Artistry

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Gibraltar– $4

Oh baby. We made it. Rejoice and let the angels sing in the background. All hail the world of coffee and waffles.

Seriously, it’s almost a job. By the way, did you know that cafés actually make for extremely conducive work spaces? I used to avoid them like the plague, and now look what’s bitten me. Can’t help it, I just can’t. I’m living the dream, and studying becomes so much more exciting and worthwhile beside the perfect cup of coffee. I learnt this fact today. Most glad I did, at that. Furthermore, it’s the most satisfying thing in the whole world to be able to tick a café’s name of my to-go list. Akin to having a bright, cold shower after being stuck in the heat. Almost like tasting sweet water after having none of the stuff for 12 hours straight. That’s how empowering that tick is.

Popped by this GEM of a place near Arab Street, heart on my sleeve, coffee stomach empty (and hair a little messy). After having the french toast at One Man Coffee, my friend and I decided to share just a couple of things, just so we didn’t feel like exploding halfway, a la Monty Python and the Meaning of Life. If any of you have watched it, please tell me what you think of that absurd fat suit in the comments. Moving on. Ordered a Gibraltar and the Belgian waffles at the counter, from a most charismatic and knowledgeable young man. The fancy espresso machines were smirking at us, and the kindly service was so becoming that afternoon. I couldn’t wait to sit down and enjoy something good. Look, it was my first time. Sole virgin experiences don’t deserve pretentious expectations. But I tell you, oh, I tell you, I wa sseverly underestimating the quality of this space. The coffee, for one, was a dream in a cup. Not very acidic, but the beautiful roast was aromatic and kindly, bringing forth the right degree of caffeinated strength, sweetness and bitterness.

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Belgian waffles with berry compote, maple syrup (served in the sweetest 10ml laboratory beaker) and fig and honey ice cream– $7+$3+$4 ($7 for just the waffles, and each additional scoop is $3)

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You’re officially in denial if you say this isn’t a work of art.

Alright, everyone has had waffles before. Probably from a next best café, or a box mix, or something. One thing’s for sure, and that it probably doesn’t come close to the divinity my friend and I experienced that afternoon, as we sat there in the weak sun for the sake of catching this babe in the best possible light. I mean, look at that. Of course, there’s beautiful food, and then there’s beautiful and delicious food. I’m so excited to gush about how crisp, light and fluffy these were that my hands are practically flying across the keyboard and I’m constantly attacking the backspace button because I just can’t type properly with these sentiments and memories of that one waffle.

Crisp, I said. Oh, so crisp! They beat the ones I had at Assembly Coffee, and probably the ones at Strangers’ Reunion. The crunch was magnificent, angelic, but most of all, completely and utterly unexpected. Of the perfect thickness and doneness. I didn’t think they were going to be anything which surpassed mediocre. Waffles are so easy to be described as good. Shove the batter in the creviced pan and bam, you’ll probably get something nice. Decent, almost. Alright. But these are so wonderfully aerated and full of character, as if destined to be ravaged with the most extravagant of toppings, such as this gorgeous berry compote, which offered a sharp tinge of ruby citrus for our sweetened buds. The ice cream was a refreshing twist, though I can’t sing praise for that alone. The fig and honey was not evident at first bite, and offered little depth in flavour. I was surprised at how long the ball stayed in tact after spending quite a while in the heat, though, and after we went on a guilty photo-taking spree.

I’m going to try their famed cakes and PB&J french toast (goodness gracious?!) the next time, and my heart is pounding at the mere thought of such undeserved extravagance.

Tune in to your senses at Artistry. Read a book. Soak in some jazz. Pretty magic.

Rating: 4.8/5.0

Artistry Café

17 Jalan Pinang

6298 2420
Singapore 199149
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-7pm

Breakfast Adventures

Consecrated, shy Saturday rays.

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There’s just something about stuff on toast. Sometimes, it’s not just about the smushing together of peanut butter and jam. Oftentimes, a more savoury and nourishing hat rattles the old engines and breathes life into mornings. So easy you feel guilty. But guilty at pleasure’s stake.

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roasted grapes with ricotta on grilled sourdough

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baked eggs in baked beans

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A fork affair. Moist avocado ‘crumbs’ and the warm tang of fresh, halfway-there compote.

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smashed avocado and raspberry compote on dark rye

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chia infused banana bread

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I’m excited.

For what?

For the possibilities this world holds when it come to breakfast. The sacred routine of waking up, pondering a little, hovering a little, before either following a set recipe, or perhaps just mixing unexpected ingredients together, just for the sake of amateur experimentation, laden with a golden hope.

Ready to learn.

Group Therapy Café

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I stumbled across this hidden gem a good chunk of a while back now, back during the summer holidays, which was God knows how many weeks ago. However the last time I went, I only had a swig of bitter Ethiopian iced brew; the sort which stings a little on the tip of your tongue, before running its way down all throughout your system, jolting your nerves, almost harassing them.

This time, I went in for an actual bite. A nibble, a dig if you will. I craved the same darling nook I visited 5 weeks ago, and so Group Therapy it was. Just that this time it was solo therapy, which was just as good, and in fact probably better. The place opens at 11am, and when I arrived at 11.13, the best window seats were already occupied. I choked down my disappointment and hobbled over to the back area, where there are lovely high metal chairs which are actually rather light when you have to physically pull them out and plonk your bottom on one.

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iced Ethiopian brew; flavourful acidic notes
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piccolo latte

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Let’s talk coffee. I wasn’t so much as excited for the latte as I was for the brew, mostly because I almost never order milky coffees since they make me a tad nauseous afterward and I’m always in need for something refreshing to envelope my throat with.  But I did anyway because I live on the edge. This piccolo was done with master professionalism, despite the obvious lack of caffeine concentration. At $4.50, it was decent pay.

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sunny side ups atop two slices of grilled ham, mashed avocado and thick toast

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Apologies for the blur first shot of those beautifully cooked sunny side-ups. I was torn between this and the poached eggs and hollandaise with smoked salmon on thick toast option (gosh that’s a mouthful), but I went with this instead, because I was curious to see how they would incorporate the mashed avocado into the rest of the dish, which is practically an eggs benedict with the eggs fried and not poached, sans the creamy yellow blanket of snow on top. To my initial disappointment, I realised they did not include small chunks of avocado, or slathered moist clumps of the stuff like a rotund bed of pale moss under the eggs, but literally smoothed the mash across like peanut butter on toast. Luckily for me, the helping was generous enough to seep through the airy pockets in the thick white toast, which was bordered with a most appealing brown yet forgiving crust all the way round. That crust. The seeping made each bite a partial swarm of green, offering a light earthiness and opaque moisture to the salty ham. I only found fault with the portion size and thickness of the crust, which was at least 2 inches in width. Eating this one dish meant pulling up your sleeves and stabbing the belly multiple times before making it possible to get down to the  very bottom. which was quite an unnecessary hassle at times. They should either have thinner toast for maximum flavour impact or cut it into two for better handling. All that cutting and tugging made for a slightly inconvenient ordeal.

Overall, it was a good meal, even if that meant not finishing it. Pities of the world. It would also be nicer if the waitresses wouldn’t constantly look from a distance at the customers, standing and observing, twitching themselves whenever I moved. The coffee is not bad and the fare slightly above expectations, albeit nothing really special. They have a chilli crab tart here as well, which doesn’t look half bad. Promises lie in such hearty packages.

Rating: 4.3/ 5

Group Therapy Café

49 Duxton Road

Bella Pasta

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An excruciating number of reviews.

Too little time, I say. And so I wallow in the woes of this routine world with an expression of doubt but heart of hope. I was up this morning and thinking about the raw freedom of the mornings, as I listened to the whurr of the air conditioner and buzz of the coffee machine. The toaster was ticking and my heart felt light. All before the dawn of another school day, all before a slew of assessments and analysis and faces; which I love, but weighs down heavy sometimes. Only really because the after-effect of a normal Sunday takes its toll and I feel mentally hungover. Then again, what on earth is new? Time passes and these motions carry on with you trapped in the tide. Forced to flow.

But Saturday. Saturday always holds such heart-pounding possibilities whenever it comes to foodie adventures. Coming back to Robertson Quay that afternoon was a familiar yet almost dangerous encounter, since the possibilities were endless. I was nauseous with ringing starvation which drenched my entire body and soul with an aching melancholy. I only wanted to eat and eat and be stained with a brimming satisfaction, though not sickness.

i swear I was heaving and sweating with hunger by the time my mother and I literally rushed into this open Italian restaurant, surrounded by the gregarious native people of Italy and the soft waters snaking down the river. We sat right under the fan, away from the ignorant smokers. It was a rushed decision which went something along the lines of:

“Hey mum look this looks rather appetising I heard Bella Pizza has the best pizza in Singapore but hey food let’s sit down here instead.”

Mother: “Um alright… Italian?” (she knows that would never typically be my first pick)

“Yes, why not.”

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fried calamari with tomato salsa

Crunch, chew, crunch, chew, back again and maybe chew a bit more just to get the rings of tender rubber down.

But delightful in both taste and texture. That salsa had the right tang without being either too thin and salty. I got the case of one dribble too many, but probably only due to my breakneck pace and clumsiness (I should never, EVER go anywhere too hungry or I’ll ruin a perfectly prim night out. Atrocious.) That calamari of course, was tender and may I even say a little fluffy. It was good squid, and I could see why the only other customers aside from an Indian couple were all Indians, open and full of gung-ho at best. It felt good to know that this is where they come for a quick and true Italian fix.

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charcoal grilled snapper on a bed of broccoli and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette
linguine vongole

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The mother attacked the latter and I, the beautiful fish. Because well, fish. Also because I wanted to pick at the bread and my mother’s delicately twirled mound of shiny pasta strands (the joys of mother-daughter bonding sessions). For almost $30, I got a minute portion which only satisfied me with the addition of that luscious but slightly too oily balsamic. Thick oil drops lazed about in excess on every inch of the dish, but yes, the fish resembled a shiny piece of ivory silk which broke away in delectable flakes of oiled flesh.

But no. It didn’t throw me off any board. The linguine was better, I thought, with rich and affluent clams sliding out of empty shells. Beautiful little creatures. I’d like to imagine downing 10 at a time, like I would do onions. Lovely, really.

This stuff was good though not excellent, and most definitely not worth the appalling price. Even the gelato only came in three flavours (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla), and at a supposedly homey original Italian restaurant! Come on.

Pity.

Quality is mostly there though, and I enjoyed the rosy-cheeked, round-bellied waiters bustling to and fro.

Rating: 3.2/5

Bella Pasta

30 Robertson Quay #01-09

Riverside View Singapore 238251

Tel: (65)6836 5692