w39 bistro, clementi

it is the weekend! which means it is brunch – and here is a good place to get a decent one, even if more than a little far out. this rustic little cafe is unpretentious (pretty rare in the recent crop of cafes), and it serves up an averagely-decent brunch menu that spans american brunch classics to local delights.

it’s just the right sort of place if you’re looking for a kitschy breakfast-lunch spot for the weekend (and have a car) – order the right items and you’re set.


most of us started off on the western side of the menu – strewn across the table was the hearty breakfast (right up there with the regular fixins’), an eggs-ben with ham, a croque-madame (mostly a glorified ham sandwich with a fried sunny-side-up atop), and a braised lamb shank with mushroom panini (a good layer of gravied filling between toasted bread). mostly decent, though more adequate than mind-blowing – their poached eggs are probably the most notable thing on the menu.

they make an appearance in most of the breakfast diches, and each is a neat parcel of cooked white and flowing yolk – good execution, but it might have helped more if the sauces and flavors had just as much care.

I did like the thick golden-ed toast, though. pretty and tasty.

we also had a serving of their crab cakes, decently loose with shredded crab and a golden breaded exterior.

the local specialties were rather a hit-and-miss. a hit with a very lemak mee siam that was served with a poached egg – you will want to eat this hot because it quickly loses its charm as it cools – and a terrible miss with the nasi lemak, which came with another one of those poached eggs. the rice had barely any flavor, the chicken impressive-looking but barely seasoned and a tad dry – this dish was pretty dismal.

I also think that poached egg on the rice smacks a little of trying-too-hard – there’s something to be said about the texture of a golden fried egg with a runny yolk and the texture it brings to the dish.

but I got pretty lucky with my main of grilled saba (mackerel) drizzled with a sticky soy glaze on baby spinach. definitely not the sort of thing I expected in this sort of place, but nothing to complain about since it worked very well. the mackerel was oily and savory, the baby spinach crisp and green, and that glaze a sweet-savory counterpoint.

it works for this place that its kitschy, in a good almost-believably-local way, without any of the pretentiousness in the hipster-hangouts we see these days. the food is decent, though not quite worth traveling for without a car – I suggest it only if driving and looking for a cute little place to sit on the weekend.

come earlyish, though, for it fills up fast and the weather these days doesn’t quite lend itself to al fresco dining.

W39 Bistro
39 Jalan Mas Puteh
Singapore 128637
tel +65 9646 5372
$$.5: estimate twenty a person

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