macarons, Seasonal French Pastry, Chocolate Profiteroles, Butter Scotch Pop Corn，未尝先让人一见倾心。「这微烤焦糖的小蛋挞击中了大人的心房，委实难以抗拒啊！」
For the tea aficionados or stylish and uber chic, afternoon tea at Tropique will be right up your street to indulge in this most glorious of afternoon rituals. Expect the traditional classics such as macarons, creme brulee tarts, chocolate profiteroles and butterscotch popcorn from the choice of sweets, while the savoury options tend to channel a more fusion vibe with the bruleed deviled eggs, maki rolls with special housemade toppings, open-faced chicken sandwich and mini crab cake with housemade tartar sauce. Choose to sip away with your favourite hot tea (classic breakfast, Moroccan mint, earl grey lavender, peach green or raspberry tea), fruit tea or coffee. The triple-tiered bird-cage display also makes for an impressive arrival at the table.
If you’re looking for something that’s a little different to the usual hotel style afternoon tea’s, Tropique is really worth a visit even though this is on the pricier end of the scale.
还未正式享用晚餐的大人我看来已被 Tropique 的建筑神情、光影氛围与慷慨酒食给臣服了！请继续用美食让我无法自拔吧！
Tropique is definitely our idea of an ideal venue for another great afternoon, but don’t let the fun stop there. Why not hang around for dinner upstairs or some cocktail at the bar as day turns into night?
Ceasar Salad, Chicken Wings Penang Style & Tomato Soup
以法式烹调法搭配本邦滋味的 Tropique 今夜祭出了四道让大人回味无穷的前菜 (Starters)：凯撒沙拉Caesar Salad，槟岛风味鸡翼 Chicken Wings Penang Style，番茄浓汤 Tomato Soup 与牛骨髓 Beef Marrow。「大人发现这儿的鸡肉们都好锁汁！与之前鸡尾酒的鸡翼形态各异却各有诱人滋味，而微烤焦糖蛋还真是锦上添花的一笔，加上一碗温暖微甜的番茄浓汤，第一轮的前菜毫无难度掳获了同桌的心 💗。」
A welcoming mix of sweet, savoury and sour from the baby romaine, fried chicken and homemade caesar sauce, together with crunchy flavour bombs from the muesli croutons and ikan bilis, and in particular the brûlée egg with its charred caramelised top making this appetiser more than just an ordinary Caesar Salad. Thank goodness, despite the deep-frying, the Chicken Wings Penang Style are not that oily because the meat is not battered up before frying but rather marinated and served with healthy yoghurt sauce, hence we can forget about that sickening sensation after ingesting too much oily batter; while the homemade Tomato Soup tastes equally satisfying with the accompanying cheese toast.
满意度全写在大伙儿脸上的一道传统法国前菜，牛骨髓 Beef Marrow。微咸且丰润浓郁的牛骨髓与优酪乳、鹰嘴豆泥、奇米秋里酱均抹在烤得香脆的果仁全麦面包上，「好邪恶的美味啊！大人平日并非骨髓爱好者，但 Tropique 的牛骨髓却让我有回味的念头 😋。」
To incorporate more relatable yet classic-french items, the Beef Marrow, which reminds us of the local soup gearbox was contained and served straight from the large piece of bone. Slow roasted to perfection, the bone was accompanied with hummus, chimichurri, yoghurt sauce and a slice of muesli bread which simply oozes French simplicity. Using our hands to tear off a hunk of muesli bread, we spread a dollop of hummus and top it with a spoonful of beef marrow before we slowly savour it. The marrow may be of a mushy but light texture, but somehow gives a mellow, ripened umami feel to the palate along with the gelatinous texture that surprisingly didn’t put us off! Nice…
全天候主食 ALL DAY MAINS
Miso Salmon & Barramundi
钟意 Tropique 选用的食器，有种把主食衬托出圆满的不苍白心思，有容量却又不深沉，恰如其分装载手感滋味。两道鱼料理以滋味各异的汤汁陪衬，香煎至五分熟的北欧三文鱼，与以鱼上汤匀和日本味噌的组合 Miso Salmon 饶有新意；而香煎鲈鱼 Barramundi、芥兰、时蔬与菌菇则沐浴在香菜蒜丝绒汤汁中，「喜欢如此湿润度十足的搭配。」
The Miso Salmon is a take on the idea of fusion, where fresh Nordic Salmon is medium cooked until giving a wonderfully pink centre and flavourful crispy skin. And to top it off, the dish is served with crushed potatoes, crispy pak choy, fried capers bathed in a special broth made from salmon stock and Japanese miso paste.
On the other hand, the pan-seared Barramundi is reasonably thick cut, and the skin was delightfully crispy. We especially loved how the meat was moist and flaky, which has slightly sweet hints that match the exciting flavours, brought out by the symphony of charred kailan and seasonal vegetables served with flavourful garlic and parsley broth.
全天候主食 ALL DAY MAINS
Cassoulet & Shepherd’s Pie Deconstructed
另一道主人家曾於墨尔本的法国餐厅一尝钟情的经典法国慢炖锅菜 Cassoulet 也於这一回的餐桌上惊喜现身，盘中那早已经6小时处理的油封鸡腿 (亦可选择鸭腿)、鸡肉香肠、炸薯饼、炖豆等早已吸收了各家精华，慢工出细活的滋味骗不了人，「我真没想到里头毫不起眼的炖豆竟是今夜最让我留恋的出色滋味啊！」
而将传统英国国民料理牧羊人派拆解而成的 Shepherd’s Pie Deconstructed 则少了一贯烤派皮的厚重口感，炖羊腿佐上薯泥、烤时蔬及以欧芹、柠檬皮与蒜头混搭而成的调味 Gremolata，「羊肉汤汁咸香诱人，滋味在嘴里浓郁地久久不化。」
Drawing inspiration from his time back in a Melbourne-French cafe, the Cassoulet is yet another classic French bean stew served with chicken confit (also available with duck confit) that’s cooked for over 6 hours to create the fall off the bone texture, We really liked how the skin was seared after the confit giving rise to a crisp skin in contrast with the soft meat, and the sauce was sweet and savoury, a nice contrast to the rest of the dish which also comes with chicken sausages, hash brown and muesli toast.
However, the next dish is something we were kind of thrown off by, considering we’ve never seen a Shepherd’s Pie Deconstructed. Even though this one was starkly different from its usual classic presentation, the slow-braised lamb shank with rich lamb jus drizzled over it was tender and combined well with the bed of buttery mashed potatoes, gremolata, honey charred veggies that definitely contributed to our already-satiated belly. But with such exceptional flavours, it was hard to say “no more”.
全天候主食 ALL DAY MAINS
Tortelinni & Duck Confit Carbonara
这道 Tortelinni (左上) 正是 Edward 口中向小笼包致敬的意式面饺，滋味清新的鸡肉上汤汁与自制裹着肉酱与芝士的面饺，妆点地春意盎然，极具中西混搭巧思。
而以油封鸭丝与鹌鹑蛋面世的 Duck Confit Carbonara 一上桌即抢走了众人的目光！随着蛋液缓缓流出伴随着同桌的尖叫声，大人不禁对其滋味期待万分啊！「对鸭香情有独钟的看官们想必无法抵抗这面食啊！」
Pretty much like French “wanton”, the Tortelinni offers yet another adaptation to this familiar classic dim sum dish served with pea shoot, parmesan chips, radish, where their house-made pasta are stuffed with meat and cheese as well as rich chicken broth and wrapped beautifully. We simply popped the whole tortellini in my mouth, then realised I should’ve savoured it because one wasn’t enough….
While we are also a fan of Carbonara pasta ourselves, but we must admit the creamy and rich classic linguine with a touch of shredded duck confit and duck fats, garnish with sun-dried tomatoes and a raw quail’s egg proved to be too much for us to savour.
Madam Lim’s Brownie & Crème Brûlée Tarts
母亲4年前於首家店里所推出的独家食谱成就了这份让儿子引以为傲并以其为名的甜点，Madam Lim’s Brownie 正是出自 Edward 母亲之手，烤得极脆的豆仁与黑巧克力布朗尼在嘴里相互生香，「如此细腻的浓厚滋味，我可不愿意为那一分热量而继续执着呢 😋！」而 Crème Brûlée Tarts 即是早前出现在双人下午茶中的那一味，「老实说，我好后悔为什么当下不多吃几颗啊 😭？」
Finally, we got to have a glimpse and taste of the legendary Madam Lim’s Brownie, which was actually made by Edward’s mum when he opened his very first cafe, Faculty of Caffeine 4 years back. As a fitting tribute, the guys at Tropique have named it after her. While we won’t find any oozy chocolate lava inside, each bite of the cake is filled with the flavour of quality dark chocolate. Better still, it comes drenched in a pool of popcorn, housemade granola and vanilla ice cream!
There is nothing more satisfying than cracking through the sugar atop a crème brûlée, and the caramelisation on this dessert was just enough to create that pleasing shatter. Beneath the golden crust was a delicious caramel egg custard. With just the right amount of sweetness and finished off with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and yuzu cream, these Crème Brûlée Tarts are another hit on the dessert front.
Cheers! 生命里最美好的时光，总与佳肴美酒好友同一阵线，正所谓春风十里也不及今夜的相聚，谢谢 Tropique 🎉 对尝鲜的执着不变，在这装满了一夏的绿意盎然里，我们就如此耽溺了一夜的优雅食光。
So there you have it, the team at Tropique loves their food and drinks, that’s why they will only serve what they deem as their best. So come on down and spend a cosy afternoon here. Plus, we can also have multiple-course dinner with wine-pairing from their growing menu, so that’s really an evening sorted as well. Cheers!
Tropique Café & Restaurant
Address: Lot D, Jalan Ekoflora 1, Taman Ekoflora, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor
Time: 10pm-6pm (Mon; Wed-Thu); 10am-10pm (Fri-Sun); CLOSED on Tuesdays
Contact: +6012-547 7886
NO PORK, NO LARD
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