Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Monocle Cafe, London

The lions reminiscing about their London cafe-hopping experiences... ... Monocle Cafe in pictures debuted on the scene this year.

Monocle Cafe

18 Chiltern Street

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The U Factory at Gillman Barracks

An overcast Sunday afternoon saw the two cats recuperating at The U Factory after an invigorating road trip with makan kakis in the neighbouring state the day before.    

The U Factory is a curated temporal platform where collaborating
partners are invited to retail their products, conduct workshops and
showcase their creative works. It also plays host to pop-up cafes and
menus specially for this event. Hop between the blocks of restored
barracks for different experiences.
After checking out the exhibits, the intrepid pair headed for the f&b
section to satisfy their hunger pangs. They were surprised that it was
pretty quiet for a Sunday afternoon.
Bulgolgi Beef Ramen Burger with a bottle of Japanese biru.
This hybrid baby was popularised by a Japanese chef
in Brooklyn, NY. Fried ramen noodles are
used in place of buns on top of a secret shoyu sauce.
It did not quite reach the viral status of the sugary
cronuts as predicted though. The Travelling C.O.W.'s
spin on this was decent with noodles fried to a crisp
but nothing orgasmic.  The lions tried eating it like a
normal burger but failed terribly. Ask for a knife and fork!
At the laksa ramen bar named Rakusaba, Preparazzi's Chef Jeremy Nguee
presents a tsukumen-style ramen served with salmon otak otak gratin,
haebihiam egg with a molten centre, pickled lotus root and cubes of
pork confit. Finish off the meal with a rich pork and prawn broth.
This set is a definite must-try! The laksa dipping sauce was so well
executed with the piquant richness of the essence of shrimps. The noodles
were also delightfully springy and chewy. The addictive otak otak tasted
comfortingly familar yet foreign at the same time, the lions could not put a finger
on what was different and wolfed it down. The pork confit cubes, caramalised
with a blow torch before their eyes were wonderfully succulent.
Sitting by the window.
Simple set-up that churns out a beautifully executed meal.
Stack Up by Cera. A deconstructed kueh dadar made up of pandan crepes
layered with sauteed coconut, fresh avocado and gula melaka. Their bakes are
totally vegan. The lioness thought that the texture of the crepes were
a little 'plasticiny'.
Hopped over to the next door  Maison Ikkoku pop-up cafe for a cuppa.
Some sweets available as well.
This local brand of artisanal coffee sure has its following. Quite a number of
fans here.
Coffee served in takeaway cups.
Walking over to the U Cafe and Monocle retail store pop-up
in the adjacent building.
The U Cafe with rotating baristas from different coffee
joints each week. Pity the limited indoor seating (stools).
It was drizzling so the lions couldn't rest on the benches
outside to browse through the good array of magazines.
The Monocle retail pop-up store located behind U Cafe
is a great place for a bout of Christmas shopping
for those with deeper pockets. hohohoho...
The lioness spotted a pretty black Tods wallet.

All in all, a lovely place to spend a lazy weekend afternoon.

The U Factory
9 Lock Road
Gillman Barracks
Singapore 108973

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Carry On Cafe + Bakery + Retail

Cuchi's love for Filipino snacks and desserts brought the lions to Carry On, a retail store cum cafe in the East. She was drooling over the pictures of the Ensaymada, Pandesal buns and Lengua de Gato on their Facebook page. She still remembers munching on caramalised Turons during lunch breaks at her erstwhile job located near snack joints and restaurants selling Filipino bites. Those were happy moments.

Carry On stocks Yadu Bags made from upcycled fabrics from clothes
and upholstery. The founder of this Filipino brand of durable bags
that advocates sustainability has been in the trade for 37 years.
Carry on is the brainchild of two girlfriends - a Singaporean and a
Filippina-Australian. Can't wait to try their more refined Spanish-influenced
Filippino bakes made from quality ingredients like French butter and
Valrhona chocolate.
Smooth Long Black and a full-bodied Latte. Ok coffee's
Most of the bakes on display were made in-house with a few
exceptions. Nice! But the lions were kinda disappointed that the
variety of more 'exotic' bakes were hmmm... dismal that day.
Many were mainstream stuff like brownies and run-of-the-mill
cakes. They took the Brazo de Mercedes - a soft meringue roll with
custard filing. It was lusciously good! Please bake more of these
unique babies instead!
They sell bicycles and guitar bags here as well.

Carry On pledges 10% of total sales proceeds for the month of November to support typhoon relief and recovery efforts in Tacloban. Head down for a good cause!

Carry On
348 Tanjong Katong Road
Singapore 437115

Friday, November 22, 2013

Blowing the French Horn at Toots Brasserie

This is an overdue post. Sorry for withholding the best-kept set lunch gem of a secret in the city for too long. The lion and his colleagues, who work in the vicinity, have graced the cosy archways of this restaurant in a hotel a couple of times for team lunches. But let's start off with breakfast, shall we? Yes siree, the lions were planning to sleep in late on a weekday public holiday morning when Mr Business Times called to summon them to Toots Brasserie for a sunrise fuel up.

The Sultan Hotel, spanning 10 conservation shophouses,
is a glorious tribute to Singapore's colourful colonial
past with wide arcs, tall columns and beautiful
shuttered windows.
A part of the fabric of Singapore's rich heritage.
Natural Curtains
Heading past the narrow wood-panelled walkway to... ... 
Toots Brasserie. Veteran Chef Jason Wong is at the helm
and has cut his teeth in the kitchens of restaurants
like Au Petit Salute. He promises an authentic,
good old-fashioned delivery of French cuisine.
Love the wood-carved monogram.
Look out for the decorative steel cast horns on the wall representing
the name of the establishment. The love of jazz certainly runs deep
in the veins of one of the investors who also owns Sultan Jazz Club
that sits above the restaurant.
Lovely fresh flowers.
Sitting under an arch - stately but cosy interior with rustic dark teak
furniture, earth-toned banquettes and carpeted mosaic tiled flooring.
Breakfast at Toot Brasserie is rather straight forward.
You get to choose how your eggs are done,
along with some sides and the rest are a buffet spread. 
The flaky and buttery croissants are a must-try at the breakfast
buffet spread apart from the the other french rolls.
When the lions were there, the in-house pastry chef
was previously from Joel Robuchon Singapore.
Parma Ham and Cheese.
Sunny side up eggs done with runny centres. Good for
dipping bread in!
Poached Eggs.
Cuchi's Egg Benedict came out a little weird that day though.
The egg itself had the consistency and look of a chwee kueh!
Scrambled Eggs.
Coffee was decent; don't expect your gourmet-style cuppa.

The semi-buffet breakfast spread was good value at $13.80++ given that there were other items like breakfast cereals (didn't manage to get pictures of that) and you get to start your day in a colonial setting. The lion also had a chat with Chef Jason and he encouraged them to try their dinner and lunch menus. Being supportive of home-grown chefs, the lion returned with colleagues for lunch.
Freshly baked baguette made in-house.
In the afternoon, Toots offers an a la carte menu on top of 2 types of set lunches: the (normal) 3-course lunch set menu priced at $18++ and a 3-course executive set lunch for $28 nett. Thank goodness that he came with a rowdy bunch of colleagues so that he could see some of the decadent spread of choices.

Executive Set Appetiser: Oven-baked Burgundy snails in
homemade garlic butter and herb sauce.
Normal Set Lunch Appetiser: Farrner's Soup (soup of the day).
Executive Set Appetiser: Smoked ham on melon served with fresh fig salad and
walnut dressing. The play on sweet and salty was evident here.
Executive Set: Provencale-style Braised Spanish Pork Ribs in
white wine. Hearty and tender.
Executive Set: Toots Beef Minute with garden vegetables and mash potatoes.
The beef minute was well done and slightly chewy.
Mash potatoes complemented it well by being the creamy neutral base
to the beef's savoury saltiness.
Set Lunch: Coq Au Vin aka braised chicken in red wine.
Ordered by the big boss of the group, he gave it a thumbs up
for being juicy and succulent.

Executive Set Lunch: Warm dark chocolate Valrhona cake with mix berries.
Normal Set Lunch Desset comes with a delectable Creme Brulee with a
scoop of citrus sorbet. Not too shabby as well!

This has got to be one of the most inexpensive set lunches in town for French cuisine in such a fine setting, bar none. We would recommend that you pay a little more for the executive set lunch. No regrets.

Here is our review for Toots Brasserie:
Food Quality: 8.0 pawprints out of 10
Ambience: 8.0 pawprints out of 10

Toots Brasserie
101 Jalan Sultan,
The Sultan Hotel
Singapore 199002