I wouldn’t usually drive into the Central Business District. Traffic is impossible, and parallel parking frightens me. But McCallum Street sounded like the quieter side of Tanjong Pagar. With some courage, and lack of wisdom, I went behind the wheels to brave the lunch crowd. The parking lots were accommodating; the traffic behind me were less so. After considerable effort, I could finally switch off the engine and set forth to the destination on my reliable legs. The hot weather didn’t offer much relief, nor did forgetting to put parking coupons. So when I had finally arrived at this café just opposite Amoy Street Food Centre, I got myself an iced white.
I’m ambivalent about having my coffee cold. My favorite espresso drink is the piccolo latte, or ‘short white’, or ‘magic’, or Gibraltar. Purists will condemn me for putting these in the same band, but I’m not that particular. With well-textured milk and decent espresso shots, a concise hot coffee drink works for me. On the other hand, cold brews are intriguing, and tropical heat necessitates cold refreshment.
The café’s non-existent AC didn’t help. We relocated to an alfresco table, which was much better with the occasional breeze. I opted for the beetroot salad, after a heavy breakfast. With rocket, sliced almonds and feta, it was aptly dressed. Given its size, it could use a little more acidity. Maybe a dash of lemon juice or some fresh citrus segments? On the positive end, the sourdough that came with the salad was sufficiently tangy, which I’ve taken a liking to during my stay in Paris. However, more gluten development would make a better crumb, and the crust could be more pronounced. Nevertheless, it made a good meal!
My company had the pork sandwich. The thing I have against tall sandwiches is that if you can’t pick it up and take a bite without dislocating your jaw, it can be quite a hassle. Especially when you just want to kick off your shoes and bask in the ambience. That’s why I prefer tartines – open-faced sandwiches, which makes more sense. They are usually flatter so you can take it by the bite, or you can easily cut it on the plate. But really, this is a matter of preference, so anything goes.
Overall, it was a decent meal. The brunch menu seemed interesting, and I’ll be sure to drop in for that the next time round, as well as the short white I missed. The café has character, and that gives it the potential to stand out amongst the many office lunch options around the area. A more welcoming service would also do no harm. After all, building rapport with customers keeps them coming back for respite from a hectic week. With so many new places opening up here, exceptional service could well be the make-or-break deal in keeping a café going.
21 McCallum Street #01-01 The Clift
T: 6634 0922