Taking over Oriole Coffee Roasters, .elia cafe at Jiak Chuan road (just off Keong Siak) is brought to you by the same people behind now-defunct The Chillout Cafe in Labuan, Malaysia. And their experience has put them in good stead. They are currently serving pastas ($13.50-$18.50) and sandwiches ($12.50-$17.50).
We were there on a Saturday and it was empty; it shouldn’t be because it is excellent in all aspects. The shop front is mosaicked with Peranakan tiles and inside, the space is open and airy, decorated in a chic, contemporary style that is at the same time comfortable. A skylight allowing natural sunlight illuminates the cafe.
The menu here isn’t extensive: only 5 mains and 3 specials. But I prefer a small menu with good items to a large menu with mediocre items. There are some items that pretty unusual, such as potatos ($16), but carbs aren’t popular these days. The avocado toast ($12.50) is too expensive, according to Chiobu: she said, “A whole avocado only costs $2!”
So we went for their pastas and breads, which are made in-house. The meatball tagliatelle ($17.50) comes generously with 8 meatballs The tomato sauce is moderate, not too acidic and not too sweet. Here, the tagliatelle tastes like mee hoon kway, and is slightly soft (not al dente) but we like slightly soft pasta. However, some of them stick together. Still, this is a good dish. We enjoyed it.
The panchetta ($15.50) was recommended by the boss (?); he said, “I swear by it.” And indeed it is good. The linguine, lightly coated with a cream sauce, pairs well with the cubed pancetta, which is salt-cured bacon. Mr Fitness loves this.
The grilled cheese sandwich ($16.50) is admirable. The bread is buttered generously on both sides, sandwiching jamon iberico, a melty cheese, mornay, and onion marmalade. It’s topped with a sunny side-up. The photo looks terrible but the portion is pretty good for one person. This is Chiobu’s favorite out of the three dishes.
For filtered coffee, they use coffee beans from Gakuyuini (Kenya), Yirgacheffe (Ethiopia), and Gishubi (Burundi). But for their usual coffee, they use El Salvador Himalaya Supersonic, which tastes like essence of chicken.
One flaw of the cafe is that it doesn’t have many options for desserts. They said that they could do a molten chocolate cake for us, but it’s boring and we didn’t order it.
I don’t like cafe names with punctuations or weird capitalisation because I think they have a certain immaturity about it. But perhaps I’ve misjudged or pre-judged cafes by their names. .elia, for example, is excellent and sincere. The pastas and breads are made in-house, something that all cafes should aspire to do. The food is delicious; the ambience is relaxing; and the service is warm. This is definitely one of the better cafes to open this year. We paid $72.60 for three persons, including 3 coffees.
10 Jiak Chuan Road Singapore 089264
tel: +65 9642 2361
9am-5pm, 6.30pm-11pm closed Sun
You may be interested in…
–Schmear, Quayside Isle: American Bagels, Between One and Five Stars
–Fifteen Nine Cafe & Bar, Jalan Riang: Escargot Mac & Cheese and Other Disappointments
–At the Myo, Everton Park: Outstanding Cafe Serving Rice and Pastas With Local Flavors
–Red Dot for Pink Dot: Epiphyte, Garden Cafe at Neil Road
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.