Turning up the heat
BT Weekend checks out 6 eateries which are launching new concepts and menus amid fierce competition on the cafe business scene.
5 Magazine Road, #01-01
Opens: Mon-Fri (noon-3pm); Mon-Sat (6pm-2am); Closed on Sun
A hotpot supper joint may seem a little out of the box for most cafe owners, but for Bu Shukun, it's a natural fit. His other establishments The Tuckshop and The Refinery both turn into watering holes at night, plus he owns two nightspots - Trace and Central - so opening Miss Lok was a natural progression. While it does serve the Malaysian street food lok lok (S$1-4 per skewer), the restaurant is also a modern steamboat place where you can pick your soup base (S$8 per pax per soup) from a range of flavours such as bak kut teh or tom yum, and order mushroom, seafood or meat platters to share (S$12-36).
Crabby Patty burger. Photo: Mon Bijou
442 Orchard Road Claymore Connect, mezzanine level #01-19/20
Opens: Mon-Sun (10am-9pm)
The F&B arm of Millenium Hotels and Resorts is better known for Chinese restaurant Hua Ting, but the group also started upscale cafe Mon Bijou last July. Helmed by French pastry chef Nicolas Maugard, the eatery has delicate pastries such as the raspberry lychee macaron (S$7.80) and an all-day brunch menu (S$10-20) available. It's the bistro mains which keep the tai-tais and business power lunch crowds coming though - think dishes such as crab cake benedict (S$20), beef cheek ragout (S$22) and duck confit (S$12).
Kraftwich by Swissbake
Smoked Salmon Kraftkorn. Photo: Swissbake
One Raffles Place Tower 1, #B1-04/05
Opens: Mon-Fri (7.30am-9pm); Sat-Sun (9am-3.30pm)
Swissbake runs 11 cafes in addition to their bakeries, serving bites ranging from rostis to pastries, but their sandwiches do so well that they are testing new concept Kraftwich at the One Raffles Place outlet. The spotlight is on panini-styled sandwiches (or "Kraftwiches") which go for S$8.90, with gourmet fillings such as portobello mushroom and smoked chicken between slices of multi-grained or maize bread. Also on the menu: salads, soups, and desserts such as bread and butter pudding in a mug (S$6.90).
Panna Cotta. Photo: Spruce
320 Tanglin Road
Opens: Tues-Fri (11am-10.30pm); Sat, Sun, & PH (9am-10.30pm);
Some restaurants are better known for their weekend brunch menus. Spruce is a case in point, probably because of its leafy surroundings and laid-back vibe at Phoenix Park - perfect for lazy Sunday afternoons. Owner Danny Pang is now refocusing on lunch and dinner, switching American classics for Italian last year after hiring Michelin-starred chef Mauro Scotto of Ristorante Rocca Bruna (in Rapallo, Italy). Expect dishes such as beef carpaccio (S$19) and white chocolate pannacotta with raspberry cream (S$12), and refinements to signatures such as the prawn orecchiette with a garlicky zucchini cream sauce (S$21).
Avocado on toast with poached eggs. Photo: Punch
32 North Canal Road
Opens: Tues-Fri (8am-11pm); Sat-Sun (8am-6pm); Closed on Mon
It's easy to walk past Vincent Teng's newest establishment Punch and not even realise it's there. Not that it's surprising, since his first cafe The Plain (2010) has just a small sign on the door, and the second one Ronin (2013) is marked by a simple Japanese sakura emblem. Meanwhile, Punch has no indication whatsoever. Those who do find it however, will find a menu that has gone beyond the usual eggs and toast. They serve things such as a Japanese-style Tsukune chicken burger (S$22) made with brioche buns, pickled daikon, and topped with an egg yolk, or a grilled seabass (S$26) with a side of hand-cut chips or salad.
The Populus: Coffee & Food Co
Pulled Pork Grain Bowl. Photo: Populus
146 Neil Road Z6635-8420
Opens: Sun, Mon and Wed (9am-7pm); Thurs, Fri (9am-10.30pm); Sat (9.30am-10.30pm)
If you've been missing your coffee and brunch fix at the now-closed Department of Caffeine at Duxton Road, just head round the corner to The Populus: Coffee & Food Co, a four-month-old cafe run by the same owner Andrew Lek, along with his new business partner Kang Yi Yang. Some star dishes include a spring onion and corn pancake (instead of waffles) served with fried chicken (S$21), and pulled pork in a grain bowl (instead of burger) made up of quinoa, bulgur wheat and pearl barley (S$19).
This article was first published on March 19, 2016.
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