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Café Discoveries

Café Discoveries

So many cafés, so little time. But slowly and surely, I will conquer them all! :)
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

Eggporn is at its yummiest when the perfectly poached eggs are smothered in a lip-smacking sauce. Like this delectable version at @allium.sg (thanks Chef Dillon for letting us have a taste). We had gone there for brunch and were busy enjoying our orders of “Muffaletta” Sandwich ($22 nett) and “Hainanese Sweet & Sour Pork Loin” ($26 nett) when we were surprised by a serving of this “Heritage Eggs” ($19 nett). Covered in diced Jamon Serrano, a very appetising pickled shallot beurre blanc, and accompanied by sautéed spinach and finely chopped chives, this was a wonderfully rich, savoury and absolutely delicious dish. On the side was housemade bread to make sure we could mop up every bit of that eggy goodness.

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I ordered the “Salami and Potatoes” Galette on my second visit and found it is as immaculately made and tasty as the “Off The Bone” Galette ($16++) I had during their soft opening.
I do feel this is a little more substantial though because it has small cubes of roasted Russet and Red Pontiac potatoes as a filling. Besides that, there is Brie cheese and a soft-cooked egg too. I appreciate how the slices of salami are lightly fried before they are arranged on top of the folded Galette to be served. For sure they are a little more delicious warm.

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Presentation of this item is eye-catching but its taste is what made my dining companion Caecilia and I immediately vow to return ASAP.
The crêpe itself is freshly made upon order, so it is warm and soft. Within the cut-up rolled pieces of the crêpe is gooey melted Camembert - it is quite a strong cheese so if you aren’t already a fan, this might not be the right choice for you. We, however, are. And our opinion is that this tastes wonderful, especially with the drizzle of honey for a delicious blend of salty and sweet. The accompanying fig jam is also really good. We were told it’s specially made for Gather by the owners’ friends in Australia. You can also pick up a jar if you like it that much as they retail it right there too.

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Even if you were not aware that the NEW @gathershop.co at the Raffle Hotel (the entrance faces Carlton Hotel on North Bridge Road) is by the same owners of the now defunct #ThePlain, #Ronincafe which closed permanently on 30th January due to rent increment, and @Punch.gram (still going strong and has been passed the baton to serve Ronin’s extremely popular “Wicked” Mocha Mint and insanely delicious scrambled eggs - still the best in Singapore in my opinion), you will get the feeling of familiarity once you step in.
Like all of @vincteng and @phaybulous’ other dining establishments that have ever existed and continue to thrive, @gathershop.co is very tastefully done and run by a team that seems genuinely happy to see you every time - click on the link in @vincteng’s bio and you will understand where this originated.
#GatherSG to me, whether it was intentional or not, bears a close resemblance to The Plain, one of the first Aussie-style cafes to open in Singapore, and that is a very good thing (I’m sure many of you were just as sad as me when it closed). If you had ever been there, I think you will agree when I say #GatherSG is an evolved version of it. Yes, there is a mini boutique on the bigger premises retailing exquisite merchandise curated by their business partner @Huishaan, a large round marble cum cork designer table that costs a cool 8,000 Euros for customers to sit at, and a menu that focuses on galettes and crêpes BUT the light and easy energy, the cheery greetings, the on-the-ball but somehow-feels-unrushed service - those remain true.
My friend Caecilia and I dropped by during their soft opening yesterday and were very impressed by the freshly-made food and coffee we had. There is an exactness and polish to the way they prepare every item which means presentation is simple but beautiful, and taste has no compromise. We both loved the savoury “Off The Bone” Breton-type #galette ($16) for its ratio of ham, gruyère, cheddar and egg filling to crepe, spot-on seasoning as much as we did our dessert #crepe, the honey-drizzled “Figs and Camembert” ($16). By the way, you must like strong cheese if you wish to have the latter as that crepe is filled with a lot of it. Coffee was faultless as expected.
Clearly, I can’t be any happier with #GatherSG. In fact, I wanted to return today for more. However they are closed to do some final touches, so I am returning tomorrow (6th Feb) when they officially open at 8am to the public.

Operating hours:

Mondays to Saturdays
8am to 10pm (walk-ins only).

Sundays
8am to 6pm (reservations allowed).

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M E D I A T A S T I N G

Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner has a new spin-off concept in town - quite literally as you can only find Tiong Bahru Bakery Diner at Funan Mall and Raffles City. For now anyway. The menu is by Chef de Cuisine Paul Albert, a young French bistronomy chef who radiates a bright-eyed energy. Having spent time at a few of France’s top Michelin star restaurants and an apprenticeship at The Slow Bakery in Rio, Brazil, he has not only grown passionate about the art of fermentation but also amassed knowledge for it. Hence, the technique is showcased pretty heavily in his food which is more exuberant in flavour than what one would expect of such healthy and wholesome looking and sounding dishes.

Here is everything we got to try:

1. Chayote Kimchi & Mung Bean Salad (VV) $18 - For a salad, it’s punchy! I was taken aback by how tasty the combination of homemade chayote kimchi, mung bean, crispy buckwheat, green parsley oil, watercress, pea shoots and roasted peanuts could be. Second helpings? Yes please

2. Hot Chicken Salad & Caramelised Pumpkin $20 - The slow-cooked chicken breast with kabocha pumpkin confit and herb pomelo salad with wasabi dressing also got my vote. Love what the brown butter brought to the overall especially.

3. Super Green Warm Soup (V) $16 - We had a tasting portion but it was enough to get what it means to drink your greens. Chinese spinach, bok choy, Shanghai green, chye sim and lady’s finger were blended into a thick liquid and served with beetroot pickled ricotta, roasted candlenuts, sautéed shimeiji and green herb oil. I appreciated this for daring to be different and thought it was actually quite slurp-able.

4. Miso Whole-wheat Spaghetti with Broccolini (V) $19 - The pasta has the company of made-from-scratch basil and almond pesto, miso eggplant confit and grated grana padano cheese which gives it a hearty taste. You can also choose to make it #vegan by leaving out the cheese.

5. Pulled Pork Creamy Risoni Pasta $22 - The rice grain-shaped pasta is tossed with king oyster mushroom, pulled pork that’s been prepared in the Classic American style - with a mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar, mustard seeds, garlic and a pork jus and shiitake reduction. Having absorbed all the rich butter, broth and cheese, the small slippery carb becomes delicious.

6. Portobello, Avocado and Hummus Black Sandwich (VV) $19 - Between the lightly toasted slices of charcoal bread is a veritable bowl of salad because packed with the dhal hummus are roasted portobello, avocado, shredded pickles and fresh herbs. On the side, a basket of amazing housemade, still-warm purple potato chips. Majorly addictive.

7. 100% Sourdough Waffles - Originating from a 158-year-old ancestral "mother”, I enjoyed the Liege-style waffles plain the most because of their insane fragrance and flavour. You can pick them up at #TBBSafari or have them dine-in, presented in sweet or savoury styles at either of the #tiongbahrubakerydiner outlets. For the former, they come with a delightful mix of lemongrass chantilly cream, ripe Thai mangoes, caramelised almonds and a salted butter caramel sauce. The latter sees them plated with crispy bacon, a fried egg, goji berries, ricotta cheese and a housemade special maple syrup ($23).

8. Fluffy Brown Butter Pancakes (V) $21 - Served with the same toppings as the sweet style of the Waffles, these are made using fermented buttermilk batter and brown butter which gives these pancakes a distinct colour and taste. I would recommend sharing one for dessert as the portion is big.

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I assumed it would be the Italian cheese, a savoury version of the mozzarella, that would command this stage but the Shakshuka’s smoked tomato chutney snuck up and stole the show (price: $22). I have to admit though, I wouldn’t mind if it had a bit more body.
The default bread it comes with is housemade rye (pictured above) which is perfectly fine, but since I am not a fan of rye per se, I added on Pane de Campagne, an Italian crusty bread ($5). Also made in-house at @burnclubst, the four slices were deliciously dressed with dried herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. I preferred the texture of this dunked in the Shakshuka.

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Although they are called “pies”, these Melbourne-inspired pitas are made with sourdough flour, and come stuffed with three kinds of cheese, spinach plus my chosen add-on of beef brisket.
The dough of the pita has a slightly coarse texture and satisfying chewiness which I found to work well with the flavourful fillings.
To my surprise, the beef brisket was subtly sweet but it was very tasty. If you prefer other meats, they do offer a savoury pulled pork and lamb as well.

Price: $12 for 4 pieces of the Triple Cheese and Spinach Pie.
Add-ons available at $6 for pulled pork and $8 for beef brisket or lamb.

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I think this is ideal for sharing and makes for a delicious start to any meal at Burn.
The burrata is made in-house, and has goat’s milk added which, I was told by owner Pav, gives it a more savoury facet of flavour. Piled on top are freshly grilled padron peppers that bring on a juicy, almost fruity crunch and subtle fragrance to the creaminess. Don’t worry, they aren’t spicy at all.

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His first cafe - “The Hangar” on Arab Street may not exist any more but the exuberant and very tasty flavours that I had loved about the food @pavskiiii served there, can now be found at @burnclubst, his brand new casual cafe-restaurant alongside Ufit on Club Street. That was where I suggested to my friend @aikbengchia we go for our lunch, which he readily agreed.
I ordered a few dishes for us to share, and this was one of them. If you have ever dined at #TheHangarSg, you might recognise it. Renamed most aptly as “Roasted Pork Noodles” ($17), it showcases slow-roasted, handpulled pieces of meat which are a major head-turner in tenderness and flavour. They meet their match in the eggless kolo noodles tossed in a fierce chilli oil dressing. A poached egg and sautéed mushroom salad join them in the big bowl. Strewn across the top as a finishing touch are fresh parsley, spring onions and mint. So shiok!
Honestly, I am thrilled I get to savour this dish again.

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Regardless of the name, this is a really cool way to get your caffeine fix and munch on a donut at one go.
Made from scratch in-house by @syukriyouki and team, the large bowl-like cup is freshly made bread coated with thick layer of #Nutella on the inside. Sugar and cinnamon is dusted all over. Freshly brewed espresso is tipped in followed by hot foamed milk, with latte art adding the finishing touch.
Once I finished drinking the coffee, I took a fork and knife to the edible receptacle, slicing up the hazelnut-chocolate donut bowl (which surprisingly, wasn’t soggy at all) into neat segments for all to share.

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H O S T E D
On the street level of ION Orchard (#01-15/16) is the newly open @bachacoffeeofficial which happens to be the first international outlet of the Marrakech-born coffee specialist brand. The original Bacha Coffee, built in 1910, is still housed in the Dar el Bacha palace or “House of the Pasha” and if you explore online, you can see how beautiful it is. Naturally, the Singapore venue is nothing but stunning as well. Coffee-lovers will have a field day here as it houses over 200 single origin 100% Arabica coffee beans from farmers in Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Asia and beyond. From fine flavoured and fine blended coffees to naturally C0₂ decaffeinated coffees, there is something for every palate. The company’s focus is on achieving the perfect roast and grind to accentuate each coffee’s unique qualities and complexities, and I had the pleasure of trying three types (each pot costs $9++) beginning with the strongest, a Single Origin from Ethiopia’s Sidamo Mountain. It had a spicy, fragrant aroma, very full body as well as floral and cracked cocoa bean notes. From the fine blended coffee range, I was served the malty-flavoured, nutty-overtoned “Three Volcanoes” that contained Central American and Arabian beans. It was my favourite of the lot. Named “1910 Coffee”, the third was a fine example from the fine flavoured section with its mesmerising fragrance of strawberries and cream. I think it might be the one that can convert the non-coffee drinkers because it’s really lovely, especially with some chantilly cream or milk (these accompany every order of coffee here).
To be frank, I wasn’t expecting a lot from the food because at first look, I thought it might be a “style over substance”. How wrong I was! The food menu may not extensive but what I had by Head Chef Jeremy and Pastry Chef Ryo were very good. These are what I recommend: the superbly buttery Croissants ($8++ for 2), the Scrambled Eggs with Truffle and #brioche that’s TO-DIE-FOR ($24++), the Tiramisu with Rwanda Superior Coffee (love its incredibly luxurious mouthfeel) and the Strawberry Soup with vanilla ice-cream, a most delightful and refreshing creation ($12++ per dessert).

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H O S T E D
Antoinette has just opened an outlet in Millenia Walk. This much-loved made-in-Singapore brand by Chef Pang Kok Keong is bound to be welcomed with open arms by folks working in the surrounding offices and living in the area.
Launching on 1st Oct is the Breakfast Menu (available on weekdays, 8am to 11am) that offers freshly baked Butter Croissant and Pain au Chocolat ($3.50 each), a hearty Classic Breakfast plate ($12), Scrambled Eggs with sausage mushroom gravy and a Smoked Salmon with poached egg (the latter two have other trimmings too making them very worth it for $10).
If you want to grab and go, the six options in the “Le Menu Sandwich” (available from 8am to 5pm on weekdays), has different combos of breads (all made in-house) and proteins you can pick from. A big hit with us was the Egg Muffin ($5), Chef Pang’s take on a popular fast food breakfast item. His Chicken Foccacia ($8) which has sous vide chicken breast, cheddar cheese, pesto butter and lettuce between the Italian bread is another solid choice. My personal fave though was the Ondeh Ondeh Kaya Toast ($6) where light-as-air pandan kaya, gula melaka and cold French butter make magic with crunchy Italian ciabatta.
The Millenia Walk outlet of Antoinette is also the only one with a Crepe Menu now. They do sweet and savoury versions of it built on a base of the very thin classic French-style buckwheat pancake. Meat-lovers should opt for the Sierra ($18) as it comes with Serrano ham. Fans of smoked salmon should try the Nordic ($18) while those whose palate favour Asian flavours will likely find the Okonomiyaki-inspired Tokyo Crepe ($18) enjoyable.
If you love Soufflé Pancakes, you need to order the NEW Earl Grey Bubble Tea ($14) pronto. It’s a lot like eating clouds perfumed with the bergamot oil scented tea coupled with QQ pearls. “Heavenly” is probably the best word to describe this creation.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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