Last Saturday a friend of ours organised a group brunch, partly as a general catch up and get together and partly because we all just ‘had to try Artichoke, it’s so yummy!’ And it wasn’t just her recommendation; we had heard really good things from multiple people about this little cafe hidden away behind Middle Road and Waterloo St, near Bras Basah. So it was with great expectations that we turned up (hungry) for ‘Funky Food, Loud Music and Good times’. They were all right. It didn’t disappoint.
First off, it is a lovely space. Stepping off the main roads, it’s a quiet little oasis, with a big outdoor terrace, light and airy inside dining space, and a greenhouse at the side where we were seated, which is semi-private, perfect for our big group. The music was playing, there was a great buzz and atmosphere, friendly staff. Brilliant start.
On to the menu. The drinks list is extensive, with ‘brunchy’ drinks including mimosas, prosecco, bellinis, as well as…pretty much anything you can think of including some interesting ciders and a vat of home-made lemonade. And some kick-ass coffee.
In contrast, the brunch food menu is deliberately limited so that the small kitchen only cooks what they love to cook, and they do it really well. This works. There is enough variety to satisfy any type of hungry diner, not to paralyse you with choice, and meant that the standard was consistent and came to the table pretty quickly too; no mean feat for a table of 14.
The most popular choice from our table was the ‘Lamb Shakshouka’. A hot skillet full of rich tasty slow cooked lamb shoulder, in a middle eastern spiced tomato sauce, topped with 2 eggs and baked, then served with pita bread, yoghurt and harissa. Chris had this so I had the pleasure of trying it, and it was delicious. Robust flavours (definitely more lunch than breakfast) with a kick of spice, deeply satisfying.
I opted for the ‘Haloumi and Mushrooms’. A pile of big, juicy, earthy, savoury mushrooms and salty grilled haloumi on top of soft yet chewy Turkish bread,with a piece of cool avocado sprinkled with middle-eastern spices, and freshness added by cherry tomatoes and rocket. This dish doesn’t have eggs, and I love eggs. So I ordered a side of scrambled eggs. They were some of the best I have tasted; soft and creamy and seasoned perfectly. And a decent size portion too.
There were general exclamations of delight from the whole table, with other highlights including the side order of ‘dirty hash browns’ (you have to try them, I’m not going to give it away) and the vegetarian-friendly ‘Cauliflower Sabbich’ dish with smoked egg, Israeli salad and truffled tahini. ‘Never has cauliflower tasted this good’.
It might not be a classic Singapore free-flow brunch. But actually, a la carte is sometimes preferable, and without the focus on getting our money’s worth of booze, it was a more civilised affair with food taking pride of place. We’ll be back, this is definitely one of Singapore’s best brunches.
Artichoke, 161 Middle road, Singapore