Eté Café is a sliver of France hidden in the antique folds of George Town.
When we’re on a holiday, more often than not we tend to look up some information. Be it for the must-see landmarks or the best places to eat. It’s a great feeling when a place well-recommended on the Internet turns out to be just as good as it was described. And then there’s the other sensation when you discover a gem of a place on your own, which in my case was Eté Café.
Tucked amongst art galleries and dilapidated shophouses, the unassuming café does not trumpet its presence with a large billboard or any other gimmick on its porch. Instead, the only bright indication is a small signage in French flag colours that hangs on a pillar. It can be easily missed if you’re not looking for it, which I wasn’t, for I was looking for something else – directions.
Located in the quiet street of Lorong Carnarvon, Eté Café truly is a piece of France right in George Town (if the French colours on the signage doesn’t tell you already). Walking through the doors, one immediately feels transported to a different setting, similar to those featured in French art movies and even Japanese animes.
It is founded by Taiwanese couple Chiang Tsung Hsun and Venessa who, after settling in Penang, decided to use their training from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school to open a French-inspired coffee hotspot. When it opened, Eté Café was one of the first few of its kind in George Town.
The star attractions of the petite café are the revised French pastries and the unique siphon coffee.
“The pastries that we have here are created using the old French way of making them with a little bit of local twist. For example, the French prefer their pastry creamy whereas locals like it with more cake. So, we changed our pastries a bit to better fit the local taste. Also, we only use butter in our products and not margarine,” says Andrew, the café’s barista cum baker.
“Ultimately for us it’s about the education. We want to raise the locals’ awareness of what French pastry really is how the local varieties usually differ from the originals in Europe,” he continues.
Pastries are not the only subject of education either. Andrew and the owners wish to inform the public of the importance of good coffee as well.
“If you ask me, we need to completely wipe out kopi o from our local menu. Then, we should start appreciating the coffee beans more and brew our coffee in a way that doesn’t take the taste away. That’s why here we use a vacuum coffee maker to retain the flavours of the beans,” explains Andrew.
“Most people don’t know that coffee beans are valued based on the estate that they originate from, much like wine,” he enlightens.
Staying true to the spirit of educating through the café, Andrew is very forthcoming about the specialty of the siphon brewer and the subject of coffee beans to any inquisitive customer. All you have to do is ask, and you shall get answers.
And in case you’re still wondering, eté means ‘summer’ in French and the café is named as such after the owners’ precious daughter.
25, Lorong Carnarvon
10100 George Town
Opening hours: 12 PM – 6 PM (Thursday to Tuesday)