this cafe is the epitome of a hidden gem in singapore. tucked away where nobody would expect to find a cafe, la ristrettos is nestled among medical clinics and practices on the 8th floor of novena medical centre. you wouldn’t know its there unless you’ve seen stuff about it or heard about it through word-of-mouth, or you randomly chance upon it while on your way to a medical appointment.
we were looking for somewhere in the newton/novena area to have brunch on a saturday morning, and it was la ristrettos that we decided to head to. arrived around 1030am and had to wait about 5 minutes for a table – it is a small cosy place with a large communal table, a long window seat and another small standalone table. if you’re willing to brave the heat (or rain), they open out into the rooftop garden of the medical centre so you can dine there too.
my first thought when i entered this little cafe was that they take their coffee very seriously. not only because the words “coffee boutique” are proudly declared on the big brick wall you see when you enter, but also because they have a few impressive coffee machines hard at work. the interesting thing about the machines is that they are laid out on an open counter and not behind a counter; its almost like you can walk right up and make yourself a coffee:
snazzy coffee machine/monstrosity
pastas are served from noon onwards only, so we focused on the all-day breakfast menu which had a nice range of food, that was quite different from regular eggs benny/eggs florentine/french toast fare (a good change!):
you place your orders and pay at the counter, and the food will be served to you when ready. for the 3 of us, we ordered a grande with scrambled eggs, a toasted sourdough topped with chicken and a poached egg, and a mushroom frittata:
grande – choice of eggs, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, spicy italian sausage, sourdough ($14)
i didn’t have much of this but my friend who ordered it (a boy who wanted something more substantial; big breakfasts like that are always popular among hungry growing boys) seemed pleased enough with it! tried the scrambled eggs and they were pretty well done, fluffy and moist. the sausage was good too; it wasn’t the kind of poor quality processed sausages you get in cheap supermarkets. this is great if variety on a plate excites you. at $14, i would say this is really reasonably priced too!
tostino e arrosto – toasted sourdough with garlic olive oil, spinach, roast chicken breast, tomato and poached egg ($11)
i loved this open-faced sandwich! it looks quite small in the picture but it filled nearly the whole centre of the plate and the plate was quite big, so it was actually bigger than it appears here. the combination of chicken, spinach, tomatoes and a perfectly poached egg was super yummy! i think my favourite part and the star of the sandwich was the super tasty and tender chicken slivers. the seemed more grilled than roasted actually, but however it was done, it was done to perfection and topped the sandwich in generous portions. the egg was wonderfully runny and taken with the honey mustard-type sauce drizzled around the plate, this made for a light but satisfying meal.
RUNNY EGG YOLK my love
we wanted to get the bircher muesli because i had seen pics of this wonderfully-plated gloriously poached pear sitting atop some muesli (everybody loves pretty food) while reading about the place, but they had no pears that day! so we ended up going for the mushroom frittata:mushroom frittata – italian mushroom omelette with ham, mushroom, tomato & cheese served with sourdough ($12)
the frittata was served in a little personal pan and accompanied by some buttered sourdough bread. a frittata is like an omelette but with everything randomly mixed in as opposed to folded in (you can probably tell from the picture). they were generous with the toppings, and this made for a really tasty dish! my only qualm was that i felt it was a little dry because there wasn’t really any “wet” element in it. perhaps the frittata could have been done a little wetter? would have tasted yummier with the sourdough that way. nevertheless, i loved how it was simply done and presented; this dish exuded a very homely feel for me 🙂
not forgetting the drinks we tried – i had a chai latte while my friend had an iced caffe.
iced caffe (espresso with gelato and milk) – $6.50
the coffee was good, and the gelato added a nice thickness and sweetness to the coffee. quite a generous serving, i would say!
as for the chai latte which i don’t have an individual pic of (but you’ll see it sitting pretty in some of the pics later), it was very yummy and definitely one of the better chai lattes i’ve had in singapore. the chai flavour was very fragrant and they had the proportions of milk just right, such that the chai taste wasn’t drowned out by milkiness and vice versa. i just love how chai lattes make you feel warmed from inside out; they are perfect for rainy days (or any day for that matter).
besides being tucked away from the crowds in its exciting nondescript location, i love how the prices at la ristrettos are nett. what you see on the menu is what you pay; they do not charge the extra 10 + 7 which is great! for the quality of the food, the prices are definitely reasonable and the dishes were simple but well-executed.
one negative is that they seemed to have run out of quite a few things on the menu – we were looking forward to having the pear tart or any other dessert that they had available, but they had run out of all desserts!!! i thought that was quite surprising given that it was a saturday morning when they should expect a healthy crowd. i guess they hadn’t restocked for the following week (they close on sundays)…
la ristrettos is a great place to grab a bite and relax with a coffee and book. the atmosphere is really nice and relaxed; it exudes a friendly neighbourhood joint-type cosiness and warmth. definitely check it out if you’re in the area and looking for a good cuppa or a satisfying meal!
10 Sinaran Drive, #08-37 Novena Medical Centre
PS. tip on how to find the place – take the escalators up for square 2 all the way to the 8th floor and you’ll see the roof garden. if you park in square 2, the escalators from the carpark are the ones to take!
PPS. gotta love the new s5 camera!!!