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Brunch

brunch time at orchard road!

robert timms was an accidental brunch choice for a lazy saturday morning. accidental meaning that mandarin gallery’s antoinette and wild honey were both completely swamped, with waiting times of 30 – 45 minutes whilst robert timms @ orchard shopping center looked distinctly empty besides one of two tables and hence we settled on that.

not that it was a bad choice.

i like the fact that it wasn’t crowded and the place had an airy, cheery atmosphere that really encouraged much talking/sharing and just chilling out. furnishings are nothing much to talk about, its just a simple restaurant layout with some slight australian accents (like the koala). and its not too expensive — something like a cross between a cafeteria styled fast food place and a more sophisticated cafe like environment. let’s talk food.

big bang  ($18.00) – sausages, turkey ham, beef patty, baked beans and bacon

to be honest, its a little of a meat overload, and it was semi-comical trying to see my friend trying to slowly work through the entire portion. definitely satisfies meat lovers though my friend didn’t particularly like the beef patty, but otherwise its not a smart choice for a light brunch option. girls, you can share this amongst three i suspect.

three way toasts ($13.50) – sauteed mixed mushrooms, bratwurst sausage, poached egg with turkey ham on multigrain toasts 

i got this which was pretty decent, what with three distinct flavors topped onto some multigrain toasts. poached egg with turkey was good, with the egg being nicely soft-boiled, oozing upon being poked at. the sauteed mixed mushrooms could have benefited from a little more flavor and perhaps a little of pepper and herbs because it was pretty bland. the bratwurst sausage slices were pleasant and reminded me of chorizo – they were slightly spicy (like the korean bean paste style spicy). overall, a decent choice with variety and a balance of flavors. i mean, i’m not expecting top notch quality food here and neither am i paying for such, so its all good. 

couldn’t end the meal without a decent cafe latte ($5.80), since coffees were apparently the draw of this place (help me, i’m turning ang-moh with the need for coffee). its aromatic and decent (honestly cant comment much about coffee) and made for a good after-meal drink. to be honest, i like the place because its simple, not too crowded, serves hearty decent brunch food at a sensible price, and is a nice place to just chat and chill with friends. mission accomplished. 6.75/10

house of robert timms321 Orchard Road, #01-01/02, Orchard Shopping Centre, singapore 238866 | brunch, australian, contemporary

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solace by the riverside.

brought my parents to eM by the river for some roberston-quay style brunch, complete with a gratuitous serving of ang-mohs. eM by the river is essentially an al-fresco cafe thats well shaded from the sun, creating a cool, tropical-gardens atmosphere without the heat… well.. almost completely without the heat (one can’t escape the humidity unless you head indoors). but well, the concept seems to be that of dining among lush foliage and fresh fruits, with the restaurant trying to create the illusion that fresh fruits are plucked from the backyard, pulped and squeezed at the juice bar and brought to us patrons fresh. its a decent concept, and creates a congenial, nature-friendly, semi lazy, laid back atmosphere.

dining in the gardens. juice bar sold separately.

let’s bring out the food.

american breakfast ($20) – comes with fruit juice and coffee/tea

hmm.. i don’t know.. compared to tobey’s estate cafe’s rendition, this seems a little.. cheap? i mean, the bread doesn’t look as appetizing considering it looks just like some toasted gardenia bread and honestly both the sunny side up eggs and beans seem pretty easy to pull off (you don’t even need any cooking effort for the beans). to me, as long as the stuff served seems as though i could have done it, then it kinda begs the question… why pay $20 for such simple fare? and to be honest, the combination of items was also a little too jelak, without any greens to offset the inherent greasiness of the oil from the bacon, mushroom and eggs. not exactly a fan here.

prawn aglio olio

my mom ordered this dish because she belongs to the generation that firmly believes breakfast food should not be consumed at lunch and hence cannot grasp the concept of eating brunch stuff at like 12 noon. but then she specified it to be not spicy, and the order actually came out to be extra spicy. kind of a poor service there.. or well, maybe its just a mis-communication, but it certainly marred our impression of the place slightly. but to its merit, the dish was flavorful and tasty and the prawns were fresh and juicy. its pretty good, but a little on the unhealthy side again, as the entire dish was drenched in quite a bit of oil.

all in all, not exactly an impressive entry in terms of food. the ambience is indeed appealing, but perhaps more to the expatriates who love the al-fresco, sun-soaked tropical environment. i like seeing such an environment, but from the confines of a nice air-conditioned room to escape the weekend morning’s heat. lol. oh, there’s free wifi here as well. =) 6.25/10

eM by the river | 1 nanson road, #01-05, the gallery hotel | brunch, chillax

for the love of coffee.

our collective comment when we entered the industrial, sleek-looking, sun-lit space was… “wah.. all ang moh one…”. it was as though we were transported to australia and had entered some cool cafe by darling harbor. well, i guess you get such experiences especially when you choose to dine at restaurants and cafes along the robertson quay area (read: kith cafe, eM by the river, toby’s estate etc) but i guess the feeling is still kinda surreal to walk in and feel suddenly as though you have entered a different country.

i rest my case.

anyways, toby’s estate has a really cool interior that has that pared down, industrial minimalist vibe to it. the walls have that stark unfinished feel and you get to see most of the ventilation shafts and pipings on the really high ceiling. natural light comes beaming in from the large windows sited high-up on the walls and gives the entire place a natural sun-lit feel. the furnishings continue the theme of this industrial-sparseness, the tables being constructed from sturdy wood and steel pipings used as support. its the exact aesthetic i want to design my future house with.

ok la.. we talk food here, so here goes.

baguette with bacon and eggs ($12)

toby’s estate is known for their coffee blends, but their brunch efforts ain’t too shabby as well. its essentially typical brunch fare with a slight ozzie influence, hence you see alot of bacon, eggs, ham, bread and the likes.

toby’s big breakfast ($16)

i got the toby’s big breakfast, which honestly looks pretty darn awesome and smells very good as well. i was commenting to my friends how i loved the way the bread had been grilled/toasted perfectly to have that a golden-brown crisp and skillet marks and how it really whetted one’s appetite to see such inviting hues of golden, yellow and reds. the bread was crispy, the bacon utterly sinful but delicious, the tomatoes fresh and not oily/greasy. what could be improved could be the mushrooms (kind of blah..) as well as the eggs (a little light on taste). but overall, this is a really good rendition of a typical big breakfast, and at a decent pricepoint.

to be honest, i think with brunch places that serve common brunch fare, what really sells the ambience and crowd. tobey’s estate has this down pat, drawing the expat and well-dressed/well-heeled crowd, and also creating an inviting, expansive place for people to just sit back and while away their weekend mornings. what’s nice is that there also is free wifi and free flow of water to go with your meal (but of course, get some coffee).

i used to (well i still do) grumble about how singapore’s brunch scene is so limited in terms of food variety, serving up the most basic of brunch dishes that lack inspiration or creativity but i guess i’ve come to appreciate that brunch in singapore is not that much about food creativity but about eating wholesome comfort food in a chillax environment. there’s still some places that serve inspired brunch dishes (my friends mentioned wild honey, spruce and hatched) though, so i’ll still be on the hunt for inspired brunches. =)

till then. 7.75/10

toby’s estate cafe | 8 rodyk street #01-03/04, singapore 238216 | brunch, coffee, chillax

bringing the city to the garden.

i’m sniffing my guts out as i type this, but ah wells, let’s get this over with.

so we decided to head nearby to bishan park for a meal, since i’ve heard growing buzz about weekend brunch @ canopy and the likes. went there for a drink a while back and found the ambience to be pretty amazing what with a laid back, garden environment creating a sensation of being whisked away to a hidden garden realm. perhaps that’s the very definition of a hidden find?

there are actually 3 restaurants co-located within the verdant confines, canopy being the most exterior and well-lit lodge style dining, followed by the green room, a hidden vegetarian restaurant and then cosy, dark corners that make up middle rock bar. we headed to canopy, by virtue of the fact i’ve heard about it more often. the food is more of a mish mash of western influences, from tapas choices like mini wagyu burgers, selections of pizza and pasta, as well as mains like beef bourguinon and wagyu steak.

lobster pomodoro, $19

ordered a lobster pomodoro, essentially spaghetti in a nuanced tomato sauce, sprinkled with various herbs and parsley (which i still categorically dislike)  and paired with generous chunks of lobster meat. i found this to be a decent rendition of a simple classic, not with the heartiness that typifies typical italian tomato pastas, but with a certain elegance. it was admittedly not mindblowing though, and the lobsters didn’t feel exactly too fresh. perhaps its just that my expectations toward pastas and the likes have really soared with the so much good food in the recent years, but this was well.. well made, but not interesting or inspired.

we also ordered the smoked duck pizza ($20, see first picture) which had a little japanese influence what with the generous globs of mayonnaise spread on top of the pizza to give it a distinct sweetness to balance the savory saltiness of the smoked duck. the flavors were good, and adding rocket and sliced apples into the mix was an inspired choice, lending a different texture and crispness to the pizza that otherwise would seriously merely taste like a wafu pizza from watami (not that the wafu pizza isn’t delicious.. but its half the price). i found the pizza crust to be just a little thick and it lacked a certain crispness and lightness that characterized really good pizzas. but this was nonetheless a satisfying and delicious dish.

signature date pudding in butterscotch sauce and paired with vanilla ice cream ($10)

it was the price of the desserts that made me realise that canopy isn’t exactly very cheap. i mean, consider that you’re located in what would be the heartland-area, sandwiched between bishan and ang mo kio, and you are serving single desserts for the price of $10, which was the exact same price i paid for my desserts at carnivore, mbs last night. and to be honest, this isn’t exactly very fantastic — definitely cannot compare to artichoke‘s amazing rendition of date pudding with salted caramel and it was actually surprisingly simple and well.. flat. the butterscotch sauce was overpoweringly sweet and lacked the finesse and nuance in taste that a salted caramel sauce would have lent, and the date pudding didn’t have any oomph or warm sensation upon eating into it. this was not good considering it was a signature dish and cost 10 quid.

hmm.. overall, this place wins hands down for its ambience, and for its hidden-find ambience. its the perfect place for drinks and late night chats, but the food isn’t exactly very impressive. decent, but not exactly inspired. come for drinks and the ambience instead. 6.0/10

canopy garden dining & bar | 1382 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1, Bishan Park II | chill-out, drinks, western

for old times sake.

headed for brunch with vic, shihao, maryanne and co for some major catching up. and just in time, considering how shihao was jetsetting off to beijing the next day. the thing about studying overseas is that farewell with your friends really means farewell for a damn long time. =( anyways, vic suggested forty hands, which has been on my eating list for awhile. the location is kinda interesting – nestled within one of the oldest housing areas in Singapore which is really so far quite untouched by any foreign/western elements. and i know this area well – my mom’s old house is like right down the street and we used to visit my grandma here every weekend. i still remember the mama shop stacked high with crates of tiger beer. that’s how untouched it is.

so yeah, hidden find is the right description for it for now. but not so for long as I spy new, similar styled establishments sprouting up like that of orange thimble and open door policy.  the tiong bahru area is starting to become hip. anyways, i really like the way forty hands has essentially used the original layout and feel of the area as an inspiration, and has created an establishment that blends well into its surroundings. i particularly liked the use of paper rolls as the menu decorating the walls, and also how the yellow pipes and walls replete with peeling paint are left untouched as part of the design element. its not a big place i must say with patrons having to squeeze quite a bit to get in queue amidst the bar counter and other tables, and it isn’t your chill, laid back, quiet experience — this is like the liminal zone, part kopi-tiam part western cafe. the theme translates well into the crockery as well — food is served in old school basin-like dishes that harken back to the past.

mocha, $8.50 (large)

im wincing as I type the price, not realizing i spent $8.50!! for a mocha. damnit. im not a fan of coffee so I was inclined to get hot chocolate. however, considering that this place is well known for their coffee, I decided to go with the flow and order a weak mocha as per the server’s recommendation. it’s good, but kinda wasted on a coffee noob like me. and i still think $8.50 is daylight robbery for coffee.

truffle fries, $8

we ordered truffle fries to share — they’re shoe-string style – absolutely crispy and dry, with the delicious hint of the truffle oil. its good stuff, though I wish the truffle flavor was more pronounced. methinks barracks@dempsey did a better job.

eggs cocotte, $13.50

victoria ordered the eggs cocotte, which was 2 slices of toast with eggs served with spinach. she said it tasted good. i liked the plate =)

eggs benedict, $14.50

it’s pretty common brunch fare all around, and hence the requisite eggs benedict which maryanne ordered. i note the inclusion of a large piece of sundried tomato. looks yummy.

big boy breakfast, $18.50

i got meself the big boy breakfast because I was starving after completing dragonboat training. this one had a sunnyside up, pita bread, bacon, sausages, sauteed mushrooms – basically the works. I thought this was a pretty decent rendition of the big breakfast – the flavors of each component was very pronounced and flavorful (for lack of a better term). the tomatoes were particularly good and so were the sausages. the pita felt a little incongruous though in this mix – i suspect they tried to be creative with the carbs option and swapped toast for pita. however, the issue with the pita is that it was slightly too oily and well, not flaky and freshly baked enough and hence just felt like a drag to get through. there wasn’t any good condiment to pair it with. overall, i detected a certain mediterranean slant to the dish, with stronger flavors than your normal big breakfasts.

hmm all in all, a chill place that might unfortunately be slightly over-hyped. its worth a visit i suppose, and the big breakfast is better than say riders cafe, but well.. i’m still in search for that creative and delicious brunch place. 6.0/10

forty hands | blk 78 yong siak st, #01-12 | brunch, coffee, contemporary

sunday respite.

chanced upon this review from sparkette regarding torte and decided it was close enough to my old church and looked like a decent brunch place to spend a family Sunday with darling kaykayla before church service, so we headed there. let’s talk ambience first. torte is situated at SCWO, which is right behind sculpture square (that houses artichoke). the restaurant seems wierdly placed, perhaps because my church has used the premises of SCWO for sunday school before, but essentially the cafe occupies a patio area along with some empty corridor area on the ground floor of SCWO. which honestly doesnt make for a very decent ambience. but ahh well, its quiet enough on a Sunday. the managers of the restaurant were really nice, came out to introduce the food and make small talk with us, thought that was a nice gesture. let’s get to the food.

signature torte with ice cream, $4.50

the torte was really pretty delicious, thick decadent chocolate that paired well with the vanilla ice cream. i’m not understand the use of environmentally friendly paper cartons to present the dish though. i mean, its like somewhat of a half-hearted theme that didn’t fully get carried out. i mean, is this place advocating environment consciousness? i don’t really see any posters whatsoever about it. and are these paper products really more environmentally friendly than using nice porcelain dishes that you can wash afterwards? i’m confused. as it is, the presentation gets docked a few points simply because of the use of such a presentation style.

full breakfast – potato wedges, sausages and scrambled eggs ($9)

this really didn’t work for me, which pains me to say because the managers were really pretty earnest. but perhaps some lessons can be learnt from this. first of, the plating yet again doesn’t do anything but cheapen the appearance of the dish. it looks like school cafeteria food like this! now my first impression was.. really? potato wedges, two miserly sausages and eggs for that pricepoint seemed a little pricey. i mean, wedges are little frozen food equivalent and they just tasted pretty normal. the sausages were really common as well and i really didn’t like the eggs because i think too much milk was added, giving a very bland, anemic feel to the scrambled egg. not good.

hmm.. all in all, i’m kinda disappointed. i liked the torte, but the full breakfast was kind of a fiasco of sorts. perhaps come down if you are at the area and want a quiet place for a dessert or a coffee. but otherwise unless the food improves, it’ll be hard to find me back here. 4.0/10

torte | 96 waterloo street, #01-07, singapore council of women’s organization center |  desserts, laid back

ol’ french style tea time

brought my parents to hediard over the weekend for brunch. seems like the idea of brunch is still quite foreign to my parents, because they were exclaiming that there were breakfast options in the menu and couldn’t understand why. ahh.. parents =)  anyways, hediard was something i was yearning to try after eating delicious tartines from a french cafe in NYC with my parents awhile ago. FYI, tartines (pronounced tart-teen, my bad) refer to a french open-face sandwich, usually topped with a rich and savory spread.

hediard is situated in a row of shophouses a stone throw’s away from tanglin mall. the interior is decked in bold reds and blacks, the colors working to create a cosy environment, though this illusion is somewhat interrupted by a large full length window that overlooks the scorching Saturday morning exteriors of Singapore. the tables are french-styled packed together, meaning that you basically can hear whatever your distinguished compatriots are gossiping about in the next table quite effortlessly.

unfortunately for us, our next table neighbors were neither distinguished nor were they making any effort to keep their conversations soft — a bunch of cawing desperate housewives cackling away with voices that thundered across the entirety of the small cafe. -_-” not amused. thankfully, they left pretty soon in a cloud of hubris and the cafe settled into its usual calm and serenity with nearby fashionable compatriots chattering animatedly in francais. (i’m such a sad snob.. lol) ah ok.. this is a food blog.. let’s get to the mains..

[eggs benedict, $18 – muffin toast topped with bacon, soft boiled egg and hollandaise sauce and paired with cheese (dunno what, didn’t ask), pesto, vinaigrette and rucola]

my dad ordered this. and judging by the rate he gobbled this down, im guessing it was pretty good. *mumbles mumbles, selfish didn’t share..*

[hediard’s signature croq ferdinand, $16, generous gruyere cheese half-melted, grilled and smothered atop parma ham and toast, accompanied by greens and vinaigrette]

simply delicious and should be enjoyed accompanied with some smooth coffee. cheese and ham is a well-known combination that always works, but judicious selection of the best cheeses and hams can really send this out of the stratosphere. the smoothness and lightness of the gruyere cheese, grilled at the top but melted and slightly runny at the middle was the perfect companion to the savory param ham. and the combination worth slowly working your way through – didn’t feel the least bit jelak.

 [raspberry and passionfruit with banana sorbet – $8]

for mid day dessert amidst the scorching sun, i skipped past the mille feuilles, eclairs (that’ll be another time i suppose) but went for their homemade sorbet in raspberry and passionfruit with banana flavors. it was the perfect choice considering the elements, the refreshing, sweet-soury flavors cleansing my palate and bringing much respite to the psychological heat brought from the weather. the flavors were nuanced and fresh, not the least bit artificial tasting.

and in case you were wondering, i’m not a fan of coffee. coffee when imbibed in excessive portions (read: one glass for me) gives me a headache. but my sis and dad both ordered coffees and were really charmed by it. (well, my sis liked the little madeleine at the side of her saucer more i suppose.)

overall, a nice and pleasant french brunch spot that’s worth a trip down if u are feeling particularly french and are willing to spend that money. 7.5/10

Hediard Cafe-Boutique | 123-125 Tanglin Road, Tudor Court | french, authentic, brunch