Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

To-Gather Cafe

I’ve always been envious of the people living in the Tiong Bahru, Everton or Duxton area because there are so many cafes there. All they have to do is slip on something casual, get out of their house, walk for 5 minutes or so, and voila, they’re having a cuppa at their “neighbourhood cafe”.

I kinda feel like the East has been neglected when it comes to cafes. I have to crack my brain real hard where to drive to, each time I wanna have a latte or cake, so can you imagine my surprise when a cafe actually opened in my neighbourhood?? Ok it takes me about 20 minutes to walk there, but still, beggars can’t be choosers! It’s such a nice feeling to have a cafe to call “our own” that my parents and I have already visited it at least 3 times since it’s opening in late 2013. I think all of the people living nearby feel the same way as well because it is always full during peak hours. Luckily there is a relatively large outdoor seating area, at the 5-foot walkway and with awnings so not to worry. You can dine amongst the cacophony of the birds from the bird shop nearby.

To-gather Cafe

Not bad huh for a neighbourhood cafe? The really great thing about To-gather Cafe is their affordable prices! Cafes nowadays charge an arm and a leg for the simplest of menu items. $15 for eggs benedict, come on, how difficult is it to bloody poach 2 eggs? Or $20 for all day breakfast? My grandmother can fry eggs and sausages with her eyes closed! Prices at To-gather cafe are only a few dollars higher than if you were to dine at the Western Stall in a coffee shop. For example, the mains are almost all below $10.

To-gather Cafe - Pork Cordon Bleu  -  $10.9 (Pork Loin Stuffed with Ham & Cheese, and served with fries & seasonal Vegetables) (2)

Pork Cordon Bleu  -  $10.9 (Pork Loin Stuffed with Ham & Cheese, and served with fries & seasonal Vegetables)

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Assembly Cafe opposite Botanic Gardens

I was really delighted to find that a 3rd wave cafe had opened along Evans Road just a stone’s throw away from the Singapore Botanic Gardens. I frequent the gardens really often so it’s great to have another cafe so nearby. I hadn’t even realised that a cafe was going to open. One fine day, I just happened to see this huge alphabet A on the whitewashed walls of Evans Lodge, with the message saying “Assembly – A Third Wave Coffee Movement”, and the next minute, it had already opened, early November apparently. It was enough to call out to me and as of last count, I’ve already visited Assembly 3 times!

Assembly Cafe (12)

By the way, just in case you were wondering what on earth is Third Wave? Well Starbucks, Gloria Jeans and other chain cafes are all considered 2nd wave coffee beverage purveyors. 1st wave being the crap coffee that we used to get at hotel coffee lounges and restaurants if you bring your memories back 10 – 20 years. If you can get coffee at the push of a button, run far away! Third Wave coffee refers to cafes that pay close attention to the origins and quality of the coffee beans as well as the methods used in brewing the coffee. Very likely, the cafe may offer you a choice of coffee using single origin beans. Single origin is better than a blend in terms of quality in most cases, be it for coffee or tea. If there is only one type of bean used, it had better be damn good beans, whereas in blends, lousy beans can be masked with better quality ones. But blends are often found and not necessarily a bad thing, because the flavours produced may be desirable. At Assembly, they use beans from Geisha and Liberty.

Assembly Cafe (10)

Anyway, I heard that the co-owner of Assembly Cafe cut her chops at Strangers Reunion for 1.5 years, and decided to set up her own cafe. Assembly Cafe is pretty small, and can accommodate about 25 people I estimate? There is ample parking here, you can either park at Evan’s Lodge or opposite at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and take a 5 minute walk here.

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Backstage Cafe, another hidden gem!

Whenever I discover a cafe located in the East, I feel pressured to blog about it immediately for the benefit for all of us poor souls living in the Eastern side of Singapore. Really, there have been more than 60 cafes sprouting out in Singapore just this year alone, yet precious few located in the East. I can name you the “cafe regions” off the back of my hand : Robertson Quay, Duxton Hill, Everton, Dempsey, Jalan Besar, Tiong Bahru, and Holland Village / 1 Rochester. Apart from Jalan Besar, which is next to Lavender and may arguably be considered to be in the East based on the MRT line, everything else is Central or West! Ok I guess the people living in the North are suffering as well, but then you people have Grub at Bishan – Ang Mo Kio Park!!

Backstage Cafe (3)

Ok to cut to the chase, BackStage Cafe is the new kid on the block, located in the industrial estate area of Kallang. Industrial estate may give you this feeling that you have to wear hard boots and hard hats to get here, but relax, the building that it is in is an office block. The great thing is that if you come on Saturday (they are closed on Sundays), the entire area is a dead town, so you are assured of peace, solitude and ample parking! I visited on Hari Raya but as you can see from the picture, it’s not a jammed packed claustrophobic place. Oh gosh, whenever I think of 40 Hands and Chye Seng Huat Hardware, I feel a headache coming on. Backstage Cafe is probably the most spacious cafe I can think of, although I recall Toby’s Estate in Robertson Quay has super high ceilings as well.

Backstage Cafe -Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict $15 (1)

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict $15

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ToastBox Nanyang Kopi Appreciation Workshop

Ever since I became aware of the differences between local coffee (ie Kopi) vs European coffee I’ve always wondered why it is that I still like Kopi so much. Did you know that European Coffee, or Ang Moh coffee if you will, you know, the Starbucks or 3rd wave coffee cafe kinds, make use of different coffee beans as compared to our local coffeeshop coffee?

Ang Moh coffee uses Arabica beans, which are supposedly superior in quality as compared to Robusta coffee beans used in local coffee. Arabica coffee beans are grown at an altitude of 1000 – 2000m in altitude where as Robusta is grown at 700m or lower. Needless to say, the Arabica coffee beans end up being more expensive. To boot, Robusta coffee bean plant are easier to care for as they are more robust, hence the name Robusta.

I definitely do love my gourmet foreign coffee from 3rd wave cafes. You can tell from my blog that I’ve been cafe hopping a lot over the past few years! But I’m thankful that I can still appreciate a good cup of kopi as well! The reason why I’m thankful is because kopi is so much cheaper than foreign coffee! I can’t imagine paying $5 a day just to have my caffeine fix! The Partner on the other hand, loathes local kopi and can’t imagine how anyone could drink what he would describe as black acid tar. When he’s around, we go to cafes. When I’m with the BFF, we go to Yakun and Toastbox. Once again, I’m just thankful that I am able to have a choice of either going local or going more atas.

So when I heard about the Nanyang Kopi Appreciation Workshop organised by ToastBox, I thought it the perfect opportunity for me to increase my knowledge on this intricate matter. After all, I’ve been to a gourmet coffee bean roasting session when I was in Taiwan, so why not sit in for a local session?

BreadTalk HQ (6)

The Nanyang Kopi Appreciation Workshop was held at the spanking new BreadTalk IHQ Mall.

Nanyang Kopi Appreciation Workshop (2)

All the enthusiastic participants awaiting the start of the workshop

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Jewel Cafe & Bar

Jewel Cafe & Bar - (17)

Any fans of Jewel Cafe along Shenton Way out there? Did you know that Jewel Cafe have opened a second branch in Rangoon Road and now serve full-fledged hot meals? I guess Jewel Cafe will always be known for its coffee, thanks to the brightly lit COFFEE sign that greets anyone who drives along Shenton Way. It’s kind of subliminal messaging, in a not so subliminal way huh. Unfortunately, parking is a PAIN in Shenton Way, so hooray that they now have this new outlet!

Jewel Cafe & Bar - Onion Soup $8

Onion Soup $8

I haven’t really been on the look out for onion soup whenever I eat out because I don’t normally order soups to begin with. However, my mother was feeling a little under the weather so I thought a nice soupy thing might just be up her alley. When the soup arrived, I was instantly reminded of the fantabulous onion soup I had at the famed Angelina in Versailles in France! Similar to Angelina, Jewel Cafe had a luscious layer of mozzarella cheese covering the soup and keeping the heat in. Under the cheesy goodness was another layer of bread pieces, to soak up the onion soup and to act as the carbo. And of course, underneath the bread was the delectable and piping hot onion soup with shreds and shreds of sweet tasting onions.

How I wish I’d ordered one for myself too but I was forced to relegate the onion soup to my mother after 3 mouthfuls. Return, I must, to Jewel Cafe to try the onion soup, and you can bet your top dollar that I ain’t sharing.

Jewel Cafe & Bar - Eggs Royale $14 (2)

Eggs Royale $14

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