No outside food: Diner shocked by $50 fee for bringing cake to birthday dinner at Fort Canning Park restaurant

PHOTO: Le Jardin

What was supposed to be a birthday celebration turned sour for a group of friends when they showed up at a restaurant for their dinner reservation, only to be informed that there would be a $50 charge for bringing a cake from outside.

Stomp contributor Roy said he and his friends made a reservation for five people at Le Jardin, a French restaurant located at Fork Canning Park, on Monday (June 14) at 7.30pm.

They also brought along a cake purchased from elsewhere to mark the special occasion.

The group was dismayed when informed by the restaurant that outside food was not allowed and that there would be a $50 charge if they wanted to eat the cake on its premises.

Roy recounted: "Le Jardin did not allow a cake to be brought in by us for a birthday celebration. They claimed that no outside food was allowed and many restaurants in Singapore are like that as well.

"After some discussion, they informed us that they could allow us to eat the cake in the restaurant but a $50 charge would be added as they considered this an event.

"After discussion by their staff, they reduced the charge to $20 as they said our cake was small."

Disappointed, the group decided not to patronise Le Jardin in the end and went to another nearby restaurant in Clarke Quay instead.

Roy also emphasised that he understood the restaurant's policies, but wondered why diners were not informed in advance about the additional fee.

He told Stomp: "We respect the restaurant's rules. However, while we were making the reservation, we had informed the staff that it was a birthday celebration.

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"They called us twice to confirm the reservation, and both times they were informed that it was a birthday celebration, yet nobody informed us that we couldn't bring a cake.

"Who wouldn't bring a cake for a birthday celebration? And why charge an extra $50 claiming that we are here for an event?

"I hope Le Jardin's management reviews their rules and regulations. Their staff also mentioned many restaurants in Singapore are like this but we beg to differ.

"Just because of a birthday cake which did not cost you a single cent, the restaurant lost a revenue of maybe $300 from a group of five. Good luck in surviving through these hard times."

Le Jardin did not respond to Stomp's queries by press time.

However, it replied to a one-star review on Google regarding the matter.

In its reply, Le Jardin said that the extra charge was to allow customers to enjoy its in-house bakery's offerings.

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It also clarified that the group had ordered an earl grey lavender cake from the restaurant under their reservation, adding: "Le Jardin has a 'do not say no' service DNA; the solution proposed to you was to purchase the earl grey lavender cake you reserved, and we will allow you to enjoy your own one with no cover fees, but it was rejected by you.

"Nonetheless, we are sorry to hear your experience and would love to welcome you back with a cake from our own bakery team. Have a nice day."

In 2018, food blogger Dr Leslie Tay aka ieatishootipost expressed his surprise at being charged $15 to cut a birthday at a pizza restaurant.

Dr Tay wrote in a Facebook post: In the end, we took the cake home to cut, because the birthday girl just did not feel it’s worth $15 to cut a 600g cake. It did burst the bubble on an otherwise joyous occasion.

"I hope other restaurants can see the marketing opportunity in this and go the other direction and signal that they welcome birthday parties by even offering a free cake!

"After all, isn’t a restaurant’s real mission to create a positive dining experience for the customer?"

This article was first published in Stomp. Permission required for reproduction.