New to the Outram Park neighbourhood, The Populus Coffee & Food Co. recently opened to much hype, situated along the same stretch as other prominent names in the cafe scene such as The Lokal and The Daily Roundup Cafe.
Unlike most cafes which have gone more bright and minimalist in decor, The Populus Coffee & Food Co. brings back just a little industrial design element into the interior of the cafe, featuring a dimmer lighting, black and wood walls with light gold and bronze accents running throughout the lights, flooring and counter of the cafe. This results in a design that is not too rugged, but refined and chic yet still has a little rawness within. We have visited The Populus Coffee & Food Co. during their soft launch opening which spanned for two weeks, and the soft launch menu features a few brunch dishes, some grain bowls and a small selection of sandwiches, while Sundaes make up for the desserts here. As The Populs Coffee & Food Co is owned by the same folks behind Two Degrees North Coffee Co., coffee here is brewed using blends from Two Degrees North Coffee Co.
(Pork Belly Sandwich)
We have visited this place three times during the soft launch opening, but we only tried the all-day brunch menu items on the third visit. Amongst the other brunch dishes that they have to offer, the Pork Belly Sandwich is one that may not stand out to most, but it is one of the items that would fancy those who might want simpler fare. Coming with Roasted Tom-Yum Pork Belly, Daikon and Carrot Pickles, Garlic Mayo, Fresh Coriander and Green Chili sandwiched in between Ciabatta, this was a really generous portion. Even though the pork belly was served in thin slices, the flavour remains strong throughout as the portion of pork was so generous, and you could actually feel the meat in the mouth; crisp roasted skin with savoury, marinated meat. In fact, this sandwich was pretty much like their own iteration of the Vietnamese Bahn Mi, which sees similar components used especially the Daikon and Carrot pickles which were fresh, cruncny and gave that juicy tang to the entire sandwich.
(Lemon & White Chocolate Sundae)
On our first visit, we had the Lemon & White Chocolate Sundae. The sundaes here are served in a style similar to plated desserts; soft-serve with a play of textures and various flavours; this one came with Tahitian Soft-Serve, Fresh Lemon Jelly, White Chocolate Sauce, Meringue Kisses, Mint Leaves, White Chocolate Crumb, Cornflake Crumble and Citron Mascarpone. This was a pretty tropical flavour that is suitable for those who prefer their desserts to come with a tinge of tartness; the Fresh Lemon Jelly and Citron Mascarpone gave enough zing for the dessert that gives it dimension from the subtle sweetness of the milk and creamy Tahitian soft-serve. Popping candy is also included as a surprise within; gives it a popping sensation in the mouth with every bite. A great dessert to have, especially since it is able to cleanse the appetite from all the savoury items here.
(Dark Chocolate Sundae)
On a separate unplanned visit, we also tried the Dark Chocolate Sundae. Similar to the Lemom & White Chocolate Sundae, this one sees a combination of Dark Chocolate Ice Cream, Passionfruit Curd, Raspberry Purée, Hazelnut Crumb, Honeycomb, Chocolate Crumb and Whipped Cream. While still being rather stellar, this feels a little bit repetitive when one have had the Lemon & White Chocolate Sundae before perhaps due to the passionfruit curd which injects almost the same zing to the dark chocolate soft-serve. What really blew us off was the quality of the dark chocolate soft-serve, very dark, rich and thick; so rich it was almost akin to a cold, melted chocolate. The hazelnut crumbs and walnut crumbs adds a complimenting nutty crunch to the dessert, while the cake bits, rapsberry puree and whipped cream does seem to be replicating flavours of a Blackforest dessert somehow.
(Cold Drip Coffee)
Coffee is brewed from blends by Two Degrees North Coffee Co.; the Cold Drip Coffee I have had from my first visit used beans from Rwanda. This was pretty impressive; the fruity body tasted pretty bright, but comes clean without any aftertaste and was pretty smooth; definitely good for a mid-day perk me up!
Despite being in its soft launch phase, The Populus Coffee & Food Co. has shown quality in the grub that they serve, as well as proving their strength in their specialty in coffee. You could tell that the people behind the cafe are passionate about their craft, be it coffee and food, and you could feel the large amount of effort being placed in the brand itself; from the decor down to the food and drinks in the menu items to bring what they believe is best for their customers yet being down-to-earth, humble and honest at the same time. On the opening day, The Populus Coffee & Co. had lived up to its name, and I am pretty sure it would even in the future as time passes. I had been back, and I would still be back; the official launch would see the full menu being launched and I am definitely excited about it; would definitely check them out yet again to see what they have to offer!
The Populus Coffee & Food Co.
146 Neil Road