The delicious heart of Artichoke

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

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Dining at Artichoke is like getting invited to the cool kid’s birthday party – only with alcohol, better food and no naughty corner. Undeniably cool, Artichoke strikes the perfect balance between unapologetic nonchalance and casual welcoming hospitality, all whilst serving up some of the tastiest dishes the city has to offer.

The man responsible, chef/owner and Singapore’s answer to the cult of the celebrity chef, is Bjorn Shen. He’s the culinary maestro and anti-hero of the local restaurant scene who, somewhat infamously, encourages other inspiring young chefs to eschew traditional culinary school and get straight to work in the kitchen. This combination of enthusiasm and disregard for tradition sets Artichoke (and the other projects Shen puts his name to) apart. Artichoke breaks free from the confines of the tired formal and ‘fine dining’ experience with which the Singaporean restaurant scene is saturated, whilst still making an occasion of dining. Sharing good food in a relaxed environment with friends is the key to their phenomenal success.

Behind the blaring gangster rap and haphazard décor, the heart of Artichoke is tasty, lovingly prepared food and the kind of dishes you would whip up for friends if you just happened to have mad kitchen skills and a penchant for falafel… If you find yourself lacking these requirements and also fancy the addition of great coffee (proudly provided by CMCR), a tightly curated wine list, friendly wait staff and a fun atmosphere, then get yourself down to Artichoke ASAP.

Our recommendations:

Brunch

Drink: once you’ve finished your coffee, make sure you order a glass of house-made lemonade. A brunch exclusive, it’s a standout at $4.5.
Eat: Cauliflower Sabbich. Brassica is the new black and Artichoke is definitely doing it justice. It’s a snip at $22 +. Maybe add some fries because hey, it’s the weekend and they come with garlic whip for $8!

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Dinner

(Share with friends recommended or eat alone if you’re very hungry.) Dinner is very much a sharing experience at Artichoke and the menu provides suggested servings for your party size.
Drink: A curated selection of premium international beer and wine is available, including Mac’s craft brew from New Zealand. If wine is what you are after, have a chat with your server and you may even be recommended something ‘off the list’.
Eat: Slow roasted lamb shoulder. This is the next level in juicy tender lamb with a crispy crust. It leaves you wanting more and all for $36. Make your mom happy and get some Brussels sprouts; unlike any you have had before, finishing these won’t be a problem $18.

These are all dishes you want to photograph, not because the food is painstakingly arranged for that perfect Instagram shot, but because it just looks so damn tasty #foodenvy

Artichoke
161 middle road,
sculpture square, singapore

Opening hours:
Brunch: Saturday + Sunday 11.30am - 2.45pm
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 6.30pm - 9.45pm
Reservations (highly) recommended: 63366949 after 3pm Tuesdays onwards.

Common Man is also excited to announce an upcoming collaboration with the offspring of Artichoke, NehNeh Pop, which will see a CMCR coffee-infused ice cream creation available for a limited time. Keep an eye on social media for more updates on this exciting collaboration.

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Retreat from a busy city at the Tastemaker Store

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

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Back in June 2014, I caught wind of a cafe opening up in the neighborhood of Havelock Road, a leafy part of Singapore just north of the ultra-hip Tiong Bahru. So whilst out jogging the other day, I decided to track it down.

The place stood out from the traditional shops around it, adding a touch of modernity to the otherwise antiquated HDB estate. The interior was minimalistic with lots of light shining through the front glass, while the small, clever details in the café décor made it super ‘Instagram-worthy’. I ordered and was promptly served a cup of coffee from Bon Café, all the while thinking how great it would be if Common Man Coffee was served in such a beautiful cafe.

Then my wish came true. The Tastemaker Store is now serving up delicious Common Man coffee! I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Alvin, to learn more about the ethos behind their beautiful food and coffee. Alvin’s sister (who is an architectural designer) designed the café, while his folks and co-owner Shing Jie run the day-to-day operations in the cafe.

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So what's the story behind The Tastemaker Store?
Alvin: Drawing from architectural design, engineering and hospitality, we conceptualised the store as a place where friends and family could be brought together by a shared appreciation for design and quality in both food and life. This is not a café, but a concept store, where both locally and internationally sourced products will be available in future.

What can we expect to find on the menu?
Alvin: The Tastemaker Store features a simple, hearty menu with a local twist. Serving quality food, we experiment with flavours and refine recipes you are already familiar with. Our menu consists of local delights and daily bakes, and we focus on producing high quality food and drinks. Right now, we are constantly experimenting with and refining familiar flavours to create a taste that is both personal and simple to understand and appreciate.

What are your signature dishes?
Alvin: Our Lemon Curd with Clotted Cream ($3.00) is really popular. It's served on an English muffin with a soft boiled egg on the side. Something more traditional would be our delicious homemade Glutinous Rice ($3.80) and Yam Cake ($3.80).

During lunch hour, the café is packed when the corporate crowd stream in from nearby office buildings for delicious coffee and something tasty to fill their tummies. This place is definitely a pleasant retreat from the hustle and bustle of a busy city.

The Tastemaker Store Block 22 Havelock Road #01-705

Opening hours
Mon, Wed & Thurs - 11am to 6pm
Fri and Sat - 10am to 9pm
Public Holidays - 10am to 6pm
Tues - Closed

Nearest Station: Tiong Bahru

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Home Made Delights and Great Coffee at Spiffy Dapper

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

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Located next to the Amoy food market (which is well known for its fried Kway Teow and Lor Mee) sits Spiffy Dapper, with its delicious offerings of coffee by day and a full bar by night. The owner, George, who is a carpenter by trade, built the place himself and there is a sense of homeliness which attracts you from the moment you walk in. Dim lighting, a copper-clad bar counter, beautiful wooden beams and antique furniture all combine to create a place which is full of character, offering a welcome escape for those working in the Central Business District (CBD).

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While George handles the bar operations, Christine Seah manages the coffee programme at Spiffy Dapper. Having studied at culinary school and worked in restaurants previously, she has created a menu which is refreshingly healthy with an emphasis on homemade items. It’s clearly aimed at the gym crowd who frequent the area. Think homemade bread with ham and bacon jam, soft boiled eggs and hazelnut pesto or baked chicken thigh with spiced quinoa. Besides serving the espresso blend 22Martin from a 3 group La Marzocco Linea, the coffee offerings include a cold brew Yirgacheffe which strives to highlight acidity. Homemade almond and hazelnut milk is also available for the lactose-intolerant crowd. But if you fancy tea without caffeine, Spiffy Dapper offers dehydrated fruit tea infusions which not only look beautiful, but taste great as well.

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If you’re working in the CBD, why not check out Spiffy Dapper? It’s a great place for a quick meeting over coffee. It’s also a cool opportunity to hang out with the friendly baristas or simply do some work via their free WIFI. They even have wall plugs at every table. Great coffee, fantastic food and a friendly ambience; what’s not to love?

Spiffy Dapper
73 Amoy Street, Second Floor.
Singapore 069892

Opening hours
Cafe: Monday - Friday 8:00am-5:00pm
Bar: Monday - Friday 5:00pm - late
Saturday - Sunday: 6:00pm - late

facebook.com/DapperCoffee
instagram.com/dappercoffee
twitter.com/dappercoffee

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The Great Taste at Wild Honey

Posted by Matthew Patrick McLauchlan on

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Wild Honey might not be new to the scene, but it consistently stands for excellence in our industry. Recognized as one the best places to enjoy brunch and a beautiful coffee in Singapore, the two gorgeous locations, Scott’s Square and Mandarin Gallery, are equally known for their food quality, customer service and inviting environment.

As of a few months ago, their Mandarin Gallery location moved to a bigger corner unit which is still on the third floor. With more seating, including a long communal table which stretches the length of the room, guests can enjoy brunch in the warm glow of a café designed with comfort and community in mind. At first glance, the café creates a soft, relaxed impression. With cushioned seats in the waiting area, guests who are on the waiting list can relax and view either the stylish paintings on the walls or the stainless steel 3 group Synesso on the bar. Depending on the company, both can be a pleasurable view! Once in the café, guests can enjoy the interesting ambiance and fun, colourful pieces lining the walls. There’s even an eclectic selection of vintage toys to remind you of your childhood.

Atmosphere and customer service are crucial to any successful café, but without fantastic coffee and food, you would only have pleasure without substance. Without doubt, Wild Honey is famous for their brunch and they’ve won ‘Best brunch in Singapore’ on several occasions. Owners, Guy and Stephanie, approach their menu with quality, offering a variety of unique options that move away from the typical waffle fare (although their waffles are delicious too). Many of the dishes are named for the countries, states or cities they represent. For example, ‘The Mexican’ is an artfully made, tasty breakfast burrito. Personally speaking, the Scandinavian and the Tunisian are a couple of our favourite dishes.

Finally, to create the full picture, we need to talk coffee! Both Wild Honey locations have beautiful, classic stainless steel Synessos on their bar. Each café pulls a custom, three bean espresso blend which both Guy and Stephanie helped design to best pair with their food. In support of their excellent espresso programme, they offer Alice Estate, Brazil as a French Press which is brewed upon request. There is also an array of hand crafted teas and drink infusions on offer which adds a layer of sophistication to their drinks’ menu. It could be said that there are four key ingredients to a successful café; authenticity, great customer service, an inviting atmosphere and quality ingredients. Each component adds a critical element that makes the whole a success. Luckily for Singapore, Wild Honey has all four in spades.

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Wild Honey
Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road. # 03-01

Scotts Square
6 Scotts Road. #03-01
Singapore

Opening hours
Sunday - Thursday: 9am - 9pm
Friday & Saturday: 9am - 10pm

facebook.com/wildhoneysing
twitter.com/wildhoneysing

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