SINGAPORE — "What is this? Where are we?" I asked my fellow food writer, who has requested my royal and esteemed presence at The Brewing Ground. My incredulity stems not from disdain but an inability to have a sense of place. I reckon this happens when I take a Grab down instead of trudging forth on public transport. The latter allows me to properly survey the mise-en-scene and conclude if the restaurant is worth the travel, especially if it’s not within walking distance from the nearest MRT station.
As far as bespoke locale goes, The Brewing Ground ticks all the boxes. It’s situated within the larger compound of The Yards at Joo Chiat Place—or more endearingly known to my mother as Telok Kurau English School—which, according to its website, counts as illustrious alumni Singapore’s Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, and former Malaysian PM, Datuk Hussein Onn.
Today, it’s an enrichment ground and educational superstore, housing tenants such as Extra.Ordinary People that support children and individuals with special needs, and Wushu school, Wufang Singapore. This ground reminds me so much of The Commons at Bangkok that I don’t even care that the nearest MRT is a good 600 metres away. I miss travelling. Sigh.
The cafe aesthetics at The Brewing Ground is unmistakable and unashamed. I am, of course, talking exposed beams painted black, hanging ferns, white walls, slim wood furnishings, soft carpets—everything that would make an Instagram connoisseur giddy with excitement.
In the afternoon I went, the place was packed with diners, casually dressed as Singaporeans are wont to do. The cafe was abuzz with convivial conversations both inside and outside by the green where currently, a handsome gentleman in black tee was walking his pet dog around the cluster of tables before settling down for a sip of latte.
The menu at a cafe such as this is familiar at best, predictable at worst—or so I thought. But it is in the discernment of taste and flavour where The Brewing Ground departs sharply and defiantly from the gaggle of new cafes that seem to sprout all across this island as if it’s 2010 all over again.
It starts with the colourful Avocado and Ricotta Tartine (S$17) served with scrambled eggs (S$5) and thick-cut maple bacon (S$5) that, without a doubt, will bring all the boys around Joo Chiat and the greater East region to The Yard.
What surprises me most with this iteration of a popular cafe staple is the spread of avocado that has been seasoned so generously (not like other places where I wonder if I’m eating grass or fruit) and as boldly as these silken ribbons of scrambled eggs. I am left swooning and begging for more. There's just something about thick-cut bacon that makes a man weak at his knees.
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I also like the Breakfast Burger (S$20++) and fully endorse this decadent choice to the start of the day. My favourite McDonald's Breakfast Wrap can suck it. Sandwiched between Brioche Buns, the choice of meat here is a pork sausage patty, complete with all its fatty and lean parts and seasoned to an inch of its life. It makes you feel all sorts of things. There are also caramelised onions, cheddar, and Ketchup-Mayo, a sauce hyphenate I never knew I needed.
The great thing about this burger is how cohesively everything comes together, not unlike a beautiful poem by my favourite Singaporean poet, Theophilus Kwek. I can dissect and critique the individual elements, but that's wholly unnecessary—the magic here is in the sum of its parts.
Where this equation fell short is with the Crabmeat Tagliatelle (S$26). Every element shines in a way that reflects a careful and meticulous approach to cooking. The pasta is al dente perfection, the crab is briny, chunky, and generous, and the lemon butter presents as light and oh so dainty. But together, it's a mismatch, rendering the plate a tad one-note and in desperate need of some sort of spice to cut through all that citric and a crunch for a textural variant. I promptly asked for some freshly ground black pepper, which helped in some ways, although not enough for us to wipe the plate clean.
As a quintessential cafe staple, the Buttermilk Waffle & Ice Cream (S$11) is perennial. Could there be any other food that better represents Singapore’s cafe culture more than a plate of Buttermilk Waffle? I think not. To all other cafe owners reading this, sure you can make a buttermilk waffle, but can you elevate it the way The Brewing Ground has? It's a recipe and cooking method that somehow makes their waffles incredibly airy, with a soft inside, a distinct crunch outside and a mild sweetness that made me smile. Desserts truly are made of moments like this.
If tomorrow, through some bad luck, we go back into Circuit Breaker, I can retreat home happy and utterly satisfied knowing my last meal was a plate of fabulous waffles. Bravo, The Brewing Ground. Bravo.
Website | 406 Joo Chiat Pl, #01-24 The Yards, Singapore 428084
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