As a self-proclaimed foodie, my weekend luxury consists of having good coffee and chillaxing at a nice, quaint cafe with a good brunch, after sleeping in. I firmly believe in not mistreating my tummy and wasting calories on bad food – and that is a main factor contributing to my picky tastebuds.

But since I enjoy simple, affordable fare as much as the next person, my “luxuries” are (thankfully for my wallet) not usually something to break the bank for. 🙂

One of my absolute favorite spots has got to be Artichoke, at Sculpture Square ( Formerly a cafe called “The Secret Garden”, this current incarnation offers Moorish cuisine. They change their menu monthly, which is one reason I find myself returning to this place time and again to enjoy their latest creations.

The setting of the cafe is clean – mismatched wooden furniture (which I absolutely love), with a cosy corner of benches and cushions. Their refreshing yet romantic al fresco area is perfect for a dinner date, actually! Their chalkboard has a food quote that I totally agree with, and of course, their featured dish of the day.

I must admit that when they first served our selections (1. Sauteed mushrooms with rocket salad, 2. Brunch set with bacon chops and assorted mushrooms), I was intrigued by the dry looking strips of dough that accompanied the mains. They reminded me of the way French baguettes would look like if toasted, cut into strips and carelessly doused with olive oil.

Boy, was I wrong. They ended up being my favorite type of bread — Turkish bread! Delightfully fluffy in the middle, complete with well-crisped skin, I was content just munching on them alone. Next was our attack on the mushrooms; the light garlic flavours complemented with the herbs and spices, without being overwhelming. We were pleasantly surprised by the bacon chops too; they were not too salty yet still packed with the sinful goodness of well-marinated pork. Delicious change from the usual crispy bacon strips.

Always the adventurous patron, our friend, S, had the misfortune of ordering lamb meatballs which were heavily spiced with a variety of spices we couldn’t make out. The combination was too weird for our tastes, and S had to struggle to finish his share. We suffered the same fate with one of the 2 portions of moroccan sausages as well. The other portion of meatballs thankfully tasted normal, enough for us to pounce on in order to erase the taste of its strange-tasting other half.

Special mention goes to the dessert of the day: the Toasted Banana Bread with Honey, Mascarpone Cream and Walnuts! (See how I paid extra respect to it by capitalising its name? :P) The portion of the mains was pretty big, but we found space in our tummy to try this dessert out, and we were definitely not disappointed. It tasted like banana cake with a crisp layer enveloping the yummy goodness. The cream had a hint of cheese in it, not too overpowering, yet perfectly complementary to the bread. I am now convinced that everything with mascarpone cream tastes good!

Right before we left, a server stood by the door to hand us a paper bag of gummy rings each. How sweet! Truth be told, in a country overladen with bistros and cafes at every nook and cranny, it’s the smallest acts of friendliness and extra attentive service that makes a place memorable. The parting gift put a smile on all our faces when we left.

Tak Mo Man Tai

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