We have been to The Loft Cafe at Chinatown so often that we must have tried everything on the menu. It is a very special place for Huccalily and me because we bring our laptops to work there frequently. Say hi if you see us.
There is nothing really outstanding about The Loft Cafe, and we wouldn’t have known about it if we weren’t looking for a place with electrical plugs for our laptops. But the cafe is so welcoming that we soon make it our haunt.
It’s on the second floor of a historical shophouse, so there is seldom walk-in crowd; if you don’t know its existence, you will never know it. Strangely, tourists and angmohs know this cafe. Often, they are there in the afternoons. The set-up is simple, mostly tables and chairs, dominated by a comfy sofa in the middle. But on an afternoon when you’re looking for a quiet place to watch the world pass you by, the Loft satisfies the criteria; it is a place that time has forgotten.
The cafe is owned by a Christian, so the 3rd floor used to be opened to Christians for prayers, but they have stopped the lease of the 3rd floor. They used to sometimes play Christian music, which irritated me because I think that the business of a cafe should remain secular; business is business, religion is religion. Now, they play top 40s reinterpreted by youtube sensations. You know, the sort who will sing a fast song slowly, maybe to a jazz beat, to show that they have depth. I like these songs.
It’s the homely atmosphere of the cafe that makes it so lovely; it is also the service. When we first started going, there was a male older manager who made us feel comfortable. But somehow, he stopped work very quickly. Now, a boy with biceps is serving. It’s a different type of service; the avuncular guy made us feel familial, whereas this boy is open-hearted and friendly.
The savory food is nothing to shout about. They used to offer pasta and chicken pie (above), but now they don’t. Now, the revamped menu is simple, and the food is easily assembled: brunch items, sandwiches, or flatbread (like pizzas). Huccalily who had the loft breakfast ($18) said, YUCKS. Haha, what did she expect? It’s just the usual eggs and sausages stuff that you can make at home.
The chicken avocado ciabatta ($16) is not bad. The chicken is well-marinated with herbs (rosemary?) and is tangy against the sweet ciabatta; a nice complexity. The bread crust is sprinkled liberally with flour so when you finish eating, your lips will be white. (Note that we haven’t been to The Loft much after they revamped the menu. This menu seems much more focused, and tastes better.)
The desserts are the thing that we like a lot here. They bake their desserts in-house, so there is a homely feel to them. (I think the desserts are done by a filipino lady, but I haven’t seen her around lately.) First, ignore these: brownies (too airy, not dense enough); waffles (the older manager told us it was reviewed on Tripadvisor as one of the best waffles in Singapore. I don’t know who said that, but it’s not. It’s terribly generic); shibuya toasts (think they may have taken it off the menu. Thank god!).
What you should definitely order is the apple pie. If I live in America, I’m sure this is something my mother living on a farm would bake. They bake the pie to 70% and when you order it, they put the pie back into the oven to finish the baking. You get the freshest pie. It’s not the most refined pie, but it is very homely, which I like. Huccalyly sometimes buys the pie back home, and sticks it in the oven, and pretends she bakes it herself.
They sometimes do a pear pie (below), but skip that. It’s not as good as the apple.
The bestseller for Sept, the boy with biceps told me, was the salted caramel chocolate tart (below). I’d like more salt, but it’s a good tart. Rich, dense chocolate, almost molteny at parts, with a beautiful tart shell that breaks cleanly, without crumbs.
The only one thing I don’t like about the cafe is the pricing. The last time I went, I paid $27 in a recent visit. That’s quite pricy for simple food. But if one day The Loft has gone, as all things eventually go, we will remember it fondly for all the memories it has given us. There is something magical about old buildings, and The Loft has exuded this nostalgic emotion.
The Loft Cafe
268A South Bridge Road (second floor), Singapore 058817
T: +65 6221 2103
T-Sat 9am–11pm, Sun 9am–9pm
Overall rating: 3.531/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.