Clinton Street Baking Company – Bugis, Singapore

I’m not usually one to want to be the first to queue for newly opened food outlets so that I can let the hype (and queues) die down, but Clinton Street Baking Company with its accolades as the best pancakes in NY from New York Magazine (twice) seriously piqued my interest. The secret is to separate the eggs and gently fold in whipped egg whites (if you have the time and mixer, there’s a recipe here). Chef-husband and wife duo Neil Kleinberg and DeDe Lahman, opened Clinton Street Baking Company in New York City in 2011 to make the best baked goods in the city, hand-mixed in small batches.

Having brought its splendour to outlets in Dubai and Tokyo, Singapore is the lucky second in Asia. It’s within walking distance to City Hall/Bugis MRT. Having just opened yesterday (without much fanfare either), the queue when I arrived on a Sunday morning at ~10.30pm required a 45 minute wait. Luckily their efficient system allowed us to walk around the nearby Bugis malls before they called us when our table was ready. The menu is pricier than standard cafe fare being a world-famous restaurant.

In classic Southwestern American style, Clinton Street uses buttermilk in many of their dishes, like the pancakes, Southern biscuits, and chicken and waffles. It makes the floured foods taste rich, well-aerated and fluffy.

You can’t go to Clinton St. and not order their Warm Maple Butter Pancakes ($18). They have blueberry, banana walnut and chocolate chunk. I got the blueberry rendition as per the waiter’s recommendation; bouncy, thick and fluffy to the core, yet with a firm and crunchy exterior and specks of blueberry embedded within; with a rich buttery fragrance, I can understand what all the hype was about and devoured it happily.

 I reckon the pancake itself was slightly too sweet for my tastebuds though, especially with the pot of the divine warm maple butter (comfort grub at its finest) and blueberry topping. The maple butter was not really enough for me, and each extra pot is $2 more (I suppose it’s a good thing for my waistline!). The blueberry topping was luscious and chock full of tiny blueberries (I believe they are dried blueberries) with in a rich sauce that soaked through the pancakes to create ultimate blueberry goodness. True to its American style, the portion is very large, and I think that this is too filling to share between two people (if you’re ordering another item to share between the two of you) so it’s probably best to gather a few friends to share.

We also tried a not so popular item Smoked Salmon Scramble ($23). I thought this was relatively average and pricey. The scrambled eggs were generous with the house-smoked salmon, but slightly rubbery and not creamy enough (although there were sparse chunks of the scallion cream cheese). The salmon was cooked with the egg so it was not soft, but the eggs were doused nicely with its salmony oil and chopped chives. The salad was fresh and had a mild vinegary taste (luckily not dressed with oil as the meal was already quite heavy!), and the seven-grain toast was wholesome and crunchy. My partner in crime liked this dish more than the pancakes (although expectedly, as he does not have a sweet tooth at all!), as it was a light reprieve from the richness of the pancakes.

We had a Ginger ale ($5) as it was quite hot sitting at the very front of the shop next to the window (they do have an awning but the morning sun was still shining straight at the shop and it got quite warm). This tasted like a canned drink, not particularly gingery, and nothing to shout home about.

The ambience overall is relatively fast-paced and busy with a lot of hustle and bustle/noise, but comfortable seating. Service was overall quite friendly and efficient (although the waiter wanted to clear my plate when I still had a fair bit of food on it and just stopped for a bit of a rest; I suppose there is a long queue?). Going to the toilet may be a bit of an issue though as there’s only one unisex restroom available.

The unbelievably phenomenal pancakes here gives Singaporean cafes a run for their money. I spotted a cute slogan on the staff’s t-shirt “Made with Love and Butter” very apt. I definitely want to return (probably when the crowds die down 😛 if they ever do…) to try out some of the other brunch items. The eggs benny on Southern biscuits and the crispy potato pancakes look very promising. I’m glad that Singapore seems to be getting quite a lot of worldwide famous restaurants into the ever-changing food scene here (seems more so than Australia too… probably because there are so many homegrown talents in Australia though).

Prices are not inclusive of GST and service charge.

Clinton Street Baking Company 
31 Purvis Street, Singapore 188608
Nearest MRT: Bugis/City Hall
Tel: +65 6684 4845
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clintonstsingapore
Opening Hours: Daily, 8am to 6pm

Group Therapy Cafe – Katong

On a weekend brunch, the cafe was full-house which is strange considering its whoop whoop location. Expect queues on weekend brunch peak period as they don’t take reservations. The ambience of this cafe is a bit dark and dingy in appearance, being inside a mall without outdoor sunlight, but it’s cosy and comfortable nevertheless.

My friend got the Skinny Latte ($5) which, as a coffee connoisseur, said was good; and me being a chai snob, got the Chai latte ($5.50) which I thought was really well done for Singaporean standards. No syrup in sight, it was made with the real spice. It was strong, full-bodied, milky and a substantial foam top too.

Buttermilk pancakes ($12.50) were thick and fluffy, but in my opinion not enough of a buttermilk taste. It’s a very generous serve though 🙂 The honeycomb crumbs and fruits lent a sour/crunchy contrast, and they by default serve syrup on the side which is always a plus.

Pumpkin pancake ($18.00) – doesn’t look super appetising, but by golly it was outstanding! Hints of fresh pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice ( cinnamon, nutmeg and clove) in a soft pancake with smoked salmon that was tender and easy on the sodium, two soft poached eggs topped with a very thick and rich serving of Hollaindaise sauce. We ended up scooping most of it away but if you do get it, ask for it on the side (or maybe most Singaporeans like it that way I guess…lots of sauce in food…)! Eggs were done bouncy with a gooey half-cooked yolk.

I thought the food and drinks at Group Therapy were good and understand why all the expat crowds flock here on the weekends!

Prices are nett (no service charge or GST)

They have another branch at Tanjong Pagar.

Group Therapy Coffee, Katong
30 East Coast Road, Katong V, #01-11, Singapore 428751
Nearest MRT: Dakota
Open daily from 9am to 9pm.

Group Therapy Coffee, Duxton
49 Duxton Road, #02-01, Singapore 089513
Nearest MRT: Outram Park/Tanjong Pagar
Tel: +65 +65 6222 2554
Open from 11am to 6pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays, 11am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 10am to 6pm on Sundays and public holidays. Closed on Mondays.

Website: http://www.gtcoffee.com/