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.

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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.

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.

Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar

If you’re looking for a brunch spot in town (and by town I mean Orchard) that isn’t too crowded, you’ve got to try Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro. It is approximately a ten minute stroll from Orchard station, perfect for working up an appetite or walking off your brunch.

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Located in the building (which also houses Tanglin post office) opposite Tanglin Mall, its entrance is not visible from the main road, and neither is there any signage or whatsoever. You’ve got to navigate your way up the stairs and pass the butchery to get to it. Alternatively, you can enter from Nassim Road, where the main entrance is.

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The first thing which struck me about this bakery/bistro was how bright and spacious it was. The food menu was comprehensive with a pretty good selection of egg dishes on the menu, but drinks are limited. I opted for my usual Eggs Benedict since nothing spells breakfast more than eggs.

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Eggs Benedict ($20): The Eggs Benedict came with a bread basket with three different warm and crusty toast. I’m not big on bread but I have to say the cranberry walnut was amazing. I loved it so much I bought a loaf back. The eggs were perfectly poached and lathered with creamy hollandaise sauce which had the right amount of acidity. The ciabiatta was soft and fluffy but personally I prefer the usual muffin which can soak up the sauce and flowy yolk without being too mushy.

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Hot Reuben ($18): Corned beef sandwich with melted emmental, saurkraut, onions and Russian dressing on the bakery’s signature Grimbergen Ambrée beer bread. Anything with melted cheese is a winner and this is no exception. The corned beef wasn’t too salty and the bread had a nice, rich taste of beer, finished with a kick from the saurkraut.

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Coffee ($5): The coffee however, was disappointing. Not only did the coffee taste watered down, my latte came with foam which had already collapsed into the coffee.

Overall, this place is recommended for brunch. Service was prompt and the prices are nett. Read: No service charge! Will definitely be back for the other egg dishes.

Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar is located at 56 Tanglin Road #01-03 Tanglin Post Office and is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 08:00 to 00:00.

Not too sure about parking availability at the building though. Might be easier to park across the road at Tanglin Mall and walking over.

Table Manners

I love brunch. Going for brunch is my favourite weekend activity because it is reminiscent of my time in Melbourne. I remember how my mates and I will drive all over Melbourne in search of the place that serves the best brunch. It was an obsession. I reckon it is also the reason why I am unabashedly fussy when it comes to brunch food, especially Eggs Benedict.

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Table Manners has been on my to-try list for some time now and I was stoked to know that their ala carte ‘mix and match’ brunch menu includes Eggs Benedict. It is not always that we see restaurants offering ‘mix and match’ menu for brunch, so I made sure I ordered my favourite – Egg Benny, of course!

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Set D ($19.50 for 2 fibres and 2 proteins): There was barely any truffle aroma when the food came (always a bad sign), and that got me worried.  A couple of fries later confirmed my fears. The fries were plain salty with just a hint of truffle. Off to a rocky start, I approached my Egg Benny with caution. The egg reeked of vinegar and to make matters worse, the yolk was watery, not runny.  The hollandaise sauce was off the charts for tartness and a small bite was enough to make me flinch. That aside, the steak was also not cooked to medium rare doneness as requested. I definitely worked up a sweat just chewing it. The mushroom ragout was the only item that I finished and only because I was starving. Soup and drink are not are not part of the set by default. Top up $5.80 to complete your set.

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Fibre ($3.50 per add on): Because mushrooms alone are insufficient for brunch (obviously), I added a side of spaghetti pomodoro. The pasta was cooked al dente and tossed in creamy tomato sauce. The sauce tasted nothing like homemade sauce to me, but when you are that hungry, anything goes.

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Set B ($13.50 for 2 fibres and 2 proteins): Beer battered fish fillet came crispy but the fish fillet encased in the thick batter was slightly mushy. Nothing to shout about the wedges and the mash, and wedges are always a safe choice anyway.

Overall, despite its chic and promising decor, the food just does not match up and inattentive service didn’t help as well. That said, maybe they are better during weekday lunch/ dinner service since it appears to be popular with the office crowd around the area. 

Table Manners is located at #01-69/69, The Oasis, Changi City Point, 5 Changi Business Park Central 1 and it is open Mon – Sun: 1100 to 0000.

Parking at Changi City Point can be a bit tricky because it is rather difficult to locate the building and it is one big loop with no U-turns. Alternatively, take the train to Expo station and walk a little.