L’Etoile Cafe, Owen Road, Singapore

Been some time since I visited L’Etoile Cafe located at Owen Road. There are several cafes in the vicinity, all of which I have only heard of or passed by but never actually made the effort to pop in. I have friends who make it a point to visit cafes that are newly-opened or raved about but I am just too lazy most of the time.

So anyway, this cafe from the outside looks like a pretty cosy and idyllic place to hang out, especially when the entire neighbourhood seems to exude a generally slower pace as compared to the hustle and bustle of cafes in town that we are so wont to seeing. I think patrons tend to stay fairly long too, so I don’t know if the trick for staying viable is by charging prices that are higher or having rents that are more affordable. Perhaps it is a combination of both, plus maybe having a regular stream of customers despite it being a weekday or weekend might help.IMG_0370.JPGI can’t really recall much about the taste of what I had, which was a long black and as usual, a slice of carrot cake. They do have proper food items on their menu but weekends for me are like days when I just want to snack and have all the breads and pastries as I like, so cakes are almost the order of the day for me. From the looks of the picture below, it somehow seems like the carrot cake would be on the dry side, but I don’t think it was that bad, because I certainly have had carrot cakes that are just not that palatable. This is also good in a way that the cream cheese frosting is not too thick. I know having some cream cheese and fats can’t hurt even if it is unhealthy but I find cream cheese frosting too sweet for my liking even if I do have a special love for carrot cakes, whether in this form or in the hawker form that is also colloquially known as ‘chye tow kway’, black or white.

IMG_0371.JPGThe cafe has an upper level that can contain quite a fair bit of customers, and its decor is really like a haphazardly put-together room of sorts with furniture that seemed homely and from yesteryears yet not having a consistent design in them. I suppose this is how many cafes are like these days, standing out with a quirkiness of mixing things around. What do I know about interior design anyway right?

Whisk, Seng Poh Road, Singapore

New cafes seem to be popping up in the Tiong Bahru area, along with other F&B establishments like restaurants and the likes. In the week that Whisk was featured in a short write-up in the Sunday Life section of the papers, my friend and I visited it. We were probably lucky to get there and find a seat along the side by the windows, because shortly after the place started to fill up and the limited seating became occupied. I like the decor of the cafe’s interior, with the generous use of whites and use of lighting to create a cosy and clean feel. However, the bad thing about it is that it traps noise. There were several larger groups who were there at the same time as us, and their competing chatter made it hard for me to hear my friend even across the small table where we sat. That is the drawback with cafes these days, which could also be a strategy to not let patrons feel too comfortable to stay for too long. Anyway, cafes aren’t really meant for customers to park themselves at for long hours due to their need to stay viable and profitable in order to continue operating.

We ordered their carrot cake, which I found cute because of how it was decorated with a small carrot formed by 2 pipings of coloured cream.IMG_0367.JPG

It has been a while since I had it but I don’t really remember the cake to be exceptionally outstanding or nice. Only chose it because I enjoy carrot cakes, but I think I will opt for something else if I revisit the cafe, just to try something different and also to see if I will chance upon something nicer/good! But I seem to remember it being not too dry so in terms of the moisture it still scores some points.IMG_0368.JPG

Coffee is a small cup but relatively strong. To be honest, I can’t tell if a coffee is very good or not. I always let the acidity decide, even if it just means it is a different type of coffee bean or the way it is being roasted. I realise that these cafes, the standalone ones and not the commercialised joints like Starbucks or Coffee Bean, tend to serve coffee (i.e. Americano or regular brew) that is acidic and that which I feel is a little too sour. It has been explained by some of them to be coffee of good quality, so I figured that those that I am used to drinking commercially aren’t as good? Or that they are perhaps not as strong? It is then that I concluded I am not fussy with coffee and its taste so long as I don’t detect that hint of ‘over-roasting’, which would be the ‘chao-ta’ (dialect for burnt) flavour in it.

We ordered a cranberry tea cake as well, or what I think resembles one. I don’t have the exact name but I wanted something else in addition to the carrot cake since there were 2 of us which only makes sense to order 2 items right? Well, I finished most of both anyway so actually it doesn’t. Haha. I liked this cake more, perhaps because it is more buttery and there are days when my palate leans towards the softer and more buttery cakes like tea cakes. It somehow feels lighter (though not healthier, not necessarily anyway). Either ways, they both go well with coffee! There are other variants of the tea cake in other flavours which I really would like to check out next time too! Hopefully by then, Whisk will still be around!IMG_0369.JPG

Starbucks Christmas moments part 3

On with my continued Starbucks Christmas delights’ quest, I decided to order a quiche on this third outing. The size of their quiches are fairly small in comparison to what I am used to seeing elsewhere, though priced at S$5.90. Is it just me, or is the pricing of Starbucks’ food items relatively expensive? I seldom order quiches these days so I’m not that well-informed with pricing. Anyhow, it isn’t breaking news that our cost of living is high, especially when we want to impute a certain lifestyle factor into it. That said, because it is a choice to go to Starbucks for a quiche and coffee, when I could also have opted for something more affordable.  IMG_0361.JPG

So this is my choice of the Brussel Sprouts quiche. It is a Christmas item though as to how brussel sprouts are associated with Christmas is beyond my level of limited general knowledge. 😀

I have never had a quiche that contains brussel sprouts, in fact, I seldom eat this vegetable since it is not something that my mum will cook, or that perhaps that she even knows of. But I’m definitely not averse to it and actually I rather enjoy it for its taste that feels a little like cabbage with a more distinct and sweeter tinge on the palate. Whole brussel sprouts are used generously in the quiche, as I managed to eat quite a lot of it, so maybe the $5.90 I paid for it is worth every penny. The egg in the quiche is nice and creamy without being overwhelming and is a good twist on the usual spinach quiche, I think.IMG_0362.JPG

Eating this item warmed up accompanied by a nice cup of coffee makes for a nice afternoon enjoyment, even if it is slightly oily like how most pastries tend to be. As compared to the turkey sandwich, this is more of a hit, and perhaps I can consider trying the other pies and quiches that are making a limited appearance during this festive season!

Starbucks Christmas moments part 2

Still on the topic of Starbucks and their Christmas delights, I think I seem pretty determined to try as many of their Christmas offerings as I can this year, seeing as to how in the past years, I didn’t really go beyond a couple of the beverages and food items. I am still disappointed that the cranberry orange loaf did not make a reappearance, but let’s see if there will be anything from this year’s range that will make the same grade. At this stage, I highly doubt it though.

So this was something that I really wanted to try after seeing it in the display case, the turkey ham with spinach salad sandwich. Apparently, the sandwich is made on ‘beetroot bread’ of sorts, which I guess means coloured with beetroot juice? In reality, it has a dull pink kind of tint instead of the usual beige shade of breads. Perhaps that was what drew me to try it and somehow it sounded fairly wholesome.IMG_0364.JPG

You can’t really tell from these pictures about its colour. In fact, I think the picture I have here makes it look very orangey. That’s due to the lighting option selected when I snapped the photo.IMG_0365.JPG

The below picture is more accurate in terms of the colour of the sandwich but there isn’t that much turkey meat/ham in it. As is the usual case. So let’s talk about the sandwich. I feel that it’s a bit of a miss. Although I was really looking forward to trying it, when I actually had it, I didn’t enjoy it as much. The bread felt too soft, it’s like as though it was all puffy and airy in it that I could just compress it into a flat bun similar to a sliced bread, something to that extent. It also made it a little difficult to cut and slice with the knife given due to its softness. Taste-wise, I can’t really taste any beetroot so the sandwich bread felt like ordinary white bread without much taste. It looks good but the taste doesn’t live up to expectations. starbucks_xmas_swNot much comments on the ingredients other than in terms of portion it definitely isn’t overflowing the sandwich bread as pictured in the official picture. It isn’t too little either, but it’s good that the ham isn’t too overloaded on sodium from what I can recall as I don’t feel it being too salty. There’s also sliced cheese inside that felt like the light variety, and some strips of spinach. There is another version of the sandwich, containing beef, but I think going by the experience with this, I wil probably give that a miss. The beef isn’t made on this pinkish bread, just the usual ordinary colour that you can also see in a blurred image in the above picture that I got from the Starbucks Singapore website. This will reduce the number of their Christmas items for me to try and maybe for those that I like I can have the breadth for seconds!

The other item is this crispy chocolate bar, or if it goes by some other name if I can find out I will update it here. This is a very tough bar of crispy chocolate that is extremely hard to cut into with a fork! I was worried that the entire bar will fly off the plate or I will break the plate by trying too hard. IMG_0366.JPG

Taste-wise, it isn’t too bad but nothing spectacular. It’s essentially a cereal bar made of crispy puffs. When you put it into the mouth and start chewing you realise that it’s light and airy, not so substantial like you would expect from its resilience. But nevertheless it is still a good sweet treat that will go well with coffee!

Little Prince Cafe, Somme Road, Singapore

Unfortunately, this outlet will be closing its doors for good in a few days’ time on September 27 due to some problems of the landlord. But the good news is that it’s not the end of the road for Little Prince Cafe, as they have another outlet in Toa Payoh! Not surprisingly, I am totally clueless about this place, even though I don’t stay very far away from it, just like how there is the well-known Creamier that is so hyped but I have never tried it once. I have heard that it is perennially packed with people and it would be kind of strange to buy a waffle with ice-cream for takeaway, as I can imagine that in the heat of our little island, by the time I get home, there will be just waffles and cream, no more ice.

So anyway, those are another story for another day. I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, finally connecting again. That is called making the effort. We decided to go check out Little Prince Cafe as my friend’s suggestion and it was a nice, quiet afternoon, albeit a tad humid towards a certain point especially since we took a fairly long hike from the MRT station to the cafe. Along the way, we actually passed by a couple other places, one of them being the Tiramisu Hero and Window Sill Pies, the latter being totally packed with a queue forming outside. I’d wanted to try Window Sill but have not had the chance, yet.

So, Little Prince was quite quiet, with us being the only other set of customers. But it is a cosy shop with few tables, so it was good for catching-up.

We ordered a waffle to share, and two scoops of ice-cream, a Thai Milk Tea scoop and an Earl Grey Tea scoop. We didn’t opt for savoury waffles which they had started offering on the menu too. The waffle is quite yummy and freshly made in store, I think. As for the ice-cream, I found the Thai Milk Tea to be a tad too creamy and sweet. Earl Grey was fine but somehow it still loses out a little to Fauchon. I don’t know, perhaps they don’t really differ much but somehow Fauchon has set the bar at a level that sub-consciously I might have already deemed it as the best, none too creamy but still with a distinct scent and aroma of earl grey. IMG_0032.JPG

IMG_0031.JPGI ordered a coffee as well to go with the waffle but it was quite a small cup, though that was not the highlight I suppose. Anyway, coffee or waffle are secondary, the meet-up was the main dish for the day!

Drury Lane, Tanjong Pagar Singapore

I have read and heard about this place before and had always wanted to check out the cafes nearby the office. So one afternoon, I finally decided to do it and went there for a small lunch of coffee and cake. They didn’t really have many choices where cakes and pastries are concerned, instead they do serve sandwiches and all-day breakfasts, which I wasn’t that keen on anyway. So I ordered an Americano and a slice of banana bread served up with espresso butter. The description piqued my curiosity, I have heard and known of nut butters like the usual peanut, almond and cashew, even some others that I have never tried before, but espresso butter??!? I was just browsing the pictures on their Facebook page and there seems to be so many yummy-looking food. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a breakfast mood that day and maybe I was too late for the tarts, cakes and etc., that are supposedly baked fresh in-store daily! 😦

Oh well, that is probably a great big hint from the Drury Lane folks, subtle or otherwise, that I need to go back one of these days. Hey guys, I want to try your pastries!

So here’s a look at the second level of the cafe that is located in the double-level shop houses along Tanjong Pagar Road. I was seated at a small table next to a window, just right in front of the stairs landing leading up from the ground level, so this is pretty much almost the whole of level 2 that you can see. At least it’s fairly spacious.IMG_0016-0.JPGAnd there was a lovely small pot of flowers on the table to brighten up the afternoon, letting me enjoy the solace and peace of this sojourn.

IMG_0014.JPGAnd a closer look at my slice of banana bread with the strong brew. The coffee is good though having Americanos always mean that I don’t get those lovely latte art that I always see in pictures online and elsewhere. Well, I suppose maybe on some days I should opt for a latte or cappucino just for the latte art, but then somehow that just kind of masks the real taste of the coffee and gives it too milky a flavour. Not that I am a connoisseur but there really is a difference drinking coffee with and without milk.

IMG_0015.JPGAnd the espresso butter is really quite something! It’s special and contains palpable hints of espresso. I just hope that the next time I visit, I will be able to try something else and not veer back to this unique offering on a banana bread that is still moist and delicious!

Jamie’s Italian, Singapore

After what seemed like forever, we finally got to check out Jamie’s Italian at Vivocity. Well we never made it there because we were daunted by the queues, and I am truly averse to queueing for food. Well, not always, but generally. I would rather settle for something that is just decent or passable than to spend time queueing for something that is supposedly good. Food, is at the end of the day, just food.

The other time I tried Jamie’s Italian was somewhere in the UK, not in London but Reading I think. The food, from what I recalled, was pretty decent but I wouldn’t say exceptional. Maybe I don’t know what is considered to be really good Italian food but to me, pasta is pasta. There is bad pasta, for sure, but how good it can be, I guess I don’t have a yardstick for comparison.IMG_0007.JPGSo this time we finally made it to the outlet at Vivocity, not without waiting for queueing though, even if there was not really a visible queue in sight. They will make you leave your name with the host who will then let you know an approximate time you will need to wait. I figured it wasn’t due to the restaurant reaching its maximum capacity because as we loitered in the vicinity we could see that there were quite a number of empty tables. But it was probably more to ensure that guests who are seated are more or less promptly attended to and served. It can be good or bad in a way, good in that you can turn around tables much faster but bad because you make the customers wait while standing outside the restaurant. Unless of course you want to shop around and hope they remember to give you a tinker.

Well service was indeed prompt. We already knew what we wanted since we had a fair bit of time before being shown to our table, not in the best location though, as it was a 2-seater in the midst of thoroughfare. We decided not to be ambitious and chose several small portions of sides. This is the roast potatoes dish with fennel, garlic and chilli, which I love of course, what do you expect, this is an entire dish of potatoes!

IMG_0009.JPGThen we had a main too, which was the pumpkin tortellini, filled with roasted squash, ricotta and parmesan, in a pumpkin, chilli and rosemary butter with smashes amaretti. We ordered a half portion, thinking that with 2 sides it may get too much, but if you take a look at this, you will see that there are just about 8 small pieces of tortellinis to be shared among the 2 of us. We are not big eaters, so I can imagine that those who have a hearty appetite may need to order more stuff in order to be truly full.

IMG_0010.JPGOne of the other sides, the cauliflower and parmesan fritters with arrabiatta dip. As much as I enjoyed this dish, it was a little miserable in terms of size.

IMG_0008.JPGTada, the “spread” that we had.

IMG_0011.JPGI was nicely satiated but I wouldn’t say I was full, but I could be from the bottle of lemonade that we ordered for sharing. So since we still had room, we decided to have dessert as well, also because we were celebrating my birthday! Haha, shameless I know, but what is a birthday without a cake? So we ordered the Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue. To be honest, I am not a fan of meringues, knowing how sweet they can be, despite that I am a cake-lover these days. Which come to think of it, I really do ought to cut down on. Sigh. Anyway, this was a huge serving, in contrast to the conservative amounts of the mains and sides. I liked the base that was made from limoncello and crunchy pistachio brittle, as it had a zesty and refreshing flavour to it!

IMG_0012.JPGOn the whole, this was a good dinner with nice food and desserts, coupled with of course great company! The service was polite and professional but it somehow lacks a touch of warmth which I would have preferred.