Spaghett-ular

Spaghett-ular

The list where you find me having a rare plate of pasta.
Xing Wei Chua
Xing Wei Chua

If The Betterfield sounds all familiar to you — that’s because they had existed in the F&B scene some time back; from their founding several years ago at the foot of a HDB block at Waterloo Street and to their move and subsequent closure at The Treasury, they have also moved on to other F&B concepts such as The Bettership at The Cathay, and Steakville at Sunshine Plaza. So we were pretty glad to hear of their return as The Betterfield — bringing back all the old favourites from the menu since their inception at Waterloo Street such as the Ultimate Truffle Fries, Classical Duck Confit, Pulled Duck Burger and even the mocktails such as Bear on the Ledge back at their new location at 140 Robinson Road, taking over the former premises of Wolf.

Was a bit adamant to order something else apart from the Classical Duck Confit, but finally persuaded myself to go with the Mentaiko Scallop Pasta so that I could get to try something new; the pasta came with elements such as Japanese scallops, Mentaiko Pasta and parsley. A dish bound to capture the hearts of those who love slightly more savoury notes for their mains, the al-dente pasta comes tossed with a sauce laced with mentaiko; comes slightly saltish and further enhanced with the savouriness of the parmesan added. Liked how there is this light, herb-y note that was carried throughout from the mixed herbs which is tossed with the pasta, while the scallops were reasonably fresh and plump to provide a slightly briny hint with a slight chew.

Probably just something that strikes me, but I am a sucker for how they seemed to have use the same dining wares that they have used previously at the Waterloo Street location (also the location which I had visited them the most; don’t ever recall having headed down to their The Treasury location) — brings some sense of nostalgia that brings me back to carefree days where I was still in serving my NS. Nonetheless, it’s pretty comforting to know that The Betterfield is back; can’t say for sure how they were at The Treasury, but probably still looking forward to having the Classical Duck Confit just like how I did for the first time when I visited their Waterloo Street location — something likely to invoke some memories that may lurk at the back of the head.

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Have heard quite a fair bit about Plain Vanilla’s new outlet at Neil Road — a contemporary chic spot that also carries a clean aesthetic with the use of terrazzo-esque fittings amidst high arches and bricked/tiled walls and floors; the space being located closer to the Kampong Bahru neighbourhood than most of the other F&B establishments situated along the same road, which are closer to Maxwell Food Centre or The Pinnacle @ Duxton.

Saw many review online that features the bakes and the various brunch items but the highlight to me were actually the pasta — after all, I have heard quite a fair bit of the Pasta Bar’s handmade pastas and I was actually pretty stoked that Plain Vanilla’s pasta menu is made with fresh pasta made by Pasta Bar (also probably the only reason why I actually found myself here in the first place). Featuring elements such as sundries tomato pesto, basil pesto, chicken breast, olives, pine nuts, creme fraiche, and parmesan cheese, the Reginette with Chicken Pesto was something that impressed me the moment I started to digging into the plate of pasta. The Reginette is one of the most iconic offerings from Pasta Bar’s menu; a ribbon-shaped pasta with wavy edges that catches quite a bit of the other elements included in the pasta here — the pasta done al-dente carrying quite a good bite without being brittle. Tossed in a sundried tomato pesto, the pasta was tangy but also slightly richer and earthier than the typical tomato-based sauce, carrying a light hint of herbs in between, though the basil pesto wasn’t particularly evident here — probably there to enhance the ending notes more than to provide a contrast of flavours for the pasta. Felt that the chunks of chicken breast were on the drier side, though I did enjoy the addition to pine nuts for a soft bite in between the pasta and chunks of chicken that bridges those textures together for a more cohesive mouth-feel for the dish.

Plain Vanilla has grown quite a fair bit ever since my last visit — still remembered checking them out at the Cluny Court outlet when they had first opened there while I was still schooling nearby; the outlet being more of a small nook that carried simple sandwiches apart from the widened selection of bakes that they were offering back then — an extension of the cupcakes that they previously had to offer. The new outlet at Neil Road is a new beginning as a full-fledged cafe with items beyond brunch dishes; collaborations with other local establishments for a more cohesive experience than what they have started out as.

Despite being just in its soft launch phase, Dough Supply Co. has already gotten quite a fair bit of traction on social media the past weekend — the cafe being touted as one that is reminiscent of that of Cafe Onion in Korea.

Being run by the same folks who have brought us Glyph Supply Co. at 111Somerset, Runes at Lau Pa Sat and now-defunct Noa which used to operate within Laut during afternoons, Dough Supply Co. may quite be their most daring venture — taking up a fairly huge unit just a few doors away from Carnivore, Dough Supply Co. does serve up mains, pasta and sides apart from the widely talked about Korean-inspired breads and cakes, all alongside specialty coffee, tea and fermented beverages.

The Spicy Kimchi & Tomato Pasta costs a whopping $22 — something that one might consider giving a miss when deciding between the mains and pasta here; the meatier dishes such as the Wagyu Burger and the Chicken Thigh being priced at $26. Featuring elements such as House Tomato Salsa, House Kimchi, Mozzarella and Handmade Pasta, one may point out the slightly “cheap” buildup of the dish but the money is going all towards the homemade aspects of the item — a laborious process that only those who have the passion for food will appreciate. The handmade pasta here comes with quite a tactile bite; done al-dente, and coats that kimchi-infused tomato salsa adequately with its twirls — the sauce itself being reasonably spicy from the kimchi and tingles the taste buds for those who are less tolerant to moderate levels of spiciness, whilst being tangy but well-rounded from the slight sweetness of the tomato salsa that provides the finishing note. Seemingly in an attempt to replicate Cheese Ramyeun, the dish comes with a slice of processed cheese over the top; not the best aesthetic but there is something about Korean Gochujang going so well with the saltish notes of processed cheese — so ever comfortingly, and something that carries more complexity than one would expect from a dish like that.

Dough Supply Co. pushes the boundaries of what Glyph Supply Co. and Runes has to offer for their patrons — an adventurous venture into serving up hot food and being a full service cafe; a difference from the being a coffee-centric establishment that they had come from. Whilst it was a shame that we did not get to try their bakes considering we snagged up the last cake of the day at 11:45am on a Sunday brunch service during our visit, we were still particularly impressed by the impeccable service and delicious mains that they have to offer; a relief considering the insane wait times and haphazard service we had encountered at several cafes over the same weekend. Looking forward to Dough Supply Co. being open in full force — perhaps that is the time when I would be able to give their widely-raved Korean breads and cakes a go!

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Checked out the new Prairie; a new all-day dining concept by the same folks behind Craftsmen Specialty Coffee which had recently opened its doors at Cluny Court where Bar Bar Black Sheep was formerly at — enter through the entrances either beside the car workshop beside Serene Centre, or the side alley beside the car park of Cluny Court for access into the cafe. While the outlets for Craftsmen Specialty Coffee are more known for their industrial design theme with heavy use of wooden and metallic elements for its furnishings, Prairie does give off a more soothing vibe that is modern and slightly rustic with the use of tiled walls and terrazzo-esque table tops — something pretty that is comforting and easy on the eyes; the cafe also comes with a rather well-sized alfresco dining that does remind us of Apollo Coffee Bar’s backyard space quite a fair bit as well.

Prairie’s menu is pretty extensive, with sections dedicated to brunch dishes, dishes featuring the land (meat), air (poultry) and sea (seafood), starters, salads, pasta, burgers and pizzas, with other items such as sweet treats (dessert) and pastries to choose from. The Shredded Duck Pasta was one of the items that stood out whilst skimming through the menu here — features elements such as Fettucini, Slow-Cooked Duck, Garlic, Sage, Cream Sauce and Shaved Parmesan. An item sure to appease fans of cream pasta, the Fettucini is done al-dente; all laced in a good amount of cream sauce that provides sufficient flavour without being overwhelming — the sage occasionally helping to add a herb-y note that provides the dish with some contrast, while the duck meat comes tender and lends a savoury note that gives the dish a slight meatiness with every twirl of the pasta with the fork. The shaved parmesan does help to add yet another dimension of savouriness, though would go even better if it’s shaved even thinner to further integrate it to the pasta, while the garlic also did not carry quite the flavour punch that I was looking for to cut through the savoury and creamy elements.

Despite the lack of prominence in certain elements of the pasta, those are probably just the more finer details that otherwise is not too big of an issue overall — the pasta is still pretty decent in its own right, and is an item that I would not mind having again. Prairie is almost like Craftsmen Specialty Coffee’s grown up sibling — a little bit more refined, and also certainly slightly more upmarket with prices inching towards $30 before taxes especially for the mains. That being said, it’s environment and it’s offerings would resonate well with cafe-goers in general — a spot that cafehoppers should check out!

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The Bravery is one of those names that should not be a stranger to most who have been cafe-hopping since the uprising of the third-wave coffee movement — the Muslim-friendly establishment at Horne Road had since moved out of its former premises, and found new digs at Amoy Street recently, and is currently in its soft launch phase serving up a menu that differs between breakfast, lunch and dinner hours.

Being an item off the lunch menu that is being served only between 11am to 3pm, the Seafood Alfredo features elements such as tiger prawns, white clams, crab meat, cream sauce, garlic, shallots, crustacean oil and Ikura. While some pasta purists may lament on the use of cream sauce for their rendition of an Alfredo which usually only involves butter and parmesan, the Seafood Alfredo is an item that would please the average cafe-goer who are less into traditionalist approaches to cafe fare, and are more accustomed to the creamy pasta that is pretty much a crowd pleaser otherwise. The pasta here is seems to be done slightly past al-dente; slightly softer with lesser of a bite, but not particularly bothersome. Otherwise, the noodles are tossed in a mix of rich cream sauce and crustacean oil; the latter added to give a slight umami note that cuts across the creaminess for some balance — a nice touch to have in my opinion. Coming with a good variety of seafood, the clams were fairly decent, while the crab does give the pasta a slight crustacean sweetness that enhances the flavours of the crustacean oil used; the prawns could however be slightly fresher, though should still be pretty decent for those who are less picky overall. Not a fan of the microgreens (i.e. Alfafa sprouts) that they have included as a garnish; perhaps a slight sprinkle of herbs such as rosemary or thyme would have done a better job given the stringy texture and the slightly “green” flavour that we were not too much of a fan of, and did not seem to gel well with the seafood elements of this dish.

Hadn’t been back to The Bravery for quite a while; my visit to The Bravery previously was when the concept was still being run by the same folks behind The Plain and RONIN (both of which had since closed, and are succeeded by PUNCH and Gather). Times have changed pretty much for The Bravery; while we are unable to comment if they had pretty much stayed the same or have been consistent at Amoy Street when compared to their time at Horne Road after those times, The Bravery does seem like a spot that would work well for the folks who prefer safe and conventional cafe fare without being particularly over-the-top — a spot that would work decently for those who are just looking for something comforting that will not go wrong.

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Checked out the new For The People; a new cafe which had recently opened its doors at Hamilton Road, taking over the former premises of now-defunct 11 Hamilton and serves up a pretty good variety of items from all-day brunch, to pasta, burgers and mains alongside pastries and cakes and a list of beverages including specialty coffee, tea and alcoholic options.

Just wanting to go for something on the simpler side, the Garlic Aglio Olio is pretty decent — a rather safe dish to go for here. The linguine comes al-dente, carrying a firm bite and tossed in sufficient oil for that slurpy mouthfeel; came with bits of garlic and also a drizzle of white wine in the cooking process that helps to provide much of the flavour to the pasta. Providing patrons with an add-on to go for either Mushroom, Prawns or Bacon at an additional cost, the prawns which we had opted for were pretty plump and fresh and provided a natural sweetness to the dish. That being said, we wished that they had paid more attention in the plating of the dish; noticed some specks of tomato-based sauce that ended up on the plate and also on some of the prawns that seemed to be unintentional — details that should be better taken care of considering it being a specialty cafe after all.

Chanced upon this new cafe whilst exploring Marina Bay Link Mall named Infinity Cafe — one of the recent additions to the F&B tenants here that serves up a wide variety of pasta dishes and also main dishes alongside specialty coffee.

Featuring elements such as Lemongrass Broth Mussels, White Wine, Fried Garlic, Brown Butter and Cilantro Oil, the Mussels Chardonnay also comes with an option of either spaghetti or fettuccine pasta, which we opted for the latter. A pasta with a slight fusion element, this was a refreshing change from the usual pasta that features a cream-based or tomato-based sauce — the lemongrass broth provides a light and refreshing note that was actually quite appetising, creating a rather Thai-inspired flavour that is clean to the taste buds, perfuming through the entire plate, with just a very slight hint of savouriness from the brown butter to provide a bit of richness for the flavours to linger. Otherwise the crisp garlic bits provide a contrasting note that keep things interesting, while the fettuccine comes with a soft bite that would work well for those who prefer their noodles to be cooked for a little longer. Thought the only qualm was the mussels; it’s fairly decent if one isn’t too picky about it, but it would certainly work better if they were fresher.

Must say that business seems tough at the CBD; and particularly so in this part with most still working from home. Times may have changed, but hoping that these establishments located in the CBD will survive these storms ahead.

Tagliatelle, Egg Yolk Sauce, Crushed Black Pepper, Pecorino.

From La Mensa; a new concept by the same folks behind Muchachos and The Daily Cut with a focus on pasta, located at Tanjong Pagar Centre beside The Daily Cut where the now-defunct Henri Charpentier outlet used to be at.

While Carbonara is a fairly easy-to-find item around, La Mensa does one that is bound to please those who insists that Carbonara should never ever carry any cream-based sauce. For one, the tagliatelle is done al-dente; sufficiently firm and carries a good bite. Tossed in an egg yolk sauce, the Carbonara here carries ample eggy flavour that is well-supported by the slight savouriness of the shaved Pecorino; pretty flavourful and light — nowhere as heavy as the variants that use a cream-based sauce which provides a richness that some may scream “unauthentic” or being too jelak. The guanciale adds just slight saltishness of cured meat to the pasta, while the salt and pepper helps to further elevate the flavours by giving the pasta a bit of contrast.

At S$13.50, this is pretty much a steal — a Carbonara that is done in a style so simple, yet so rustic and refined even when compared to those of higher price points served at specialty cafes. I would gladly leave the argument on how “authentic” the pasta is to the traditionalists who often tell others about how Carbonara should be done without cream, but this is one Carbonara I most absolutely would want to have again — flavourful, and easy to finish; a must-try.

For those who still prefer not to dine-in at the current stage, La Mensa is also on Deliveroo for islandwide delivery and Waitrr for self pick-ups — just so you can also enjoy that marvellous plate of pasta in the comfort of your own home.

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It’s pretty much known that Stateland Coffeehouse had since went through a revamp, and is now opened as Brotherbird Coffeehouse — now carrying a focus on their mochi croissants whilst serving up a smaller variety of all-day breakfast items, sides and desserts alongside specialty coffee and other beverages.

The Carbonara is part of the all-day breakfast menu here, and features elements such as Spaghetti, Poached Egg, Garlic Chips and Bacon. A fairly simple but satisfying rendition of the Carbonara, it is aptly creamy but not particularly jelak; pretty easy to have with the pasta being al-dente and laced with the cream sauce; the poached egg enhancing those textures further while the crisp provides a saltish note typical of cured meat. A pretty decent crowd-pleaser that also works well for a dinner item here too, considering how Brotherbird Coffeehouse is open all the way through dinner hours — great for the sweet-tooths craving for their mochi donuts paired with ice-cream which is still currently being offered here.

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From Linguine, situated at the Happy Hawkers food court at Blk 132 Jurong East Street 13 — a new hawker stalk that serves up a variety of pasta dishes using linguine as the only choice of noodles here.

Opted for one of their signature items on their menu; the Cheese Burger Pasta is essentially like a cheese burger in pasta form, coming with elements such as cheese, minced beef patty and mushroom. The pasta was done al-dente, carrying a good bite whilst laced with a sauce that carries a medley of meaty and cheesy notes; pretty savoury whilst also rather complimenting while one chews on the bits of minced meat. Otherwise, the mushrooms helped add a bouncy bite to the pasta, whilst adding an earthy note. An interesting twist to pasta, though probably also something that would be more suited for adventurous folks who would like to try something new and not too conventional.

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From Ryan’s Kitchen; essentially the bistro concept of Ryan’s Grocer located at Great World City, serving up brunch, pasta, mains and burgers — they also do serve up meats where patrons can pick the various meats off the grocer, and they would be able to serve it up in the style of the patron’s preference.

The Carbonara here is pretty much no-frills; al-dente noodles tossed in a cream-based sauce that seems to be very much reduced for a creamy, savoury note that carries a slight hint of garlic. Served with pancetta and shavings of cheese, the pancetta provides the pasta with a hint of meatiness without being overly salty as opposed to the use of bacon at some places, while the cheese helps to further enhance the cream-based sauce with its savoury note. Pretty decent, though a little pricey at its price tag of $24 before taxes.

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Visited Lino Pasta Bar at Shaw Centre over the past weekend, an offshoot of Lino by the Les Amis Group situated in the same area within the mall where their other restaurants such as Indigo Blue Kitchen and Tenjin are located. Here, only set menus are served for both lunch and dinner service, with patrons being able to opt between a two-course menu and a three-course menu, picking the variety of appetisers, mains/pasta and/or desserts listed on the menu.

If there is any place I would like to credit for making me fall in love so badly with this combination of ingredients for pasta, it would be South Union Park's Butternut Agnolotti — a dish that was long removed from their menu since. Piquing my interest when I skimmed through the menu here, this brings back those memories and familiar flavours — the filled pasta encases pumpkin and cheese (ricotta?); a medley of sweet-savoury flavours that goes together oh-so-well all wrapped within a pasta sheet that is sufficiently thick to hold the fillings within, yet without being too doughy, providing a good bite. Beneath the pasta lies the brown butter; provides a nutty and buttery note to the pasta that also helps to provide moisture to the pasta, while the pine nuts helped to add a roasty, nutty flavour that further enhances everything else on the plate. The sage gives the dish a crispness, whilst carrying a herby note that rounds everything off perfectly. Really enjoyed how this one was executed; very well-balanced, and everything that we love about this exact same list of ingredients thrown together — something which we would most certainly revisit Lino Pasta Bar when the cravings hit!

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Up, down and everywhere around for food.

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