Unfortunately, these days, when you talk about European styled bakery cafes, there are hardly any around, while Delifrance is still around, it has changed quite a bit and even gone upmarket, with mixed results.
The proliferation of the BreadTalk brand has meant that now, most folks here are more likely to get their baked goods from one of those shops or get their coffee and snacks from one of their Toast Box outlets.
I used to rave about The Loaf in The Pavilion in Kuala Lumpur, as the standard of baking is so much better than what we get here. And part of that reason was the chief baker is a renowned Japanese baker with a classic touch.
Well, it seems Prima Flour, the guys behind the Prima Deli shops and Prima Taste have opened a new bakery cafe in Singapore that attempts to bring back some of the flavors and influence of both Delifrance and The Loaf.
Their first outlet, which has operated since late last year is found at the Star Vista, the brand new complex just beside Buana Vista MRT Station. It is actually housed in an open area on the 2nd deck of the building, but due to a clever architectural design, the place is perpetually filled with cooling breezes which are constantly directed into the open area.
iBake is bakery cafe that is focused on providing a more upmarket style of baked breads and cuisine to serve its diners, and it is reminiscent of the old Delifrance in that respect. Where it differs is that its menu is not classic French or European, but is infused with a touch of Japanese styled bakery.
They also have serve soups and salads and have recently revamped their menu to provide a more hearty and robust set meals for their executive customers. But the main focus is on bread, and because Prima provides flour and other flour related ingredients to a number of F&B establishments, their strong point is the quality of their pastries and breads.
The clam chowder which was served in a bread bowl was good, and thick. Perhaps a bit too creamy and thick, but for $6.80, they had the right mind to use fresh clams and ingredients for a more natural taste.
The sweetness of the chowder was calming and not too enhanced by artificial means, and that made for a hearty though heavy appetizer. The bread itself was well made, fresh and crusty and light.
We had a nice bread basket with an assortment of baked goodies. My favorite was the Petite Gruyere Cheese, and it was a lovely combination of the aromatic fragrance of the crusty dough mixed with the savory cheese which makes for a great snack or breakfast meal.
I can imagine this will go down very well with a cup of delicious expresso, which incidentally, they do serve excellent coffee here. iBake would be a great place itself just for its immaculate coffee. My double expresso was heavenly.
As for the mains, one of my favorites was this well made hamburger. The patty is made in-house and uses US beef, and was full of flavor and moistness. The beef was also well seasoned, but perhaps slightly salty but the sweetly caramelized onions just about made up for that.
The sesame bun was also fresh and visually, it looked like how a good hamburger should look like, with the green of the fresh lettuce protruding out invitingly, and just the melting layer of cheese hovering over the meat. What was missing was a pickle to balance the flavors for me.
|Kurobuta Ham & Camembert Cheese|
Another delight was this tasty ham and cheese sandwich. The premium ingredients did make a difference, but what I liked is the simple combination of ham and cheese really went well with the well made baguette.
Nothing else more needs to be said really. I sometimes wish more sandwiches can be like this, instead of piling on topping on top of toppings. The flavors here were clean and distinctive, and the clarity of this dish spoke for itself.
|Twin Cream Puffs|
Last came the sweet pastries and they were gorgeous. I like the fact that they make their own pastry cream and it clearly showed. The custard cream was smooth, not overly sweet and rich without being overly so.
And the lovely combination of fresh fruits just gave it that necessary sharpness to cut through the sugar and cream, and balanced with the lovely flaky pastry underneath, this would easily make any lady smile. And it looked stunning as well.
|Assortment of Baked Goodies|
Besides the aforementioned, iBake also carry a lot of other soups, salads and pastries. Their baked items, in particular, looked like something that will be popular with Singaporeans here, as they have a range of both savory and sweet stuffs.
More importantly, because Prima is the main supplier of flour here, their breads and pastries will always have the advantage of being fresh or freshly made when compared to others.
I think this is a good start and although they are not really quite there yet, I think if they focus on improving their menu and their food, iBake might have the potential to be the de facto bakery cafe in Singapore.
And considering their prices are relatively affordable, they are a better alternative to something like Paris Baguette, which comes with a great reputation, but unfortunately, that was way too pricey for the quality they were serving up.
Mind you, the Paris Baguette in Korea was way, way better and cheaper. It is another sad reflection of Singapore standards and high rentals that seems to be detrimental when we try to import another overseas brand name. Sigh.
I would prefer to endorse iBake for what it is trying to accomplish, and besides, it is good to support a local establishment when it deserves it. I hope you will too.
1 Vista Exchange Green
#2-28 The Star Vista