The Reading Room: Honesty is the best policy

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dumbfounded, adj

"And still, for all the jealousy, all the doubt, sometimes I will be struck with a kind of awe that we're together. That someone like me could find someone like you --- it renders me wordless. Because surely words could conspire against such luck, would protest the unlikelihood of such a turn of events.

I didn't tell any of my friends about our first date. I waited until after the second, because I wanted to make sure it was real. I wouldn't believe it had happened until it had happened again. Then, later on, I would be overwhelmed by the evidence, by all the lines connecting you to me, and us to love."

David Levithan - The Lover's Dictionary

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Today's write-up is about The Reading Room at Bukit Pasoh road, hence the not-so-short quote from one of favourite recent reads. I digress. Such a sublime book to digest though. But if its books you're looking for and a comfy couch to snuggle in with a fresh cup of brewed coffee, then, this place might just be your cup of tea.


Stowed away on the quiet streets of Bukit Pasoh Road, just next to the trendier, more bustling Keong Saik street of parallel characteristics; sits The Reading Room cafe. 

The beaming pride and joy of the cafe lines the establishments from wall to wall. It's shelves packed to the brim with books of different genre and category (some collected by the owner himself while others spawning from generous donations). Each one praying to spill its tales to an unsuspecting cafe go-er at arms length. If you spot plane ticket stubs or name cards jutting out from the top of books, don't be alarmed, and I implore you not to switch the positions of these books; painstakingly tucked away by regulars currently coddling over their specific reads with every return visit.

Here in Singapore, we are no strangers to the concept of cafe by day and bar by night. But we fail to realise that this is no new concept, in fact, it has been adopted by The Reading Room for the last two years now, the transition, flawless, it's laid-back living room settings camouflaging the existence of seams between day and night even. Here, patrons are encouraged to hang one's hat up, dwell and rest within the oasis of books. Reading is optional, one can also exploit the free wifi and enjoy the lackadaisical afternoon.

The lovechild of owner Gino Abate, The Reading Room originated from his passion for entertaining the masses. Down-to-earth with a slight disgruntlement towards the level of respect for food here locally, it was easy to understand his vision for his cafe. "Good, honest food. Nothing fancy, but we do try to make sure that everyone leaves having enjoyed a good hearty meal."


In a nutshell, it was all comfort food, everything made to order, from scratch; a logic that resonated very well with me. 


I had the TRR's Aussie Burger with the Lot ($22.80) -- sans the grilled pineapple cause it reminds me of the Hawaiian pizza which I have hold a great amount of animosity towards. A 180g beef patty is topped with sweet onion chutney, fried egg, lettuce, onion, tomato, tomato sauce, homemade mayo and bacon; a respectable burger with all the expected bits of the formula in there, however the fireworks didn't light up with this rendition. The beef patty needing that little bit more fat ratio injected, it's sticky innards falling a little on the mushy side; egg as binder perhaps? It's evident that TRR lavishes care on the burgers though with evenly melted cheese and a good dash of fresh ground black pepper, the sauces diligently made from scratch.


Desserts are a modest rosters of classics. The Crumble Cheesecake sourced from Gobi Desserts, an absolute pleasure to demolish, it's sweet, slightly savoury crumb topping complimenting the creamy innards of the cheesecake. Shame about the soggy base, otherwise, a real tight effort with the balance of flavors. Another solid discovery is the Homemade Tiramisu, despite it's non-alcoholic nature which I find to be a bore, the final concoction churns out hits of deliciousness percolated by intense hits of coffee and charitable amount of mascarpone cheese unruffled by the distraction of whipped cream. It's no wonder my host was beaming from ear to ear as I tucked in with my spoon unabashedly.


The Reading Room has a facade that is so unassuming, you can mistake the restaurant for a residence, which is exactly the feel the owner is trying to convey. Unlike the usual hipster haunts nowadays, this is the place you would go to stare into space and not to be seen by others. A hidden gem for the socially inept such as I am.

Note that TRR has extended operating hours and is now opening its shutters from 8am onwards on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On top of that, an all-day-breakfast menu will be on offer on the weekends as well! Stay tuned for more daily specials on their Facebook page. Be warned that this could be severely distracting at work.


Fundamentally flawed dined as a guest of TRR, in the course of which she was absolutely smitten by the place itself. period. A major thanks to Jake for sharing the calories of that yummilicious tiramisu with me.

The Reading Room
19 Bukit Pasoh Road
Singapore
T: 6220 9019

{Wordless Wednesdays}: Marmalade Pantry & some Mexican Magic

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It was off to Marmalade Pantry for a quick weekday lunch. 

{Wordless Wednesdays} means less talk.. so I'll try to curb the inner banter,  here was the mediocre  Spicy Crabmeat Linguine ($25) with pine nuts, tomatoes and chilli followed by a rather uninspired Basque Chicken  ($28) ,with capsicum, tomato and garlic potatoes; the tomatoes could have used a little more time in the blanch before roasting, the starch reducing to a little chalky consistency. Overall good meal for that quick fix but totally not worth its hefty price tag. Thank goodness for the Entertainer app that reduced our bill to a certain easier to swallow fee of $32 for 2.

The Marmalade Pantry
Unit 03-22 ION Orchard
2 Orchard Turn 
S(238801)
T: +65 6734 2700

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Following our disappointing meal that day, we adjourned to Cha Cha Cha at Holland Village for some spirit lifting opportunities at dinner time.

Seeking comfort in our Margaritas ($40 for a pitcher), Chimichangas deep fried to a titillating golden brown and saucy sour cream with every cheesy bite of crackin' shredded beef filled Quesadilla ($13.50). This was the Mexican food lover's idea of paradise.

There and then... everything just felt better. Must have been that Mexican grilled cheese sandwich and its magic ways...




Cha Cha Cha Mexican Restaurant
32 Lorong Mambong
Holland Village
Singapore (277690)
T: 64621650

On The Table: Cafe on the Circle

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It was a dime in a dozen. The dim light-bulbs straddling the wires knotted over the ceilings, representing the slight glimmer of hope in the eyes of an owner anticipating raging queues and long coffee ticket orders on a weekend morning. Despite it's lack of individualism, it was instant infatuation for me.

Reasons being its space, unclustered tables with roomy spaces for manevuering around (without the awkward shifting and kicking of chair legs involved); simplicity - a stripped down garage look is adopted here with grey walls and concrete floors which prove condusive for a bit of the weekend wind-down. 

On The Table comes by way of the successful folks of Lola's cafe in Kovan who have decided to spread their feathers out just a little further to the sleepy neighborhood of Pasir Panjang. With little, or rather no direct competitors within a 1km radius, the cafe sets out to create a storm (evident from the larger than life space indented) and pack in the crowds who are itching for that hit of caffeine.



Things are kept simple here. Coffee from Dutch Colony is supported by a short and sweet cafe menu with your usual suspects and  few surprising finds here and there. The more substantial mains like the Swimmer Crab Linguine ($16) and the Confit of Duck Leg ($18) catches my attention but my Aussie depraved soul cried out for a bit of brunch fare.

But first, coffee for the soul. My Latte ($5) arrives at the table with picture perfect intention. Finally an outstanding female barista who didn't have to resort to putting heart lattes in my cup to win my favor. *giggles*. However, the coffee recieved lukewarm responses around the table, everyone claiming to lean towards the nuttier, robust roasts over the higher acidity content normally found in Dutch Colony's stash. It's all subjective of course.


The food can't be faulted though. The Big One ($16.00) pulling its weight in quantity yet not compromising on quality as well. Pork sausage, honey glazed bacon, ham, baked portabello, mixed salad and scrambled eggs and toasted brioche. It might sound like a bit of work to get though, but the melange of fresh textures and excellent produce ensures that it all gets polished down rather easily. All in sync with the melodic croonings in the background and the lively chatter of good weekend companionship.


My Ultimte Croissant ($13.00) was yet again a usual calorie suspect done right and was highly culpable this time without signs of cloying richness in the overall composition.. Below its crispy half croissant cap grilled with some sort of herb butter spread, sits honey glazed bacon, ham, mayo, honey, scrambled eggs and melted cheddar cheese.... they don't call it "ultimate' for nothing... Laced with a dash of furikake for the slight savoury crunch, this was a thorough joy to work though and I took to it like a fat kid to cake. 




And then, there were waffles. Deftly executed with a not so dainty scoop of Salted Caramel Ice Cream over the top ($8.00), the crisp honeycombed indented pastry flaunts a texture that is neither cloyingly thick and gummy nor too brittle and crisp and has the right level of egginess. The homemade ice cream building a flutter of anticipation with its smoky note of caramelization, yet beckons to be pushed a little more in the savoury spectrum. Still, a reasonably priced waffle combination with approachable portion sizes that doesn't make one feel piggish prior to placing the orders.



Feeling up for a little game of origami? (or amazing engineering feat as my cousin claims it to be), try folding their paper napkins into heart shapes.

Lesson of the day: "Start what you love"

Nothing quite like a bit of inspiration for the weekends.



On the table is a cafe that offers up a treat of hidden gems. Definitely my new go-to cafe in the region.

[Note: OTT doesn't charge service charge nor GST so do go generous on your tips!]

On the Table
118 Pasir Panjang Road
Singapore 118541
Opening Hours: 8am-10pm (tues-fri)
10am-10pm (weekends)

[City Square Mall Food Festival 2014]: Paddington House of Pancakes

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For those of you who have read the title with a blank stare, City Square Mall is a shopping complex straddling the junction of Serangoon and Kitchener Roads, with direct access to Farrer Park MRT station, this mall hopes to attract both local and tourist shoppers alike. 

With over 700,000 sq ft of gross retail space, spread over five retail levels, it is home to about 200 tenants that cater to the lifestyle needs of today's discerning mid-income families. From 4 July to 3 Aug, City Square Mall has lined up a selection of great snacks and meal offerings for friends and families and I had the fortune of following a food trail that lead me from one such food haven to another.

Spacious and airy on the second level of City Square Mall is Paddington House of Pancakes. To say that Paddington House only does pancakes in a derogatory tone is to undermine the highlights of this establishment. Yes, so its true that they only do pancakes.. but with 100 different sorts from around the globe to fill out the pages of its menu; I can assure you that there would be lack of boredom even with a continuous daily dining ritual at this outlet.


To help you navigate the super extensive menu, let's break it down. Firstly dishes are separated into starters, savoury pancakes and desserts. The savouries are then sub-divided into the different countries of origins; flapjacks from America, pannekoek from Holland, crepes and galettes from France and Blintzes and blinis from Russia.

We kicked off with drinks, the array of tall glasses dressed in bright colors bowling us over with a residing fear of sugar overdose. Yet, some of these drinks boast some really healthy qualities that would help to balance out the heaviness of the meal ahead. Take for example the Perky Lemon and Mint Sparkler ($5/gls & $17/jug), this spritzer edges further into fresh ground using lemon, mint and soda to cleanse the palate and eliminate perspiration threats; the Immune Zone ( $7) is a refreshing mix of peach, apple, honeydew and cranberry that suffers a bit of unflattering browning from the oxidation of it's natural contents, no complaints there since what you get is essentially a fresh squeezed tumbler of fruits. My favourite however would have to be the Kiwi and Melon Yogurt ripple ($7) which may appear a bit off-putting at first with its neon green spirals rounded off with coagulated bits of white rings, but slurp it all in one solid 'pulling-up' manoeuvre with your straw and you get a collision of sweet and sour creamy sensation all at once.


Cheesy Wedges & Fries ($8), Belgium style with grilled cheddar, crispy turkey bacon bits, basil and tangy mayonnaise. This was a simple snack done right, the bowl arrives with a heaping pile of piping hot fries and wedges; good for the indecisive or table of party-goers with varying taste. The rich pool of cheese sauce on the side, a welcome addition for some cheeky dipping.


One of the more memorable (midst the food comatose) main dishes we got to sample that night include the Classic Buckleberry, blueberry pancakes served with a good measure of soft cream cheese in the center. Scrambled eggs with a healthy dose of diced greens add color the plate. We weren't bowled over by the turkey bacon and mushrooms on the side and opted instead to fill up on the fluffy pancakes that were humbly exquisite with a slathering of maple syrup. 


Tuscany ($13) crepes with eggplant, grilled zucchini, olives, peppers, mixed mushrooms, mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce. Reads like a winner but the raw eggplant slices within threw it off its game a little. A good option for the vegetarians.


Paddington House of Pancakes thrive on their endearing selection of desserts, each representing an exclamation point in the entirety of the food trail. The Strawberry New York Cheesecake ($8) pulls out all the stops with its drool-worthy trifle like presentation. Each layer a hidden secret of contrasting textures, the fresh whipped cream, vivacious strawberries, tangy cream cheese mousse, digestive crumb and dollar pancakes making for a familiar yet unique combination that keeps you going back for more.


Dollar Pancakes ($12) was yet again another novel concept for those who can't seem to get enough of their pancakes. A bowl chock full of mini sized pancakes, topped off with ice cream and a myriad of wildly coloured fondue sauces for dipping. Imagine that...

Note: Paddington House of Pancakes has also recently introduced new fondue flavors, chocolate, butterscotch, salted butter caramel, red velvet and white chocolate; all of which I found strangely commendable despite their alarmingly shocking colours.


Frankly though, my favourite dish of the night appeared the last belly-bursting moment, the Apple Fritters ($13) served with strawberries, raisins and banana sorbet. This was truly expressive cooking, exploring shades of flavor more watercolour than acrylic. Judicious with sugar, the crisp apple fritters, were a delight to eat with the contrasting frigidity of the accompanying ice cream. My kryptonite.


The food trail at City Square Mall also brought us to Momiji Japanese Buffet Restaurant on the 5th level of the complex. The 'eat all you can' concept at this restaurant makes it a popular choice among-st the ravenous, the young and restless and the plain greedy. Since I was neither, I spent most of my time wandering the aisles and admiring the extensive selection on offer. 

Good news for the drinkers is the Happy hour from 6 30pm to 7 30pm daily that sees a free flow of Sapporo beer. So drink your fill!



Some of the highlights for me would have to be the Sushi and sashimi that seemed highly popular hence the continuous stash of fresh goodies greeting the counters more frequently than some other items. Give the cooked items a miss as most of them appear a little dehydrated from the long periods of exposure under the heat lamps. And don't forget the haagen daaz ice cream for sweet endings!

Lunch buffet prices are set at $24.80++ on weekdays and $29.80++ on weekends and Public holidays whilst dinner ranges from $37.80++ to $39.80++.

For the month of July, various outlets in City Square Mall have organised special foodie deals for their patrons; for example the 1-for-1 Signature Beef noodles at Lai Lai Taiwan Casual Dining or the Song Fish head for only $9 at Paradise Inn! Terms and conditions do apply though so click on the banner to find out more! 


Fundamentally Flawed dined as a guest of Paddington House of Pancakes & Momiji Japanese Buffet Restaurant, opinions are however strictly her own. A major thanks to Deborah of SPRG for the warm invite and intimate hosting session.

Paddington House of Pancakes
#02-35/36 City Square Mall
180 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208529

Momiji Japanese Buffet Restaurant
#05-05/06 City Square Mall
180 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208529

{The Entertainer App}: Roundhouse Pizza, Bar & Grill

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Roundhouse marks the next step in local celebrity Vernetta Lopez's (best known for starring as the amicable Denise in local sitcom 'Under One Roof') relentless pursuit of being an all rounder. With accolades of radio DJ, actress and wedding planner under her belt, she now seeks to delve into the cut-throat food and beverage business with her life partner Wayne Gladwin. The result, Roundhouse, a sprawling 250 seater eatery in the laid back location of the former turf club stables. At this homey establishment, lots of warm wood furnishings and plenty of natural lighting makes this space immediately inviting (avoid sitting indoors as it gets a bit dodgy with the lighting circumstance); kids run around the concrete enclaves, spilling giggles and bits of their uninhibited happiness in their path. 

The menu at the Roundhouse runs on a slightly boring tangent, offering up safe options spanning from pizzas to pasta and then larger mains such as whole sea bass and lamb shank. With a lack of identity, it's hard to place a finger on a certain item to order; clue, look out for their specials for a helping hand. Take for example the Sunday Roast that sees their premium Angus Roast Ribeye with sides and a free flow of salad bar ($49++ for free flow of soft drinks and juices/ $99++ with free flow sparkling wine, draught beer, bloody mary). Talk about good deals...

Our party of 8 settled for a good mix of starters, brunch items as well as pizzas to share. We started off with the Spicy Grilled Beef Salad ($17) and the Grilled Portobello Mushroom ($18) with silken tofu, tomato concasse and salad. The interesting sounding grilled beef salad produced a large shallow spread of tender, chargrilled beef slices slathered with a marinade capturing the essence of good ole' days in the sun in Thailand, lying seductively on a bed of mixed greens. The latter is another recommended dish for the ladies who want something a little healthier but still with a substantial body of flavor. What ultimately differentiate the Roundhouse from the competition is the smokiness and perfect execution of its grilled items, turn to this category of dishes for the win.


The Angus Beef Bolognese Spaghetti ($17) is a hearty bowl of pasta with a whopping lathering of bolognese sauce, the juicy and flavorful beef pleasing the picky taste buds around the table.

Another bang for buck item on the brunch menu is the Roundhouse Breakfast ($18) featuring 2 sunny side up eggs, back bacon, cumberland sausage, roast potatoes, tomato confit, sauteed mushrooms, baked beans and toast. Definitely a one-plate filler for the ravenous.

I recommend the Wild Mushroom Soup ($12) scented with herb oil, this dish does not skimp on ingredients, delivering largely on flavor and texture with the kitchen's generous use of wild mushrooms, enriched only by the slightest touch of cream. No truffle oil here... thank goodness.

Then, there were pizzas. 

You do not want to miss these. 


From a tight menu of 12 pizzas, we chose the Loco Lopez ($24) and the Carnivore ($24), both which hit the pizza 'G-spot' with such force that I was bewildered and very much left a Roundhouse ambassador afterwards. The feisty Loco Lopez was all crisp edged, studded with melted cheddar, capers, beef salami,jalapeno and smoking hot chilli padi, addictive and so worth stabbing your cousins for over the last piece. The Carnivore consisting of bacon, salami, honey baked ham and pepperoni would be your classic meatlovers except that the Roundhouse went the extra mile and did something novel and delicious with it.

Some of the best pizzas I've had in Singapore thus far. And what's better than being able to use the Entertainer 1-for-1 main here? We ended up being able to pocket $60 from the savings. Hurray.

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Well, if you haven't heard, I've got a special promotion for my readers where you can now purchase the Entertainer 1 month app for just $15 (U.P. $19) if you simply use my promo code 'fundamentallyflawed' with your purchase through the app store or at http://www.theentertainerme.com/trysgfor19/ . Read more details over here!

What are you waiting for?



RoundHouse - Pizza, Bar & Grill
100 Turf Club Road
Singapore 287992
Tel: 6466 0966