Common Man Coffee Roasters, a collaboration between Harry Grover of 40 Hands, Five Senses Coffee and the Spa Esprit Group (behind brands such as Skinny Pizza, Tiong Bahru Bakery, ODP etc) and one of the "in" places to have brunch at in recent days. Desperately wanting to feel young again, I made the long trek to Martin Road (cut throat parking charges!) to try and wrangle a table for brunch (they don't take reservations).
Full Breakfast - The Full Breakfast consisted of 2 free range organic eggs done in any style (I had mine poached), bacon, sausage, tomato salsa, chorizo hash brown, mushrooms and pork cannellini beans with artisanal sourdough toast. In all honesty, everything was pretty average and nothing really stood out. It was just a mixture of flavours that happened to find find themselves on the same plate. At $26 , this was really quite expensive.
A coffee and a breakfast platter cost almost $36. I usually wouldn't blink at such a price but quality of food really doesn't justify the price. So what brings locals and expatriates alike to CMCR? Is it the coffee? The food? The service? The sense of belonging? I really wouldn't know but I'm guessing it's not the food.
We dropped by Wildfire Kitchen for brunch one Saturday morning, in search of their highly raved about burgers. But alas, burgers weren't available till 12pm so we had to order off the breakfast menu.
Taking over the spot vacated by Hatched along the leafy stretch of Evans Road (just across the road from MOE), Wildfire Kitchen spots a cafe like amostphere with cement screed floors, metallic chairs, overhanging exposed tungsten light bulbs, free seating and a "pay and collect your food at the counter" ordering process.
Swiss Rösti - The rösti was deliciously crisp on the outside without coming across as overly charred whilst the scrambled eggs had a nice creaminess (a little less milk would be much appreciated though) to it. Best eaten with the chewy, mildly charred sourdough bread and the firm, savoury Toulouse pork sausage. Only gripe I had was that the salt content in the rösti seemed to be unevenly distributed; some parts were saltier than the others. Nonetheless, a pretty nice dish overall.
Wildfire Breakfast - Wildfire's namesake breakfast aka the big breakfast. Fresh tasting hash browns (no recycled oil taste), savoury Toulouse sausage, mushrooms, a choice of egg (I chose poached), crisp bacon, greens and toast. The eggs were mostly runny (a tad overcooked as a tiny part of the yolk had already hardened) and went well with the sourdough. Pretty decent as well.
Brunch for the both of us cost a relatively reasonable $52. Quality of food was a notch above average and I like that there's no service charge imposed. Do note that its cash or nets only so don't be caught unprepared like yours truly.
And I went back during lunch one weekday to specially try out their burgers.
The Works - This had everything thrown in (120 day grain fed beef patty, baby spinach, bacon, rösti, Parmesan crisp, onion rings, fried egg, tomatoes, beer caramelised onions, guacamole and signature sauce) and was it a feast for the eyes; the sheer monstrosity of all the ingredients stacked up layer by layer and culminating in a beautifully (but partially) glazed bun. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as good as it looked. By virtue of the many ingredients, there were too many competing flavours in every mouthful and it was difficult to have all the flavours gel together. Sometimes less really is more. That aside, the patty (done to a requested medium) was a little too mushy for my liking and the buns could do with a little more time on the griddle to achieve a nice crisp. Still a decent burger nonetheless but it definitely won't be near the top of my list that's for sure. Maybe their basic or specialty burgers might fare better.
And of course the bill. I'll probably return just to have another burger before coming to a conclusion. But for now, I still very much prefer Suprette.
We often drove/walked past Hatter Street Bakehouse & Cafe and the place used to be rather quiet until it got featured in a few publications as well as The Straits Times. Intrigued by the hype, we popped by one weekend afternoon for a dessert fix. And even at about 3pm, the place was still pretty full (it's actually pretty small and cramp) but we were lucky to snag two counter seats facing the pedestrian walkway.
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart ($6) - I love a good chocolate hazelnut tart and this was actually pretty good; Chilled, smooth richly yet not too sweet chocolate encased within a crumbly tart shell and topped with a hazelnut. Only gripe I had was that the shell was a tad too moist and could do with a little more stiffness.
Waffle With Pandan Ice Cream & Gula Melaka Sauce ($9.80) - This was a rather unique combination and it piqued our interest quite a fair bit. Crisp waffle (I found it a tad too hard for my liking though) coupled with a scoop of smooth, mildly flavoured pandan ice cream and drizzled over with a distinctive yet not cloyingly sweet gula melaka (palm sugar) sauce. Pleasantly nice local twist to a western dessert I must say.
Will I be back? Most probably, since I don't stay too far off. However Ciel Patisserie might still be my top choice for desserts in the same area as it's cheaper, has less crowds (although seating is even more limited) and quality as a whole is rather similar. Only downside is that they don't do waffles.
It was restaurant week again and we decided to do Chinese for once. Since neither of us had ever been to Summer Palace, we decided to give their lunch a shot.
Located on the third floor of Regent Singapore, just a level above Basilico, Summer Palace houses a rather traditional Chinese interior complete with wooden chairs, golden pillars and a floor of red trim carpeting. We were lucky to be seated by the window (3 such tables available) but there was honestly no view to speak of except for the pool below and the hotel guests sunbathing by it. Still, I appreciated the serenity of the whole place.
Chef's Dim Sum Selection - Deep Fried Prawn Roll with Mango - I liked the crisp, deep fried rice noodles that encapsulated bits of crunchy prawn but unfortunately, the taste of mango was almost non existent. What was interesting was that the mayonnaise that came served alongside actually had hints of mango in it. Or was I imagining things?
Barbecued Pork Bun with Pine Nuts - Boasting a crusty, not too sweet top and a generous filling of sweet, mildly gooey BBQ pork, the bun was actually pretty respectable. However, unlike my personal favourite from Lung King Heen, the sweetness from the BBQ pork actually overwhelmed the nutty taste of the pine nuts and the bun itself wasn't as soft or chewy.
Steamed Prawn Dumpling with Bird's Nest -This was your typical 虾角 with a mere aesthetic upgrade aka tasteless shreds of birds nest. Throw in a relatively limp dumpling skin and you have an average prawn dumpling.
Double Boiled Ginseng with Fish Maw, Conpoy and Bamboo Piths - Although I'm personally not a fan of ginseng, this soup was quite good in my humble opinion. Tasty yet light with the mild taste of ginseng helping to keep the nausea at bay and the spongy fish maw coming across as crunchy.
Stir Fried Fish Cubes with Asparagus in Teriyaki Sauce - Flaky and smooth flesh coupled with a light sweetness from the teriyaki sauce and a mild savouriness from the stir fried garlic and ginger. Pretty good. Only issue I had was that the sweetness of the teriyaki dominated the natural sweetness of the cod fish, which I personally am quite a fan of.
Fried Glass Vermicelli with Crabmeat and Black Pepper - A tad chewy with an abundance of wok hei, crab meat shreds and black pepper for that mildly peppery kick, the glass vermicelli was pretty decent. And the beansprouts added a nice crunchiness to it.
Combination of Desserts - Osmanthus Jelly with Wolfberries - Nice and sweet with the wolfberries tasting very similar to raisins.
Mango Sago - Chilled and a tad runny but thankfully, not too sweet. Not as refreshing as I expected and could probably do with a little tartness and a little more time in the fridge.
Lemongrass Jelly - I absolutely dislike lemongrass but this turned out surprisingly acceptable. The lemongrass taste was rather faint and it tasted like your regular ice jelly dessert with crunchy bits of aloe vera. Very decent.
And so concluded our lunch, with two restaurant week lunch sets and a pot of 龙井 hitting the century mark. Pretty satisfactory lunch but I personally don't deem it wow enough for a return visit, not when the normal ala carte prices seem a tad steep for the quality of food. Service was excellent though; warm yet unintrusive.
I was in search of a good burger, having been recently disappointed by W39's over-hyped rendition and word on the street was that Suprette served up one of the best burgers in Singapore in current times. Since it wasn't too far from our place, the wife and I decided to drop by one Sunday morning for brunch (yay to free parking at the public carpark).
Suprette is actually housed in the heritage Kam Leng Hotel (first established in 1927 and later extensively refurbished and reopened in 2012), along the busy and sometimes chaotic Jalan Besar Road. The simply furnished eatery is quite small and can probably take up to about 30 customers in one sitting. As it is located on the ground floor, all the views you get are of cars and passers-by (relatively rare). But the place is cosy in it's own right, exuding an unhurried, small world charm amidst the hustle of the passing traffic. However, having said that, pray for quiet patrons. During our visit, there was a relatively loud table who held us hostage with their gossips and that marred our experience quite a fair bit.
Pasta Of The Day - Pasta of the day happened to be Carbonara so went for it. In a "tribute" to the local dining scene, the spaghetti is served on a water resistant brown foil (like those you would get at nasi lemak or economic beehoon stalls) placed in a old school tin plate. Or maybe they just wanted to save cost and do away with the fancy tableware. Anyways, the spaghetti was a little overcooked while the cream sauce came across as a tad runny. Throw in generous handful of porky, fat laden bacon bits and you end up with a rather uninspiring rendition of this Italian classic. I reckon I could get something similar at a random western food stall in Singapore, at a fraction of the cost.
Suprette Burger - The sole reason why we were here; Suprette's eponymous burger, with an additional topping of bacon and mushrooms ($3 apiece). Soft buns slathered with butter and toasted on the griddle till crisp and golden brown on the surface, sandwiching a juicy, beefy patty with bits of fat for that extra chewiness and topped with a layer of gruyere cheese which imbued it with a faintly sweet, nutty taste.The additional topping of mushrooms was worth it, adding an earthy perspective to the mix but the bacon did come across as a tad too crisp, dry and lacking in salt. Overall still a good burger and one of the best I've had in a while (last one was at Minetta Tavern in New York).
There is only 1 dessert available daily and we didn't fancy what was on offer that day (lemon meringue pie with vanilla ice cream) so we skipped it.
At $20 for a basic burger with fries, it is honestly a little on the pricey side but I reckon it's well worth the dough. Service was decent and I'll be happy to return just for the burger (and the nostalgia from the hotel), minus the bacon strips of course.