Curious Palette: Stick to the established coffee and waffles
Newly opened Curious Palette has been garnering insane media attention, making to lists the likes of Her World's "hottest new eateries" and The Straits Times' "Open for Business". Not surprising given it's the fourth business by Ryan Tan. The student-turned-entrepreneur is the famed barista behind familiar names like Strangers' Reunion and Waffle Slayer, thus one expects a similar equation of great waffles and coffee.
The huge 4,700 sq ft café is deceptively hidden behind a tiny entrance. We visited a weekend afternoon and were surprised to find no queues despite all the hype - that is, till we saw its immense space. The small set of doors open into a seemingly small area with 4-seater tables, before extending and expanding to include communal tables as well as counter seats. So don't be too worried about getting a seat; even if there were a wait it shouldn't be too long.
Flat White (S$4.90++)
With the owner as your barista, there simply isn't an excuse to not have coffee. We thoroughly enjoyed our flat white which was creamy, nutty, and very palatable. I would've loved to have a little more of that bittersweet caramelized crema fragrance, though this makes a more than decent cuppa.
7 Spice Chai Latte (S$5.90++)
Besides joes, Curious Palette offers a decent selection of alternative beverages spanning teas and juices. We tried their chai latte which is made with an in-house blend of black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, orange peel and cloves. Though the drink was smooth and creamy, the spices were a little too subtle and diluted by the milk, lacking the distinctive fragrance of a chai latte. We'd stick to Craftsmen Specialty for our chai latte fix.
Curious Palette's menu is recognizably different from its sister establishments. It's all-day breakfast menu features lighter egg and toast dishes, as well as heavier options of burger and stews. Fans of Strangers Reunion will be pleased to know their famed waffles are also offered here with a variety of lovely toppings.
Curious Breakfast (S$23.50++) - One fried egg, bacon, rosti, chorizo, grilled sausage, artichoke, tomato relish
Bacon, egg, sausages, tomatoes, and potatoes: Curious Palette's rendition of the ubiquitous breakfast set has everything it needs to be amazing. Unfortunately it wasn't. The bacon was deep-fried; the (tablespoon of) artichoke and p̶a̶s̶t̶a̶ ̶s̶a̶u̶c̶e̶ tomato 'relish' were cold and tasted straight out of the jar; the paper-thin slices of chorizo was overcooked and tough; the sausage was chewy and lacked that nice char-grilled crunch; and the bitter arugula was merely dumped on the plate unseasoned.
But the worst had to be the rosti. Hidden beneath the egg and arugula, the perhaps-once-crispy rosti turned out soggy and horribly oily. It was like eating mee sua soaked in oil. Unpleasant and ghastly, this has to be one of the worst breakfasts we've had.
Berries Ricotta Hotcake (S$18.90++)
With the recent hotcake trend, it's not surprising how possibly the single most instagrammed dish of Strangers' Reunion is similarly offered at Curious Palette. Their Berries Ricotta Hotcake looked more like the original Top Paddock dish when compared to Paddy Hills'.
Regrettably any improvement is merely aesthetic. The dish was tasteless, without any hint of sugar or buttery fragrance. Any flavours a all came from the accompanying seeds and nuts, ice cream, and syrup. The texture it nailed to a dot, but the hotcake was bland beyond words. It's like having the fluffiest cloud melting in your mouth - just that it tasted of nothing. Knowing that the accompanying syrup was the cheaper processed golden syrup didn't help.
Gula Melaka and Coconut Waffle (S$14.50++) - Vanilla bean ice cream, coconut cream, red beans, roasted peanuts, gula melaka sauce
Fortunately their famed waffles did not disappoint. Crisp on the outside, soft and utterly fluffy insides, Curious Palette dishes up an admittedly stellar waffle. The waffle itself amazing, it came topped with lightly sweetened red beans, crunchy peanuts, great gula melaka sauce, and a massive scoop of ice cream. A pity the coconut cream was overwhelmed by the ice cream, but seeing how starkly horrible the other mains were this was an absolute delight.
Spam Fries (S$12.90++)
It may be simply fried sticks of spam; yet this unassuming side was my favourite of the meal. Thick thumb-widthed chunks of spam fried to perfection, boasting a crisp exterior and soft melt-in-your-mouth insides. I've not had spam fries quite like these and must say I polished them off in no time.
As with every new establishment, the first few months may be a tad rough while Curious Palette irons out identified issues with its food and service. Thus inconsistencies are more excusable. Nonetheless it is disappointing for items from the previous menu like the ricotta hotcakes be an absolute flop. Cause of that I'm not too sure a second visit will be on my calendar anytime soon.
64 Prinsep Street
Mondays, Wednesdays to Thursdays, & Sundays: 9am-10pm
Fridays & Saturdays: 9am-12pm