When pictures of dessert amuse bouches, charcoal waffles, and salted egg yolk sauce (rejoice liu sha bao lovers) flooded my instagram feed in the first week of January - it didn't help that the dessert café was so conveniently located in my district - I knew I had to lug my ass there.
Innovative dishes that distinguished themselves from the masses? Check. Amazing wood, cement and steel interior designing? Check. Super Instagram-worthy images? Check. Heartlands location? Check. FATCAT Ice Cream Bar's ticked all the boxes of a cliché hipster café; which is usually a huge recipe for disaster. Unfortunately they got the sucker that I am at "charcoal" and "salted egg yolk".
The shop is impeccably designed. The industrial-chic accents of cement and steel was absolutely on-point. While really aesthetically appealing, when all 'hipster' cafés boasts the same characteristics, it becomes a little stale and boring after awhile.
But then of course it's the food that's most important, no?
Part 1 of the Chocolate Jardin was an amuse bouche of eggnog - vanilla egg custard with a generous dash of nutmeg
Consistent with the theme of aesthetics, this amuse bouche was such a sight for the eyes. It was pretty fun drinking that lightly sweetened custard from an egg shell. The shavings of nutmeg, though pretty cool, was a little hard to swallow though. Powdered nutmeg may have been better.
Chocolate Jardin ($15++) - Brandy cherry sorbet with fleur de sel, chocolate soil, brown butter powder, brandied chocolate sponge, wood sorrel and blackberries
Stunning stunning oak-trunk serving plate aside, I love the details of the dessert. The thought, ideas, and attention paid to this dessert is gobsmacking. I don't often find such beautfilly composed desserts, not even in top notch European restaurants. The osymanthus smoke encasing the dessert was so instrumental in adding that cloak of mystery that builds up to the ultimate 'wow' factor.
Visuals aside, while undoubtedly commendable, FATCAT still has much to improve on in terms of their techniques. The chocolate sponge was overly dry and underwhelming; the soil and powder had no distinctive contribution to the dish, except for the overall dryness; and the sorbet was a weak complement to the dessert. Where the chocolate components lacked that decadent chocolate creaminess or depth, the really tart sorbet only serve to enhance how dry and crumbly it was. At that pricepoint I could easily get a vastly better plated dessert at 2AM dessert bar.
The Chocolate Jardin (which if accurately French should be "Chocolat" without the "e") has had other rave reviews, so it may just be a slip up that day. It would be a tad pretentious to have amazing names, concepts, yet be executed like an amateur.
Banana Nutella Dessert ($9++) - bruléed bananas served with nutella powder, nuts, and Hay & Honey ice cream
In stark contrast, this seemingly ordinary banana dessert was much better. The earthy caramelised bananas and crunchy nuts were wonderful with the subtle ice cream. While the nutella powder looked interesting, it didn't taste any bit like nutella nor made the dessert better i.e. it was again fancy schmancy but utterly redundant.
Original Waffles ($4++), with a scoop each of Butter Beer Ice Cream ($4.50++), Hay & Honey ($4.50++), and Pistachio ($4.50++)
I learnt the hard way that those gorgeous black charcoal waffles were limited, and one would have to be there real early to enjoy one of those babies. They were sold under the different category of Gourmet Waffles ($6++), and the limited batter makes about 20-30 waffles a day. Given that they were out when I visited at 4pm on a weekday, do head over much earlier to avoid disappointment.
The waffles I had were so photogenic, I would rather not have tasted it and smash that illusion. Both the Butter Beer and Hay & Honey were great when tasted separately at the ice cream counter; but when eaten together they blended in. Hardly distinguishable. And yes while it is most important for the flavours to taste good in themselves, it kinda misses the point if I can't tell the flavours apart? When eaten together, the only discernible flavour was the underlying vanilla custard. The Pistachio was much better, bursting with the fragrance of the Sicilian nuts. Having had one of the best pistachios ice cream/gelato at Milk and Honey though, FATCAT's wasn't that memorable.
The biggest disappointment was the waffle. Great crisp yes, but it lacked entirely in flavour. Eaten alone there's none of that delicious, eggy-sweet flavour. The batter was also not fluffy nor airy enough, so it didn't soak up the ice cream all that well. Once again Milk and Honey makes a much meaner waffle, that is both crisp, fluffy, and is wonderful on its own.
FATCAT boasts amazing crafted desserts; however having just the idea itself isn't enough. Great ideas but lousy execution simply makes them come off as pretentious instead. Will I return? Probably to try their other plated desserts. But for simple, comforting ice cream and waffles, I'd much rather head somewhere else.
FATCAT Ice Cream Bar
Blk 416 Bedok North Ave 2
Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 12pm–10pm
Fridays to Sundays: 12pm–11pm
Last orders accepted 30 minutes before closing
Closed on Tuesdays