Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Assembly Ground - From Retail to Bistro

A lot of us remember the old CD and record stores from the 90s and early 00s. Mention names like Sembawang CD and Supreme Records, and we all remember patronizing these places for the latest music and movies.

The last of these, Gramaphone, had their final store in Cathay Cineleisure, which occupied the ground floor near the main entrance. Sadly, Gramaphone is gone today.

In its place is a hip apparel retail outlet, and next to it, is its sister bistro cafe which has recently opened.

The Assembly Ground is the name of the cafe portion, and is started by a couple of buddies who studied in Melbourne. Nelson and Damien wanted to bring that Melbourne cafe aura back to our shores, and decided to model their bistro around that idea.

Walking in, you get a sense that this is not your typical cafe, as there is a sense of casual class that is both elegant and relaxing at the same time. The layout is spacious, and the vibe is laid back and cool.

Currently, they are still refining their food menu, and they have a tendency to change up the menu every week, so there is an element of surprise when you visit The Assembly Ground.

Cosy Surroundings

They use both Nylon and Common Man coffee beans, and if you do not request which on ordering your coffee, Nelson and his team will actually take the effort to try to pair which coffee beans to use depending on what you order. Very thoughtful indeed.

The Assembly Breakfast

Having one of their chefs from Wild Honey means that you will get a more than decent all-day breakfast fare here, and the Assembly Breakfast certainly did not disappoint. The sausage was of a premium quality, and the addition of saute mushrooms was yet another thoughtful touch.

The scrambled eggs were very well done, creamy and buttery without losing any of the fragrant egg flavors. And my favorite part was the intricate potato galette which looked simple, but is quite tedious to make. The thin slivers of sliced potato were utterly delicious, full of buttery aroma and texture.

Chilli Beef Pasta

The Chili Beef Pasta was nice too. The chilli itself was made from scratch and had that hearty beef flavors well infused into the chilli sauce. Meaty, flavorful and well seasoned. Coating the pasta with the chilli, and garnished with fresh shavings of Parmesan, this is a good pasta dish that is hard to achieve in most cafes these days.

Earl Grey Cake

The cakes are outsourced from a couple of suppliers, and for me, it's a hit or miss. We only tried the earl grey cake and felt it was overpoweringly sweet. There were gently hints of earl grey in there, and the best way to consume this is to have it with one of their marvelous coffee, which were excellent.

Damien and Nelson

Nelson and Damien are still pretty grounded despite the bistro getting off to a roaring start. Business was brisk on that week day, and the buzz around the place has been positive. They insist that we come back in a few months time, when they are more settled in as the menu is still being tweaked.

For my money, their food is already of a high standard when you compare it to the likes of other new cafes that have sprouted out in the last few months. Their coffee is excellent, and when you consider that Nelson takes the effort to do a quiet coffee pairing process without you knowing, that shows the level of commitment that these guys are prepared to put in.

Gramaphone might be gone, and these days we have chosen to buy digital entertainment instead. But I am thankful that in its place, The Assembly Ground may be the start of a new institution that may last for a long time.

A very long time.

The Assembly Ground
2 Handy Road
Cathay Cineleisure
#01-21, Ground Floor, near the entrance

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