Little Diner, Singapore

i had been wanting to try this place for the longest time after hearing from a friend that they serve red velvet pancakes. red velvet and pancakes??? i’m personally not a huge fan of red velvet (don’t really understand the hype that always seems to come with it), but  the idea of the 2 combined sounded rather novel and enticing nonetheless.

made a trip to this new york-inspired diner found at a rather nondescript row of shops just before 6th avenue on good friday. my mother remarks every single time we drive by the row (which is often since I stay a stone’s throw away) that the restaurants there always seem to be struggling, with few customers each time we’ve passed them. the shops change hands frequently and I didn’t even know this place had popped up there! i really hope it stays though, because it was a satisfying meal and i will certainly be going back for more!

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we ordered 3 items from the brunch menu (that is served only on public holidays & weekends) – the epic breakfast platter (a special), delancey red velvet pancakes & cereal-crusted french toast.

the cereal-crusted french toast was a real crowd (they say 3’s a crowd :P) pleaser – the toast was ultra thick and of just the right moistness – the texture reminded us a little of bread & butter pudding. It was sufficiently covered in sauce while not being completely soaked, and the cereals added a nice bite. we loved every bit of it!!! for some reason, the pictures make it look rather cloyingly sweet (I think its the bright red of the berry coulis) but it wasn’t the case at all!

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Super cereal-crusted french toast: showered with powdered cinnamon sugar, whipped cream, berry coulis & maple syrup.

the red velvet pancakes were good, but none of us are particularly diehard fans of red velvet so we weren’t exactly raving about them. the pancakes were done really well though – of the right thickness, fluffy, and with a nice red velvet flavour, nothing too overpowering. they came with frosting that looked like a scoop of ice cream (what is red velvet without cream cheese frosting?) and it was good stuff! i think more toppings (mixed berries would have been wonderful) would have made the dish better though! although i understand that they were probably trying to stick to traditional red velvet – just cake and frosting, i got a little sick of what i was eating about 3/4 into my pancake (and so did my friends!). can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to have the whole serving of 3 pancakes to myself! but they were still yummy, so don’t let my less-than-stellar review deter you from ordering them; i do think they are still worth a try!

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delancey red-velvet pancakes: showered with cinammon sugar, cream cheese frosting & maple syrup.

the final thing we ordered was from the specials menu – the epic breakfast platter. given that it was priced higher than the other 2 items we ordered and its name (“EPIC”), we were expecting something either huge or super extraordinary. unfortunately it was neither, though it was a very delicious traditional fry-up. the sausage was made of kurobuta pork, and it was juiciness, crunchiness and tenderness all in one roll – good stuff!!! as for the bacon, it was fried to perfection and the thick slices of toast went great with the scrambled eggs. the potatoes were also very well done and so was the grilled tomato. it was not too oily and overall a very enjoyable and satisfying plate!

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E.P.I.C breakfast platter

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The super yummy kurobuta pork sausage

besides the great food, the service at little dinner is also amazing. check out what greeted us at our reserved table when we arrived – such a simple but sweet touch! the staff were also extremely sincere and friendly, happily chatting to us and patiently acceding to our numerous photo requests (the waiter helping us take a picture even re-arranged stuff on the table several times to make the shot look better hahaha! that was at the start of our meal and we were sold on the place from that point onwards ;)).

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here is the brunch menu:
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they also have some specials everyday written on blackboards in the cafe.

total bill: SGD58

who i would recommend this to: people looking for a casual place for a relaxing meal. the interior of the place is rather simple but that’s what makes it laidback; it is the kind of place i’d go to on a sunday morning with my newspapers and without having to dress up. the service is great and staff are really friendly, so you feel at ease while having a leisurely meal.

will i be back? i hear the lunch/dinner menu at little diner is also very good. their burgers are supposed to be delicious, along with their pastas and fried chicken. the risotto balls also caught my eye! would love to go back and try it one day; maybe in summer! 🙂

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faces of satisfied customers:20130330125718106
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Little Diner
789 Bukit Timah Rd
S(269763)

and just because my friends and i are silly like that:
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love these girls hahahahahaah.
oh, its good to be home :’)

Binging in Brighton

had a wonderful time on a day trip out to brighton last weekend! what seemed like a potentially disappointing trip when we left early in the morning (i actually wore WELLIES to brighton; was defeated by the rain D:) turned out to be a great day away from the hustle and bustle of london!!! not just because of the great sights and great company, but also the great FOOD (glorious food).

tripadvisor was helpful as usual with plenty of highly-ranked suggestions, and we settled for this quaint cafe run by a mother & daughter pair just down the road from the train station for lunch. ella’s yummy delights seemed really popular with the locals – there was a steady stream of customers during the entire two hours we spent in the shop, and we even struck up conversation with some of the regulars and the lady behind the counter; everyone was so friendly and there was a such a homely and cosy atmosphere in the little shop! we started with 2 soups – tomato soup and leek soup, and 2 toasties – bacon, brie and cranberry & ham, cheese and onion. All were super yummy.20130316115914633

its hard to take a picture of a toastie that makes it look exceptional, but trust me, my bacon + brie + cranberry one was SUPER DELICIOUS. They were generous with the fillings and the brie was perfectly melted all over the bacon, which was perfectly cooked. A generous dose of cranberry and granary bread to go with it all made it one of the best toasties I’ve ever had!!! Yummmmm – so simple yet so good!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20130316_120130janus had a ham + cheese + onion toastie, and he found it equally good, saying there was something about “Brighton bread” LOL – don’t ask me what he meant; he got his toastie with what seemed to be normal white sandwich bread.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe soups were good as well – big bowls of hearty, warm, homemade goodness. Lou ordered a tomato soup (see picture above) while Janus went with the leek soup. I thought the leek soup was rather special – it was thick and almost stew-like in consistency, chock full of pieces of leek (cooked till it didn’t have that distinct onion-ish/some might even say pungent flavour) and meat. Homemade and a generous portion as well!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA they both felt that the soups became slightly heavy after awhile though, and a little too salty too! I think “gelat” would be the right word for it – for the uninformed, its malay slang that means something is over cloying.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAi ordered my standard chai latte to go with our meal and i loved how it was thick, frothy and creamy, though a tad too sweet for my liking. I felt it could have done with a bit more spice!

ATTACKED THE DESSERTS NEXT!!!
check out lou & janus excitedly peering into the cake display. we took ages to decide what we wanted and it didn’t help that a regular customer told us EVERYTHING was good and she’d tried them all before haha! she also mentioned that she’d once been to ella’s thrice in a day – that’s how much she liked the place.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAafter some serious deliberation, we finally settled for a cappuccino cake, a moo-moo cake and a spotty!
excited faces (aka a nicer way of saying “the face of pigs”):903622_10151364506138652_249460852_o

the slices were huge and more than enough for the 3 of us to satisfy our craving for something sweet:
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THE SPOTTY: chocolate & vanilla crumble with strawberries
our favourite of the day! it was dense and moist and the layer of crumble on the top was exactly how a crumble should be! it had just the right amount of bite and a really nice texture that made it melt in our mouths along with the icing sugar on top – YUMZ! the vanilla, chocolate & berries combined seamlessly and every bite was delicious (Y)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThick with many layers of coffee goodness and some kind of cream cheese-ish frosting. It was something like a tiramisu but less moist, firmer, and with more cream cheese and sponge! The cream cheese layer was really yummy and we thoroughly enjoyed it but found it a little heavy after a while. As you can see from the pic, it was a giant slice that seemed to be leaning backwards from its sheer weight hahahaha!!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think this was our least favourite of the 3 – not that it was bad, but that it was nothing exceptional (i guess sponge cake can never really be particularly unique?)! The sponge was good – moist and of just the right density.

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our overall take on the cakes was that they weren’t mindblowingly amazing, but they were delicious homemade treats; the kind of cake that was wholesome and hearty and perfect for comfort food 🙂

and most importantly, everything was really reasonably priced! The total bill for our 3 huge slices of cakes, 2 coffees, 2 toasties & 2 soups came up to  just around £20 – what we thought was a great deal for the portion size, service and quality of food served.

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Ella’s Yummy Delights

51 Queen’s Rd  Brighton and Hove, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 3XB, United Kingdom
+44 7540 892697
after ella’s, we explored north laine,
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and saw so many other quaint cafes that we wanted to try but unfortunately had no stomach room for! what we couldn’t resist though, was making a froyo stop at Lick.
the bright and attractive colours of the store drew us inside (along with the declaration in their window that they were the “first frozen yoghurt shop in Brighton”) and we were not disappointed!
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we got a cup of their special flavour of the day to share – elderflower. IT WAS AMAZING. none of us had tried elderflower frozen yoghurt before and it was really refreshing, light, and natural-tasting, and the elderflower flavour was subtle yet unmistakeable! it was more towards the creamy end of the frozen yoghurt spectrum, and the granola toppings were yummy as well. can’t say it was better than my all-time favourite pinkberry, though it doesn’t come in too far behind 😉
will definitely make a trip back here next time i’m in brighton!!!
Lick

19 Gardner Street
Brighton, Sussex BN1 1UP, United Kingdom
01273 945102

finally, we ate at a casual seafood restaurant called Melrose for dinner. it was highly recommended on trip advisor and was just a short walk from the pier so we decided to give it a try! the restaurant was not very crowded when we first arrived, but soon filled up as it got later, with a noticeably local clientele (always a good sign?). the restaurant was run by a couple and they were friendly and ever-willing to give us recommendations.
we settled on a pot of mussels, a fish (haddock) and chips, and a grilled fish platter to share.

grilled fish platter:
it came with salmon, cod, halibut, calamari and scampi. they were all lightly seasoned which was great because it allowed us to taste and appreciate the freshness of the seafood without it being overpowered by any heavy or strong-tasting sauce. the fish was very fresh and the calamari & scampi were well-fried (I particularly enjoyed the scampi – but then again, my standards are probably exceedingly low given the kind of scampi they serve in hall hahaha). i wouldn’t RAVE about the dish though.
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fried fillet of haddock with chips:

thought this was rather yummy. the haddock was really fresh and coated in just the right amount of batter so that it really complemented the fish. we could tell that the oil used was fresh, and the fish had none of the “fishy” smell you sometimes get from buying cheap fish & chips from random street stalls.20130316_184338

we also had mussels in white wine and garlic sauce (which you unfortunately cannot see very well in this picture because the sauce was at the bottom) and it was delicious!!! my favourite dish of dinner i think! the mussels were plump and juicy and the sauce was seriously yummy; i was drinking it off a spoon when we ran out of bread (oh, the bread was good – it had some kind of cheese on top of it I think?)!!!
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all in all, i wouldn’t RAVE about melrose but i do think it is a good option for reasonably priced fresh seafood, and i would say the local clientele says something about the standard of the food in the restaurant. not a bad choice for a seafood meal! they also have a dessert cart with homemade puddings & cakes on it for you to choose should you be interested, which i thought was a nice, homely touch.

Melrose Restaurant

132 King’s Rd  City Centre, Brighton BN1 2HH, United Kingdom
+44 1273 326520

shall end off this post leaving you with this picture:
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heeheehee.
am already looking forward to the next time I visit brighton – so many more food places to explore and try out!!! 🙂
– rach

The Breakfast Club, London

i LOVED the breakfast club. food and ambience-wise, it definitely lived up to my expectations (which were extremely high having heard so much about it). but what didn’t just live up to my expectations but EXCEEDED them, was the queue. despite the fact that we made a trip there on a weekday afternoon at 130pm (a time we assumed would mean a thinning post-lunch crowd), we had to queue out in the cold for a good 30-40 min before finally being let into the warmth of the cosy little place. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
some of our fellow queue-mates gave up and left the queue halfway, but i’m glad we didn’t  because i thought it was worth it!!!

check out all the accolades they have – i always trust a tripadvisor rating 😉OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the interior of the cafe oozes hippie vibes and has this lovely charm and a funky eclecticism about it. the atmosphere is laidback and super chill, and the staff are friendly and rather efficient!2013031515551495520130315155503833 

we knew what we wanted almost immediately as we had plenty of time to inspect the menu placed in the shop window while waiting in line outside.
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i had the pancakes with berries and OMG I thought they were the best pancakes EVER. i know my friends concurred because louisa proclaimed at the end of the meal that she was really full and satisfied but could do with more pancakes 😉
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they were of just the right thickness and were drenched in the perfect amount of maple syrup. the edges were crispy but the insides were soft and fluffy, and the cream that topped the stack was just amazinggg – light, fresh, and very tasty! they were also really generous with the berries which is something i loved; i hate it when restaurants are stingy with their toppings and you end up with either a lot of plain bread/pancakes etc without any toppings left, or too much toppings left because you scrimped and saved on the number you ate with each bite of the main (am i the only person who does this???). i am already looking forward to the next time i get to go back to have these pancakes; its going to be hard deciding between trying something new and having these again! maybe pancakes with banana and bacon next time? ~DROOLS~

louisa had the poached eggs with avocado on toasted bread and it was super yummy as well.
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the avocado was divine – it was topped with chilli and lime which brought everything together amazingly well. the avocado pieces were of the right size, not too pureed and not too chunky, and the texture and consistency of the mixture was great with just the right amount of bite. it was also neither too wet nor too dry. they were really generous with the avocado toppings once again, with a huge pile heaped onto the toast! lou did mention that she would have preferred the egg to have a runnier yolk though.

janus ordered the typical boy meal – the full monty.
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it came piled high on a huge plate like a breakfast mountain. i think it had potatoes, beans, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding, toast, eggs, a tomato, and bacon. like i said – BOY MEAL hahaha. surprisingly, it wasn’t too oily – in fact, we didn’t find a pool of oil collecting below all the food on the plate as i had imagined. i didn’t have much of this as i was pretty much preoccupied with my pancakes, but i did pick at the beans, sausage, black pudding and egg.
the scrambled eggs at the breakfast club aren’t the creamy/milky type so if that’s what you prefer, don’t go for the scrambled eggs here. they are of the drier variety, but pretty good nonetheless. as for the sausage, i thought it was quite nice as the skin (is that what its called?!) was crispy and the filling was soft, but louisa didn’t like it because she prefers firmer sausages. the bacon was yum and we all quite liked the black pudding, and janus said the potatoes were good! the serving was HUGE and janus couldn’t finish it despite being a growing, hungry boy. he also thought it was all quite messy and would have preferred the food to be more separated. but then again, isn’t that what a huge traditional fry-up is all about? in his words “its like… you find egg in your beans and beans in your egg” (he is not a fan of beans btw, hence the despair).

since we had queued for so long, we each went all-out and ordered a smoothie each too. 20130315144155749
clockwise starting from the light pink: the big breakfast, green is good, blue monday

green is good & blue monday were much lighter than the big breakfast and you will understand why once i tell you what went into the big breakfast. green is good had spinach, mint, mango & apple and it was a very light and refreshing mix, perfect to accompany a heavy breakfast. as for blue monday, it had blueberry, strawberry & apple so if you are a berry fan, this is the one for you!
i had the big breakfast and should have guessed from the name and the list of ingredients that it could probably constitute a meal on its own – strawberry, banana, oats, honey, yoghurt and milk. i finished it all despite it being very thick and extremelyyy filling because it was so goooood but next time, i’ll probably share it with someone.
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happy at the breakfast club!!!

total bill: oh dear, i can’t remember the exact sum but i think it was around £35-£40

ambience: relaxing, hip, funky, eclectic, cosy, warm, friendly

who i would recommend this to: anyone who loves and appreciates a good, hearty brunch in generous servings, and has enough time to spare to queue for a table! there is a queue outside this place at almost all times of the day (though when we left at around 3pm, there were empty tables – perhaps this is a good time to head there! for tea/ a late lunch) and i heard that on weekends, the queueing time can be as long as 1.5h (which even i am turned off by)! but if you have some time to spare, just take the queue as part of the experience – salivating as you peer through the window and see people feasting on their hearty meals, letting the anticipation of sinking your teeth into some good food build up 😉

will i return? YES! loved the vibe of the place and the food was really very satisfying. there are so many other things on the menu i would love to try! and the best part is, they serve breakfast from 9am to 5pm 😀 and if i’m not wrong, they even have some breakfast items that remain on the menu even after 5pm!

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The Breakfast Club
33 D’Arblay St  London, Greater London W1F 8EU
020 7434 2571

-rach

Bea’s of Bloomsbury, London

finally got to try the much talked about Bea’s of Bloomsbury today! a friend was visiting from dublin, and we had a great catch-up over some cake and tea at this little shop just off the busy holborn stretch. it was a lovely afternoon spent in a warm and cosy cafe, seeking shelter from the freezing cold outside. when is spring coming???Imageyou won’t miss it as you make your way down theobalds road; the shop window is filled with sweet treats and according to a friend who had been before, it was even more decked out the last time she visited!

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they have a full afternoon tea that goes for £19 per head, but we opted to order individual items as we weren’t quite up to a full-blown feast (and the exercise that we would be obliged to do/guilt-tripped into doing after!!!). Image

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after some serious deliberation and inspection (life-changing decision right here) of the whole range of cupcakes, muffins, brownies, and cakes on display, we settled for a guinness chocolate slice (recommended by the waiter) and a slice of lemon meringue cheesecake.

Imagemy first thoughts on the guinness slice were that it was a bit dry, the kind of dryness that results from being left out in the open for too long. but luckily it turned out that it was only that way around the edges; after having more of it, i realised it was rich & dense but not heavy, and had the perfect amount of chocolate in it! i’m not normally a fan of chocolate cake since i dislike the feeling of “chocolate phlegm” (sorry for the gross description – i really can’t think of any other way to put it!!!) at the back of my throat but that did not happen at all with this slice – it was GOOD STUFF. as for the guinness, i couldn’t really taste much of it but perhaps that’s what makes the slice so appealing – a subtle hint of guinness combined with the perfect amount of chocolate-y goodness. YUM. oh and the icing went perfectly with the cake as well; i thought it wasn’t too sweet and topped the slice in just the right amount.

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LEMON MERINGUE CHEESECAKE: i enjoyed this cake so much that i felt the need to type its name in caps!!! the three of us at tea all agreed that it was divine!!! the meringue on top wasn’t too sweet or sour, and it was the perfect texture. the cheesecake middle was amazing – it was moist and rich but yet light such that you wouldn’t get sick of eating it, and the proportion of meringue top to cheesecake to digestive base was just right! LITTLE (okay not really little; the slice was pretty big!!!) SLICE OF HEAVEN RIGHT HERE. my two friends can attest to the fact that our conversation kept getting interrupted with my random interjections of “omg, this is SO. GOOD.” after every mouthful… oops!

Imagei also ordered a chai latte, and it was delicious; probably one of the best chai lattes i’ve tried! (i’m not a big coffee drinker so this is the drink i normally go for) perfect for a cold winter’s day. it had a generous dose of cinnamon and the perfect amount of spice to it, and i thought it was a rather generous serving despite me ordering a “small”. it was frothy and yummy and super drinkable; i will definitely be going back for more!

total bill: £10.80

ambience: cosy, casual, friendly, relaxed

service: good! patient and friendly service staff behind the counter.

who i would recommend this to: anyone with a sweet tooth looking for a nice cafe to have a little feast on sweet treats. the place is rather small though, and i can imagine it getting crowded on weekends so probably best to avoid going in large groups over the weekend.

will i return? YES! the cakes were delicious and there are sooo many more i didn’t get to try. i believe the menu and their offerings change pretty regularly as well, so that keeps things nice and exciting. might also head back to try their savouries that they serve at lunch time!

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Bea’s of Bloomsbury  (Bloomsbury branch)
44 Theobalds Road
London WC1X 8NW
0207 242 8330
– rach 🙂