The closure of Artistry had been a piece of sad news for the cafe-hopping community, considering how Artistry was one of the pioneers of the local cafe scene especially in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood and an active supporter to the local arts scene. Artistry was also a place that holds a lot of memories for us here at jiaksimipng; from our very first write-up, to celebrating our first Christmas with the community of Burpple Tastemakers as well as a media tasting session for their new menu also together with the Burpple Tastemakers, and Madam Tan’s Weekend Brunch Takeover with Chef Shen Tan, it was definitely sad to see it go into cafe-hopping history.
It’s May 2018; around two months after Artistry had ended operations at Jalan Pinang. Say hello to Earlybird, which takes over the former space of where Artistry used to occupy; a new cafe to the local F&B scene that is run by the same folks behind Revelry at Lorong Kilat at Bukit Timah which used to specialise in serving up both sweet and savoury waffles ever since their inception. Earlybird’s decor seems largely similar to what used to be Artistry, using an identical layout that was used by its previous tenant. That being said, the space does look spruced up with new furniture, a fresh coat of new paint and other details that makes the space feel familiar yet refreshing at the same time; from the bright green furnishings to the white walls and the bird mural located at the end of the shop, Earlybird carries its own distinct character despite sharing similarities to Artistry. We visited Earlybird during its soft launch period, where they were serving a limited variety of their menu; the menu carries items such as hotcakes, brunch fare as well as pasta, alongside some small bites, sweet hotcakes, and cakes. Coffee is being brewed using a blend roasted by Allpress Espresso, while other options such as tea and milkshakes are also available.
(Crispy Garlic Wings)
Going for one of the sides available on their menu, we went for the Crispy Garlic Wings. These were juicy chicken wings that were encased in a crisp, golden brown batter; the flesh being all considerable tender and succulent; a good item to share across the table.
(Chicken & Pancakes)
Ordering a main for a person, our first choice of the main was the Chicken & Pancakes; this was essentially their twist to the Southern classic of Chicken & Waffle, where fried chicken comes with house-made buttermilk pancakes and a chili maple sauce for this variant. While the dish was largely satisfying with crepe-thin pancakes and large portions of fried chicken which makes it pretty good for sharing, we thought that the dish could have been improved if the buttermilk pancakes could be slightly more well-made. While we liked how the buttermilk pancakes come with a distinct crispness and an alluring buttermilk aroma, the pancakes also carried a slight hint of alkaline flavour; possibly from the use of baking soda which was mildly detectable. That being said, the chili maple sauce does help to take some of that unpleasant aftertaste away; dabbing the pancake to the chili maple sauce, the sweetness of the maple sauce compliments that buttery flavour just like good ol’ pancakes that we are all very familiar with. The spiciness seems to come from the chili flakes, which could have been more evenly scattered to create a more balanced flavour overall. Fried chicken came all chunky, tender and succulent; well-seasoned and carried a savoury flavour that is pretty tasty and easily becoming the highlight of the entire dish.
(Tom Yum Prawn Pasta)
We also had the Tom Yum Prawn Pasta; the version here comes with linguine tossed with a tomato-based sauce that is infused with a Tom Yum gravy while also coming with prawns. The linguine was done al-dente, while the tomato-based sauce comes with a tinge of zippiness that is signature to the flavours of Tom Yum while providing a light kick of spiciness; the pasta sauce also carries a hint of lemongrass that we found to be pretty refreshing, whilst also coming with lots of onions as well for a crunch. A decent rendition of the Tom Yum Pasta that is commonly found in cafes lately.
Going for a sweet item listed in the “Sweets” section of the menu, our choice was the Coco Espresso; a house-made hotcake that is served with coconut ice-cream, coffee jelly, desiccated coconut and Gula Melaka. An item that replicates the trendy coconut-infused coffee/espresso beverage that had started to make its rounds in the local cafe scene a while ago, it infuses the item together with the ever-photogenic hotcake to be a dessert item. The availability of hotcakes at Early Bird Cafe is an interesting move; could be somehow seen as an ode to the past considering Artistry did use to offer two hotcakes on their menu as well; namely, the BRB Hotcake as well as the Ondeh-Ondeh Hotcake. Earlybird’s variant of the hotcake is more of a fluffy cake that had been soaked with Gula Melaka at the bottom for a slight hint of sweetness; while the ice-cream and desiccated coconut helps to add a light, refreshing flavour to the item, we felt the sour-ish coffee jelly held a rather odd flavour contrast to the entire dish that did not really gel up. Perhaps the folks at Earlybird could look into changing the coffee used for the coffee jelly, using a blend that carries an earthier or nutty flavour rather than one that is fruity and mildly acidic; we felt that the dish could perhaps fare a little better if the coffee jelly carried a slightly more bitter and roasty undertone in comparison to what is being served currently.
As mentioned earlier, Earlybird uses blends roasted by Allpress Espresso for their coffee; pretty similar to what Revelry offers. Our Flat White was earthy and nutty, with a light body and was pretty creamy. Pretty well-pulled.
While we must say that we were not being really blown away by what Revelry had to offer when we made our return visits subsequently to our first visit, Earlybird’s offerings did seem to carry a substantial improvement over what we had experienced at Revelry. That being said, the food at Earlybird does have some room for improvements, such as the Coco Espresso and the Chicken & Pancakes that we have had; those could be alleviated with just some tweaks to the recipe in general. There seem to be quite a number of new openings around the Kampong Glam neighbourhood as well as some very notable closures as well, but we must say that Earlybird is perhaps one of the most notable entrants into the scene in the neighbourhood; a place to check out if in the area.
17 Jalan Pinang
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/earlybirdcafesg/