Monday, August 7, 2017

Our favourite cafe

Like many Singaporean families, we like going to cafes, especially for Saturday brunch. We look up recommendations online and make our rounds to those that sound interesting. However, many of these cafes turn out to be unmemorable, for a few reasons:

1) The coffee served in some of these cafes is weak and insipid or has a nasty acidic aftertaste, like the beans have been over-roasted.

2) Many cafes have very limited food options. Seriously, there's only so many times you can eat poached eggs before it gets really jelak. Quality too, is questionable. More often than not, I attribute a cafe's popularity more to its ambience than its food.

3) Price is a huge factor. I know cafes have to pay rent lah but I balk at having to cough up $16++ for Eggs Benedict or $6 for a latte. By the time you add service charge and GST, you can end up with a bill close to $100 for a family of four. For nothing more than a fancy version of breakfast.

So this post is to share with you the Tan family's favourite cafe to date. This is NOT a paid post. I'm also not related to the owner in any way. I'm spreading the word simply because we love it and all good things should be shared. We started coming here a few years ago and over the years, we've discovered that amidst our cafe hopping, we somehow wind up back here, and the experience has been consistently great. We're like the fickle boyfriend who keeps checking out the new pretty young thing, and eventually realise that the best one is the one he had all along.

The cafe is Oberstrasse on French Road, right behind Lavender MRT station. It's opened by an enterprising young man and is named after the street in Switzerland where he stayed when he was studying there.

The interior is simply decorated but welcoming. You order and pay at the counter, and they serve your food. The menu is typed on A4 paper and the food selection itself takes up 4 sheets. Drinks take up another page and there's one for dessert pies. It's a crazily wide variety of food and we're always amazed at how just two cooks in the kitchen can whip up so many different dishes.

We've met the owner and he told us he's constantly looking at ways to improve the menu and add new items (as if there's not enough choice!) What an enterprising spirit.

You would think that with such a long list of food items, there would be hits and misses, but honestly, we've tried loads of stuff and we haven't found anything we dislike yet. Most of the dishes are seriously delish. We even brought my mother-in-law a couple of times (she's a notoriously fussy eater) and she said the taste reminded her so much of the great English breakfasts she used to have in London.

Here are some of the items we've tried over the past few years:

Norwegian rosti (with smoked salmon) $14.50
Do you know how difficult it is to find good rosti in Singapore? I only know of Marche and the rosti here is better. Crisp on the top, perfectly cooked in the centre and without any oily residue. There are four types of rosti on the menu, just choose your topping.

Mushroom baked rice $9.50
They don't stinge on the cheese so it's a plate full of cheesy, gooey goodness. Again, there are four types of baked rice. Personally, we like the chicken baked rice best.

Grilled cajun chicken with baked potatoes $9.50
According to the owner, this is one of their best sellers. A very tasty option for chicken lovers.

Crabmeat Arrabiata $15
Yes, they serve pasta too! 12 different types, in fact. Their cream sauce pastas are pretty good. This one is loaded with crab meat.

Classic French Toast with berry compote $10.50
I only tried this on my recent visit and I was completely blown away. It is honestly the best French toast I've tried. The combination of berry compote and mascarpone cheese with granola bits elevates this usually boring dish to a whole new level. The portion is huge though - three thick slices, so unless you have a very sweet tooth, I recommend sharing this with someone.

Smoked salmon avocado sandwich $10.50
This is one of Lesley-Anne's favourites - the sandwich is generously filled with chunks of smoked salmon and a hefty spread of avocado. It normally comes with chips and a small salad but she always asks to replace the chips with more salad. They're very flexible that way. Note: you should order this only if you like chewy bread, which is typical of German bread. If you prefer soft pillowy bread, you probably wouldn't like this.

Chicken mushroom pastry pie $10.50
One of the newer additions to the menu. There are two types of pie: chicken and beef. We prefer the chicken as it comes in a creamy white sauce. The beef pie sauce is a tangy tomato base.

BBQ Babyback ribs $18
This is possibly the most expensive item on the menu but you get a long slab of fall-off-the-bone ribs in an addictive BBQ sauce.

Buttermilk waffles with berries $10.50
Comes with butter and maple syrup (the waffle, not the kids). The waffle is light and crisp, not soggy like in some places.

Flat white $4.50
And finally, the coffee! A very decent cup of joe at a very decent price.

We've sampled more food than the above, but I only posted the ones I had pictures of. The poached eggs and big breakfast here are superb, so are the duck confit and molten lava cake. The full menu is available ALL DAY, so you can eat breakfast food for dinner, or dinner food for breakfast, however you wish to define them.

The prices here are truly reasonable, considering the portions and quality, and have I mentioned, all prices are NETT? That's right - no service charge or GST.

Some other plus points:

1) Free wifi (so you can post food pics without using data).
2) Free water (help yourself at a counter).
3) Accessible - it's located a #01-50 Kitchener Complex, which is just behind Lavender MRT station. If you drive, there's coupon parking along the road.

They open every day from 9am to 9pm, except Saturdays when they close slightly earlier at 5pm. I recommend making reservations for lunch as it can get quite crowded. You can book a table online via Facebook.

So support small local businesses and make your way to Oberstrasse! Your tastebuds will thank you.

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