The lease on our teeny tiny apartment has just ended, so I'm feeling a bit sentimental. Also it has been very rainy recently, and nothing reminds me of Singapore quite like crazy showers and humidity.
|Legal vandalism: graffiti was encouraged before they demolished this building|
When I moved into this corner of the little red dot I thought I picked a quiet little neighborhood - it was all hardware stores and shophouses, and a football stadium that now plays second fiddle to a shiny new one with almost seven times the capacity (and with its own MRT station too, aptly named Stadium). In fact when I googled "Tyrwhitt Road" the only hits, apart from the apartment listing, were all about this hardware store turned coffee shop ("I tried it once," our landlady shared. "The coffee there, so watery!"). But apparently it was the first of many; as the days went by, shops started to close to give way to "hipster" things - the Chinese drugstore around the corner is now a 23-tap bar (including IPAs, natch), and the lumber store now sells luncheon meat fries with lime aioli.
But, while I often complain about how the neighborhood gets invaded by tweens every weekend - it's like a zombie apocalypse, if the zombies wore fedoras and those infuriating lens-free spectacles and took selfies in every street corner - it is
admittedly very interesting, this whole hipster circus. And while it's rarely gastronomically rewarding, my sister and I did have fun visiting as many of the cafes as our general weekend laziness would allow. It's quite amusing how hard they try to out-special snowflake each other and yet end up being exactly the same - water in giant glass jugs with slices of lemon and lime, mismatched (and very uncomfortable) chairs and tables that look like they would give you tetanus should you scratch yourself on the unfinished edges, food served on wooden slabs or anything that is not a plate, really, and the piece de resistance, cutlery on repurposed steel pails. The latter I see so often I almost feel like it's a requirement (Are you putting your cutlery on steel pails? No? Then no permit for your hipster cafe, lady).
Chye Seng Huat Hardware
Source of the aforementioned "watery" coffee. To me it will always be the big daddy of all hipster cafes in these parts. Every single Saturday morning I watch as people get off their cabs, look at the sign, walk around the block wondering if that's really the cafe they saw on Facebook, and if it was, where the hell the entrance was, and then, lightbulb moment and selfie. Every single time.
I do admire their dedication to preserving the facade, and they do seem very passionate about coffee. BUT. Food is meh, at best, and their brews are extremely acidic. Maybe that's how a true connoisseur takes his coffee, I don't know, but my plebian taste buds are not happy. But their cold brew coffee bottle is nice.
So I actually thought this was some sort of drug den, because it is so unapologetically hipster I can't even
. There is no visible signage, I even had trouble locating the door, and from outside you can vaguely make out the silhouette of a horse on top of one of the tables. When you finally figure out how to enter, you will discover that it is, indeed, a horse on top of a table, and it's decorated with a string of colored lights. There's little else to say.
They serve lavender coffee, which tastes exactly like it sounds: like coffee with a bit of fabric softener. The pancakes were quite thick, and raw in the center. Everything else was forgettable. But hey, horse. With lights
Windowsill in the Woods
Made awesome pies, and then closed (and moved elsewhere). Pffft.
Cutlery in metal pail: check
Pain-in-the-ass sugar dispensers: check
But I forgive them for all their sins because they serve luncheon meat fries, and that is all it takes.
They have a mascot (Antonio Banderas, but in cat form), and fake grass on the patio. They also have a quiz you can answer to get free iced tea. Every single day I pass by that chalkboard and never ever figured any of it out.
For some reason it never occurred to us to order Tiramisu, which is a mistake because the main courses were largely unremarkable. It's a shame because I really wanted to like them, especially since they have this:
It used to be an antique store (and is sorta still is), so it's full of things. The tables are repurposed window grills, and the food is served on wooden slabs shaped like a cartoon dinosaur. It was featured on one YouTube channel as a "top instagrammable cafe" and while that makes my eyes roll so very hard, this is actually the one place in Jalan Besar where the food is actually good.
Whenever I pay a visit I always say a little prayer beforehand for the Sriracha chicken to not be sold out.
I also love the Beef Cheek Papardelle.
The spring rolls with flowers, not so much. But look how pretty.
Drinks are served in repurposed Absolut vodka bottles. I approve, because I use the exact same bottles to store water in the fridge at home. Their signature drink is avocado shake served with espresso on the side and you're supposed to mix them together. I prefer to have them separately (two drinks for the price of one!), but either way it's yummy.
|Bonus points for keeping it real with the plant on the throes of death|
It's been a good run, Tyrwhitt Road (and Tyrwhitt-adjacent areas). We'll see each other soon enough :)