Assembly Coffee

For those who prefer something other than your usual ‘Big Breakfast’ or ‘Eggs Benedict, this is the place for you. A relatively new addition to the F&B scene on Evans Road (just next to Prata Wala), there seems to be more emphasis on coffee than food at this cafe. Seating is limited, so go early to beat the brunch crowd.

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Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon with croissant ($13.90): Creamy yet fluffy and light at the same time, this is everything a perfect scrambled eggs should be. I would have preferred it better with croissant, but they were out of it when I was there. Nonetheless, it was still a lovely dish. Must try!

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Pasta salad ($11.50): The weakest link among the food we tried, the pasta salad was nothing but a disappointment. The pesto failed to pack a punch and it certainly didn’t help that the pricing was also on the high side for its serving size. No loss if you skip this.

Waffles ($11.50): You HAVE to save space for this. We couldn’t decide between Salted Caramel or Earl Grey Caramel, so we got both. The waffles were fragrant and buttery; crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. I like my waffles less sweet so it doesn’t get too cloying when I eat it with the ice cream and sauce, so this was perfect for me. Both waffles come with a scope of New Zealand Natural vanilla ice cream, but differs in the sauce and toppings.

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Earl grey caramel: I am big on earl grey, so this was a natural choice for me. The delightfully rich earl grey caramel sauce perfumed the waffle and the strawberries added a nice touch of freshness. Must try!

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Salted caramel: Luscious, buttery caramel taste with just the right amount of saltiness. Definitely one of the better ones around, but not as outstanding as the earl grey caramel sauce.

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Iced mocha ($5.50): I don’t usually order mocha because they are often too sweet for my liking, but I’m glad this turned out fine. The drink was velvety smooth with just the right amount of chocolate such that the aromatic coffee does not get lost in the drink.

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Iced chocolate ($6): One of the few non-caffeinated drinks on the menu, but unfortunately, not one that I will recommend. There was too much milk for the amount of chocolate in the drink, and I hate to say this but it was pretty similar to iced Milo. Do bear in mind that it is a chocolate drink after all (unlike the former which was a coffee drink with chocolate), so naturally it should be luscious, sinful and chocolate-y.

Overall, we had a good meal (despite some misses) and it was a unanimous decision that this is one cafe that we would definitely go back for more Earl Grey Caramel waffles and chocolate tarts (not reviewed in this post but it was divine!). Hence, it goes without saying that this cafe is highly recommended!

Assembly Coffee is located on 26 evans lodge and is open every Tuesday to Sunday from 0800 to 1900. 

Anthesis

New weekend, new cafe. Sunday brunch continues at yet another cafe near town. Situated on the Robertson Quay stretch of the Singapore River, Anthesis is not the most public transport friendly cafe; but looking at the Sunday crowd, its location sure has not deterred brunch goers.

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We started off with the usual suspects – truffle fries and lattes while we waited for our mains. I am so glad we did because our food took ridiculously long to arrive at our table. You know what they say, a hungry man is an angry man.

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Truffle Fries ($12) : Thick cut fries tossed in truffle oil and topped with sprouts – seriously?? Totally random and the grassy taste did not go well with the truffle flavour at all. Serving size was small for the price and truffle flavour was barely there. We could definitely do with more fries and truffle oil. With such disappointing fries, brunch was definitely off to a shaky start.

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Eggs Duet ($14) : Eggs done two ways and sandwiched between two mini burger buns. The frittata was dry and bland; and while the scrambled egg fared slightly better, it was not creamy enough too. Additionally, we found the bacon and sausages too salty for our liking as well.

P.S: The default set comes with smoked salmon, but you can opt to change it to bacon at no extra cost.

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Sizzling Beef Pot Pie ($16): We waited for almost an hour for this dish, despite constant checks with the waiting staff. Each time we were brushed off and told it will be coming to us in 5 minutes. Not cool. Adding to our disappointment was the fact that the pot pie did not have a top crust. While I am aware that some variations do not have it, but hey, crust is always welcome. The cartilage and fats to meat ratio was off the charts, and to make things worse, it was poorly seasoned too. The only saving grace of this dish was the gooey melted cheese top.

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My Breakfast, My Way ($18):  This is great for those who prefer to customise their breakfast/ brunch. Choose your preferred style of eggs and two other sides to go with it. I have to say the selection was pretty decent, and it includes prosciutto, smoked salmon and avocado. This dish comes with a side serve of greens too. Not only was the dressing lacklustre, the greens were old and wilted too.

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Milkshake ($8) : Both avocado and mixes berries milkshakes were overly milky with a severe lack of fruit element. Also, for some unknown reason, mine came in a plastic cup. I found it really odd, considering that there was no mention of a takeaway or lack of proper serving bottles.

Iced latte ($5.50): Just when we thought we could seek comfort in coffee, the latte was yet another disappointment. Weak and bitter in taste, it was an unsatisfying caffeine fix. Tea might have been a better choice.

Overall, brunch was a let down and the food was definitely not value-for-money given the portion; not to mention the dismal service. I do not know if the service (or lack of it) was because the cafe does not levy service charge, but it certainly left a negative impression on us. Sorry to say this, but this is one cafe which I will not return. That said (and like what I always say), ours could have been a one of those ‘bad days’ incident.

Ronin

Cafe spotting is one of my favourite weekend activities, and nothing rejuvenates me more than a good brunch and a caffeine fix. With the spike in cafes all over Singapore, I am sure my weekends will be kept busy with brunch appointments for a long time (not forgetting repeat visits at my favourites).

Located opposite Clarke Quay station, Ronin is one of the few cafes that is easily accessible by train. Opened by the same guys behind the popular The Plain and The Bravery cafe, you know you’re in good hands. Seating is rather limited and most are communal tables, so be prepared to wait and share table space. Reservations are not possible since there is no number to call. There isn’t a formal menu, but the waiting staff will come by to tell you what’s available for the day. On the weekend that we were at the cafe, there were three main categories of food available – sandwiches, eggs and toast.

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Wicked Mocha ($5.50): Admittedly, the first thing that got me attracted to Ronin was not the food, but the mint mocha. A refreshing twist from the usual mocha, this is perfect for After Eight chocolate fans who do not want to give up their coffee. I particularly liked it that the mint did not overpower the aromatic coffee. Another plus was that while the drink was chocolatey, it was not overly sweet. Definitely my new favourite drink.

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Matchatone ($5.50): This is essentially steamed milk served over matcha paste. If you are big on matcha like me, I suggest that you do not stir in all the matcha paste with the milk; leave a quarter of the paste and eat it on its own. The intense matcha paste is is the best part of the drink.

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French Toast ($14): Eggy brioche topped with caramelised crunchy apple slices and smoky bacon, finished with a good amount of maple syrup. Pork and apple is a time tested pairing, so it was no surprise that this sweet and savoury combination worked perfectly. The fluffy brioche was not only a delight to eat, it was great for mopping up the lovely juices and syrup as well.

In addition to the above, we ordered a roast beef sandwich as well. No photo of it though. Warm crusty bread with thinly sliced roast beef dressed in a tangy dressing and Japanese pickles. It was tasty no doubt, and the picked daikon radish was a nice twist, but we would have preferred it better if they were more generous with the roast beef.

Overall, this cafe is highly recommended for its food and drinks. I am not a big fan of the dim lighting and hipster vibe of the cafe, but that’s just me. Having said that, because I rank quality of food and drink above ambience, I will still be back for more of the awesome mint mocha. In fact, I am craving for it as I type.

Ronin is located at 17 Hong Kong Street and is open daily from 08:00 to 20:00.

L’Entrecôte, The French Brasserie (Suntec City)

Many of us have probably heard of the word entrecôte, used either as part of a restaurant’s name or steak dishes. But what does it actually mean? L’Entrecôte is often associated with Parisian style bistro concept, while L’Entrecôte sauce (commonly known as Café de Paris sauce) refers to a complex herbed butter-based sauce which is served with grilled meat.

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As the name suggests, L’Entrecôte specialises in Parisian bistrot style steak frites. This establishment has more than one outlets, but this post only covers the one at Suntec. Located at the heart of the fountain terrace, it is easy to miss this unassuming looking restaurant if you don’t look closely.

Steak frites (Regular – $29.90, Large – $39.90): Choose between regular or large steak; regular would be sufficient for most ladies. Next, let the staff know your preferred doneness for the steak. Your order will then be written on the paper ‘tablecloth’ for easy reference. To help you make sense of the symbols, we requested for our steaks to be done medium rare, and ‘L’ simply refers to large steak. Every order of steak frites starts with a salad and comes with unlimited fries.

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Serving size of the salad is the same, regardless of size of steak ordered. The simple salad of greens and walnuts is tossed in a light mustard dressing. Personally, the vinaigrette dressing was too sharp and sour for my liking but my dining partners seem fine with it.

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The steak came to us sliced up and drenched in the signature L’Entrecôte sauce. The sweet and savoury sauce went well with the steak, but I’d have liked it better if it was less sweet. The steak was not particularly tender and could do with slightly more seasoning in the taste department as well. Nothing to shout about the quality of the steak and I know I can’t expect much for the price I’m paying anyway. What was totally unacceptable was that the medium rare steak which I ordered was clearly overcooked, as shown in the photo above. When I approached the waiters regarding my overcooked steak, they brushed it off and informed me that the steak had been done according to my order. Well, it clearly doesn’t look medium rare to me. That aside, the fries were delightfully crispy but (there’s always a but) unfortunately too salty.

Overall, I did not have a pleasant experience at the Suntec outlet, but my dining partners had better luck with their steak. So, don’t write it off as yet, since mine could just be an isolated incident.

Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant

Having spent a few years in Melbourne where authentic and delicious Vietnamese food are aplenty, I am no stranger to the cuisine. Some even go as far as to claim that the best Vietnamese food is not found in Vietnam, but in Melbourne.

.Situated in messy vibrant Joo Chiat – also known as Little Vietnam, Long Phung is easily identified by its green signage and snaking queue. You know you’re in good hands when you see throngs of Vietnamese in the eatery. There are two main things that I come here for – pho and coffee.

Note: Prices indicated here have been revised to reflect the prices shown on the menu as of 30 March 2014.

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Fish sauce chicken wings ($9): Crispy and tasty, these finger-licking goodness are the perfect beer food. Just don’t forget to save space for pho!

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Pho Tai ($6.50): Served pipping hot with rare beef slices and rice noodles in a flavourful broth. Not only was the soup a winner, the noodles were soft and silky, and the beef delightfully tender. Hands down the best pho in Singapore. Fussy eaters will be pleased to know that the rice noodles doesn’t have the icky flour taste also. For that extra oomph, don’t forget to add a squeeze of lime and some cut chilies.

For those who do not take beef, chicken version of the pho is available too. The broth is different (obviously) but tasty in its own way – well seasoned and a little on the sweet side.

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Com suon + op la ($6.50): Vietnamese pork chop rice with a side of fried egg. Tender and well marinated, this is one tasty pork chop you do not want to pass on. I love my rice dishes with fried egg, so I do appreciate that I do not have to pay extra for the egg. Also, the fact that the egg yolk is still gooey in the centre is a major plus point.

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Cafe Sua Da ($3.50): Vietnamese drip coffee with condensed milk. Strong (and by strong I mean double espresso shots equivalent or more) and aromatic with a smooth chocolatey finish. This mocha tasting cuppa takes me back to the streets of HCM and it’s easily one of the best Vietnamese coffee that I’ve had in Singapore.DSCN2582-001Tamarind juice ($3): I have had tamarind in many ways but tamarind juice is a first for me. Sweet and sour at the same time, this is a good alternative for those who prefer a non-caffeinated drink. Also, I love that the peanuts add a nutty touch to the drink. Those with peanut allergy should avoid this drink at all cost.

Overall, this place is highly recommended for its unpretentious and amazingly delish food. It has been my go-to place to get my Vietnamese food fix and will continue to be. Well, at least until I find somewhere better.

Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant is located on 159 Joo Chiat Road and is open from 11:00 to 23:00 daily

Drury Lane

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Relaxing with a good cup of coffee is a luxury on weekdays; more so if you work in the CBD area. Drury Lane cafe is one of the few cafes that is within reasonable walking distance in CBD, but yet far enough to get away from the hustle and bustle of the the fast paced CBD life. In fact, I go so frequently it’s fast becoming a weekly lunchtime ritual.
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Located on busy Tanjong Pagar Road, this cafe can be easily identified by its red door frame. Bar seats are available on the ground floor but I prefer the window seats on the second floor.

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Big 94 ($14): Hearty serve of sausage, honey cured bacon, mushrooms, baked beans, toast and eggs of your choice. I particularly like the fragrant and slightly sweet bacon that’s fried till crispy (not a fan of chewy bacon) and the homemade baked beans in a tangy tomato sauce. This is one big breakfast that will hit all the right spot, plus it’s good value for $ 14.

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Bacon baked eggs ($12): There are a few variations of baked eggs available, but I prefer mine with bacon. This comes with mushrooms, tomato and homemade baked beans, finished with melted cheese. Love the cheesy half cooked egg yolk which broke gloriously. Everyone eats it differently and I like mine all mixed up into a messy cheese and tomato egg mix before dunking my butter toast in it.

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Chicken and avocado sandwich ($8): Tender pieces of chicken marinated in spices with chunks of creamy avocado, served between two thick crusty bread. Love the contrast of warm bread against the cool yogurt mint sauce which complemented the spiced chicken very well.

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Latte ($4.50): The coffee was strong and smooth with no lingering bitterness, complete with a velvety milk foam. While the coffee has been generally consistent, there have been one or two instances when the coffee was a tad too bitter.

Overall, this place is recommended for its all day breakfast and decent coffee. The fact that prices shown are nett is a major plus point.

Drury Lane cafe is open on weekdays (except Wednesday) from 09:00 to 20:30 and weekends from 10:00 to 18:00.

Park at Peck Seah Street or Tanjong Pagar Plaza.

Mad For Garlic (Clarke Quay)

The guys behind Mad for Garlic were definitely not kidding about their obsession with garlic. Hailing from Korea, this Italian cuisine inspired restaurant not only has a menu with a strong emphasis on garlic, even the lamps and decor resemble garlic bulbs.

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Located in the heart of the nightlife scene in Singapore – Clarke Quay, the modern looking restaurant looks like the perfect place for a date night. Well, that’s if neither is bothered by each other’s garlic breath. By the way, reservations are highly recommended on weekends. We ended up with bar counter seats because we didn’t have prior reservations, and it wasn’t till much later did we manage to move to a proper table.

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Garlic Bread Tower ($12.50): Warm crusty baguette topped with fresh garlic puree. It was served as a tower, but even before I could snap a photo, the waitress had already compressed and cut it up. Other than it’s initial presentation, this is no different from the usual garlic bread. It didn’t help that the garlic flavour was rather mild, and $12.50 for garlic bread is definitely way overpriced.

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Garlic Snowing Pizza ($22.50): Thin crust pizza topped with shrimp, pineapple, fried garlic and lots of cheese. I usually stay clear of pizza with pineapple, but this unique combination of flavours worked well together, and was surprisingly addictive too! My only gripe is that it is a little on the sweet side. Perhaps less pineapples and more garlic would balance things out.

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Shrimp and Garlic Sprout Pasta ($21.70): Don’t be deceived by the description on the menu that it is done in light olive oil sauce. This is one fiery pasta (even for someone who has a high threshold for spicy food)! I was expecting to see shrimps the the size of those on the pizza but was pleasantly surprised to find decent sized prawns. This chili pasta was tasty with the seafood but the garlic sprouts seem redundant.

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Chicken and Spinach Cream Pasta ($22.40): Though it was indicated on the menu that this pasta comes in a spicy cream sauce, the sauce was no way near spicy. The cream was a little too thick and it was already cloying barely halfway through the pasta. Would have preferred the chicken to be more tender also.

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Garlic Sizzling Rice ($21.40): My favourite dish of the night and by far the most garlicky one as well. This isn’t just any other garlic fried rice. Served on a hot iron pan, the fried rice is done with bacon, fish roe and garlic pickles, and topped with tons of fried garlic chips (can’t never get enough of it!). I particularly liked the play of textures with the addition of crunchy (or ‘QQ’ as some will call it) fish roe which added a burst of flavour with every bite. Not to mention the pickled garlic which intensified the flavour of the dish. Despite it’s hefty price tag for fried rice, it is definitely worth a try.

Overall, although there were some hits and misses, this place is still recommended for garlic lovers and for curious foodies. Unfortunately service was dismal and most of the service staff appeared lost. We got so tired of getting the attention of the service staff to refill our glasses that we helped ourselves with the water jug. Perhaps you will have better luck next time!

Mad for Garlic is located at Block 3B, River Valley Rd,#01-16, The Foundry; and is open from Sunday to Tuesday from 17:00 to 23:00 and Wednesday to Saturday from 17:00 to 01:00.

Car parking spaces are available at Block 3 of Clarke Quay. Alternatively, you may wish to park at Liang Court which is cheaper.