Monday, November 17, 2014

Singapore Food Blog - Café Gavroche

Location: Tanjong Pagar, Central Business District (CBD), Singapore

I have no knowledge of this cafe tucked in Tras Street if not for my friend's recommendation, who in turn heard of it from his friend. He did warn me that the food was exorbitant relative to its meal but patrons usually visited for its ambiance that was famed for trying to duplicate the Parisian atmosphere.

Cafe Gavroche was its name, but it wasn't easy for us to locate it in our fist visit. Instead of a large signage declaring its name to everyone, the cafe was satisfied with a small one that was easily missed. For those returning patrons however, its front would be hard to miss - potted plants flanked its entrance which could easily convinced that you were about to enter another world 14 hours away.

The sign of the cafe is not easily located, but once you recognized the front of the cafe with its potted plants then locating it along Tras Street would be a breeze. The bar is right across the street from this cafe and opens in the evening.

The interior of the cafe was generally sectioned into 3 areas - the back reminiscent of a dining area with kitchen for large groups, the middle where skylight allowed natural light to fill the compound while retaining the comfort of air-conditioners, and the entrance section mainly occupied by the barista's bar. Seatings were mildly limited so we were fortunate to arrive before noon for our brunch as customers started streaming in past 12.

The recommendation about its ambiance was indeed spot on as we found ourselves seated in a Parisian street (although I have never been to Paris, I guessed that is how it looked base on online images). The middle section was the main seating area and was decked out in vibrant French posters. Natural light streaming in from the skylight compounded the romance of indoor streetlamps, and the illusion would be heightened at night as if dining on the street.

Yet the best impression was made at the entrance, where various nostalgic items were laid around. From an old typewriter to a small table fan, most were items seen only in movies set in the early 20th century. Cafe Gavroche is not bringing only Paris to us, but the Paris of decades ago.

Parisian posters


Cafe Gavroche's weekend brunch is only available on, naturally, weekends (their breakfast menu is here). The menu contained slightly different dishes compared to the main dining menu, both of which had most of their dishes retaining their French name. Getting eggs? Look for Oeufs. There were plenty of Oeufs to fulfill everyone's cravings for eggs. Fret not for the French names as the few of us who never learned French still managed to get by the menu. This is Singapore after all, so the menu naturally writes the ingredient and English name of the dish as well; the French name is there to get diners into the mood.

The list of choices was neither exhaustively long nor miserly lacking, but the price was surprising. Surprisingly high, that is. So be forewarned that you will need to break open your wallet for a meal here. You are dining in Paris after all, so consider the savings on the flight ticket and Euro conversion.

Coffee lovers on the table got ourselves a pot of French-brewed black coffee (SGD10) and cappuccino (SGD7), and a pot of TWG Morocco Mint (SGD7) went to the sole non-coffee drinker. I did not inquire the opinion of my friend's pot of joe, but mine was mildly delicious in its foamy way. Apart from the coffees and choices of TWG teas, non-caffeine drinkers could pick their choices from juices, soft drinks and champagnes. Yeap, you could have your champagne breakfast here!

Cafe Gavroche's Cappuccino (SGD7) is a foamy goodness, suitable for those who need the kick of an espresso but not too thick in the taste. A packaged sugar is served with the cup, a surprisingly nice addition that you could dump into the coffee and let it melt slowly while stirring it. 

pot of French-brewed black coffee (SGD10) for my friend. I did not inquire how the brew tasted, but the pot did stood in harmony with the bucket of utensils, just that it looked more Wild West than Parisian. The price was rather exorbitant though for just black coffee despite the prefix "French-brewed".

There were plenty of Oeufs thrown around the menu, so we took our time to pick our choices since all of us were egg lovers. The simpletons could pick from Classic Eggs where eggs were prepared scrambled, boiled, fried or as omelette. We adventurous lot got ourselves some Specialties, which earned thumb ups from us with the Oeufs Benedict (SGD22) and Smoked Salmon Oeufs Benedict (SGD25). There were other from the list which we did not try, like Viennioseries (breads) with its fill of brioches and croissants, sandwiches, and for the heavy eaters, Planches.


Do not be fooled by the seemingly small portion as it fulfilled its purpose of filling the tummy just fine. You could judge the size of each portion relative to each other. Notice that the cup of cappuccino is not as small as the previous photo showed.

Oeufs Benedict (SGD22) is one of the items listed under their specialties, and I do recommend trying it out. Creamy Hollandaise sauce is poured onto poached egg served on bacon and brioche, with sides of sauteed potatoes, and pork and chicken sausages. Not sure what is the correct way or eating it so I tried both ways - by taking it up and bite through it, and sliced through with fork and knife like a gentleman. I think I preferred the former way, especially with the crunch of the bacon upon soft brioche even though the oozing yolk causes quite a satisfied mess.

Smoked Salmon Oeufs Benedict (SGD25) is a close sibling of Oeufs Benedict, but with salmon in the place of bacon. As satisfying as its sibling if you ask me.

Not as special as the other two, Omelette (SGD17), served with pork and chicken sausages and sauteed potatoes, is suitable for the risk free diner. Comes with a choice topping of cheese, mushrooms, ham or onion, it is a plain but very tasty dish of egg. Slicing apart the golden soft exterior will reveal a creamy interior oozing wafts of fragrance. Still, it is rather expensive to have an omelette at that price.



To the back of the cafe is a room for large groups, decked out to look like a traditional kitchen cum dining area. I do not know whether this is how a traditional Parisian but I do like how it felt.

The price tag for dining in a Parisian environment in Singapore is, as mentioned in the beginning, high. For the three of us, with a plate and a cup for each, it costed close to a whooping SGD100 (!!) inclusive of taxes. The environment and atmosphere, as well as the dishes, are all well worth the price though I would chalk this up as a locale for celebrations rather than for usual visit. At least that is so for a salaried worker with limited budget like mine.

Environment:         A cafe with Parisian atmosphere in city center
Suitable for:            more suitable to occasional visits and celebrations
Food score:
Food:        4.0/5.0
Service:    4.0/5.0
Value:       3.5/5.0
Ambient:  5.0/5.0

Operating hours:   (Tue - Fri) 12.00 p.m. - 12.00 a.m. (food available from 12pm to 2.30pm, 6pm til 10.30pm)
                                        (Sat)  10.30 a.m. - 12.00 a.m. (weekend brunch 10.30 a.m. - 2.00 p.m.)
                                        (Sun) 10.30 a.m. - 2.00 p.m. (weekend brunch 10.30 a.m. - 2.00 p.m.)
Directions:                Disembark at Tanjong Pagar MRT and 

Website:                    Official homepage of Cafe and Bar Gavroche and Facebook page
Contact:                    +65 - 6225 4869 (phone)
Address:                    69 Tras Street, Singapore 079005.

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