Brunch Obsessions: Pacamara, Rise & Grind, La Ristrettos, Clueless Goat

Having been on a cafe hopping spree lately, I've decided to do a compilation of my greatest hits as well as the potholes I've encountered along the way. Shedding some light on my experiences to avoid bad decisions on your part. Let's get the ball rolling, shall we?

Just when you thought the Upper Thomson road can't fit in the invasion of another food revolution, there you find Pacamara boutique coffee roasters: stark white interiors, blond wood tables with equally chic white marble counter tops, air thick with coffee overhang, and throngs of hungry brunch craving folks toting cameras to capture that quintessential experience.

The coffee, under the supervision of now-defunct OZ speciality coffee employs the estimable Thailand's Pacamara El Salvadorean Arabica blend which to be absolutely frank was absolutely unimpressionable with a thin form and insufficient aromatics.

If I may, turn your gaze to the luxurious food menu toting  an extensive range that is sure to tantalise your tastebuds on any occasion - Pacamara is a good place to stop over for their Prawn Aglio Olio ($18), pasta tossed in a herbaceous olive oil mix and graced with the winning presence of crystal prawns still retaining that plump texture. My favorite dish had to be the Guac Smash ($15), a decadent ode to the humble fruit splayed out in the form of a creamy spread over toast as well as slices of its ripened form below two poached eggs; toasted pumpkin seeds and crumbled feta cheese adding complexity to the dish.

And as everybody in town hugs their mugs of coffee amidst white washed surroundings, take a trip to the fridge instead for a cold one. With craft beers curated from The Great Beer Experiment, you'll be sure that Mikkeller would become more than just a friendly acquaintance after a couple of return visits.

Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters
185 Upper Thomson Road
Opening Hours: 
Tues - Sun: 9am - 11pm
Mon: Closed


Rise & Grind is a breath of fresh air into the non-existent cafe culture along Bukit Timah Road. Churning out cups of java in vessels the colors of the rainbow, those would be sure to cajole a smile or two. As you'd expect, you'll find classic brunch fare here, only that these are plated so immaculately, it renders the fundamental concoction of the dish irrelevant. After all, we eat with our eyes first, don't we?

Avo-ka-dukkah ($15), a mandatory go-to item for me pleases with the hunk of Haloumi sporting an Ipanema tan. The toast needs work, the bread would definitely benefit from a little grilled and buttered  treatment. But if you have the inclination for smoked salmon, you could and should go Ocean's Thirteen ($17); which is a small elegant essay in textural interplay - smoked salmon, chorizo, poached egs, truffled leek and mushroom ragout, romesco sauce and arugula; all of it, like an overflowing mezze assortment served on a black platter.

Or just get the Shakshouka ($16), a brimming shallow dish teeming full of layered goodness rendered by lamb merguez sausage, semi molten baked eggs in tomato sauce, littered with feta cheese. Mix it all up with the aid of the wholemeal pita bread and enjoy the hidden pockets of flavors from the herbs, and in about a minute or two, you'll see the bottom of the dish and come to a harsh realisation that lunch was over all a little too fast.

Rise & Grind Co.
Bukit Timah Plaza #L1-CA1
Opening Hours: 
Sun - Thurs: 9am - 9pm
Mon - Tues: 9am - 4 30pm
Fri - Sat: 9am - 10pm


Stuffed away in the sterile heights of the Novena Medical center lies a hidden gem, La Ristrettos, which has obviously aggregated quite a close following of patrons over the years given its devotion to artisan coffee.

Sad to say, after the moving on of its previous in-house baristas, coffee standards have been on a downward spiral; in fact on my previous trip, I forsaked a good half of my flat white, it's body dull as dishwater. 

Avoid the Pork Belly Pasta as well, unless you're happy to flush it down with a gallon of water. Issues with salt overload and garlic overdose predominant throughout. Wait, so there's pork belly, YES, so instead, place your bets on the Roast Pork Belly, it's blistered cap and lardeceous side profile unveiling a sinful treat that would add inches to your waistline just by inhaling its smokiness. 

Just shut up and take my money already.

La Ristrettos
10 Sinaran Drive
Novena Medical Centre
Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri: 8am - 6pm
Sat: 8am - 2pm


Do I spot new plates? Yes, at Clueless Goat (read about my previous experiences here), the guys have brought out the big guns with their new line of customized ceramic plates, courtesy of artist Francis Poon. 

So, there's all-day-breakfast. The offerings won't burn a hole in your wallet neither would it leave you famished within a short hour after your meal. Is the food an afterthought? Probably not, since it's conscious pricing reflects a certain extent of sense and sensibility on the owners parts - reasonable prices that would keep your customers coming back to this watering hole for a good long time. 

This is probably the part where I start waxing lyrical about the Ranchers Eggs ($8), but what you're really going to want to eat is the Scrambled eggs on toast ($6.50) with a side of bacon (+$3) because why the heck would you pass up on the lard? It sounds kind of drab, but sometimes all you want is a classic to set the mornings straight.

The Clueless Goat Speciality Coffee House
189 Thomson Road
Opening Hours:
Tues - Thurs: 8am - 6pm
Fri: 8am - 9pm
Sat: 9am - 9pm
Sun: 8am - 6pm

No comments: