What would you say to having a new eatery that specialises in fried chicken, biscuits and pancakes? It's not your standard café fare for sure; but on our café-ridden shores is that a recipe for success - or otherwise? Fried Chicken and Waffles may sound like yesteryear to many; but it's sticking close to tradition and classic American favourites that's worked for this eatery.
Here comes Clinton St. Baking Co. & Restaurant, the newest member to the cocktail mix of dining options along Purvis Street. Hailing from New York, the iconic bakery-bistro has been attracting crowds who queue for up to two hours for the past 14 years. Their secret, owners Neil Kleinberg & DeDe Lahman revealed, is dishing up "classic and traditional food that transcends anything hipster".
Staying true to that philosophy, you'd find the same American fare offered at the restaurant here. Clinton St. offers a fair spread of items, across an all-day breakfast and a lunch menu. All-time faves from the former are their Pancakes (S$18++), Clinton St Omelette (S$18++), and several breakfast plates with their signature buttermilk biscuits. The latter features several sandwiches and burger, as well as their famed Buttermilk Fried Chicken which come with waffles (S$21++), house slaw and a side (S$25++), or as a sandwich (S$19++).
As with every brunch affair, we started the meal with a simple Black Coffee (S$5++). If a great cuppa's what you're looking for, give the coffee at Clinton St a miss. It's more American-diner brewed coffee than an artisanal joe: decent drank black, better with creamer/milk and sugar.
From the all-day breakfast menu, we tried the highly acclaimed Pancakes with Warm Maple Butter (S$18++). Twice-voted best pancakes by New York Magazine, Clinton St's American-portioned buttermilk stacks come generously stuffed with the ingredient of your choice: blueberries, banana walnut, or chocolate chunk. The fluffy cloud-like pancakes boasted a great texture and a wonderful sweet and buttery flavour. However it cooled really quickly, turning out more dry and dense than moist and airy. While that could've been remedied with lashings of sharp caramel-y maple syrup, the accompanying maple butter made everything too jelak. Instead we'd recommend the Brioche French Toast (S$18++) for a sweet start. Think fluffy, eggy and moist slices of pan-fried brioche topped with caramelized bananas, roasted pecans, and warm maple butter.
We also tried Clinton St's famed buttermilk biscuits in their Country Breakfast (S$18++). A decently priced option with three eggs done any style, maple-cured ham, hash browns, and a ginormous buttermilk biscuit. Fans of biscuits and scones would love Clinton St's buttermilk biscuit that's crunchy on the outside, crumbly and buttery on the inside. The hash brown's delicious, if not inconsistent with the seasoning. Our favourite, however, was the most underrated Spanish Scramble (S$19++). Stuffed with spiced chorizo, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and topped with a blanket of melted Monterey Jack, this scramble-omelette is a fine example of simple, unpretentious, yet stunning food. A classic done well.
Chicken & Waffles (S$21++) - with honey-Tabasco sauce, a crispy Belgian vanilla buttermilk waffle, and their signature warm maple butter
This being one of the trademark dishes that placed them on the NY food map, we couldn't give it a miss. The buttermilk fried chicken was undoubtedly one of the best fried chicken we've had. Underneath the super-thin yet crisp batter, was a moist, juicy, tender and succulent slab of chicken breast. The flavour was wonderful, and the texture spot on. Unfortunately the dish was brought down by the dense and chewy waffle; so skip on the waffles and enjoy their delicious fried chicken as a salad or with a side instead.
Black Angus Cheeseburger (S$23++) - Ground daily in-house, with Swiss or cheddar and caramelised onions on a toasted French artisanal rolls, with handcut fries and slaw
To say this burger was delicious would be selling it short. A moist and flavourful house made patty, beautifully charred and cooked to a perfect medium rare, topped with gooey melted cheese, and slapped between toasted soft buns. This is, without question, one of the best fuss-free burgers we've had. It's not like any of your gourmet burger shacks featuring exotic ingredients and funky pairings; instead a simple cheeseburger done well. It also helps that the accompanying handcut fries were nothing short of addictive.
Two visits to Clinton St thus far, and we aren't too sure if it's current popularity would last. Suffice to say that the popular dishes fell below expectations, what with better alternatives offered at other cafés (think The Beast's chicken and waffles and The Bravery's pancakes). It's surprising that what most impressed from Clinton St were the dishes least talked about. Maybe the owners weren't wrong after all: stick to the classic dishes and avoid the overly-hyped dishes, and you may just enjoy your experience at Clinton St.
Clinton St Baking Co Singapore
31 Purvis Street
Opens daily from 8am-6pm