Friday, November 30, 2012

Backlane Cuppa Joe at Artistry

Cute Cute's looking for some cat therapy and there's no better place to indulge in this than the colourful and quirky Kampong Glam with her pretty back lanes amidst conservation shophouses.

Cute Cute's favourite Box o' Cats at Arab Street.
Cat therapy - accomplished!
Time for a breather at the peaceful back lane.
Be a slow-lifer. Head for Artistry.
Wood salvaged from the old Malay Village in
Geylang Serai are reborn as rustic benches.
Raw industrial minimalist look.
Love the vintage aluminum chairs from Penang.
Artistry doubles up as a niche space for emerging,
less established artists to showcase their creative works.
Apparently, an in-house barista has not been found yet
during the lions' visit. One of the founders tries his hand
behind the machine. Wondering how the coffee will fare?
It was bustling on a Saturday afternoon.
Peek at your coffee being brewed from the window
as you sit alfresco outside
and watch the world go by.
Lovely alfresco seating with bouquet of fresh flowers.
Latte brewed from beans by local boutique roastery, Liberty Coffee.
The founders' hands-on routine has paid off. The latte was
sufficiently aromatic, strong and foamed to a good consistency.
Bakes from indie bakeries and suppliers like Windowsill Pies.
The lemon poppy seed cake was a real treat! Reminded Cuchi of
her time savouring home-made sweets at the markets of London.
Cute Cute's Long Black
was smooth, fruity and aromatic.
Served on a cute porcelain saucer.
A stone's throw away from Symmetry restaurant
with its Nightmare before Christmas figures.

Warm service, great coffee and lovely ambience. A full-fledged menu with more substantial bites is in the works.

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address:

17 Jalan Pinang,
Singapore 199149

Columbian Tapas at La Barra

This little island was recently invaded by an overwhelming army of Spanish tapas joints. Some outstanding, some mediocre and some just downright unpalatable. 

So imagine Cute Cute's interest was piqued one morning while reading the papers that a Colombian tapas joint has taken refuge at The Star Vista in the western part of the island. In fact, the pretty mall resembling Noah's ark has brought a slew of enticing restaurants to the otherwise deprived west, devoid of any exciting f&b establishments (newly-minted The Grandstand is next but that's for another post!).    

Finally a tapas joint not serving the usual Spanish nibbles! Cute Cute immediately pulled Cuchi down to the Buona Vista estate one evening.

Come on, quit lying around!
Open concept casual joint. Thank goodness for the
cool evening breeze. Plays a modern mix of
infectious and chill-out Latin American tunes.
Chair in the colours of the country's flag:
red, yellow and blue.
Pick your poison of choice from a list of 
classic Colombian cocktail concoctions and liquor such as the
Refajo, Colombiana, and Aguardiente,as well as the
specially-imported beers like Aguila, Club Colombia and Redd’s.
Cute Cute settled for the light and refreshing Aguila.

Spied Columbian Juan Valdez Coffee here.
Must return to try!
Sausages and baby potatoes.
This dish tasted quite ordinary if not for the
extremely addictive baby potatoes
The paper thin potato skins have a surprising bite to it.
Open face arepa with chicken and avocado.
Really delicious. And what's so special
about this flat corn-based unleavened pita
is the crusty exterior that gives way to soft,
chewy bread.  Nice!

Regrettably, the lions were too stuffed after a late lunch and had to pass over dishes like the carne asada, empanadas and the various imported tipples and pura shakes. Only complaint was the limited menu and the rather steep prices for tapas. Overall, it was an interesting experience. This joint purportedly aims to bring the best of authentic Columbian street fare to this island. A little more PR on the part of the service stuff would have helped.

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address:

La Barra
The Star Vista,
1 Vista Exchange Green,
Singapore 138867

Huge on Passion at The Big Sheila

The two lions decided to send their friendly jumbo-sized pal, Smurfy (oxymoron not intended) to check out a little restaurant hidden deep in the quiet estate of Swan Lake Avenue. Smurfy thinks that this little neighbourhood has one of the prettiest name on the island.

The restaurant that Smurfy was supposed to hunt down had an equally interesting moniker - The Big Sheila named after its Aussie founder and chef, Fleur Grover who had decided to take a huge leap of faith in leaving her comfy IT job to head into the kitchen where her passion lies in serving up affordable, uncomplicated, home-style Western food to her already expanding base of ardent fans.  

Hope the food's as sexy as the logo!
TBS also does island-wide food delivery so busy executives can take heart that they can enjoy a comforting meal lovingly prepared by the folks here for lunch and dinner.

Smurfy headed in and was about to discover that The Big Sheila truly lived up to her reputation of not, ahem, doing small at all ... ...

A huge delivery van with TBS's signature logo
parked out at the front. Whoa, two more vans and
a delivery bike was spotted. Looks like demand
is erm colossal for her food.

Smufy headed for the cosy corner with lotsa comfy
and snugly pillows and awaited the commencement of his feast.
Admiring the sleek, posh but inviting decor with a
soothing black, grey and white palette.
Loved that the signature bright orange colour was masterfully and
discretely woven into place in the form napkins and ribbons that the
friendly wait staff wore in their hair. Orange is a difficult colour
to handle without it becoming too overwhelming. 
Starting off with a Latte
with beans from Toby's Estate.
A little too milky for Smurfy though.
Another double-shot cuppa was ordered
but the coffee still did not come through.
Saving grace was that it was foamed to
a good consistency.
Loved the oriental wooden window frames.
Whoever did the ID for this place deserves a pat on the back.
The long, white marble table takes centre-stage.
Space is good for communal dining and for an
intimate private party.
Smurfy wonders if that's a mutated lion or
some oriental mythical beast beside the
wine rack.
Yo, I'm chilling.
Smurfy ordered the highly recommended
Herb-crusted Chicken Schnitzel ($14) with baguette.
Very tender and the baguette was crusty and soft
on the inside, easily beating the mediocre ones
sold at some bakeries. But this dish was soon
eclipsed by another outstanding one.
The Ploughman's Lunch! ($14)
Consisting of an absolutely divine pork, prune and
pistachio terrine served with a baby scotchie, vintage chesse
and baguette.Smurfy was still dreaming of this dish
a few days later.
Baby Capsicum stuffed with ratatouille ($10)
and served with a side of Aussie goat's cheese.
This is a recommended appetizer as well.
Smurfy loved the creamy goat's cheese.
It had none of the expected strong
gamey taste and smell. Yums!
Too stuffed to try the Cheesecake with
Reservations are a must!
It was full house during a weekday lunch.
Crowd spilled out to the front of house.
Smurfy estimates that TBS sits around 25 pax
inside comfortably given the intimate space.
Blown away by the too-lovely-to-be-true packaging:
the chic black takeaway box with a beautifully
tied orange ribbon.
The boxes can be recycled for future takeaways.
In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that Smurfy had one of the best lunches this year at The Big Sheila. Portions were extremely generous with mains accompanied by quality sides like boutique cheeses, home-made jams, pickles, etc. What stood out was just how fresh the ingredients were - Smurfy devoured his entire side of greens with no dressing at all. A first! TBS also remains true to her Aussie roots with her use of great-tasting cheeses imported from Down Under and of course meals accompanied by specialty coffee brewed with beans from Toby's Estate. (Yahava a better choice, maybe?) Prices are also affordable given the titanic portions - both a rarity on this island.

Here is our review for The Big Sheila:

Food Quality: 9.0 pawprints out of 10
Coffee Quality: 6.5 pawprints out of 10
Ambience: 8.5 pawprints out of 10

For those who are interested in going there, here is the address:

The Big Sheila
15 Swan Lake,
Singapore 455711

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tools of the Caffeine Trade at Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Cute Cute and Mr Business Times finally went to check out the much-hyped Chye Seng Huat Hardware - flagship of the guys behind Papa Palheta after much resistance due to crowd phobia.

Swinging Bachelor without Cuchi.
Hey let's call Mr BT out for
a guys hang-out session.
Roar! Support Local. Singapore's very own Jungle Craft Beer!
Coffee Beer, exclusively brewed for CSHH.
Cute Cute thinks it tastes like sweet stout.
Time to bring his sweet lioness Cuchi along
for the ride after the guys-only session.
Facade of CSHH.
The guys behind this project won a architectural
award for staying true to heritage and
artfully converting a traditional hardware shop
to a paean of java madness.

Old school acrylic signage.
Juxtaposition of modern vs traditional.
Time to head in, past the gloomy & imposing steel gates.
Let's get high on caffeine!
Hipster crowd paying homage.
Takeaway cup with nostalgic Chinese stamp
and retro-looking name card.
Fantastic croissants and of course coffee that
you can count on to wake you from your
languid afternoon stupor.
Tagline imprinted on the saucer.
Kindly decipher the meaning for the lions pls!
Cold brew in tinted and vintage-looking medicine bottles.
The lions chilling out at the window sill.
Coffee Appreciation space.
Lions for hire. They will roast a mean bag of
beans for you.
Nice respite in the huge courtyard.
The noisy crowd inside is starting to get on
the frazzled lions' nerves.
Bye bye people! Time to head to quieter hole in a wall.
A really lovely place. Pity that it's over-run with
homo sapiens. The lions will return for the coffee
appreciation classes conducted at The Annex though.

The lions will not post the address here as they feel that the place is becoming like a zoo.