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Cafe Culture

Cafe Culture

Featuring One Man Coffee (Upper Thomson), Oriole Coffee + Bar (Somerset), The Lokal, The Refinery, The Bravery Cafe, Chock Full Of Beans, Forty Hands (Tiong Bahru), Toby's Estate, Two Bakers (Jalan Besar), Craftsmen Specialty Coffee (Siglap)
Melissa Chee
Melissa Chee

Farmers and Chefs truly took me by surprise - located right outside the SCO building directly opposite OUE Downtown is this quaint and chill outdoor cafe. It’s simplistic, with very natural wooden and floral decor pieces that are also for sale.

It’s a no frills sort of place, but it’s also arguably one of the cheapest cafes or food joints in the CBD. Where can you get a good sized breakfast in a cafe, much less in the CBD, for $10? The Farmers Breakfast, though priced cheaply, definitely doesn’t scrimp on ingredients or taste. You get scrambled eggs, rosti, Roasted chicken thigh, sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, focaccia and a side salad all in one dish. The portions aren’t huge, but that’s fine by me as it’s a good size for a satisfying breakfast without breaking the bank. They even have a breakfast promo for dine-ins with this set and the Foccacia Sandwich where you get a free drink (choice of tea or coffee, unfortunately they don’t serve soy milk options here).

Service leaves a lot to be desired as it’s almost non-existent, almost to the point of being unfriendly. Considering that there wasn’t anyone else at the cafe at 8.30am on a Friday morning, I would’ve thought the staff could be nicer. However, with such lovely ambience, convenience, and impossible-to-beat pricing in the city, the service isn’t a deal breaker and I’ll be sure to visit again.

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Another chef recommended item on the appetisers menu at TRR, the portobello fries are basically strips of portobello mushroom fried in batter and served with garlic aioli. This was the first dish to arrive at our table and it was freshly prepared plus piping hot.

The batter here is a winner. It’s almost tempura-esque, but denser. I love the contrast in textures in the dry crispy batter and juicy portobello strips. Whatever herb blend they use, it imparts enough saltiness to the mix that you actually don’t need any dip. If you’re in the mood for dipping, the creamy garlic aioli provided complements the crisp batter well too. The fries are a little oily from deep frying, but they’re not dripping in oil and still bearable. The crispness of the batter still held up well even after the fries had cooled down, still super crunchy and satisfying!

So much yes with this.

One of two chef’s recommended appetisers on the menu, the spicy wings comes in 6 or 8pcs. Each drumlet or winglet counts as a piece, so the portion size isn’t super huge. I love the tanginess and slight spiciness of the red sauce, especially with the slices of garlic on top to amp up the heat. Each piece of chicken was crisp, even after being slathered in the thick sauce. The chicken was also tender and juicy.

My advice would be to get this and the Portobello Fries to share if you want to check out TRR’s library-dining concept but skip the mains and go elsewhere for a more satisfying meal.

Walked past TRR multiple times when around this area but it’s never stood out since there’s an abundance of truly exceptional cafes in the area. We finally visited on a weekday afternoon at 3pm and it was a quiet place to recharge, catch up on some reading (from the variety of books available at the place) or have a relaxing meal.

We tried one of the chef recommended pastas - one of two lobster pastas. The Lobster Pasta with white wine reduction was essentially spaghetti with lobster cooked in white wine, butter, tomato, garlic and arugula.

This was the last dish to be served since we’d ordered some appetisers, but it was the most underwhelming of all. The pasta was overcooked and too soft, plus the white wine reduction was pretty tasteless even though there was butter in there. There was a very very subtle hint of white wine, but not enough to shine through. The sauce was too watery overall. We only enjoyed the lobster bits, which weren’t the easiest to enjoy although they had been chopped. It still took a fair bit of manoeuvring to get the meat out. While the lobster wasn’t bad, it also wasn’t the best. Didn’t bother with the garlic bread after a bite. It was too dry and crispy, to the extent of being hard. Not much garlic flavour either.

Honestly felt this was not worth the hefty $28.80 price tag and I would’ve been pretty mad to pay full price for this. Thankfully we were using eatigo for 30% off so the bill wasn’t so painful but still not worth the quality of this dish. I would return for the appetisers, and maybe to try other food, but I’d steer clear away from this for sure.

I’d say this is a really innovative waffle creation that truly speaks to people like myself who want to try everything by just ordering one dish. The Best Of All Worlds Waffle is an amalgamation of four different waffle flavours - classic, chocolate, matcha and charcoal, topped with an ice cream of your choice. Being a waffle that’s freshly made when ordered, it does take a while to be served.

I wouldn’t describe this as the best waffles I’ve had, as I’m more of a fan of crispy exteriors and soft fluffy waffles. However, Brunches cafe waffles are on the soft and chewy side. They weren’t undercooked, it’s just the way the batter is. I actually enjoyed them quite a bit although I still prefer crisp waffles overall. The chocolate waffle fared the best out of all the flavoured waffles, and I could actually taste the chocolate in it. There was a very slight hint of charcoal, like a teeny bitterness, in the charcoal waffle, but otherwise the charcoal and matcha waffles were just like the regular but with different colours. You get to pick a scoop of ice cream to go with your waffle, so I went for the pistachio as always. There was almost zero pistachio flavour, which was disappointing, but I guess the main draw of this dessert was the quad-flavour waffle.

In addition, the charm of Brunches Cafe lies in its vintage and retro decor (which are all for sale!). Stepping into the place was just a trip down memory lane wherever you looked. From old-school gramophones, tea sets, toys, even repurposed oil drums, scooters and a vintage car. I would recommend this for the ambience though I haven’t tried enough of the food yet.

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Love having coffee and drinks at Mellower Coffee on weekday nights because it’s not overly crowded and the atmosphere here is lovely. The matcha latte is always consistent here, with a sweet floral aroma although the matcha taste isn’t that strong compared to other matcha lattes.

The cake selection isn’t that great, but the hazelnut fuelletine is a solid choice we always come back to as it has all the elements we like - chocolatey, nutty, soft sponge, hazelnut cream, and crunchy fuelletine biscuit. I did notice that there were the Salted Caramel Cheesecake and New York Cheesecake that I hadn’t seen previously. Honestly though I don’t visit Mellower for their cakes or food but rather for their innovative coffee creations and chill ambience.

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One of the signature drinks at Mellower Coffee, the Ondeh X Latte was actually specially crafted for the Singapore Bugis flagship store. It’s definitely pricey at $9.80, but its a gorgeous beverage.

The ondeh latte is already pre-mixed so you can’t opt for a change of milk, but it’s made with coconut milk so it’s dairy-free. It does take a while to prepare as the glass rims are lined with shaved coconut. Take a sip of the pretty pastel green ondeh latte on its own, which has a delicate pandan aroma. Whenever you’re ready for a shot, add the espresso-gula melaka mix into your drink. The espresso overpowers the sweet pandan ondeh latte, transforming it to a bitter bomb, but there’s a layer of gula melaka syrup at the bottom of the cup that balances out the sweetness level once again. The ondeh latte is a pretty good drink on its own if you’re not looking for a caffeine perk, but dump in the espresso and you’ve got some pretty strong stuff going for you.

* 10% off for NUS staff/students/alumni!

* Mellower Coffee is quieter on weekdays if you’re looking for a chill place to do work or have drinks after dinner.

I’ve tried the Black Sesame Soy Latte before and I’m glad to say that the standard is consistently good at Craftsmen. The Black Sesame fragrance is strong, and the taste is prominent. It’s mixed nicely with the milk, resulting in an amazingly creamy and smooth beverage. Great for a non-caffeinated drink.

The butterscotch latte is just one of the many creative drinks available at Craftsmen. It indeed tastes of butterscotch, with a pleasant sweetness to balance the slight bitterness of the coffee. Craftsmen has achieved just the right level of sweetness in this beverage, resulting in a pleasant drink to go with your meal, or a nice beverage to have with your friends or family over a catch-up session.

I’ve loved all the drinks I’ve had at Craftsmen Coffee so far and will definitely be back for more and to try the food!

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I was surprised by this when it arrived as it looked more like a soft serve than coconut ice when it arrived. The texture leaned more towards soft serve rather than ice blend too as the ice was really fine, creamy and smooth. I found it a bit weird that there were some ice cubes inside the ice blend though. I’m not sure if that was intentional or if those didn’t get blended properly.

The drink is topped with some coconut flakes, and if you eat the coconut ice on its own it’s extremely coconutty and quite sweet. I recommend mixing some of the ice into the espresso at the bottom to achieve the middle ground of bitter espresso with sweet coconut ice. This blending of flavours was lovely, with none outshining the other. Super refreshing cold beverage with a caffeine kick. I can see myself ordering a main with this beverage whenever I’m at Craftsmen if it weren’t for the astounding number of choices available. I definitely have to visit more to try the other items on the menu.

I admit I was drawn in by the name, plus they serve healthy food which would cater to my health-conscious girlfriend. This was one of the three mains that we ordered to share.

I’m a fan of cafes that smash the avocado for you and have some sort of seasoning inside as it’s easier to spread all over the bread. The smoked salmon and eggs were added at an additional cost, but they really elevated this dish. The lava flow from the perfectly poached eggs coated the zesty spiced smashed avocado, resulting in a luxurious creamy spread. The sourdough wasn’t particularly memorable as it didn’t have much of a tang, but it served its purpose as a vessel for the smashed avocado and wasn’t too hard overall. The smoked salmon added a layer of savouriness to the dish to round off the luxuriant creamy fattiness of the avocado, and really completed the whole dish. I would recommend adding on at least the smoked salmon or some ham to the avocado toast unless you REALLY love avocado as it becomes quite one dimensional and boring after a while.

Carrotsticks and Cravings is a really chill and cute location to spend with your girlfriends or bae along charming Robertson Quay. It is actually much pricier than a regular cafe in my opinion for the quality and innovation of food served, but I guess it’s the location that contributes to its priciness. Pro tip: ask for a table inside, or at least under the building instead of the umbrellas as it gets extremely windy sometimes and stuff starts falling over on the table, plus hearing the umbrellas grate against the wall is not a nice sound or feeling.

Skim milk available at this cute cafe, though their matcha latte wasn’t that fantastic, it was decent. It could do with thicker matcha to balance out the milkiness, but it’s not too sweet fortunately. They have tons of other interesting drinks like Muay Thai Latte (thai milk tea latte) and Sweet Potato latte, among many others. I’m really not sure where this cafe is going as they seem to have a mix of so many East Asian and southeast Asian influences as there’re Chinese, Thai and Korean words around the cafe. Overall, the staff are polite and nice, and it seems like a very quiet spot to spend a weekend afternoon (especially for parents who’ve dropped their kids off for tuition classes).

*FavePay is available at Caffe Pastore!

If you’re looking for some desserts after your mains, or a sweeter start to your morning, try the Waffles & Ice Cream at 6 Letter Coffee. There’s not a whole lot of flavours to pick from, so we got the Belgian Chocolate with this.

There’s also an option to change the waffles to matcha or chocolate waffles (which I wanted to, but completely forgot while ordering!) which cost an additional $2. Thankfully, the regular waffles are pretty good already. This took a while to serve as the waffle griddle was heating up. It’s beautifully plated with two waffles sandwiching a scoop of ice cream of your choice, before being drizzled with chocolate syrup and granola.

The waffles are slightly crisp on the outside, but easy to cut into. We realised that the waffles seemed to be overbrowned on one side, but it didn’t add too much bitterness from the browning, and instead worked well to balance the rich ice cream. The Belgian chocolate flavour was a great choice, as the chocolate was prominent, and there were chocolate chips as well as brownie bits in the scoop. The ice cream doesn’t melt that quickly, so you don’t have to gobble the dessert down, but I recommend pushing it off the waffles so they don’t get soggy.

I think the granola was a nice touch. The additional crunch was so satisfying, but I think the oats could’ve been toasted longer or seasoned more as they still had a strong earthy and powdery taste. Actually, nuts would’ve probably done the same job but I appreciate the effort to add granola on top.

Always biding my time to my next meal. Everything in between just serves to kill time.

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