EAT YOUR HEART OUT
Words: SONIA NAZARETH
Photographs: JYOTHY KARAT
GREAT FROM India
GREAT FOR Stuffing yourself silly
Lots can transpire in a café. It’s a place where some of the most daring and creative ideas are born, a place where you bond with someone, a place in which to introspect. And Singapore, a nation that takes its food and drink seriously, is home to some of the funkiest. There’s a selection of cafés in the city that each have distinct personalities all their own, while encouraging a sense of community.
Like Symmetry, a thoughtful café that gets its name from the idea that everything in life needs harmony. This probably explains how remarkably it holds together the very disparate elements that constitute it. Images of Campbell’s Soup cans adorn the walls, a framed picture, featuring a playful re-telling of The Last Supper, hangs on a wall alongside tongue-in-cheek signboards. Reminding you with each mouthful that Singapore is a melting pot, the food pays homage to classical French cuisine, while drawing inspiration from the Australian dining scene, with a focus on the seasonal and the fresh. And if you love what you’ve ordered so much that you want to share the meal with the gang of friends you’ve arrived with, you’ve got Symmetry’s seal of approval – the café encourages sharing.
Another eatery that’s as encouraging of community dining is To-gather Café. The interiors, littered with small potted plants, let the sun in, and there’s even a play area for children, with a miniature cooking range. The staff and guests have posted their favourite quotations on corkboards. The menu offers wholesome, home-cooked food but that which is made on special occasions. Think grilled pandan chicken chops, and baked Japanese curry and rice.
The charming, hipster neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru is infused with the decadent fragrance of freshly-brewed coffee and pastry. This is because the area is home to some of the coolest coffee shops and hottest boutiques in town. Follow your nose into Tiong Bahru Bakery in pursuit of delectable breads, berry tarts, a croque monsieur – the Parisian café cliché – and a cappuccino.
Next door, The Orange Thimble Café reflects the diversity of the area. Young and old diners sit together in harmonious bliss, admiring the art for sale on the walls, beaming at glass cases that brim over with rainbow cakes and chocolates that shine like jewels.
Save the best for last. Wheeler’s Yard is a spacious, former industrial warehouse, now converted into a café, selling a great range of handmade urban bicycles, suspended on table tops and parked between tables. This café would have the style editors of any design magazine biting their nails with excitement. Biking helmets adorn walls and the sign for the restrooms is hung from a miniature bike. Even the wi-fi code is a license plate number. The headphones attached to the tables tempt you to linger in this cavernous space. Once you’re done with your unpretentious Wheeler’s Yard Big Breakfast – a meal of brioche, bacon, cheesy pork sausage and sautéed mushrooms – you can hire a bicycle here and ride around Singapore. It’s hard to disagree with the restaurant tagline – Wheeler’s Yard has momentum.