My CafeHopping Stint

O.M.G! I have not been blogging for such a long time! Nope, I have not forsaken this space.  Let me just consolidate and share my reviews of 8 cafes I have recently visited here – all at one go! (NB: In random order, in case u read too much in between the lines)

The Assembly Ground Cafe
This cafe is located just next to its Assembly Store that’s a multi-label store selling a wide range of clothes, bags, accessories, etc.  I visited the cafe when K was there for another reason…to buy the bag he was eyeing for awhile at the Assembly Store, his latest favourite.

Back on track:  The cafe has nice and cosy ambience. Though it’s a lil dim for my standard.  I like the Green Tea Latte! The mushroom panini was nice too.  As for the crowd, it is located at The Cathay, so what do u think? *wink*  I would recommend to those who want to spend time with a couple of friends on a lazy weekend afternoon.  Check it out 🙂

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  3.5/5
Beverage & Food:  4/5
Cost:  3.5/5 (1- not worth; 5 – value-for-money…according to Tottz’ spending power) 

20140622_141341  20140622_140559 20140622_140633 PhotoGrid_1403417410475

Carpenter & Cook
This cafe serves quiches!! I was instantly excited and ordered 2 for sharing; the cheese and bacon as well as the cherry tomato. Though my number 1 is still the one at TWG, this is not too bad.  The highlight is actually the choc sea salt caramel and lemon tart.  Heavenly! I like it so much that I packed them home for K.  We’ve been there previously but don’t think we tried the tarts then.  The latte is normal.  For selfie and we-fie guys, this cafe offers a very nice ambience with pretty ‘props’ and background for photo taking.  My gal friends were all busy taking photos of almost everything in the cafe even when the food were served.  If you have time for a cuppa and pastries, come here for happy food & fun shots with your buddies!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Pastries:  4/5
Cost:  3/5

2014-07-17 13.29.24 20140717_133000 20140717_133026IMG-20140717-WA0009

Coast and Company
I’m often confused over the name of this place – Coastliner or Coast Cycles or Coast and Company?? This is a two-in-one kind of cafe where part of the cafe is a bicycle shop (Coast Cycles) and the other part is the actual dining area (Coast and Company). Since Siglap is near our place, we swing by on a weekend morning to have brunch.  I like the ‘clean’, simplistic and spacious feel of this cafe.  But I find there’s not many choices for me in terms of food. So I ordered the Almond Peanut Butter Toast while K had the Beef Rendang Hotdog.  Yummy!  The latte was nice too.  Maybe I’m biased cos it’s affiliated to Papa Pahelta 🙂  I’ll certainly be back soon!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Food:  4/5
Cost:  3.5/5

20140629_094642  IMG-20140629-WA0001  
IMG-20140629-WA0000  IMG_0232_zpsc40cda9d
IMG-20140629-WA000220140629_100622

Brawn & Brains
Another cafe that’s nearby our place. We’re really in for treats 🙂  Just next to the former Badminton Association at MacPherson, B&B is small and inconspicuous.  Apart from two long tables, there are only small chairs and side tables.  But that didn’t stop a family of 3 from sitting outside the entrance for an alfresco feel. Hmmm….

Seems like they roast different coffee beans everyday.  We got to choose between 2 different types of coffee beans and K loved the coffee so much that he ordered a 2nd helping.  It was a pity that we were too early and were told that sandwiches would only be served after 10am. So we ordered the croissants to go with our latte. I’m sure their panini would be yummy as well, on my next comeback!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  3/5
Beverage & Pastries:  4/5
Cost:  4/5

2014-07-19 09.42.15

Jones The Grocer
Saw this cafe at ION Orchard but didn’t visit it then.  I eventually got the chance to go to the other outlet at Dempsey Hill. Well, not as up market as the former outlet, if you ask me. But I like the feel here better.  Perhaps, it’s due to its colonial setting and high ceilings, it is very spacious.  Apart from the food, the merchandise displayed at the place also took some waiting time off us as we walked around the cafe checking out what it has to offer.  Very tempted by the cutesy candies, chocs and stuff but I managed to stop myself, haha.

We did not order the food.  We only went there for drinks and desserts.  The lemon meringue tart was delicious!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  3.5/5
Beverage & Pastries:  4/5
Cost:  3.5/5

PhotoGrid_1404565028157

Brew Maison
A friend wanted to give me a bday treat and threw a popular food blog to me so that I can choose which newly opened cafe I wanted to go.  Most of the cafes listed in the blog only serve drinks and desserts; no proper food.  While scrolling the photos, my attention was locked at a cutesy 3D latte art of a cat (though yours truly is not really a cat-lover).  And, this cafe serves fusion Jap-Korean food and beverages.  Cool!

To our disappointment, we didn’t get the latte art even though we ordered its popular Taro latte.  We accepted the fact that perhaps the artist was not there till later cos we saw another group of gals had theirs (awww!).  The food is mediocre, I would say. Just like the food blogger has recommended, only the Tori Bite (aka self-made chic nuggets -> middle pic of the left column below) can make it. Oh well, I may not want to revisit this place that is residing within the Alocassia Apartments, Bukit Timah Road.  I would think its largest clientele would be the SCGS gals as it offers spacious and a pretty haven for homework and assignments 🙂

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Food:  2.5/5
Cost:  3.5/5

brewmaison1

<photo above from danielfooddiary>

 20140621_124527 20140621_130501 20140621_130614 20140621_130621 20140621_131353 20140621_131400

Craftsmen Specialty Coffee
“This place got class!” was my 1st impression as we approached its main entrance. I like its simplistic Scandinavian setting, furnishing; everything!  It is also spacious and neat – exactly for an OCD like yours truly.  I was instantly satisfied.  It is located within the new Siglap V condominium, so most of its customers are the residents living nearby.  As we were early, there was only simple food such as pastries and bread. So we ordered Hazelnut Latte, Almond Croissant and Sausage Bun. Noticed that they have no kitchen, so we presumed they must have sourced the food and Gryphon tea from vendors. Only the coffee is in-house. But we were not impressed by its coffee nor latte art, sorry.  Our heart still go fondly back to B&B and we liked the idea of being able to choose the freshly roasted coffee nut 🙂

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Pastries:  3.5/5
Cost:  3.5/5

2014-07-28 10.15.03

IMG-20140728-WA0006
I like the 2-in-1 concept of decorating the pipe this way

IMG-20140728-WA0007
Residents streaming in continuously for takeaway coffee

Bluespoon
Lately we received a flyer introducing a new cafe along Joo Chiat Road, called Bluespoon. I checked the website and interestingly, found that it provides an “online kitchen – express gourmet” segment.  Formerly known as Ulu Ulu Cafe Lounge at Loyang Crescent, it has just been rebranded as Bluespoon.  Went there for a light brunch and ordered fried jap breaded shrimps with fries. I liked it.  K ordered nan with lamb shank. Not bad, he said.  The seats on level 2 offer a warm, cosy and homely feel.  Bluespoon is nestled along the famous Joo Chiat strip of old yet characteristic shophouses.  Spend your lazy weekend afternoon here if you are in search of peace and tranquillity!

Tottz’ review
Ambience:  4/5
Beverage & Food:  3.5/5
Cost:  4/5

20140628_122905 20140628_122917

Advertisements

Can’t see anything that’s Symmetrical

Symmetry is another typical “hole in the wall” cafe that recently popped out, according to K’s theory.  Indeed, it is inconspicuously located at Jalan Kubor.  An easier way of locating the cafe is to tell your friends that it is just next to the prominent landmark – Santa Grand Hotel at Bugis.

The moment I stepped into the cafe, I thought it was a lil too dark for my liking.  Unlike the name of the cafe, I couldn’t find anything that is symmetrical…hmmm…am I being dense to try associating the name with anything in the cafe? The crowd was mainly made up of youths (yes, I felt very out of place).  A quick observation – the staff here are not only young, the girls are also in super tight shorts* (Have all the guy readers woken up at this juncture? Haha)

*when i posted this on my FB, my guy friends immediately became interested about the (err…) place 

Back to the decoration, I was seated next to the window ledge and conveniently turned into a ‘photo whore’ 🙂

20131115_184912 20131115_184737
What a happy coincidence, I have the same bicycle at home!

We ordered a scallop dish for starter and 2 main courses – steak and chicken. Frankly, I was very lost going thru’ the menu as the names of the dishes did not come out distinctly. Some of them have further descriptions and others, you just have to rely on your own imagination.  To play safe, I ordered the chicken.

1384512648851  1384513580807  1384513583883  1384511782638

To our disappointment, we started with a WOW but that’s about it. The mains were not impressive. In fact, the chicken was a lil tough.

As one who seldom remembers price tags, this was one very memorable dinner for me. Friends whom I have shared this gastronomical experience with will hear the same from me – “1 starter, 2 mains, 2 drinks – $135!”  AND “The food is not fantastic!”

That left me wondering what else could be the omph factor for the survival of this cafe.  Maybe I shall ask my guy friends 🙂

Definitely not your usual ‘humble pies’!

I like the name of the cafe: Windowsill Pies – In the Woods.

I was first attracted to a pretty photo of the cafe posted in a friend’s FB. I didn’t know it is actually located near my work place, to my pleasant surprise.  Friends have told me the place is usually packed to the max on weekends. By virtue of convenience, I decided to try it out on a weekday, lunch time. Yes, pies accompanied with latte and nothing else for my lunch 🙂

I was happy to find that my colleagues and I were the 2nd batch of customers and we had many choices as to where we wanted to sit.  The not-so-big cafe gave me a comfy feel though there were no elaborate decoration. I think they changed the decoration regularly according to the seasons. I’ve got the christmas-y bear and trees.  Noticed the yellow vintage fridge?  You may think it was just part of the decoration. Nope!  FYI, it’s still working well and used to keep bottles of ice water for customers!

20131129_122456 20131129_122520

At Windowsill Pies, there are only SWEET pies. And the pies are “full of robust flavours and exciting textures…to dispel the notion of humble pie.”, according to its website.

We were wow-ed by the varied selections of pies at the counter.  We decided to share and ordered 4 pies – the S’mores, Strawberry Lemon, Funny Apples and Banana Almond Brittle.  And, how could we miss ordering latte to go with the pies?

2013-11-29 12.30.04 20131129_123128

We only had one word to describe the pies – YUMMY!  They were all tasty and we were happy!

By 1pm, we noticed more customers, mainly the young ones, streaming in to dine in or takeaway.  Coincidentally, I bumped into 2 friends who specially drove here from the Novena area to try the pies upon hearing about it from peers. Then, my colleague saw a Grasshopper Pie that had a chocolate flourless cake base topped with a crazy fresh mint cream. Even though we were already done with our pies and latte, she said she would want to try that next time.

The pies here are really attractive, tasty and most importantly, not ‘gelat’. You’ll just want to try them all!  Before we stepped out of the cafe, we were still loitering around the counter, admiring the pies. The S’mores pie was just left with 2 slices!

I’ll definitely be back soon to try the remaining Pecan, Grasshopper, Morello Cherry & Coconut Lime Vodka!

*BURPs!

Lovely latte art @ Chocks Full of Beans

A coffee lover friend has previously recommended this place to me. It’s one place where you get to see lovely latte art, she told me.  Though it’s not very far away from my place, I’ve not had the chance to visit Chocks Full of Beans at 4 Changi Village Road till recently.

The cafe is inconspicuously tucked at a corner of Blk 4, next to the bus terminal.  On a Friday evening, I would have expected it to be full house, as with many other similar joints in Singapore.  Well, this is the trend currently, where lotsa cafes and bistros are sprouting everywhere.  To my surprise, Chocks is not Full of Beans(lovers) when we arrived at about 8pm.  Strange!?  Then again, it means we didn’t need to queue and wait long for our table and food.  Happy 🙂  There are limited seats indoor, so we sat at a corner table outside.

We ordered latte (for me, it’s more to see the much-hyped latte art), pastas, chix wings and a choc cake.  Even though I was hungry, I wasn’t impressed with the food.  I would also rank the cake to be of ‘normal’ standard.  But yes, I’m impressed with the latte art  \^_^/

IMG_135834875206588   2013-10-18 21.11.18

IMG_135838425194379   IMG_1358419570547312013-10-18 21.10.37   2013-10-18 21.19.12

20131018_212812

I was pretty attracted to the visuals on this giant chalkboard

As the cafe closes at 10pm, we left at about 9.30pm.  Customers began to stream in much later at about 9pm.  I concluded that the food may not be as important as the atmosphere the cafe brings to its customers.  Perhaps it’s also the nostalgia and laid-back feel of Changi V. This could be their selling point?

Laksania

20130920-202101.jpg

Had always passed by laksania@ bugis+ and often thought of trying the food. It looks like an interesting way to modernize laksa into interesting western and Asian dishes.

On the same floor, this cafe was quite empty compared to poulet which is having a super long queue.

From the menu, my safest choice was Singapore Laksa. The food turned out ok until I had a bite of the prawns. The prawns tasted terrible, which was due to it being pre-cooked and frozen.

The laksa fried rice wasn’t my cup of tea. The same thing happened with the prawns there!!

I decided that I would probably not return for a second trip.

Hai Di Lao: One Pot, Endless Smiles

When J first brought it up to our attention that there’s this amazing steamboat place at Clarke Quay, we  thought it was more an amusement than anything.  We even questioned with some scepticism – “Free finger food and manicure services while waiting in the queue?”…”La Mian flying ard you?”…”Plastic bags to protect your mobile phones and wipes for your glasses?”…”Free apron to protect your clothes?”

When it was my turn to choose a venue to celebrate my bday ( a tradition amongst ourselves by now), I thought, why not just explore Hai Di Lao?  Making a reservation is quite challenging, according to other friends, due to its popularity.  Okies, we decided to go for the 5pm slot; else 8pm might be too late.

It is not difficult to associate HDL with JPot at Vivocity as both subscribe to the free-n-easy style of choosing and concocting your own sauce to go with the steamboat dishes.  But personally, I think they have different styles and JPot seems to be at a higher end in terms of ambience and cost.

HDL is easy to locate.  Once you crossed the Cavenagh Bridge, you will spot the signboard.  You need to take a lift to Level 2.  I’m amused by its decoration – mainly red….and MORE red.  The restaurant is big and immediately, we were led to a table that’s near to the side bar where you help yourselves to the generous spread of dressings and side dishes.  A wait staff, like our butler, passed us an iPad.  Since J has been there before, we looked up to him to place our order using the gadget.  According to J, the tomato soup is good. So we had that plus a laksa soup.  Indeed, we loved the tomato soup – thumbs up!!

Since we heard so much about the entertaining La Mian performance, how can we not order La Mian?  After quite a long wait, the Master of La Mian finally came to our table.  We rationalised that he is the one and only in the whole place and highly sought after.  That explained the long wait but for only less than 3 minutes of flour flying here and there, over and around our heads.  Yes, it’s quite entertaining but who should eat the flour after it went “over and around the heads”? We had a short debate on this.

20130615_173447 20130615_172342

As we walked out of the restaurant, I then noticed the much-hyped manicure services and spread of finger food at the entrance of the restaurant. What a sight indeed!

HDL is value for money.  Next time you need a manicure, can consider doing it at HDL to save time :O

*BURPz!

A Simple but Costly Lunch For 2

Mdm Kwan’s – Cafe. Cuisine. Nasi Lemak

There’s been much hype when it first opened the big outlet at Vivocity.  As per Singaporean norm, long queues are always formed outside something new.  As a local, I am also curious as to what really is the pull factor in there.

First encounter:  A Sat morning and slightly 15 mins before its opening hour.  Staff were busy preparing for the opening.  When we approached the staff by its opening hour, we were curtly told that we need to wait for another 15 to 30 mins.  Maybe it’s me. I just don’t like his smirk (I would like to think it’s a smirk) and walked off….a bit pissed off by the poor attitude.

Second encounter:  A Sat afternoon and it was already slightly past lunch time.  Perhaps that’s why the place was rather empty (I would like to think most people will only come here once to test the food; slapped with reality that it’s not worth the price & that’s it).  Upon stepping inside, the impression I had was that the place has a very “canteen” ambience with lotsa “kling-klangs” from the noise produced by the handling of cutleries.  Food was served rather fast, prob ‘cos the lemaks are already pre-prepared.

Known for its lemak, we ordered the normal Nasi Lemak ($13.90) and another Nasi Bojari ($18.90) and 2 Teh Tarik.  $45 or thereabout. Woohoo! That’s our simple-but-not-quite-cheap lunch!

Didn’t expect the chickens to come with gravy though. But I must say the lemak is really fragrant.

<From left:  Nasi Bojari; Nasi Lemak>

20130831_141047 20130831_141039

Will I come back again? Hmmm…..

*(Attaz) Burps!