The Sydney-based cafe Luxe has invaded Singapore shores and very impressive it was, from the moment we entered till we left. The service was nothing short of spectacular: patient, friendly, and generous. The decor: whitewash, clean lines, pale wood, copperish gold, minimalist, uncluttered, luxurious. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman when I entered Luxe.
Singapore-born chef Chui Lee Luk, who worked for celebrity chef Kylie Kwong in Sydney, imbues the menu with Asian influences. The menu is limited: 7 items for brunch (available on weekends only), and 7 items for lunch [including starters like oysters ($36) and charcuterie ($42)]. So theoretically, you have only a choice of 5 items for lunch: hanger steak burger ($24), handmade pork and fennel sausage roll ($18), chicken salad ($20), wild weed pie ($24), and 250g ribeye ($45). You can also top up to $35 to make it into a set meal, including 2 drinks and a dessert.
The food had a very clean bite which we adored. Naturally, since we are suckers for food cooked a la minute, we went for the pork roll (above), which took 25 minutes to bake. That’s the amount of time Michael Learns to Rock.
Both the pork roll and the steak burger (below) were very tasty. But the portions were miniscule for the price, and the meat tended to be undercooked. The steak burger was almost rare, which could be daunting for some. And the pork roll was rare. Oh no, you can’t eat uncooked pork.
So we told the server who brought the pork roll back to the kitchen to verify. And the chef admitted her oversight. The angmoh manager? boss? apologized to us, and gave a Tom Hiddleston expression–who could resist that look? We melted like butter naturally. And he offered not only to waive off the roll, he gave us complimentary ribeye. Well, ok, you can’t go wrong with sliced ribeye, which came a perfect medium rare.
The dessert for the set meal was pandan madeleines. I like madeleines in general, but aren’t they supposed to come gratis with order of tea? Why and when were madeleines considered part of set lunch? Desserts should be cakes, puddings, etc, no? Did I miss a memo? (That said, I did order the most divine madeleines for dessert at Cumulus Inc in Melbourne, so maybe it’s an Australian thing.)
Back to the taste of pandan madeleines (below). It wasn’t fluffy or light enough, as madeleines should be. And besides, the supporting actor “kaya” stole the show. It was the best kaya we had. It was zesty, almost vanilla-like, sweet, with a savory endnote. SO FRICKING OUT OF THE WORLD. They should just do toast and kaya and they also should bottle the kaya to sell. We wanted to buy it.
If uncooked food occurs in a reality TV chefs competition, that contestant will be sent home immediately. But all kitchens suffer minor peccadilloes now and then, and for a new cafe like Luxe, I could overlooked the raw pork because the service recovery was excellent. (That said, Luxe should be more careful. I was worried that Huccalyly might be pregnant, and pregnant women cannot ingest raw food.)
Furthermore, if we judge the food as a whole, and not on one dish alone, I can see the heart put into every dish. This is not complicated, complex food, but there is a clean simplicity different from other cafes. The only cafe I visited this year that is as superior as Luxe is Boufe. We paid $37 for two persons (pork roll and ribeye were waived, so we were paying for one person’s portion.)
1 Keong Saik Road #01-04, Singapore 089109
T: +65 6221 5615
Tue-F 12pm-12am, Sat 9am-12am, Sun 9am-4pm
Service: 8.5/10 (points deducted for not introducing us the madeleines, and not knowing the ingredients in the “kaya.”)
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.