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Cake Avenue Bistro

Cake Avenue to many, is probably synonymous to its bespoke cake designs, such as the unicorn cakes and designer cupcakes; basically any elaborate design you want on/of a cake, they will be able to do their magic. Recently, they have expanded their operations from their cosy store along Lorong Kilat (near Beauty World MRT station) to also include a full-service bistro with American and Italian cuisine.

Cake Avenue Christmas Menu

I was invited to sample their 2017 Christmas menu just last week, which will be available from 25 November (today) all the way till Christmas! In true Cake Avenue bespoke confectionery fashion, Chef ET has come up with a range of Christmas-themed desserts, from the conventional Yule Log, macarons and cookies, to the adorable entremets and a signature reindeer cake. They have also created a menu of savoury dishes which include braised lamb shank, chicken lasagna, and a selection of canapés.

Diner Dessert Menu

We also were treated to a new addition in their menu, to introduce their bistro to customers: the Diner Dessert series. At first glance, they look like your normal run-of-the-mill western diner food, such as burger and fries, nacho chips, alphabet tomato soup, and meatballs. But on closer inspection, they’re actually creatively designed with cakes, ice cream and the likes. For example, the “Diner slider and fries” were actually dark chocolate ice cream ‘patties’ sandwiched between vanilla butter cake ‘buns’ and topped with raspberry ‘ketchup’ and passionfruit ‘mustard’, served with warm cake ‘fries’. Such deceptive, so confuse. Nevertheless they were delightful to take pictures and enjoy after!

Sweet Deals!

From now till Christmas, Cake Avenue’s Christmas menu will be available for dine-in and takeaway in a few value-for-money festive packages! They’re pretty good for a small to medium gathering such as your office parties or pot lucks at your BFF’s place. Do give at least 3 days notice if you would like to order these special menu items though. Check the whole list out here and call/message/email them to make your order early!

More Information

Cake Avenue
33 Lorong Kilat
#01-01/02
Kilat Centre
Singapore 598132
Email: sales@cakeavenue.com
Phone: 6877 9008 or  9666 2022 (Whatsapp)
Operation hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 8.30pm
Closed on Mondays
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They are Halal-certified!


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A balanced diet is having a cupcake in each hand – Anon.

I happened to be in the Tiong Bahru Estate, as I had an apartment for the night before for my other photography works. I know that there was already a bookstore and even a yoga school along Yong Siak Street (one of the more happening enclaves in the area), but Plain Vanilla Bakery and their cupcakes has never exactly caught my eye previously.

Plain Vanilla Bakery

Since 2013, Plain Vanilla has been producing fresh cupcakes, and other cakes and pastries daily. Highlighting their commitment to top quality food, their products are only baked and served on the same day.

The bakery itself has very minimal cottagey, wooden furnishings, with a bright full length window at the entrance for you to peer into rows upon rows of enticing cupcakes. Outside, the seating area is sparse with a few big tables and surrounding long benches. What I liked was that it also designated as a reading area with an eclectic selection of reading materials; something that not many cafes do these days. The wooden swing at their entrance is also something very Instagrammable!


Plain Vanilla Plain Vanilla Plain VanillaPlain VanillaPlain VanillaPlain VanillaPlain Vanilla

I was there for a quick breakfast, so while I couldn’t resist getting at least one of their cupcakes I also got myself one of their breakfast items, a Brioche bun with baked eggs. Paired with coffee, it’s a pretty good perk me up for the weekend ahead. I just wished I could have more time (and stomach) for their other breakfast items and cakes!

One thing to highlight: they have a lot of cupcake flavours. From the rich chocolatey ones to the fruity, zesty variety, you’ll be really tempted to take a dozen of goodness home to savour!

Plain Vanilla Plain Vanilla Plain Vanilla

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Despite having 2 other outlets in relatively convenient places, their flagship store in Tiong Bahru catches on the rustic charm of the entire estate.

Price:
A little premium to be made, but still pretty affordable (cupcakes start at $3.90 with better discounts by the dozen, my brioche bun took my at $7).

Quality:
The freshness can be tasted, trust me.

Overall:
Whether you like your cafes and other things in life vanilla or not, you’ll find something (usually a cupcake) for you here at Plain Vanilla!

More Information

Plain Vanilla Bakery
Tiong Bahru Flagship
1D Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168641
Tel: 8363 7614
Opening Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8am – 7pm, Sunday: 9am – 6pm
Cupcakes & bakes available from 10am; earliest order collection starts from 10am.
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Cluny Court
01-03A, 501 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259760
Tel: 8363 7615
Opening Hours: 8am – 7pm daily
Breakfast bakes available from 8am, and cupcakes & other bakes from 11am; earliest order collection starts from 11am.

ION Orchard
Closed for refurbishment – March 2017 EDIT: They have opened!
B1-06 within IN GOOD COMPANY Concept Store, 2 Orchard Turn, Singapore 238801
Tel: 8299 9422
Opening Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11am – 7pm, Friday – Sunday & Public Holidays: 10am – 7.30pm
Cupcakes & bakes available from 11.30am; earliest order collection starts from 12pm.

 

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I am (hehe) pretty sure most of the cafe-hopping crowd in Singapore would be familiar with I am… Cafe (yes, the name includes the ellipsis) and their signature red letter blocks at the corner of Haji Lane:

A post shared by I am… (@iamathajilane) on

Living on the better side of the island and don’t want to join the throngs of poor west-siders in queuing for ages? Now you can just stay in paradise!

I am… Cafe (Our Tampines Hub)

Just opened on 28 February 2017, I am… Cafe now brings all that burger and fries (with some pizza) goodness right to our doorstep in the East. Situated on the third floor of Our Tampines Hub right next to the HomeTeamNS clubhouse,  where there are already plenty of fun things to do, it takes a little bit of eyeballing but you won’t miss their trademark signage even from level 1.

Interior wise, it does remind you of Haji Lane, and I very much prefer an air-conditioned experience, although it does contain the noise of the hustle and bustle going on (it is a family casual restaurant after all so don’t expect classical music and hush-hush conversations).

I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines

Likewise, the menu still consists of old favourites such as their side of truffle fries, which is topped off with thick and creamy truffle mayo. Burgers, pizzas, and their fish & chips are also available, along with their signature mocktails (they’re halal certified). Don’t forget their desserts like the RAINBOW CAKE! Call me nitpicky, but while my ‘the boss’ burger is definitely scrumptious, I’d wish for the patty to be at least the same diameter as the buns so that I can pick it up to chomp down on it (hehe) without risking it popping out of the buns mid-bite.

I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines I am Cafe Tampines

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Waitrr Pls

One new addition since I last ate at I am… Cafe is the use of a mobile app called “Waitrr“. From browsing the menu, all the way to ordering and paying for your meal, it’s a seamless process that’s quite frankly a well-designed user experience. No more hems and haws when your service staff probes whether you are ready to order, or yelling through to them during busy weekend dinners and hoping he/she read your order right. Just scan the QR code, pass the phone down the table and pick your food and drinks! What’s also good I realised, is that you don’t have to make one person pick up the tab or get service to split your tabs (a horrible experience for large groups, please don’t do this to wait staff…). Just use your own phone(s) to order separately and pay immediately after! EZPZ!

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
This is in (what’s becoming) a very popular hangout in Tampines, so it’s not something too out of the way. Also the brand is already a staple in halal Cafes.

Price:
Prices are still pretty fair, nothing out of the ordinary for cafes (I spent about 20 per pax).

Quality:
You probably need to order dessert if you’re really hungry, but portions are not scrimped on here.

Overall: I
Joining the fray with other cafes showing up in Tampines, like one I previously visited, I am… Cafe banks on its already solid reputation in dishing out relatively affordable premium western cuisine that’s halal-certified, right in the heartlands! Surely, a #newbeastfromtheeast!

More Information

I am… Cafe (Our Tampines Hub)
51 Tampines Ave 4
#03-04
Our Tampines Hub
Singapore 529684
​Tel: 6295 5509
Email: enquiry@iam.com.sg
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“I am a coffee fanatic. Once you go to proper coffee, you can’t go back. You cannot go back.”

Hugh Laurie

As recent as 2010, Singapore was hit by a wave of artisan coffee houses, stemming from the Melbourne café scene that has pretty much took over the whole world. It’s no doubt that Singaporeans will always crave for better quality, and will jump on the first available choice AND be more than willing to shell out a premium. However it still remains a cut-throat arena; out of the 391 cafes that opened in 2014, at least a quarter of them didn’t make the cut since. That’s a lot of coffee going both ways!

Also, I personally observe that a lot of these cafés popping up like rabbits aren’t really that serious about the literal meaning of a café; well, the coffee.

Stephanie Phua (Duo Studio)

VXX Cooperative

Stephanie of Duo Studio sought out to disprove that by bringing me to a relatively new coffeehouse in the vicinity of her agency, in Jalan Besar. Speaking of the area, it’s a really under-the-radar and eclectic enclave of coffeehouses and small restaurants!

Creative & advertising agencies similarly have a tough life over here, and she’s glad that she can find such a place just round the corner that not only is a good place to tune out/do work in peace, but also has a satisfying dining experience.

VXX Cooperative

Started by coffee connoisseurs and professionals Joy and Aslam, VXX Cooperative takes pride in their coffee-centric nature, which is evident in the curation of available roasted brews. With a mix of local favourites Nylon Coffee Roasters, Cloud Catcher Roastery (Malaysia), Koppi (Sweden) and Tim Wendelboe (Norway), it’s a special kind of heaven for serious coffee enthusiasts. Coupled with the strong experience of both former baristas themselves, Joy and Aslam are able to bring out the best of what are already among the best roasts in town.

If you wanted to know, “VXX” is something of sentimental value to Aslam, as it is the area code (520) of the district.

I’m a relatively technical person myself, and I love it when being explained to the facts and technical aspects of just about anything, especially food. This was exactly the experience I got; Joy was really patient and enthusiastic to introduce the profiles of the special brews on sale that day and I made an informed choice to get the Nacimiento by Tim Wendelboe. Served in a metal flask, it’s meant to be enjoyed slowly to allow the aromatics time to vaporise and give you an olfactory treat.

If any, their logo is a good representation of their culture: sharp but multi-directional curation. Located at 20 Foch Road, the interior is nicely spaced, minimalistic yet comfortable. The flowery floor tiles were probably because it used to be a dispensary back in the days. It’s not somewhere you’d want to have a 50 seats birthday party at, but like Stephanie, it’s a pretty good place if you want some peace and quiet. When you enter the shop’s front hall you’ll be greeted with a really large flat wooden table, possible with some coffee drips running on it. Take your pick with the merchandise just next to it too, when I was there, I saw some really good chocolate!

In fact, she got so comfy with the place that her coffee choices are simply picked for her and she does not have to worry about not enjoying whatever is served! Joy does not disappoint.

VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative

The food menu is something that constantly evolves, but keeps to their principle of serving simple food to a T. I do agree to not over-complicating your food as a café owner as it will rob the attention from the beverages, and turn you into one of those red-velvet-cake-eggs-benedict-please hipster cafés.

Opting for something balanced and light I’ve opted for the banana-walnut french toast, topped up with mascarpone cheese, berries and coffee custard. Stephanie (aka stooffi) got basically what she always orders: a beef chorizo bowl with shaved potatos and tomatoes, topped with a perfectly wobbly *jiggle* onsen egg. According to her this is the third iteration of the same dish, and it is rather different in terms of presentation and preparation style from the predecessors.

There are also several other interesting creations from breakfast items to full lunch menus. I heard the dessert is also to die for, so get them before they change the menu (yet again)!

VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative VXX Cooperative

At the time of writing both Rudi and Joy are taking part in the Singapore National Brewers Cup 2017, happening at Cafe Asia 2017 over at MBS this weekend! All the best!

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Nondescript shopfront, minimalistic furniture, artisan food and beverages? Check!

Price:
While you have to be prepared for some premium in prices, care is taken to prepare the food and (especially) coffee. You won’t feel shortchanged at all!

Quality:
See above. Portions are just right regardless if you want a midday snack, or a hearty lunch.

Overall:
Definitely a good local effort to bring quality coffee to the scene (a refreshing change in my opinion). They change up every 3-4 months to keep things fresh too, so you won’t get bored.

More Information

VXX Cooperative
20 Foch Road
Singapore 209261
Tel: 8720 0093
Opens daily 9:00am to 6:00pm
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And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.

J.K. Rowling

After a week of diving in the west, it’s time to go back to the better side. #kek

Far-eastern Singapore sometimes feels a bit left out when it comes to cafes and specialty F&B places, with most reaching only as far as the East Coast Road area or maybe even Bedok. So it’s always refreshing news that you hear of a brand new cafe deep in the heartlands of Tampines.

Brothers in Fine Food (BFF)

Another disheartening thing about being in the heartlands is that your apart from the street (block) corner kopitiam or hawker centre, your F&B options are almost entirely dominated by chain stores. Being situated in Tampines West Community Centre (yes, a CC!), it’s no different for newcomers Brothers in Fine Food. Founded in November 2016 by the same bros behind popular cafe in East Coast, Penny University. Placed above a Starbucks AND a MacDonald’s outlet, it’s easy to miss them out as you have to walk past both of them, and up the stairs through another corridor.

BFF

Reaching the place, you are greeted with a simple facade and no-frills industrial furniture and fittings. The weather was rather gloomy for the entire day when I first visited, and it looked like a good place to wind down in the evening.

BFFbff-03333 bff-03332

The menu is a pretty interesting one, with several unusual concoctions such as the sous-vide steak with beetroot and thyme puree, which I eventually ordered. Chef Restu from BFF explained that they use modern cooking techniques and experimented with different methods to create unique recipes at heartland-friendly prices. True though, this is the first time I’ve heard of sous-vide prepared steak in such a setting, for less than $20! The other main we ordered that evening was the Salmon Fillet with za’atar roasted bread crumbs, crispy spiced salmon skin, brown butter miso sauce, atop of a pillow of giant Israeli couscous.

bff-03338Brothers in Fine Food

Of course, how do you leave such a place without going for dessert? Their Greek-yoghurt panna cotta is something different as well: the acidity of the cream and yoghurt sinfully mixed with homemade honeycomb crunch, fresh fruits and poached pears (with a secret mix of spices!). I won’t wait till the end of this post to say: Try. This.

BFF

I Had To Return

While paying up and leaving, I was told to come back for their weekend brunch menu. So being a bro to the bros, I returned a few days later! Surprisingly (actually, not really), many of their breakfast crowds are not young anello bag-toting hipsters, but working adults and their families. I even had the chance to share simple conversations with an older Malay couple who decided to drop by after reading about BFF in the Malay newspaper about this new halal cafe right in their backyard!

Being a lazy person on a lazy Sunday morning I opted for the lighter Mediterranean breakfast set, featuring the usual hummus, spinach, falafels, couscous, fresh avocado slices and the not as usual smoked aubergine (eggplant) and halloumi cheese (which is a heavy-flavoured cheese that goes well with the other staples).

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Not a very big breakfast person myself, I found it rather filling despite the serving not looking its weight, and regrettably didn’t drink their coffee! So here’s something from their Instagram page showcasing their really good lattes while I return YET AGAIN this week to taste it myself (it IS pretty near to my place anyway). Of course they’re no one-dish wonders; I saw many other diners wolfing down several of their approximately dozen menu selections, such as the Dashi noodles and their signature builder’s breakfast!

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Although situated in a community centre, it’s pretty much is hidden as you have to traverse through the chain restaurants and up a short corridor, without much signage ahead. So yes, not THAT ideal of a hole-in-the-wall but still living it up to this blog’s mantra.

Price:
Being a place of decent quality food, you won’t see prices the same as the Mr Teh Tarik across the street, but at about $15-20 per person (including drinks and desserts will cost you slightly more), it’s a bargain where hipster cafes regularly charge $25++ for a breakfast platter full of processed food.

Quality:
No wagyu fillet mignons or deep sea halibut here, just regular homely ingredients that are prepared with lots of attention and with creative modern twists.

Overall:
A good refreshing change of face in the heartland scene where everything has something to do with a shareholders-first global chain. Visit this people-first place now!

More Information

Brothers in Fine Food (BFF)
5 Tampines Avenue 3
#02-07, Tampines West Community Club
Singapore 529705
Tue to Fri: 12pm – 10.30pm
Sat & Sun: 9am – 10.30pm
Closed on Mondays
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brothersinfinefood
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brothersinfinefood/

BFF is Halal-Certified.


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