Chef/owner Marc Wee started Arbite with the belief that quality European fare can be offered at affordable prices. Indeed, Arbite prides itself on serving honest good food featuring home-made and fresh ingredients. Well-established in the Singapore café scene, Arbite boasts an impressive menu of Asian-European fusion food, including a section dedicated to all-day breakfast. While some items may sound funky, and not all flavour combinations fly, Arbite dishes up hearty delicious mains that makes it one of the best cafés in Singapore.
Apple Cinnamon Tea (S$6++)
In addition to the normal menu, Arbite offers a range of daily specials that varies according to the fresh produce that day. We tried this tea, which unfortunately sounded more interesting than it tasted. It lacked that spiced fragrance, ended up being more like a mixture of juice and iced tea.
Salted Egg Fries (S$7++)
Their current monthly special, this Salted Egg Fries is hands down one of the best fries I've had. Crisp fries tossed in a dry mix of crumbled salted egg yolk and laksa leaves, these were delicious beyond words. Some may prefer a saucier topping; but we liked how this drier mix keeps the fries crispy and prevents it from being to cloyingly rich.
Asian Spiced Lamb Shank (S$22++) - Lamb shank stewed in a melange of Asian spices, served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables
Tender, succulent, and bursting with flavour, Arbite nailed the lamb shank. The surprisingly lean meat, braised in a robust flavourful sauce, was nicely paired with a light mash and sweet sautéed vegetables. I liked how notes of cinnamon and star anise were faintly detectable, staying through to that Asian spin on the dish.
Pan Seared Salmon (S$20++) - Pan-seared salmon, with a creamy mash & Asian vegetable laksa pistou
Salmon may be a common item, but not everyone cooks it right. Arbite ticked all the right boxes for a perfectly cooked salmon: crispy browned skin, nice sear on the outside of the salmon, and really moist, slightly undercooked pinky flesh on the inside. Similar to pesto sauce but made without pine nuts, the vegetable pistou was very light and palatable. Pairing this innovative pistou, creamy mash, with the rich salmon is quite the stroke of genius, resulting in an amazing main dish.
Liu Sha French Toast (S$9++) - Matcha soaked brioche, salted egg custard, candied nuts and fresh berries
While Arbite's mains were stunning, less could be said of their sweeter offerings. This french toast was the first on the all-day breakfast menu to catch our eye. The interesting pairing of matcha with our local favourite salted egg custard seemed really promising - so it was an utter pity when the dish failed to live up to expectations. It lacked all the amazing flavours described. Not only did the brioche not have any hint of matcha, it was dense and bore no resemblance to the buttery sweet bread. It was absolutely tasteless. The minute amounts of dried custard lacked flavour and depth. On the whole it was dry, dense, and very disappointing.
Horlicks Panna Cotta (S$12++) - Malt-flavoured panna cotta, granola, Milo crumbs, honeycomb with rum & raisin ice cream
Hard, dry, and slightly powdery, the panna cotta was utterly dreadful. The texture was horrible. It was not creamy, instead being extremely heavy and oddly dry. While the flavour was decent, the key to a great panna cotta lies in its texture. None of the accompanying components provided any saving grace, with the milo undetectable, and the ice cream weak and forgettable. Once again I would go as far as to say this is the worst panna cotta I've had. Pray that this may be a one-off, cause it will be a pity for such an interesting dessert to be ruined by bad techniques.
Piña Colada Crème Brûlée (S$7++) - Baked pineapple, coconut cream and white rum custard, topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel
The best of the sweet dishes, this creme brulee was light, creamy, and had just the right amount of crunch from the torched sugar. In fact on its own its probably one of the best creme brulee in Singapore. Unfortunately it was nothing like a pina colada. The pineapple bits tasted more like longans, and there was no hint of coconut or rum. It's a great creme brulee, but a horrible pina colada dessert.
Arbite seems to be hitting all the right notes for their mains, yet missing the mark entirely for sweets. Having only visited once it's probably too early to decide. The innovative and quality food that Arbite offers is definitely a winner, and that's what we'll return for - only question now is if their failures are due to pure inconsistency or simply bad techniques.
66A Serangoon Garden Way
Tuesdays to Fridays: 11.30am-3pm; 6pm-10.30pm (Last orders are half an hour before service ends)
Closed on Mondays