Brunch; what an absolutely boring word. I remember when “brunch” use to literally mean “breakfast + lunch”, representing that odd meal of the day that didn’t really quite fit in either categories. Now it seems to be the word for describing casual eateries: be it cafés, dim sum restaurants, or even messy hawker fare, “brunch” seems to cover it all.
I’m gagging as I’m typing the title of this review, cause while I’d love to use a better description for this meal SEO says “No, stick to the status quo”. So I guess I’d settle for throwing in an adverb, for it is essential to distinguish our meal at Fat Lulu’s from dozens of others on this little island — as intended by its owners.
Fat Lulu’s opened at the close of Five & Dime, when owners decided that their first café was starting to lose traction in Singapore’s overwhelming café scene. This Asian BBQ outfit was their attempt at bringing us something fresh. But first, on to ‘brunch’.
Long Black (S$5++) Latte (S$6++)
On most days I’d start this weekly occasion with a cuppa or two. I found Fat Lulu’s blend too acidic and not bold enough for my preference, but if you simply have to start your day with coffee then this’d do. Otherwise, their flavoured teas make a pretty good breakfast drink!
Lulu’s Iced Orange Tea (S$6++) — Selected Taiwan assam tea leaves, with fresh orange juice
If you’re looking at ordering as many items as we usually do (context: we ate all of these in two visits), then have a glass or two of Lulu’s palate cleansing orange tea. It’s light, refreshing, with just enough orange to perk us up and a mellow underlying tea fragrance — definitely great to start a meal with.
Bacon and Eggs (S$22++) — Thick cut slab bacon, scrambled eggs, served with garlic sour cream on toast
A tad pricey for the usual bacon and eggs, but then again this ain’t your usual bacon ’n eggs. A sizeable slab of bacon, glistening with an enticing maple syrup glaze and glorious crosshatch marks, this is hands-down the best bacon and eggs brekkie I’ve ever had. Sure, “best” is a hefty title to award; but complete with the creamy scramble, juicy cherry tomatoes, and well-toasted homemade bread (stellar on their own) slathered with garlic sour cream, it’ll be sheer injustice to say any less of this dish.
Croque Tambi (S$18++) — Curried omelette, smoked mozzarella, sriracha, homemade ciabatta, mayo, cucumber and pineapple raita
In the slightest of chance you aren’t a fan of bacon — we’ll address that blasphemy later — Fat Lulu’s Croque Tambi makes an equally good savoury option. It’s name alone should give you an idea of what to expect: colloquially meaning “little brother” in Tamil, this warm and hearty Indian-inspired dish is definitely one you’d whip up for your loved ones. It’s uncannily like our local otak, just hit up a notch with slices of orgasmic smoked mozzarella and fantastic homemade ciabatta. I thought the play of flavours was perfect without the extra wiggles of mayo, which really just detracts from it all, so I may just request to leave it out the next time I’m there.
El Burger (S$22++) — Grass-fed beef patty, cheddar, avocado, tortilla and fries
When burgers make a sole appearance on café menus, they rarely stray from the classic of plain ol’ patties, cheese, and maybe pickles. Fat Lulu’s El Burger isn’t one of those. With an obvious disdain for rules, the El Burger comes generously spread with lots of mashed avocado, lending a creamy texture that’s not cloying and overwhelming, as well as a flavour that’s seemingly Mediterranean, yet not exactly that either. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but with it’s juicy and perfectly medium patty, melted cheese, and them fantastic buns, it’s definitely one of the most memorable café burgers I’ve had.
Lamb Meatballs (S$23++) — Tomato sauce, fava beans, soft eggs, papadum
What really surprised me though, was this humble dish of meatballs. The idea’s simple: moist and tender lamb meatballs, doused in a plain tomato sauce, with lashings of tangy yogurt and a creamy soft-cooked egg. But throw in mashed fave beans that taste deceptively like guacamole, shredded fresh basil leaves, crunchy papadum, and their well-buttered well-toasted homemade sourdough, and what you get is beyond ordinary. Absolutely spectacular, if I may say.
Fried Chicken with Pancakes (S$22++) — Homemade sweet chilli sauce, coriander, and apple coleslaw
As full of praises as I am with those other dishes, my heart was stolen by this one at first bite. If you like dishes to be more mellow, balanced, and complementary, this isn’t it. Every component was bold, intense, and literally fights for your attention. Crisp fried chicken, well-seasoned and super tasty; chilli sauce that’s tangy, spicy, and sweet at once; and an apple coleslaw that’s crunchy, creamy, and aggressively sweetened. It’s an absolute fireworks of flavours and textures, or a war zone depending on how you see it, and it’s unabashedly my favourite dish from their brunch menu.
Pancakes and Friends (S$16++) — Cream cheese chantilly cream, raspberry and coconut crumbs
Meet the daintier cousin of Fat Lulu’s pancakes: a stack of two pancakes, layered with a delicate cream cheese chantilly cream that screams royalty in texture but absolutely criminal in flavour, generously finished with coarsely blended frozen raspberries and crunchy coconut crumbs. It’s tangy and sweet, creamy and icy, crunchy and fluffy: all the polars that work together in perfect harmony. Only peeve I had was with the slushy-like frozen raspberries that gave my sensitive teeth quite the scare. A little lesser of that and all is fine. Calories be damned, do yourself a favour and end your meal with an order of pancakes.
Chocolate Banana French Toast (S$16++) — Peanut butter, chocolate ice cream, caramelised bananas
If you’re feeling like French toast that day, don’t — have the pancakes instead. The foolproof combination of chocolate, bananas and peanut butter may seem enticing, but the resulting dessert is less exciting than it sounds. The best of the lot were the caramelised bananas and chocolate ice cream, which still failed to uplift the dry slices of bread and lacklustre crumble. It’s definitely not a terrible dish don’t get me wrong, but I’d much rather expand my waistline shoving fantastic pancakes into my face.
Usimarit (S$14++) — Mascarpone panna cotta, kalua granita
This is really “Tiramisu” spelt backward, which kinda explains the marscapone and kalua components in this plated dessert. Say tiramisu and I’d think a luscious, creamy, homely and comforting dessert; perhaps that’s why this dessert fell shy of expectations. The panna cotta wasn’t particularly creamy (it failed the wobble test), the granita tasted like a one-dimensional iced kopi-o, and the lady fingers weren’t moist enough. A spin on a classic this may be, but Fat Lulu’s spruced up take was more akin to a light coffee dessert than a rich after-meal treat.
Sure their desserts may be a wee letdown — odd seeing how they’re a “dessert bar” — but with every other item in their menu ticking all the right boxes in my book, Fat Lulu’s has won a permanent spot in my heart. It’s one of those places you can go to, close your eyes and play tic-tac-toe with the menu, and still leave utterly satisfied and completely happy. Honestly I’ve not had that many hits in a single menu in such a long time, so it’s with immense pleasure that I’m calling them my favourite ‘brunch’ place of late.
Fat Lulu’s Kitchen & Dessert Bar
297 River Valley Road
Sundays to Thursdays: 6pm-11pm
Fridays & Saturdays: 6pm till late