Whenever I go shopping with my girlfriends, you can be sure we will work in a pit-stop to rest our weary feet and refuel with a coffee and cake somewhere along the line… in fact, it’s probably as important a part of the trip as the shopping itself! So The Library Café, a cute little coffee shop inside the recently renovated Canton Road Lane Crawford, is pretty perfectly placed for such excursions!
The space itself is rather gorgeous. Long marble tables, quirky exposed light bulb fittings, large decorative bell-domed cake stands, shelves of scrumptious goodies you can take home afterwards and a prime view of Lane Crawford’s shoe section make it a whole lot more unique than your average Starbucks or PCC. But what matters is the food itself… and finally, The Library Café has nailed that too.
This is totally down to Yardbird’s fabulous Lindsay Jang and Chef May Chow, who were brought on as consultants to revamp both the concept and the menu with their consulting company Naked Tables. When it first opened, The Library Café had a bit of a mish-mash of a menu – cakes and pastries from Mrs B and Petite Amanda, soups from Yardbird, and heaven knows what else. It was also, quite oddly for a café, table service – meaning they came to take your order, you had to ask for a bill AND you had to pay 10% service charge for the privilege. Thankfully, all that has been dispensed with. Lindsay and May have streamlined the menu, with the majority of dishes now created in-house and exclusive to The Library Café, and it is very sensibly counter-service too.
We were invited to check out the final stage of the revamp – the new sweet sections – and we were not disappointed! My absolute favourite of these was a chocolate caramel tart with sea salt. Decadently devilishly rich with a gorgeous buttery pastry and that perfect little salty zing, this won my heart over practically as soon as I saw it’s chocolatey goodness; be warned, this isn’t for amateurs and is so rich that it is crying out to be shared… even better because as everyone knows, that means the calories don’t count!
We also tried a beautiful watermelon, pistachio and rose cake; it’s pretty pastels layers reminded me of different kinds of Turkish delight and the combination of light airy sponge and fresh juicy watermelon make for a lovely summer choice. There was also a delicious carrot cake from Tai Tai Pies; I can know see why so many people in HK rave about him because it was truly scrumptious and had that wonderful homemade feel. Wash down with a pot of Fortnum & Mason tea or La Colombe coffee and you have the perfect afternoon pit-stop… but in significant style!
It’s easy to get side-lined by delicious desserts, but The Library Café would also make for an awesome pit-stop for lunch proper too. I am no fan of salad but these are far more tasty and interesting than your average rabbit food; I don’t even like eggplant but combined with truffle-soy sauce and pine nuts, this one is a slippery and addictive delight. Believe it or not, there is also a must-try toastie – the bacon, date and almond butter number. Salty crispy bacon, gooey dates and all smeared about with posh peanut butter… it’s love at first bite. They’re all pretty hearty portions; both salads and sandwiches are around $70 (cakes around $35), making them no more bank-breaking than Pret but with a less run-of-the-mill feel.
The Library Café is now every bit as stylish as Lane Crawford itself, with fabulous food to match. I’ve already compiled a long wish list of desserts I want to try (or try again!) next time I’m in TST… in fact, I’m thinking of sneakily attempting to plan a shopping trip to TST for the sole purpose of doing so!
The Library Café, Lane Crawford, 3 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2118 4530