Looking for cafes to go to that are downtown but not too near to the city and all the noise? Well here are two cafes that you can check out, one located 10 mins away from Bugis MRT Station – The Lab, which is a halal cafe serving really generous portions of food, and the other, located 5 minutes away from Farrer Part MRT Station – House of Commons, which is a great cafe to chill with a freshly made cuppa of joe on a laid back weekend.
by Hong Ziru
“Life is an everlasting experiment,” and true to this phrase, The Lab exudes such a vibe from all corners of the cafe. Not often do we see cafes out there who gives their customers the creativity and freedom to, in a way, play and “experiment” with their drinks, however, here at The Lab, you get to do just that, and you do not have to be a mixologist or have a degree in rocket science to concoct devilish brews, ala your style!
Nestled in the quaint and hip Arab Street district of Jalan Pisang, The Lab serves up an interesting medley of food and drinks – especially their beverages really, as they seek to promote a two-way interaction with their customers.
Served in a jug brimming with milk and caramel, we were wondering where the coffee was when we realised the purpose of the syringe. The coffee shot is actually presented aptly inside it, and this gives the customer the freedom to ‘inject’ and control the intensity of the coffee inside the drink according to their own taste and preferences. Through this way, you can get to enjoy a spectrum of flavours – from just milk and caramel to a gradually increasing coffee intensity in your drink.
Inspired from the TV series “Breaking Bad”, there are 2 forms of Heisenberg that you can find on their menu – one in the form of the drink (Heisenberg), and the other in the form of their burger (Heisenberger). For the drinks version, the Heisenberg is a refreshing citrusy concoction of orange, lime and mint, complete with the signature blue liquid – blue curacao in this case, not meth! – served in a syringe. Depending on how much of a sweets person you are, you can slip as much as you like of this sweet and heady syrup into your drink.
As coffee lovers, the one other caffeine beverage which caught our eye was the Amek-Gao, due to it’s interesting name. Inspired by a Vietnamese drink, this concoction is one that will bound to wake any sleepyhead in an instant. Served up in a chilled laboratory flask filled with double expresso shots, ice cubes and condensed milk, the drink was a flavourful and an authentic delight for any true blue coffee connoisseur.
Well, fantastic drinks aside, let’s move on to their equally as stellar starters and mains! For mussel lovers, this starter should be right up your alley! The Bucket of Mussels Marinare features big, fresh, fat and juicy mussels that are soaked in a sea of white cream marinade, further accentuated with crunchy and fragrant leek and celery. We enjoyed dipping the garlic bread that came with it into the sauce too, as the light and creamy texture of the white sauce could be tasted in-depth on the light tasting bread. Portion-wise, it was a good starter to have before a meal to share between two people.
For mains, we had The Lab Chick and Burger Stack. The Lab Chick is a huge portion enough for two persons to share (three even if all of you have a small appetite). The toasted baguette is crunchy on the outside – not tough and dry as how baguette can be sometimes – and also soft and fluffy on the inside. This makes it a perfect match for the grilled garlic-herb infused chicken breast as well as the mesclun salad filling. However, the chicken breast despite being a generous portion, was a little too dry for us, and we wish that it could have been a bit more tender. The sweet potato fries that came with it were heavenly too, as they tasted just like candied sweet potatoes.
The combination of mixed cheese and Danish blue cheese aioli was seriously a match made in heaven, as when paired with the thick and generous beef patty oozing with juices aplenty, made it really flavourful too. The surprising thing about this burger was that while it looked like a hefty meal, it was surprisingly light on the palate, and we felt that it would definitely be a delight to beef lovers amongst the female populace too as the portion is just right.
Well-aged pipes running along the ash grey walls in a haphazardly arranged fashion upon rows of glass vials and beakers dotted neatly along the counter make up the interior of the cafe, and every inch of the establishment shouts experiment no less! In fact, even their tables speak of the owner’s love for DIY and crafting, as they were repurposed from discarded pallets and cable drums with a new life breathed into them via fresh coats of cheery paints and lacquer.
For those who prefer the great outdoors, there’s even alfresco seating outside too, great for evening gatherings with a friend or two. For us, we’d say the interior is pretty comfortable and spacious enough with their original ceiling and airwell, so we’re sticking with indoors!
Starters and mains start from a comfortable range of $6 onwards, and drinks from $3 onwards. The cafe is also halal, which means that for Muslims, this is definitely a cafe worth visiting. Portions are great for sharing too, which means it’s best to get a couple of friends to join you too, and everyone can get a share of the great food and ambience available too!
Do take note too that The Lab can get pretty crowded as the evening draws near, so do remember to drop a line to them for reservations before visiting should you be dropping by!
1 Jalan Pisang
#01-01, Singapore 199069
Tel: +65 62995681
Mon – Sat: 12.30pm – 10pm
Sun: 1pm – 9.30pm
House of Commons
If there is one thing that we would like on a weekend, that would have to be a nice brunch at a quiet cafe if possible. Sadly, there aren’t many options available, and it was pretty much to our delight that we found House of Commons – located just walking distance from Farrer Park MRT Station, close to down-town but far away enough from all the hustle and bustle.
The cafe is well-known for their coffee, and the owner Raj takes great pride in the coffees that he brews. In fact, upon entering the cafe, the first thing that greets you is the scent of freshly brewed coffee and that definitely entices any coffee addict to drool at the thought of it. Low in acidity, the coffee blend is also unique to the cafe too.
Personally, I love a good Bandung drink, except sometimes the rose syrup makes it overpoweringly cloying that after a few sips, I’m sick of it. However, the Pink Lady’s Pledge is different – the rose syrup used here isn’t heavy as per what you get elsewhere, and the milk only heightens the aroma of the rose. In unison, the blend is a refreshing and smooth drink that would soothe and calm your senses as you kick back to enjoy the weekends.
Freshly made daily, the range of baked goods changes frequently, keeping the selections varied throughout the week. I was fortunate enough to get to choose from a range of up to 5 cakes and tarts available for that day and finally settled on the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart. The tart may seem nothing fanciful, however upon sinking my fork in, I was surprised by the layers there was to it. Above the crust, lies a layer of mixed berries jam, followed by chewy peanut butter fillings and finally thick chocolate ganache. It was as if I was chewing on soft gummies instead of having a tart, but the sweet and slightly salty combo certainly was appetizing to me (despite it being a dessert!)
Having worked up an appetite by now, I was feeling peckish and with recommendations by regulars to the cafe (whom I had struck up conversations with), I decided to try out their sandwiches, or specifically, the Smoked Salmon Sandwich. Don’t let its busy appearance deceive you though – this eclectic mix for brunch really hits the spot. Served with a humongous side of greens comprising of lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, celery and raisins, this was certainly one healthy serving of vegetables. Dressed lightly with balsamic vinegar, the amount of dressing was just right such that the vegetable were not limp and over-soaked. The fries that came with it was done to perfection too – lightly salted and seasoned with herbs and spices.
The sandwich itself comprised of two slices of toasted charcoal and mixed seeds bun, and was filled in-between with slices of Norwegian smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, cabbage, tomato and some mayo. You might think this is an overdose on vegetables, however, the taste of the ingredients here are on a whole new spectrum instead – here, you can taste each of the ingredients in their raw and sweetest state, and paired with the briny salmon, was perfect to say the very least!
The cafe is run by one man and one man only, but despite that, you’ll be sure that the experience you have here will be a good one. With jovial greetings and interactions about, as well as simple and cosy interiors too, the cafe exudes a homely feeling with customers being so comfortable inside it that at times, they help out with orders etc without feeling out of the place! There’s an old rustic feeling to it too, with an old-school sewing machine, bicycle used in a film set, as well as a Vespa gracing the interiors of the cafe, which make great props and backdrops for those who love to take selfies!
The pricing of food items here is kept simple and reasonable – he prices it based on the amount of effort that he puts in as well as the cost of the products, and will only deliver the best to his customers. In fact, the coffee beans used are specially imported in from overseas, and so are the syrups used for his coffee, which are imported in from France.
House of Commons
130 Owen Road
Weekdays: 7.30am – 5.00pm
Weekends: 8.00am – 6.00pm
We are giving away 5 x set of cakes + coffee from House of Commons!
To win: Simply like us on facebook and our post, and tell us, what type of cakes do you personally like!