open farm community, dempsey

pricey (what else would you expect of the spa esprit group?), but decent lunch/ brunch place for women. that last part isn’t any manifestation of feminism, but an observation that the only men in the restaurant throughout my meal were the ones in the kitchen.

this is my second time here, and on both occasions I’ve ordered the mud crab curry papardelle. I’m not sure if this consistency says more about the cooking, the menu choices, or me, but it’s a rich dish that marries the sweetness of crab with a slight, ever-so-moreish heat. you see from the photo that it comes with plenty of crab meat, as well as crispy sage (?) leaves that I wish were more generously sprinkled, because they sure add an alluring fragrance (and flavour).

my sister had the red snapper this time, which was beautifully-plated – a thick fillet of fish fried crispy, mounds of barley cooked in squid ink, and other daintily-plated accoutrements. quite delicious, but not quite filling on its own.

it’s a nice place, and very well-designed – rather reflective of what the spa esprit group has come to be. I’d recommend lunchtimes here as the sunlight streams in in a most delightful manner, and the yummy mummys create an ambience all of their own.

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the populus coffee & food co., bukit pasoh

very hipster, very young clientele, similarly young baristas – decent food on a rather impressively-large menu for a coffee-focused place, but rather too-cool-for-you service that could be a little off-putting if you’re an old, plodding person soul as I am.

but these places sure know how to use design to create ambiance – I loved the wood, cork and black metal used all over here, and look at these lovely vintagey amber glasses.

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salt tapas and bar, raffles city

immensely satisfying – and one would say incredibly surprising – brunch at this tapas bar under the luke mangan group at raffles city.

truth be told, I’ve walked past this place a million times, but it just looked too tourist-y to bother (I may have been easily misled by its location right outside a hotel and the scores of Caucasians who enjoy dining al fresco) – and that’s stupid, because the food here is well-thought out, well-balanced, and well, very good.



egg berentine with bonito flakes



spanish omelette with spicy sauce


scrambled egg with ratatouille, sauteed zucchini and toast

if you’ve been here – the brunch menu is new – and if you haven’t, there’s plenty to eat and drink. it’s an excellent selection that covers both Spanish classics and otherwise reimagined versions of classic brunch-type dishes – which makes it acceptable even to persnickety parents like mine.

you can almost smell the rustic Spanish town of your dreams – the place is classy but not at all fussy, the sunlight streams over you like you’re a yummy mummy with nought but champagne in hand, and the rather seamless transition from patio to dining room could only be designed for/ by Europeans.


chilli salt and pepper squid, yuzu mayo



taco of tempura soft shell crab, pineapple salsa, wasabi mayo


grilled sirloin with mash, watercress salad, poached egg and madeira dressing

what with the multitude of dishes we had – I’ve resorted to using captions (incidentally, do you like this format?). but can I say how excellent the whole meal was? the flavours were all Mediterranean-style clean and simple, the seasoning was just so, and it was just that balance of rich and not-so-rich that truly hit the spot (I mean, you want to feel/ fill like you’ve indulged, but you’re not getting any younger are you?).

my favorite dishes are (in no particular order): 1) the tortilla of tender potatoes encased in egg, with a pool of tomato sauce that I could have used more of; 2) the very beefy beef, seared till pink and juicy; and 3) the pork ribs, which were omgawd-good, doused in a piquant, savory sauce and served atop a smooth mash that my sister couldn’t stop eating.


oysters served au naturel, nam jim dressing



pork belly sliders, bbq pulled pork, pickled cucumber & chilli

did I think anything could be better executed? yes, of course, but I did eat plenty of the dishes in their already above-average state. for example, the soft-shell crab and ikura tortilla was quite a spectacular mix of Japanese flavours, but its wrap was a little too floury and brittle – can I suggest further toasting and a softer tortilla?

the salt and chilli squid were a rift off the classic Chinese salt-and-pepper flavours, and the strips were very moreish, but the batter could have been much crisper.


halloumi, eggplant, chickpea, dried tomatoes, herbs, tahini dressing


sumac-spiced veal & pork meatballs, mash fontina


BBQ pork ribs, mash, pickled onion, sautéed pea, edamame

and of course one must finish with dessert – here, a single slice of excellent French toast. this was quite mindblowingly excellent, with a crisp exterior and soft, custardy insides. excellent.


french toast, Okinawa ice cream, clotted cream, jam

I think, one of the best brunch places I’ve had recently – and there has been a long drought of these. the proof is in the fantastic pudding – and if you too, suffer from what I’d like to call middle-ageness and require more than a cup of hipster jo’ (there’s a good drink selection, too!) and paltry dishes to get along, then this is the place for you.

truly praiseworthy.

Salt Tapas & Bar
#01-22A, Raffles City Shopping Centre
252 North Bridge Road
Singapore 179103
tel +65 6837 0995
$$.5: 25-40 per person (depending on gluttony)

the halia, raffles hotel

still very good food at the halia – a little expensive, a little exclusive, just the right spot of uppity for a dressed-up weekend lunch. it’s been a while since I last came here, and I’m impressed: they still know how to strike the right balance of intrigue and classic, and prices are just high enough to keep the atmosphere classy.

there’s just something about the way they blend their dishes and flavors that feels interesting, but at the same time hits all the right (comforting) spots.

I’m not too impressed with the photos I took this round, so unfortunately what isn’t displayed is the halibut en papillote, of delicious, tender white fish cooked under parchment in this CRAZY delicious soup of incredible savoriness.

served with sushi rice, you’ll need to grab a smear of the truffle aioli (which imparts yet another savory, umami note) and a mouthful of fish and soup to truly get the experience.

then and only then, do you truly get the experience.

what is pictured here is off their weekend brunch menu, three fluffy pancakes topped with bacon, maple butter, strawberries and what seems like crispy iberico. that last component makes a lot of difference to the dish, bringing quite a bit of sweet pork goodness to already properly-fluffy, well-cooked pancakes.

good food, but definitely on the pricey side – although I can’t help but feel that if I had to spend money, this is a good place to do so.

Halia at the Raffles Hotel
1 Beach Road, #01-22/23
Singapore 189673
tel +65 9639 1148
$$.5: 20-40 per person

dessert at ps.cafe, palais renaissance and tiong bahru

judging by the number of ps.cafe posts I have on this blog – four at last count – it’s pretty apparent that I have a soft spot for this chain.

I’m also going to summarise all the posts so far with this one – slightly pricey, big mains, hefty-and-satisfying-and-rich desserts, and beautiful, characterful restaurants. it’s an institution for brunch and lunch (not that dinner falters, by any means), and caters primarily to the yuppie, yummy mummy kind of crowd.

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kilo, orchard central

I really like kilo. I don’t visit it nearly as often as I’d like, but I think very often of visiting it, which has to be the best indication of a good restaurant (cafe is more accurate here).

I’m not sure there’s a better accolade I can give it – it goes beyond the tasty food to the minimalistic, concrete-slathered space (hipster, but not irritatingly so) that’s brightly sun-filled on weekend mornings – it’s sort of what you’d expect brunch and lunch out in an (australian/ american, take your pick) town would feel like, but with air-conditioning (a definite must).

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rabbit carrot gun, katong

to follow on the brunch theme (does one post a theme make?), I’ve finally made my way to rabbit carrot gun – which is as strange and awkward (and can I say, unuseful) a name as an eatery could have – doesn’t really tell you anything apart from the fact that their owners are are probably modern types having an inside joke.

it’s a corner cafe in katong serving up fancified british, at prices the people of that fair isle would likely balk at – dominated by katong-type yuppies and expatriates all sitting al fresco in the heat (no one else but the too-cool and foreign would brave it – generalisation, yes, but stereotypes exist for a reason).

my bowl of homemade muesli served with yogurt and berry compote was decent, if small and unfilling. it was the french toast that really surprised us – thick bread that held its structure despite soaking enough egg-and-milk for a custardy inside, served with proper maple syrup and berry compote – it was delicious, and well-worth an order.

if you’re in the area for brunch, the food is pretty decent. which is to say I might come back again (although not travel specifically for) – but the prices are somewhat prohibitive (even for what is supposed to be an overpriced meal), and I like air-conditioning with my food.

Rabbit Carrot Gun
47 – 49 East Coast Road
Singapore 428768
tel +65 6348 8568
$$.5: 30 per person

majestic bay seafood restaurant, gardens by the bay

really rather good dimsum in this quite stunning restaurant set in the idyllic compounds of the gardens by the bay (one of my favorite places).

I had rather a far-too-much spree of dimsum a couple years ago, and so I very gingerly tread my way into dimsum restaurants these days, because of the very one-ness of their characteristics – they really only differ in quality. but at least this one was pretty much worth the calories (and repetition of flavors), and that view out the window is nothing to laugh about.

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cedele, orchard paragon

I recently had a delicious salad at cedele – which I think is an overlooked stalwart of our cafe scene. the food is pretty consistently good, and so are the drinks – and truly, the prices are more than reasonable for the portions that you get.

and the best part of its mellowed-after-the-hype maturity is the relaxing, family atmosphere you get at most of its cafes – none of that frantic, frenetic too-coolness of new places.

back to the salad – it’s really a modern rift on our traditional tauhu salads, with generous triangles of firm tofu deep-fried, topped with golden garlic chips and a pleasing bit of coriander to provide some interest with the sweet-sour dressing.

it’s a good metaphor for singapore too – a modern take on our heritage, with elements of other countries thrown in, tossed with a sauce that ties everything together.

here’s to being philosophical (and well-fed) on a sunday morning!
x

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pantler, tanjong pagar

good little cakes and entremets in this newish, tiny cafe in tanjong pagar manned by young folk who seem to know (and enjoy) what they’re doing. a long counter laid out with slightly-over-ten cakes and croissants on the side, this place escapes that now-boring industrial layout of wood and exposed brickwork for a clean, modern, and perfectly enjoyable venue in which to sit down and have some cake.

close in offerings to the now-everywhere antoinette, this place has a little more of what you hipsters would call soul character, provided in most part by the neat rows of sweets and earnest (but not pushy) folks behind the counter.

we ordered nine cakes (possibly more, and not counting double orders), and despite delaying everyone’s caketification (like gratification, but with cake) taking photographs, I’ve only ended up with two that I’m pleased enough to show you.

but let me paint the scene for you – because you come here for my writing, don’t you?

all the cakes were gorgeous: well made and executed, with glossy glazes on the fancy ones, and a pleasing craggliness in the rustic, simpler cakes. my favorite was the yatsura, a dark chocolate (what else?) slice of moussey goodness, but the crumbly cheesecake was very much a favorite (I think we had three orders of those).

we didn’t take his recommended bests, like a tiger-ed sponge roll and creme caramel – so you might want to give those a go yourself, if so inclined.

I wouldn’t say this was the best cake shop, or epiphanic, but it has a quiet charm coupled with perfectly-good-for-teatime cakes – and I enjoyed how much the people behind the counter seemed to enjoy their work. definitely worth a visit, and bring a crowd (despite my reputation for sweets, I did not eat these on my own) so you get to share.

Pantler
198 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068637
tel +65 6221 6223
$$: <10 a cake