C’est La Vie @ Summerton, Penang

Bonjour monsieur, madame, mademoiselle. Ça va?[1]

I went out for lunch again with the ex-colleague. The same ex-colleague who shared me that flowery road photo. Usually either one of us would pick the other up, today I was the passenger. As usual, we would make plans to have lunch, but when both of us are in the car, the first question would be: “要吃什么?(What we gonna eat?)”

So today, we rather spontaneously decided to check out the row of shops at the newly opened Summerton, a condominium/shop-lots property close to Queensbay Mall. When I said new, it is actually not that new. Shops there have opened for business as early as a few months ago, but we have never set foot to this row of shops before. Time to break the duck, so to speak.

We spotted this cafe/restaurant when we arrived,

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C’est La Vie Cafe & Restaurant.

Cool! A French restaurant. The last time I had French cuisine was like a few years ago. So, C’est La Vie it is!

The cafe looked somewhat promising. I mean, the moment you enter the cafe, you will be greeted by this,

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large Eiffel Tower sticker pasted to a wire stand.

And when you get past this stand, you will see this,

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Bonjour, and another large Eiffel Tower sticker.

The place is actually quite nicely decorated. It is a cafe, one does not expect expensive and over the top decorations here.

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Flowers on a table.

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Wall of Fame.

Yeah, I think that Wall of Fame is fake though. I mean, I think the staff wrote all those sticky messages by themselves. Lovely as decorations though.

So far, so good… and it got even better when we saw the price for Set Lunch.

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RM 12.90 for a main course, a soup and a drink.

RM 12.90 for a French set lunch sounds too good to be true, no?

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Set Lunch menu

Well, yeah, that is because it is really too good to be true. Look, look closely at the menu. Click it and enlarge to see more clearly! Are you able to spot any food item that sounds even remotely French?

My mood basically plummeted the moment I saw the set lunch menu. Bloody hell. They gave the cafe a French name, placed some Eiffel Towers in the cafe, but they’re selling chicken chops and pork chops. I checked their ala carte menu as well and it is basically the same things. WTF?! Can I call this, intentionally misleading gullible potential customers?

We placed our orders anyway. Like the Cantonese saying: 洗湿咗个头 the head (hair) is already drenched with water (it is too late to back off). But I was beginning to re-calibrate my expectations while waiting for my food to be served.

Let’s show you the food..

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Soup + Drink

For the drink, I got myself an iced lemon tea. The soup… well, maybe the soup is a French dish, I don’t know. To me it tasted just like a watered down canned tomato soup. Not necessarily a bad thing when you set the right expectations. The price is cheap, remember?

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Main course: Tomyam Seafood Spaghetti

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Main course: Grilled Chicken Chop (Cajun sauce) with Rice

When we tasted our main course, we became confused. The taste was actually très bien[2]! Maybe we were expecting the worst, but the food turned out quite tasty! Both of us thoroughly enjoyed our main courses. The portions were quite small though.

I’m not going to tell you whether you should or should not give this place a chance. I’ll just list down what I like and what I dislike about this place.

Likes: Nice decor, quite cheap, delicious main course.

Dislikes: Small portions, misleading cafe name, BLOODY NOT FRENCH CUISINE.

Well, actually, if you are Penangite, I think you can give this place a try. After all, there are so many small little cafes that you are willing to try, so why not this one? Just don’t assume that it is a French restaurant, then I think you might possibly enjoy the food here.

If you are interested to check this place out for yourself, here’s the address and contact, and they also have a Facebook page:

C’est La Vie Cafe & Restaurant
110-1-18, Summerton Persiaran Bayan Indah, Bayan Lepas, Penang
017-598 8218

Appendix A: Amateur French lesson

C’est La Vie! – That’s life!

[1] Bonjour monsieur, madame, mademoiselle. Ça va? – Hello sir, madam, milady. How’s it going?

[2] très bien! – excellent!

If on any remote chance that you are reading this post, Mr/Mrs Owner:

Please lah, I know you did not specifically claim to be a French restaurant, so I should not say that you are misleading us, but, I mean, seriously, C’est La Vie? And those Eiffel Tower decor? Come on man. At least add escargots as one of your available appetizers lah. At least one French dish would be nice. That would be my sincere suggestion 😉

I think your food is nice though. Much nicer than most of other small little cafes that I’ve been to in Penang. Keep it up, yeah? 😉


    • Well, those messages doesn’t have a From: for one, and I did read a few of them closely, doesn’t seem like things customers would write.

  1. How manipulative, manipulative marketing to pull customers in. Clearly they are just another cafe serving Western food. On the outside of the cafe, it doesn’t specifically say it’s a French cafe. But as you said, everything about the cafe comes across as French but the food.

    When I was a kid in Malaysia, I really wanted to eat at a restaurant in KL called The Ship, thinking it was a seafood eatery: it had a dark brown wooden decor and a ship sign outside. One day dad took me there and and the fish and chips weren’t a let down. Probably because of the central location this restaurant had to live up to what it claimed to be on the outside.

    • LOL! I think The Ship calls itself that because originally, its interior was designed to look like being inside a ship. I haven’t been there for ages, god knows what it looks like now though. They’re supposed to be the best place to get Western food in Malaysia, if you’re not happy with the food there then you can probably forget trying elsewhere. Good that you’re not unhappy with their fish and chips then. 😀

      • My dad took me to The Ship a few times year ago. Now that you mention it, I remember that the interior of it is very dim and that made it hard to see what we were really eating 😀 I can still taste their creamy mushroom soup in my mouth – was always disappointed when tomato soup was Soup of the Day instead.

        I googled The Ship. They have a website with photos of food flying before your eyes. Hope you get to go there again when you’re in KL 😀

        • I wonder if I will. There’s so many new options that I have yet to try in KL now. I think I can only try them all and then The Ship again if I move back to KL. 🙁

  2. Bonjour! Before my husband and I went to France, I taught him one thing in French ‘parlez-vous anglais?’ [Do you speak English?] It is surprising how many times he/we used that phrase.

    The cuisine wasn’t French but maybe there was a hint with the name. [The cuisine is not French and the portion sizes are small. – C’est la Vie!]

    • I was told that as a general rule, the French really hates to speak English. Maybe I already had a preconceived notion, but when I was in Paris, I found that that really is the case!

      I like how you put a positive spin to the situation. When you put it that way, then I suppose the owner knows what he/she is doing! 😐

  3. hah..hah…Tomyam Spaghetti in a French Restaurant! I think the owners thought that a French name and French themed decor is cool but they failed to see that it would imply that they served French food. Yeah, I do hope they read this post or someone would draw their attention to this post. If the food is good then I guess they could be forgiven for unwittingly deceiving their customers.

    • Strangely, some people who read this post told me that it was my fault that I jumped to conclusions. Maybe I shouldn’t have blogged about this one. 😐

    • Apparently there are many people who did not assume that this place is a French cafe. Seems like people who jumped to conclusions (like me) are in the minority. Hmm..

      If you did not assume this place is French in the first place, then it is probably a good cafe. 🙂

  4. Oh, those cherry blossom look-alikes, they’re called tecoma trees (saw that in the newspapers yesterday)…in case you didn’t know! 😀
    Coming back to today’s topic, of course the portions are small…it’s RM12.90 for 3 items (what do you expect). Here, for that price…can only get the iced lemon tea :'(

    • RM 12.90 for an iced lemon tea? You serious?? We’re talking about little cafes, not fine dining you know?

    • I guess I would say, they have to come out with a more defining menu. “Either you are a French cafe, or you’re something else (then do away with those French camouflage).”

  5. Wah title sounds canggih.. The wall of fame looks like wish list.. I thought you write your wishes and what-not then stick there..This post reminds me of hubby asking me what to eat. I say cincai, up to you. He say ok, xxx. I say dont want la, not nice. He say then yyy. I say nope. Then he say aiya then you say what you want to eat. I say aiyoh dont know la, you decide la.. Hmmmphhhh…

    • 90% of the girls (some say higher) are like you one lah! Hahaha! Even if most of them will claim they are not, but us guys would know better! When girls say: “You decide.”, it means: “Read my mind.” 😀 😀 😀

    • Well, the food was alright though. Although I do agree that using that name for the cafe is really misleading!

  6. Small portion is like French food lah! I don’t think it is possible to serve French cuisine for any price under RM50. So far, I have not eaten any French cuisine in M’sia. I can’t even claim that I ate French cuisine in France. I think I just ate french bread when in France, hahaha.

    The decor looks good and since you say the food is tasty, I would not mind eating at this place if I happen to be nearby and don’t know what to eat lah.

    • Hahaha I guess you are somewhat right about the portion being French! 😀 😀

      I don’t know, I think there must be some cheaper ways that you can serve French food? Small little cafes should be able to do it, since there is no expensive staff and Michelin stars to worry about. 🙄

      Ya, that’s what I am thinking too: I would not mind to come here again. But won’t be something of an immediate choice.

  7. hahaha.. a restaurant with a French name but nothing sold in there are French!!! and seems like they basically have one or two things to go with either rice or spaghetti only – very HK char chan teng instead 😀

    well, i have to say “c’est la vie” in Malaysia!! (direct translate that and you get the meaning)~~ 😀

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