SINGAPORE — Growing up is hard. At every age bracket, there's a struggle to overcome, failure to accept, and lessons to learn. Growing up is the kind of thing that never stops—take it from someone who's 37 years old, takes two pills daily for eye health and vertigo and plans his shoe choices around the activities of the day. It doesn't get easy, that much I can tell you.
For restaurants and cafes, the equivalent of growing up probably looks like what The Bravery has done this year. Pack up all memories and remnants of the original location that made you an icon, scout for a fancier, more glamorous mise-en-scene and pray the gamble is not Sisyphean.
I am, of course, simplifying the entire thought process of a significant and strategic decision that is relocation. But what I know for sure is that The Bravery's move comes off the back of ardent supporters of the cafe back when it was at Horne Road, swiftly establishing itself as one of the OGs of the cafe movement that swept the nation back in 2013.
Eight years in food-volatile Singapore is a long time for lessons to be learned, menus finessed, and R&D perfected to the point of almost being faultless (almost, only because nothing is really faultless). So it pains me to say that, after a recent visit, The Bravery is simply not ready for the vibrant and colourful neighbourhood of Amoy Street. They've got on big boy pants three sizes too big; trousers that hang loose, impeding movement, always playing catch up.
What they got right is the decor—an aesthetic embracing of the creative interior stylings of 2021, not unlike neighbours Luna and Nouri. Customers still obsessing on a cohesive pastel-hued Instagram feed will foam at their mouths with these walls, that dramatic chandelier at the second floor at the back that looks like fireflies, a wood-slate menu board with black letterings that seems to be made deliberately hard to read, and oh, those rattan chairs that scream 'I'm so much more on-trend than you plebians.
Sadly, unlike its interiors, the Bravery's menu is stuck in the tried and tested realm of 2013—a time where you can get away with pretty looking plates that care little for flavour or taste. It might pass muster then, which is understandable because what do we know about seasoning back in 2013? But in 2021, it’s egregious.
The Nova Cheese Toast (S$16++) comes with a slice of sourdough toast on the side that requires precision (and an engineering degree) to saw through. Not a gym goer working on getting those guns in shape? Skip this.
In fact, every plate comes with this offending toast—a 2013 staple that is now clearly demode. Thankfully the smoked salmon is easy to like and, cut rather thickly, is a joy to eat. There's a bed of scrambled eggs to the side of this that desperately needs some tender loving care by way of salt. Texturally, it's beautiful, but taste-wise, it's bland.
Also served on a hard sourdough toast is the 'Shrooms Toast (S$16++) with the strangest tasting hummus I've ever had—and I've had many—with an imbalance of too many chickpeas and little to no Tahini. There's also a perplexing heavy-handed treatment of lemon—all in all, not a good look for this hummus adjacent.
Elsewhere, a serious 2013 throwback manifests in the form of the Steak & Eggs (S$23++), which, in all honesty, is striploin done well. It’s tender, well-seasoned, and desperately needs a touch of creativity and outside-the-box thinking to bring it into 2021. It’s nostalgia on crack and not necessarily in a good way. There’s that same sourdough toast in this, too.
Relative to everything else, the Seafood Alfredo (S$20++), while predictable at best, carried with it some semblance of seasoning and hope for culinary creativity. This one is creamy, so wolf it while it’s hot to enjoy the full effect of crustacean oil, seafood brininess, and cream on the palate. Clams are plentiful, and tiger prawns are plump, which is to be expected for a pasta dish at this price.
From the desserts menu, the Pear & Oolong (S$6.90++) held promise but was let down by small shards of Rosemary. I struggled to understand what this was. A cake? A custard with an oolong jelly crown? Is this dessert going through an identity crisis?
But, the biggest dessert let down goes to the Lemon Meringue (S$6.90++) with a base that seems like it needed 20 more minutes in the oven at 180 degrees celsius to achieve a perfectly golden crust. In its current iteration, it’s undercooked and soft, which is wholly uncharacteristic of a lemon meringue pie, which is a waste since the lemon curd was perfectly acceptable—it’s the vessel that’s the problem.
What The Bravery suffers from is a touch too much nostalgia. It desperately needs a drastic rework of its menu to reflect the zeitgeist of food in 2021 without the burden of ideas that once worked back in the good old days at Horne Road. Until such time, I reckon The Bravery is not quite ready for Amoy Street.
Instagram | 50 Amoy St, Singapore 069876
Tue to Thu: 8am – 6pm
Fri to Sun: 8am – 9pm
Balancing the New Normal: