The west end of Singapore is frequently denounced for its lack of laudable cafes. However, I've noticed a trend, in recent years, a surge in cafes opened in the west, like On The Table, W39 Bistro, and now, Paddy Hills.
The corner tenant of a row of gentrified shophouses, Paddy Hills occupies the very same spot previously helmed by Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice (aka that South Buona Vista Road duck rice). Walking into the industrial chic space, you couldn't imagine an open-air-ed old-school coffeeshop hawking braised duck rice if you weren't here before. Hipsters abound, of course, but I've seen the occasional basic adults drawn from the hinterland.
The bistro is run by a lean workforce, but, for a place that doesn't have any service charge, service was fantastic - smiley and efficient. In contrast, I get charged the standard 10% service charge for bleagh service elsewhere. Another perk, no GST either!
That said, my grouse was mainly regarding the menu, it tended towards unnecessary and wasted pretense. If a menu requires Dr Google's assistance to make an informed decision, that's far too much posturing. I mean, how many regular people know what bagna cauda is??? Or even how to pronounce it?! (btw, it's "baɲɲa kauda", a hot Piedmont dip made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and butter, and eaten in a similar manner to Swiss fondue) Also, a girlfriend took issue with the mispresentation on the menu. What was named 'Hash Hash' with a description of "sauteed beef, mushroom, chorizo, doughstick and sous vide egg" turned out to be a beef bak kut teh. Calling a dish "hash", she said, and I quite agree, implies that the whole jin-gang is sauteed, as you would a breakfast hash. A soupy bak kut teh IS NOT a hash. Strip away the pretense, I think, and re-direct the effort to the food. That's what draws in the crowds anyway.
Food-wise, it was a hit-and-miss averaging on decent, and occasionally bordering on so-so. Methinks Paddy Hills would make a pretty worthwhile option if you're in the area, but I don't think the food was excellent enough to warrant travelling from afar. At least the 'westies' get yet another brunch place that negates the need to travel to the east!
A must-try, the Berry Ricotta Hotcake ($23), adorned with blueberry sugar, pinenuts, raspberries,
strawberries, blueberries, yuzu gel, and maple syrup certainly made for a gorgeous plate. And it tasted as good as it looked. Thick, dense, but fluffy, these were the best pancakes I've had for as long as I can remember. Dollop the fragrant vanilla yoghurt for added texture.
The Quesadillas ($20) were stuffed with pulled duck and pickles, served with charred baby capsicum and sweet corn, and sided by a garlic aioli and guacamole. The quesadillas, in addition to being laced with parsley, were mediocre. My parsley-loving friend, who had this, said to give this a hard pass.
Despite the misleading name, the Hash Hash ($24) was a reasonably commendable and very comforting bowl of beef bak kut teh, especially now that we're ankle-deep in monsoon season. Meltingly soft and wonderfully fatty, the luscious hunks of meat could have passed off as pork if I hadn't been informed otherwise. I particularly liked the western twist of the sous vide egg, arugula leaves, and chickpeas.
The much touted Kimchi Fried Rice ($20) was middling, even with the perfectly wobbly sous vide egg, and medium-well tender steak. I've had better.
The coffee is not to be missed at Paddy Hills, and the Latte ($5.50), a frothy blend of creamy and robust, was just lovely.
38 South Buona Vista Road
Tel: 6479 0800
Open daily from 8.30am to 10pm