I’m constantly amazed at how profitable cafes are. By the same people of Wheeler’s Yard with the iconic azure-blue folding door, the $2.5-million Wheeler’s Estate at Seletar Aerospace Park occupies a gigantic two-storey former British military airbase colonial building.
Cafe by day, restaurant and bar by night, Wheeler’s Estate is part of the new initiative to develop Seletar Aerospace Park, now named The Oval. There are, so far, four eateries: Youngs Bar & Restaurant, Di Wei Teo Chew Restaurant, The Summerhouse by 1-Group (which owns UNA), and Wheeler’s Estate.
Wheeler’s Estate is a 4-in-1 concept: restaurant, cafe, bar, and picnic. The first floor has a grill house (pictured above) using jarrah, apple and lychee firewood. You can also get a mat and basket from the counter and picnic on the lawn.
One area that Wheeler’s Yard has done outstandingly, better than other cafes, is to decorate the cafe so that it is very instagrammable for hipsters and youngsters. And Wheeler’s Estate has continued their winning formula. In fact, they created so many instagrammable spaces. For example:A difference between Wheeler’s Yard and Wheeler’s Estate is that they atas-fied the Estate. There is a receptionist at the first floor, and he walks you up to the second floor to show you the table. WOW.
Another difference is the food. When I was at Wheeler’s Yard, their food was terrible. This was before they got famous, and I heard that they had improved the food after my visit. Unlike Wheeler’s Yard, the new Wheeler’s Estate delivers quite delicious brunch on weekends.
There are only 7 dishes for the weekend brunch. The waiter recommended Feed me Breakfast ($24), “It’s so much that you can tahan until dinner.” But this is de facto just what other cafes called The Big Breakfast, with eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. No way were we going to order things we could buy from NTUC and easily cook at home.
The waiter also recommended corn & cilantro fritters ($21). It consists of smoked ocean trout, avocado salsa, poached eggs, goat’s curd and orange relish.
Although the smoked ocean trout looks like salmon, it is NOT salmon; the flavor is more subdued and less salty than salmon. The smoked ocean trout, avocado salsa, goat’s curd, and arugula make a very good salad, but I’m not sure why they are served as different components. The corn fritter is nicely sweet, but I wonder how it fits into the dish.
The other dish, idle tongue ($22), is much better and more interesting. It consists ox tongue, bone marrow croquette, poached eggs on sourdough.
When you eat the components together like a sandwich–ox tongue, egg, arugula, and mustard mayo on toast–it is piquant, savory, bitter and delicious. But I don’t quite understand the point of adding the pickled onion and bone marrow croquette to the dish.
There are a few areas that need improvement:
-it is expensive and the portions are small. We paid $62 for two persons, and we were still hungry, we had to eat a bak chor mee after brunch.
-individual ingredients in each dish are good, but they are like a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that don’t fit; the ingredients don’t come together as a whole.
-the coffee needs improvement. My long black is over-roasted and has a long burnt bitterness and sourness. The latte art looks like Edvard Munch’s Scream painting. Good try but don’t need to be so fancy. A simple heart design is suffice.
-The chairs are too high so when you eat, you have to hunch over to reach your food.
Things to note:
-the servers are pretty green, but they are nice.
-the crowd is pretty different from the usual hipster crowd. I guess the teenagers need their parents to drive them in, so the crowd is mostly 3-generation families.
Because the place is hard to find, we made a video of how to get to Wheeler’s Estate:
If you’re taking a bus: DON’T drop off at the bus-stop shown in the video. Drop off AFTER you have spotted Young’s Bar & Restaurant, and Di Wei Teo Chew Restaurant.
If you’re driving: As you’re driving along Seletar Aerospace Drive, after you spot Di Wei Teo Chew Restaurant, turn left, and then go straight, until you see the silver caravan with “Wheeler’s Estate.”
Conclusion: Wheeler’s Estate reminds us of a pastiche of many good cafes (listed below). Obviously they did their research. Although it lacks innovation, everything works here. Don’t reinvent the wheeler, right? Good food, better ambience.
2 Park Lane, Seletar Aerospace Park, Singapore 798386
T: +65 9025 4198 / +65 8191 4288
T-F 11am-10pm, weekends 8am-10.30pm
Overall rating: 3.438/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.