The Bravery Cafe

The area straddling the borders of Serangoon and Lavender, long known for being an industrial estate, used to be practically deserted on weekends. The streets remained largely devoid of people when we visited last Sunday afternoon, but tell-tale signs – indie shopfronts and the near impossibility of finding parking lots on one’s first try – indicate that change is afoot. With cafes sprouting all over the island in the last couple of years like mushrooms on crack, a cluster of them have set up shop in this area, the leader of the pack being the famous Chye Seng Huat Hardware.

We were there to check out the new kid on the block, The Bravery Cafe, which had been open for just under two weeks at the time of our visit. Bit of a random and grammatically odd name for a cafe, but we were excited nonetheless, since the folks behind it are the same ones who own The Plain.

It was a good thing I’d googled for pictures of the cafe before visiting, because the freaking place DOES NOT HAVE A SIGN. The shopfront consists of five translucent panels: The gold one in the middle’s the door, which is flanked on both sides by red immobile panels. If you push repeatedly on the red ones you’ll be rewarded with stares from the patrons inside the cafe, having already replaced their own embarrassment with the right to judge the inexperienced.

Mocha, $5.10; Flat White, $4.50.

I didn’t use to have a preferred type of coffee blend – that changed the moment I tasted the Genovese coffee offered here. The foam atop my mocha was velvety, and the coffee was smooth with just a hint of nutty caramel. It sure helped that the drink was beautifully presented, and the chocolate used was of premium quality. Though the scent of Genovese coffee is muted in comparison with the strong fragrance typical of coffee prepared with the roasts from Papa Palheta and Liberty Coffee, it also doesn’t leave the slightly sour aftertaste that the two latter blends do.

Pancakes Stack, $15.00.

We’d originally planned to meet at The Bravery Cafe for tea, but the pancakes and the oatmeal porridge were the only non-savoury options on the menu so we had switch to brunch mode. This was after two of our party had already eaten lunch, by the way. We’re so disgustingly adaptable. I caught a glimpse of some scones in the glass cabinet next to the cash register, which appear to be the one baked good they offer at the moment. But, but… what’s a cafe without cake?

Eaten individually, the pancakes here are serviceable if a little mushy. Spread some ricotta cheese in between the layers of pancakes, dip them into the pool of honey and chopped pistachios, and be sure to include a sliver of banana with every mouthful of pancakes. The mildly sweet cheese elevates this dish from an average one into one that gets increasingly addictive.

Raunchy Eggs, $14.00.

Two sunny side-ups, a side of spicy beans and anchovies, and a pile of shredded cabbage on a soft tortilla shell – these came together really nicely, with the creaminess of the yolk providing a textural contrast to the crunchiness of the raw cabbage. The eggs, seasoned with pepper, salt and strips of scallion, were quite outstanding. For a dish with such a suggestive name, however, it could afford to have a little more spunk. Wasn’t a fan of the not-at-all spicy beans and anchovies and the blandly chewy tortilla shell, which I thought tasted like watered-down Mexican food.

A lot of effort goes into looking effortless.

I know it’s intentional, but the interior of The Bravery Cafe is so sparsely furnished it’s amusing. Diners sit on overturned crates, tabletops are made from boards of plywood, walls are unevenly painted and strings of bulbs extend from the ceiling in an incongruous fashion. I guess they were going for the let’s-have-gourmet-coffee-in-a-tool-shed vibe, but the decor kind of falls flat for me. It’s like someone thought it would be a good idea to open for business midway through the renovation process. Or maybe I just lack the sophistication to appreciate industrial chic.

On the upside, the service here at The Bravery Cafe is stellar. The wait staff, and even the baristas, are friendly without being intrusive. They made the effort to check in on every table. This, coupled with the fact that they serve possibly my favorite cup of coffee on the whole island, is reason enough for me to be back. I just hope I have cakes to go with my coffee the next time I’m here.

The Bravery Cafe
66 Horne Road
Singapore 209073

Opening hours: 8.00a.m. to 8.00p.m. daily.
Tel. No.: 6225 4387

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