FOOD REVIEW: Atlas Coffeehouse — 'It’s a different kind of culinary sensibility'

·Lifestyle Contributor
·5 min read
Interior (PHOTO: Atlas Coffeehouse)
Interior (PHOTO: Atlas Coffeehouse)

SINGAPORE — If there's one thing I've learned from observing what Singaporeans order at places like Atlas Coffeehouse, it is that people love, love, love their classic English breakfast in whatever shape and form it takes. I highly doubt it’s due to familiarity, though, as predictable as that may seem. Rather, it’s one of those things that, on its face, feels utterly value-for-money, presenting one serving each of protein, bread, eggs, and vegetables on a plate. And if there’s anything Singaporeans love more than Hokkien Mee, it’s value.

It’s probably why I refrain from taking recommendations from what other diners have on their tables at cafes such as this. If I did, then this lunch review would be rife with avocados, scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes, chorizos, and sourdough slices. And there were sourdough slices every which way I looked. That, a cup of latte, and the occasional heterosexual couple partaking in every lover’s favourite activity of using their phones in complete silence.

Bacon Kedgeree (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Bacon Kedgeree (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

If, like me, you managed to snag a seat here after 30 minutes of queuing under the government-built shelter outside, then congratulations. Have a seat in this charming space, deliberately designed so that the soft murmurs of patrons are slightly amplified to add a touch of conviviality to the mise en scene. Grab a menu, scroll briefly past the first eight or so typical brunch selections, and get the Bacon Kedgeree (S$23.50++).

Yes, a Kedgeree—that classic British recipe with origins in colonial India and a building block to the Ayurvedic way of living. But, unsurprisingly, no one here is curious enough to order this dish. Except for two food writers, of course. Here, the Kedgeree is an enthusiastically spiced curry rice in a pleasing palette of gold, tossed with bits of bacon and raisins, served in a dark grey bowl that only further accentuates its sexy hues.

It also comes with caramelised onions and a mildly tangy sour cream that, when mixed with rice, gives a whole new culinary depth to this presentation. Perched on all this goodness is Atlas’ signature jammy egg with a barely-set yolk centre, in case you suffer from FOMO from the scrambled egg action all around.

Summer Chicken Stew (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Summer Chicken Stew (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

After that, turn to the Lunch menu and get yourself the Summer Chicken Stew (S$19.30++), again, something I did not see on any table the day I visited for lunch. This bowl here is a strident example of deft cooking, though, on the first sip, people who abstain from beautifully flavoured food might find it to be a tad salty. But give yourself some time to enjoy this enthusiastically seasoned stew cooked with a tender-to-a-fault chicken leg, sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots. It’s the kind of thing you eat when you’re trying to cut back on carbs but still want to feel full. Though, is a carbs-less life really worth living?

Burnt Brussels Sprouts (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Burnt Brussels Sprouts (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

To further differentiate my food sensibilities from the masses, I went ahead and had the Burnt Brussels Sprouts (S$12.80++), which, at the price I’m paying, is the epitome of value. It’s a hefty plate filled to the brim with a generous mound of these beautifully bitter bulbs of vegetables. It comes served with a drizzle of cheese for a touch of savouriness, though I wouldn’t mind a tad more seasoning. I liked that here, the chef has not cooked it down till a shadow of its former bitter self, still retaining that slight astringent characteristic of Brussels Sprouts.

Further examples of Atlas’ generosity with their sides offerings manifest in a plate of Rosemary Chilli Fries (S$11.20++) that harkens back to the times when I used to dine at PS.Cafe. With a presentation like this, you know it’s fries straight from its retail packaging, directly into the fryer, make no mistake. But here, in a bid to up creative value, the chef has tossed this, while it’s still piping hot, with Rosemary and Szechuan Chilli oil rendering it lip numbing and heady with the most aromatic bouquet.

Get this if you’re here in a group of four because my dining partner and I struggled to finish the plate. It would be great if they sold this in half portions like PS.Cafe does. Wait? Don’t you know this secret PS.Cafe hack? You’re welcome.

Butterscotch Banana Pancake (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)
Butterscotch Banana Pancake (PHOTO: Zat Astha/Yahoo Lifestyle SEA)

Lunch ends with a Butterscotch Banana Pancake (S$19.80++), a perfect denouement to a hearty brunch and a great reward after that heaving session of spin class. It’s indulgence through and through with the sort of things that will make that one friend with a sweet tooth squeal in delight.

There’s a hefty round of fluffy pancake topped with cornflakes crunchies, and bananas, a drizzle of butterscotch sauce, and a fat scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sure there’s a lot of sweetness all around to make your inner kid burst and run around, arms flailing like you just don’t care. But somehow, Atlas managed to balance this sugared heaven with a touch of saltiness which I very much appreciate.

It’s not the kind of culinary sensibility I expected from a cafe of this nature, but if their sister outlet, Apollo Coffeehouse, has taught me anything, it is that the group takes food seriously, serving up gems unfortunately often ignored by diners who think English breakfast is a personality. If only everyone else dining here realised that too.

Tue to Sun: 8am - 7pm
Mon: Closed
6 Duke’s Road, Singapore 268886

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