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23-25 Leather Lane
London EC1N 7TE
Opening Hours: Weekdays 8:00am – 6:00pm, Weekends 8:00am – 5:00pm
http://www.prufrockcoffee.com/about-us/

Prufrock_Leather Lane_Premises
Just doing the London coffee round, which wouldn’t be complete without a nod in the general direction of Prufrock Coffee at Leather Lane. These guys are the real deal in the London coffee scene – heck, they not only make coffee, they train the people that make coffee. Plus their dessert table looks so pretty.

We also understand they do coffee-making workshops on top of their barista-training services, which could be a wonderful way to spend the weekend. More information can be found here.

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The Quayside,
60 Robertson Quay #01-11
https://www.facebook.com/SmittenCafe

Met up with Denise just before she jetted out of Singapore for coffee at Smitten. Had a latte specially pulled for me by the erstwhile barista (thanks!) and learnt what acidity means in the context of coffee (sourish aftertaste). It was a good time catching up.

Smitten is situated in the quiet Quayside complex next to the multicoloured Alkaff Bridge at Robertson Quay

The cafe occupies a small narrow space at the Quayside. The decor is simple, with bare concrete flooring, stripped ceiling and whitewashed brick walls. The cafe is jam-packed with knick-knacks commonly associated with the coffee business – assorted cups, french presses, filters, coffee bags for sale, and a pretty cool looking coffee roaster at the back. The aroma of freshly-brewed coffee pervades the premises, all the better to enjoy one’s cuppa in.

My coffee was in good hands.

The blend that day was on the sour end, with enough tartness to kick the mid-morning sleepiness out of me. Denise says it’s akin to what one will get at the London coffee houses. Kaffeine and Prufrock did have very similar-tasting brews. I enjoyed it, but generally I prefer my coffee on the nutty side.

Bratwurst Panini

Smitten also has a small selection of sandwiches to whet your appetite. The bratwurst panini could be smelled from a not-inconsiderable distance away and oozed cheese like lava. It’s rich so it’s best enjoyed when shared.

30 Avery Row
Tel: 07740 952015

Everbean is an independently run cafe on Avery Row, a pleasant and cultured walking alley just off Bond Street (psst, the Paul Smith outlet store is here too). The cafe has an impressive selection of salads and sandwiches, which our friends tell us is quite splendid. We made a pit-stop last week and had a latte, which had a delicious nutty taste to it. It was a pity the milk was a bit thin, probably the result of inaccurate steaming. We’re inclined to give the coffee another chance, and will try to pop by again soon.

The cafe is blessed with high ceilings and tall glass windows

9 Penang Road
Park Mall #01-01
Tel: +65 6338 8611
http://kith.com.sg/
Kith café did well by opening its second outlet at Park Mall, a niche mall known more for its expensive furniture shops and lack of patrons. Yet, it’s precisely because of its slow-n’sleepy character that makes it suitable for an indie joint like Kith – far enough from the manic bustle of Orchard Road but still a convenient 2-minute walk from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. Kith’s coffee came highly recommended by friends, so I dragged Hweifen along for a coffee and lunch.

We started with a macchiato and latte. Now, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a coffee person, so I was happy to defer to the judgment of my better-informed counterpart. She proclaimed in her characteristic manner that the coffee was “mehh”, which I translated meant “good, but I’ve tasted better”. She also noted that the macchiato was smaller than she thought it would be. On my part, I was glad the waitress didn’t give me a dirty look when I asked for sugar with the latte.

Because we were also hungry, we had the tenderloin spaghetti ($19) and big breakfast ($15.50). The spaghetti itself tasted fine, tomato-tangy with the beef adding a smoky hint. However the treatment of the tenderloin was shameful. The meat is just too delicate for stir-frying. The lack of fat means it dries up quickly when subject to high heat – which was exactly what happened. A better choice would be to use sirloin or ribeye, do it on a griddle as a large chunk and then slice them medium rare into the spaghetti.

The big breakfast was customizable, but I picked the wrong combination by choosing the poached eggs and brioche toast. The brioche with added butter and jam was particularly nasty. Go for a sandwich-able combination – ciabatta/focaccia with eggs done scrambled/sunny-side-up. Nit-picking about the steak aside, Kith was decent for food. What made the place nice was how chill (what an indie word!) the place felt. The premises suffered from no lack of natural light and there was plenty of seating in the canopied alfresco area outside. Plus, the waiting staff was really polite (“certainly, sir, any drinks to complement your mains?”). No brusque, dour service here, sir. At Kith, we teach our people their proper Ps and Qs, mind you. That really made my day.

37 Kampong Bahru Road
Singapore 169356
93683610
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 9:00am – 11:00pm
Closed Mondays
https://www.facebook.com/StrangersReunion

Mocha and Cupcake

So, over the weekend, we finally made our way to Strangers’ Reunion to visit Andrew! The name says it all, really. Strangers stumble upon a cafe and bond over their shared love for good coffee. The cafe follows an interesting philosophy on socialisation, eschewing flashy publicity for a simple understated approach. Tucked away in a nondescript row of shophouses near Outram Road, the cafe is recognisable from the outside only by a set of brown, distressed wooden doors. Most of the patrons had heard of the place from someone else or had done a little research before coming in. Regardless,  simple word of mouth is as potent a tool as a good cup of coffee, and the cafe does a brisk business within its cosy confines.

Andrew at the counterAndrew is a wizard in the kitchen. He was Glen’s housemate in London and was nice enough to cook us dinner whenever we were all home. (psst, what would we do without you? :))

Waffles, Ice Cream, Fresh Fruit

Glen and I are big, big, big fans of waffles and ice cream. It was with a connoisseur’s eye that we approached Strangers’ Reunion’s current offering. The batter was tweaked from a traditional Belgian waffles recipe and uses yoghurt as a substitute to milk. the result was a lighter, fluffier dough that crumbles beautifully in the mouth. It also helped that the waffle mold was a thick one, which gives the waffle more volume to wrap one’s voracious tongues around.

Ciabatta, Chicken Tandoori, Apple and Red Cabbage Slaw, Mint and Dill Greek YoghurtWe didn’t try the sandwiches, but Andrew was happy to let us take some photos of the preparation.

Baguette, Roasted Pork, Hoisin Sauce, Sliced Chilli, Spring OnionAny Singaporean worth his salt (and unrestrained by dietary requirements) knows the value and taste of mouth-wateringly good siobak.  The roast pork here is hand-sourced every morning from the owner’s special contacts. We’re dying to have a go at this the next time. (24/07/12 edit: Came back, tried it. Every bit as succulent and melt-in-your-mouth tender as we imagined it to be.)

Cafe Latte in pretty cups and plattersThe owner of the cafe is Ryan Tan, a two-time Singapore Barista Championships winner. When we visited he was off in Austria to better his previous year’s rankings at the World Barista Championships, where he clocked in at 28th position before. (24/06/12 edit: He was 2nd runner-up in the Latte Art Category.) We’re not experts on coffee, but Glen liked the latte enough to declare he was ‘never going to look at a cup of Starbucks in the same way again’. If anything, you can admire the fine latte art, which makes for excellent pictures.

Whiskey Cake

And then there was the dessert. The whiskey cake came well reviewed, and our personal taste test revealed a cake that was generous on chocolate and packed a good boozy punch. The chocolate layer on the top is similar in taste and texture to champagne Royce chocolates, with a fine, even consistency.

Red Velvet CupcakesAccording to Andrew, the cupcakes follow the same recipe as the Hummingbird Bakery’s signature dessert, but some changes in the icing were made. The original uses a diabetes-inducing amount of icing sugar for a hard-tip icing finish whereas the ones above use more cream cheese, for a creamier and less sweet taste. Although no changes were made to the cake base, they tasted lighter and drier than the originals. It’s a matter of preference on how one likes their cupcakes, but we enjoyed these immensely.

& the picture I took of Andrew and Glen!

11 Leonard Street
London EC2A 4AQ
http://www.ozonecoffee.co.uk/

So, our friend Chu informed us that there was a fantastic new coffee joint that opened in the London Shoreditch area not too long ago. I have never been much into coffee. In fact, if I were to describe my approach to it, I’d be a milk and sugar with an accent of cocoa type of guy, an abomination in the eyes of connoisseurs, I know. The weather was nice today and I was feeling adventurous so I took a gander down to Leonard Street to check the place out.

Nice, spacious premises. Lots of room to walk about.

Now you see it, the next you don’t.

I would have started my afternoon meal with more savoury things, but I didn’t realise there was a lunch menu until I had paid for the coffee and the cake. The latte was velvet on the tongue, with enough caffeinated pick-me-up goodness to kick me up a gear for the day. I’d gush a little more about it but I’m not terribly familiar with the right adjectives to describe a good cuppa currrently. Suffice to know that it was really quite good.

The cheesecake and the handwhipped cream was brilliant. There was a bit of blueberry in the middle of the cake, and together with the strawberry chunks they served as a reminder that summer was just around the corner.

Pork & fennel sausages w potato mash, spinach & brown onion gravyThe cafe also has a selection of egg and lunch dishes to complement your drinks. Just remember to ask for the menu!

The wholesale business downstairs

If your dream has always been to open up your own cafe, Ozone also does a wholesale supply downstairs. These guys are pretty serious about their coffee. Just look at that machine!

* A Photographer’s Note: Alright. Gastrographic is dedicated to a love of food and photography. We’ve done quite a bit on food already so here’s something on the photographic side! I found myself without my trusty Nikon DSLR today so all of the photographs were taken on my iPhone. I post-processed them using this funky iPhone app called Camera Awesome by Smugmug. It’s got a pretty awesome toolkit of free photoediting and sharing functions. If you aren’t already on Instagram, this application is worth playing with. The basic software is free, but you can choose to buy premium content like additional frames and filtering options.

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