Touted by some to be one of the best cafés of 2014, Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters at Upper Thomson remains one of the more popular spots for brunch and coffee. It sounds inaccessible, but is actually a mere 10 minutes walk from Marymount MRT station. Smack in the middle of Sin Ming, Pacamara stands out with its whitewashed exterior (and interior) screaming "hipster".
We visited on a weekday afternoon and were surprised to find it packed full. Having been disappointed by many "bests", our expectations weren't too high. I can safely say however, that our impressions changed after the meal, and Pacamara is now definitely one of my favourite cafés.
A variety of tarts and dainty patisseries on display.
Previously Oz Specialty Coffee, revamped Pacamara is a collaboration with Thailand’s Pacamara Coffee so named after El Salvadorean Pacamara Arabica coffee beans. Thai owner Chartree Treelertkul sourced up to 70% of the Pacamara coffee beans from his country to support the local community. With such dedication, expect nothing lesser from their coffee.
White ($4.50 for 3 oz, $5 for 5oz, $5.50 for 7oz)
Pacamara offers two house blends, namely Roadster and Luminous. The former I enjoyed in a Long Black (S$4) and the latter as a White. Smooth yet undeniably bold, the Roadster starts off slightly acidic, building up to a bolder mouthfeel with strong chocolate, caramel and nutty undertones. It's one of the best cuppas I've had. The Luminous was equally impressive, boasting an intense toffee fragrance and a slightly sweet fruitty finish.
But the coffee's not all that draws the crowds. Pacamara offers a delectable food menu spanning starters, pastas and mains, as well as brunch that ends at 4pm daily. While several items like the Forest Mushroom Aglio Olio (S$16) and Sweet Potato Fries (S$8) were enticing, we stuck to brunch that's been seeing all the hype.
Truffle Benedict (S$18) - Brioche, honey ham, wilted spinach & free range poached eggs with truffle hollandaise
Truffling everything seems to be the current trend. We liked that the ham was hot and well grilled, but beyond that nothing else impressed. The hollandaise was heavily scented with truffle oil - good for truffle lovers, bad for me who's a proponent of subtlety - and robbed of the usual tangy and robust creaminess; the albeit runny egg was too vinegary; and the brioche ended up too dry. Truffle fans would probably wipe the plate clean in no time. Me, I think I'll pass.
Lemongrass Ricotta Hotcakes (S$17.50) - Fluffy lemongrass infused ricotta hotcakes topped with mixed berry compote and maple syrup on the side
Stunning to look at, not so much when eaten. The lemongrass lent a wonderfully intense fragrance to the thick stacks of hotcakes, though it would've been better to actually taste them. The generous topping of berry compote was much appreaciated, though it turned out too watery and sour. And while the hotcakes were cakey, thick, and fairly fluffy, I found them too chewy. I like my pancakes to soak in the sauces and syrups drizzled over, and this hotcake couldn't.
This wasn't my cup of tea and I wouldn't have this again; but I'm sure there could be many others who love it.
Salted Caramel Banana French Toast (S$16) - Brioche French toast, bananas, homemade salted caramel sauce & whipped cream
Moist, eggy, and doused in caramel sauce, this was the uncontested favourite and an absolute must-try. The soft, moist yet fluffy slices of brioche were absolutely delicious, and nicely contrasted with a handful of crunchy nutty granola. All that goodness is then drenched in the most luscious and buttery salted caramel sauce - more akin to butterscotch actually - and topped off with sliced bananas. Every bite was a melange of flavours and textures, and I loved every bit of it. Hands-down one of the best French toasts in Singapore. If the bananas could be less mushy, everything'd be perfect.
A café's most definitely not defined solely by its brunch items. To truly decide if Pacamara is indeed one of the best, consistency and quality of the other dishes cannot be overlooked. But for its amazing coffee and stellar French toast, Pacamara has sealed the deal in my heart.
Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters
185 Upper Thomson Road
Tuesdays to Sundays: 9am-11pm
Closed on Mondays