Oriole Cafe & Bar, Singapore

had been hearing pretty positive things about this place since it started gaining popularity in recent years but never got the chance to try it, so i was more than happy to have lunch here when my friend suggested it.

oriole cafe is a nice spot to rest your tired legs after indulging in retail therapy along orchard road. its at somerset, so if you start your shopping at far east plaza and make your way up along orchard road, i think somerset is around the point where a good cup of coffee or waffles for tea will be a welcome break!

we went on a wednesday afternoon and it was easy to get a table. the restaurant is rather spacious and i felt that the tables were nicely spaced out so its a really nice and comfortable setting for lengthy conversations over a meal. the huge glass panels and high ceilings also add to the relaxed vibe of the place!

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they serve breakfast till 5pm daily, but we decided to go for the lunch menu as there wasn’t anything that seemed out of the ordinary among their breakfast offerings – they have standard brunch fare like eggs benny, french toast etc. we weren’t particularly ravenous (i had a breakfast feast at tiong bahru market that morning hahaha) so we settled on the spicy calamari and the beef cheek tagliatelle to share! here is nikki looking excited that the food has arrived heh:20130710_131935

spicy calamari: it was recommended by the waiter as one of their most popular starters. the chilli was very much like belachan and i thought it added a nice twist to regular calamari, with its spiciness and tinge of sourness. the batter of the calamari was very well done – it was light, crispy, and neither too oily nor thick. we could tell that the oil used was fresh and i loved the fact that it was delightfully fluffy which gave it a really nice bite. i think i would have been happy eating just the batter without the squid within (though the squid within was nice and fresh too)! i would have preferred thicker and crunchier squid slices though, so that the taste of the squid didn’t get lost in the batter.
not sure if it shows in the picture but the serving was big! there were probably 15-20 calamari rings there and given that they were rather big pieces individually, its a wonder we didn’t start sprouting tentacles after eating it all hahaha.

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spicy calamari, $15

as for the beef cheek tagliatelle: we enjoyed this very much! the beef cheek pieces were very nicely braised in red wine (according to the menu, though i didn’t taste a hint of it!), making them deliciously tender. the mushrooms were also very yummy, and the tagliatelle had a nice bite to it (it was very much like western mee pok). nikki and i agreed that we’d gladly come back to have this tagliatelle again!
the serving was very generous once again; we shared this and were both very satisfied when we were finished with it. needless to say, the sauce in this dish is heavier than tomato-based sauce for example, and so given its consistency, i think i might have found it hard to finish if i had ordered this alone. its quite a thick stew-like sauce, but i didn’t find it overly heavy – i’d take this over a creamy carbonara-type sauce any day!

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beef cheek tagliatelle, $22

oriole cafe and bar is well-known for its coffees but since we didn’t order any with our meal we decided to go with a coffee-based dessert! and luckily we did, because the honey crumble affogato (vanilla ice cream, espresso and crunchy honeycomb bits) was  really really good. the giant scoop of vanilla ice cream was thick and creamy, the espresso was very good and everything came together to give us a very enjoyable end to our meal! i can imagine myself coming back to oriole to have this as a mid-afternoon snack/break from shopping 🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhoney crumble affogato, $9.50

i hadn’t seen this girl in the flesh for 9 months and so you can imagine how much we had to catch up on… we spent a good 3.5 hours at oriole and never felt like we were overstaying our welcome at any point in time. the staff were polite and friendly and i think if we had continued sitting there for another hour, they wouldn’t have minded at all! given the size of the portions, i feel the food is reasonably priced, and definitely above average as far as cafe/bistro-style food goes. a good place for all-day dining options!20130710153040919reunited in completely unintentionally & unplanned colour-coordinated outfits heehee. still telepathic even after 9 months apart 😉

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#01-01, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
96 Somerset Road
Singapore 238163

Creamier, Singapore

checked this place out on a whim (had an ice cream craving that needed to be satisfied) and left feeling very pleased with myself and this hidden gem i had found heehee!

tucked away at the base of a sleepy block in toa payoh, Creamier is now top on my list of local ice cream shops, along with Daily Scoop (my other favourite). its nondescript location gives it a very laidback and homely vibe, and the staff are cheerful and friendly, perfect for the neighbourhood joint that it is. the decor is simple, but tasteful and quaint. i popped in on a friday night around 10pm, and it was packed! we waited about 10 minutes for a table; it is a pretty small shop, and many people ended up taking away their ice cream and having it at the tables at the playground which the shop faces.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAchecked out their website (http://creamier.com.sg/) before heading down and got all excited as there were many interesting flavours that caught my eye – figs honey, lemon blueberry yoghurt, lime mojito, raspberry rose, chocolate cinnamon orange etc! unfortunately, many of them weren’t available and i was a little disappointed as the ones that were seemed to be more run-of-the-mill flavours (like horlicks, green tea, dark chocolate) that were available either commercially or at other ice cream shops.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAit was probably just the day i went down though… there are so many other flavours that they make and its the perfect excuse for me to return again and again (and again)!!! 😉 

i knew i was going to have to order the waffles once i stepped into the shop and 1) i was greeted by the amazing smell of freshly-made belgian waffles 2) i spotted many waffle + ice cream towers being brought to tables.
smelt heavenly, looked heavenly, and after trying it, i can safely say: TASTED HEAVENLY TOO. we went with what we thought were the 2 most interesting flavours that were available that day – earl grey lavender and sea salt gula melaka, and they sat proudly atop 2 extremely delicious freshly-made belgian waffles. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
waffles with a single scoop of ice cream costs $7.50, and each additional scoop costs $2.50.

earl grey and lavender turned out to be a really light and refreshing combination. i loved how they really complemented each other, yet remained somewhat distinct such that you could taste the 2 components individually.
as for the sea salt gula melaka, it was the perfect mix of sweet and savoury, much like the more common sea salt caramel but with a local twist.
both flavours had not a hint of iciness, and compared to what i’ve had at some other locally-run homemade ice cream shops (i find that island creamery ice cream can sometimes be a little icy, especially their take-home tubs), they truly lived up to their name – creamier.

now on to the waffles – they were some of the best waffles i’ve ever had in an ice cream shop. #truestory. they were hearty and served fresh out of the waffle maker, warm, crisp and dark brown on the outside but soft and fluffy inside, surrounded by a generous serving of maple syrup and chocolate sauce. so good that finishing the serving (they come in pairs) was a breeze 😛

we enjoyed the waffles so much that the 2 of us decided to get an additional scoop of ice cream to round off our impromptu ice cream date. we had a single scoop of horlicks choc chip in a cone:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
a single scoop of ice cream is $3.

the taste of the horlicks was rather light and the ice cream was thus not too sweet. the chocolate chips were also very well-mixed in quite a generous quantity such that nearly every bite contained a few choc chip bits, which i liked.

creamier is a funky little neighbourhood hangout that i am definitely going to return to. they also serve coffee besides ice cream, and i’m looking forward to heading down one afternoon to try it! 

if you are worried about not being able to find the shop on foot since its quite a distance away (about a 12 minute walk) from the more bustling toa payoh central, fear not! i believe there are buses you can take from the central. otherwise, creamier is within walking distance from both caldecott and braddell mrt stations. the trek is worth it! and if you drive, you have even more reason to come since parking is plentiful.
the shop isn’t hard to find at all once you get to the right block, especially if you go at night. most of the shops are closed by then, and so the warm yellow lighting that spills out from the glass windows fronting the shop and customers milling around outside and at the playground it faces are hard to miss! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Creamier handcrafted ice cream & coffee
Blk 128 Toa Payoh Lorong 1
#01-835
Singapore 310128

Dishoom, London

got to know about this place via a friend’s instagram picture (yes i shamelessly confess – i am an instagram addict) and am really happy i made the trip down to their covent garden outlet to check it out!

dishoom is a bombay-inspired cafe that serves indian food throughout the day – indian breakfast, indian lunch and indian dinner! we went for the breakfast. my friend was surprised when he saw what it looked like – he was expecting more of a hole-in-the-wall/in-a-dank-basement kind of shop (typical stereotype of restaurants serving legit ethnic food…) when i described to him the idea of an “authentic indian breakfast”; dishoom is trendy, bright, clean and airy. i, on the other hand, was expecting exactly what i saw since i had visited their snazzy website many times before, inspecting the menu and deciding in advance what i was going to order lest i take a million years deciding at the restaurant itself (typical me).

Imageit was really empty when we arrived at 1030am (breakfast is only served until 11am) on a thursday morning so the staff were attentive and ordering was a breeze. food came fast and our hunger pangs were quelled in double-quick time (always a plus)!

i had the bacon naan roll and it is DEFINITELY something i will be going back for.

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the bacon was fried just nice (in my opinion, but opinions about how bacon should be done tend to differ) – crisp at the edges and not too soft in the middle; it was tasty and flavourful and went perfectly with the cream cheese and herbs that accompanied it. the proportion of cream cheese to bacon was also great – the cream cheese was not in such a copious amount that it left a “wet” feeling in your mouth. the naan (which they make on the spot – you can actually see them flipping the dough in the open-concept kitchen) was all fluffy and warm. the naan came with a chilli tomato jam which was also delicious – i was peeling off bits of my freshly-baked naan to dip into the jam, though the naan roll was yummy on its own already. and the best part of the dish? at an amazing affordable £3.70!!! some might find the serving small (especially for hungry boys), but i thought it was fine and value-for-money.

my friend had the bombay omelette which came with tomatoes grilled on the vine and fire toast (bread that is buttered then grilled, according to the menu). it was a tasty and fluffy omelette that was filled with tomato, onion, green chilli and coriander. i wouldn’t rave about it, but it was still good. the tomatoes on the vine were perfectly grilled, sweet and juicy. he added a sausage to his dish and the sausage was very yummy – crisp on the outside and the texture of the meat inside was not too soft.

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i also ordered their house chai, which is supposed to be their specialty, while my friend got a coffee. the house chai was not bad – light and fragrant, though i would have preferred it to be a little thicker (was imagining something a bit frothier like teh tarik). loved the cupsthey served the drinks in – seemed very legitimately and traditionally bombay-ish 😉 i didn’t try the coffee but since my friend ordered a second cup, i suppose it was pretty good!20130321_105003

we sat and chatted till lunch hour came and my friend wasn’t full from his omelette so he decided to order something from the lunch menu. he decided on the pau bhaji since themenu said “no food is more bombay” – it was a bowl of spicy mashed vegetables with a nice soft bun to accompany it. i didn’t have much of it but i quite enjoyed it from what i tried, and my friend was satisfied. it was really rather spicy but delicious with the warm and soft bun that accompanied it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

who i would recommend this to: people looking for a casual place to have an affordable and relaxing breakfast/brunch. they open at 8am for breakfast apparently, so its great for early risers or people who need to be somewhere soon after breakfast. when we went at 1030, there were plenty of available tables and though the crowd started coming in closer to lunchtime, at no point in time did we feel rushed/pressurised to leave.

will i return? yes definitely for the bacon naan roll! at a great price of £3.70 and dishoombeing conveniently located, i will definitely go back when i’m looking for a light breakfast/brunch that is something different from the usual morning fare.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADishoom

12 Upper St Martin’s Ln  London WC2H 9FB, United Kingdom
+44 20 7420 9320

-rach

PS. back in singapore (the land of AMAZING/GLORIOUS/WONDROUS/DELECTABLE/OUT OF THIS WORLD food) for easter break now, so look out for some singapore eats on the blog soon!!! 😀

Louis Patisserie, Hampstead

we heard that no trip to hampstead was complete without a visit to louis patisserie, a hungarian patisserie that has been around for close to 50 years.

we took a walk around hampstead to let our food from Jin Kichi settle:

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the air seemed fresher and people more carefree – the tranquility and feeling of being miles away from the hustle & bustle of central london was therapeutic, to say the least. however, what was more therapeutic was the sweet treat that greeted us at this cosy tea room.

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possibly the part that got us most excited about louis patisserie was the full range of cakes available being brought to us on a silver platter – literally. we were spoilt for choice and after 15 minutes of intense interrogation, we settled on 3 cakes of which unfortunately, we do not know the names of because there is NO MENU at this shop.

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we were highly recommended the chestnut cake by the waitress. we were served a sizable rectangular slice on a dainty plate and it was easily the best out of the 3 cakes we ordered. do not fear the seemingly (jo: SERIOUSLY, ITS OBSCENE.) overly thick layer of cream; it was  so light and fresh that nic felt like he could fly after just one bite! the chestnut cream on top merged with the sponge and cream seamlessly, and it was an explosion of light-tasting goodness with every mouthful. if its one cake we will be back at louis patisserie for, this would be it.

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next, we had a strawberry tart with a chocolate base. it was noticeably smaller than the other cakes, but priced similarly. we expected a firm and thicker crusty base, but lo and behold, it was filled with cream, cream and more cream, with a crumbly, biscuit-y layer. the thin chocolate crust was not such a bad thing after all – it did not overpower the sweetness of the strawberries, and allowed the distinct fruitiness to come through. however we would have preferred more texture as the thick cream filling made the tart too one-dimensional. the tart as a whole lacked depth of flavour and variety of tastes and textures. overall, it was very pretty to look at, but not as good as it looked/we had anticipated.

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our third cake was chocolate buttercream on sponge. again, the cream was the star of the show. the sponge was nice and tasty (reminded us of kueh bolu) but was dry at some points when eaten without the cream. the amount of chocolate coating the sponge was just nice: enough to be eaten with every mouthful, not stealing the cream’s limelight.

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coffee was nothing to shout about.

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overall, the cakes were nice and creamy. usually too much cream on cakes tends to put people off but here, due to the lightness of the cream, more was definitely not an issue. in fact, we’d say that the cream here is the cream de la cream.

our guess for the price: £25

total bill: £17.40 (£3.70 per cake for eat-in, £3 for takeaway)

ambience: artisan, boutique cafe, vintage, chic.

service: unimpressive. seemed to be rushing us and unwilling to entertain our queries (otherwise our interrogation might have gone on for another hour), not very customer-oriented. probably because it was a busy saturday afternoon.

who we would recommend this to: people looking for a unique, old-school tea experience at a comparatively reasonable price. friends looking for a catch up over cake & tea. small groups as the place is pretty cramp and tables are very close to each other.

will we return? 3 YES-ES!!! even though the cakes were nothing mind blowing, we will definitely return considering the ambience and the other cakes that we did not get to try today – on a weekday when it is probably less busy.

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Louis Patisserie

32 Heath St, London, Greater London NW3 6TE

020 7435 9908