Flock Café (relocated)

Since I moved, I thought it would be a good idea to start checking out the TB stretch of hipster cafes, which I had always wanted to do so ever since the first of those cafes started sprouting up there. It was always a tad out of the way though, and at some point I had started to deride TB as over-hyped, because to be really honest, some of these cafes (and many others around the island), aren’t up to scratch at all – they are just carbon copies of one another, which is ironic, because most pride themselves to be different in some way, not conforming to the usual cookie-cutter chain cafes like SB or CBTL. The funny thing is, with these cafes all adopting the industrial-chic look or whatever you want to call it, putting together non-matching pieces of furniture in a haphazard manner, they have become a cookie-cutter sort of template. But there are some that have withstood the test of time, and fickle consumer tastes, to last for years and are still standing today. Some of them have probably evolved into highly-commercialised entities that have lost their ‘unique’ lustre, whereas others have stuck to their original concept with perhaps a loyal fan-base.

Cafes in the TB stretch have also come and go, with some surviving the harsh and overpopulated cafe scene in Singapore. The Dispensary, a cafe along the main Tiong Bahru Road, has closed before I even had a chance to step beyond its doors. I was luckier with this other cafe, Flock, located along Moh Guan Terrace. I met my cousin one weekend and brought her there, having walked past it one day when I was exploring the area and made a mental note to return.

It was fairly crowded when we visited on Saturday afternoon (that was in January), but we were fortunate to get a table for the 2 of us on the inside, sort of on the ‘mezzanine’ deck, or the area beyond the counter. It’s a very small cafe with a narrow layout, but it could probably accommodate about 20-odd patrons inside. Maybe. Someone found us the table, and I’m not sure if he’s the owner since he didn’t seem like he was part of the crew or wearing what the other crew members wore.

So for brunch, we each ordered a coffee.We also picked the scrambled eggs with sourdough bread to share, priced at S$8 (I think). The egg was quite smooth and runny, fragrant, and also comes in quite an ok portion for us. I would have liked it more if it were egg whites, but then regular scrambled eggs for sharing is fine, otherwise all of it for me might have been too ‘eggy’. I really love the sourdough bread, which goes very well with the egg and butter! I think I could have just ordered this with a coffee and be a very happy camper. 2 large slices of bread were served in this dish.
The other item we got to share was the French Toast, which I thought my cousin would enjoy, since it seems like most people like French Toast? I don’t know, I am not a very big fan of it because it’s always heavily-drenched in syrup that makes the bread too moist and soft, which I DO NOT LIKE. I prefer my breads crunchy to a certain extent, rather it be hard than soft. The only French Toast that I liked were the ones that my mum used to make when I was young and there was leftover bread about to expire. Those were what we called Bombay Toast, or what the Home Economic textbooks called it, bread dipped in a mixture of egg and sugar, and then fried.

Flock’s version of the French Toast was similarly drenched in syrup, and served with a portion of curious-looking bacon that my cousin didn’t dare to eat. Somehow it looks like it’s overcooked or something. Anyway, we didn’t touch it at all because I don’t take bacon. This was also served with banana and some strawberries (maybe one, cut into small pieces), which I would definitely have liked more of. Overall, we both preferred the sourdough with scrambled eggs, which is a simpler (and cheaper) brunch option. The French Toast, if I recalled correctly, was S$15. But maybe French Toast lovers would still like it? Sometime after that, I thought I read somewhere that they were closing the TB outlet, or that they had ‘shifted’ to Ghim Moh (where their second outlet is). I haven’t really walked past the Moh Guan Terrace outlet since that visit, so I can’t confirm if it’s true that they have left the TB area. Sigh. I had hoped that they would still be around because I thought it was a pretty decent cafe that I wouldn’t mind revisiting to try other stuff, if not the sourdough again!

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Wild Honey, Scotts Square

It may sound really incredible but I have never once visited Wild Honey, whether it is the branch at Mandarin Gallery or the newer outlet at Scotts Square. I have heard good reviews about the food served up but also of the off-putting queues, especially since the outlet at Mandarin Gallery does not take reservations, meaning if you want to dine there you will need to brave whatever crowds who share similar thoughts as you on the same day at the same time. Besides, I don’t think I am really a brunch person. I can eat any time of the day, and I love breakfast foods like grains, breads, yogurts and the likes, but the likes of bacon, sausages and eggs are not exactly within the repertoire of foods that enter my list of indulgences. Eggs maybe but depends on how they are done.

Anyway, Wild Honey at Scotts Square provides online reservation through Chope, and I made a 1:30pm reservation for two. The reservation was promptly confirmed via the system and on the day itself, there is actually an automatic call to you to confirm the booking. Good first impressions! Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. When we reached at slightly before our reserved time-slot, I saw a whole bunch of people waiting outside, and I tried to tell myself that these could be the walk-ins who are waiting for free tables beyond those who have made reservations. It was kind of a weak reassurance but nevertheless I wanted to stay positive. We asked about our booking and was told that they are preparing the table for us and clearing up. Ok.

15 minutes passed and still the host did not come out for us. We kept going to check with them and they kept telling us the table will be ready soon, until at one point I think they told us that the guests are paying and leaving soon. Well, by the time these guests finally left and the table was cleared, we got seated at 2pm. To be honest, I find it ridiculous if for restaurant bookings, we have to endure the same kind of wait like when we visit the doctors, where appointments are futile because you never get to fulifll your objective at the designated time. To add on to this, it was stated in the reservation that we have a maximum of 1.5 hours so that the next reservation can be kept to, something along those lines. Quite obviously, this wasn’t adhered to and if there wasn’t an intention to adhere to it, then it shouldn’t even be mentioned.

Done with the rants. We were at least given a decent seat, a table that although was near to the entrance/exit, was by the side so that we were not really in the midst of thoroughfare of wait staff rushing to and fro with the orders. Ordering was a little questionable as well, even for just the 2 of us, they got the order of our drinks mixed up when I asked for a coffee to be served after the meal but was instead presented with it while my friend’s tea didn’t come until we asked for it.

This was my order of the Californian, an egg-white scramble with tofu, fresh herbs, peppers, mushrooms and scallions char-grilled ciabatta. I really enjoyed this despite that the taste of the scallions was pretty strong and overwhelming, but the egg white scramble was quite a nice change for me from usual scrambled eggs (that I wouldn’t have ordered if it was regular eggs) and it was really very filling! Imagine all that protein goodness. However, the char-grilled bread that was used as the base for the eggs was too soggy for my liking. My friend commented that I should have eaten them together but I had wanted to keep them for last and also because there was really a lot of egg-white!IMG_0073.JPGA closer look at the dish.

IMG_0076.JPGMy friend’s order of the Boulevard St. Michel, which is savoury French toast with double baked cheese & spinach souffle, parmesan crumbed poached egg, slow-roasted tomatoes, grilled back bacon and spicy tomato chutney. The souffle sounded really interesting to me and I would have liked to order it too but felt iffy about French toast and I am so not a bacon person. The egg didn’t turn out that good though, as the yolk was already cooked by the time my friend sliced through it, half-hoping and wondering if the yolk would be oozing or squirting out when the knife went into it.

IMG_0074.JPGBut it was probably good because the entire plate was gone quickly! Although I guess it could also be because we were hungry from all that waiting.

IMG_0075.JPGBy the time we were done, it was just about 3-ish and then asking for the bill took a bit of effort because nobody seemed interested in generating our bill. It took about 15-20 minutes for the bill to be presented and we left at 3:30pm. So food is good, and by where we sat, I guess ambience is pretty ok. Service of food is fairly prompt but aside from that, I would not say service is good, in fact, it borders on poor. Maybe it’s the timing, that 1:30pm is just a bad timing when most would still be in the thick of action devouring their brunch. Around 3:30pm when we left, the restaurant was not as busy even though it was still full but at least there wasn’t that daunting crowd of people waiting outside.