I am a bread person; I actually prefer bread to rice or noodle. I can have toasts for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and bread with soup for dinner. But this doesn’t mean I take any sort of bread. I prefer multigrain or brown bread to white one. So it is for this reason that I try out the various European-influenced bakeries that have been popping up over the past year or so. It goes without saying that I love pastries too, especially those with chocolate. I am not interested in bakeries that catered to local taste, like Barcook, which makes white bread and buns. (Most locals prefer white bread.)
I know I have been behind the curve in checking out most new bakeries, more so now with the baby around. So I did not try these two bakeries until recently.
Tiong Bahru Bakery
Tiong Bahru Bakery is a collaboration between a local group, Spa Esprit Group, and a famous Parisian baker, Gontran Cherrier. The first outlet is at Eng Hoon street, within Tiong Bahru area, hence the name. Though my husband wonders why the bakery didn’t use Gontran Cherrier’s name, you know like Maison Kayser. The French baker is linked to the bakery but his name is in small font.
Anyway I am not even aware of its existence, until we saw its second, much bigger, outlet at Raffles City basement 1, a few weeks ago. Initially when I saw the advertisements plastered around the Carpark and escalators, I thought it was another bakery that catered to local taste , like Barcook. But when we walked past it, I was intrigued to find that they offer pastries, tarts, and bread, like Maison Kayser. Later I was told by my husband that they have interesting sandwiches too. So we decided to have tea there.
The bakery is semi-self service in that customers choose and pay for their orders, but drinks are served to them. What I like about this cafe is that it offers large bottles of iced water to customers, as well as butter and two types of jam, strawberry and marmalade (if I remember correctly). The napkins are also of good quality, thick and large. Anyway I had a chocolate and almond croissant (S$3.70) and my husband had a artisanal bread roll (offhand I can’t remember the name). Admittedly it is a matter of taste, but the croissant at TBB is rather doughy, or what the company called elastic, which is different from the flaky texture in the regular croissant. I prefer the buttery and flaky croissant, and so the one at TBB is just not my cup of tea. But my husband prefers the TBB texture.
My husband had the bread with jam and butter and he loves the nutty flavor of the bread.
I also bought a loaf of bread with apricots, cinnamon and nuts, which tastes really good toasted with butter. But what we especially love at TBB are the sandwiches. Unlike other eateries, the sandwiches are simple, without mayonnaise, and filled with salad leaves like rocket or arugula. You cannot choose the bread here, instead the bread is pre-selected to best complement the fillings. Like I had the salmon and ham sandwich which has the squid ink bread. It may seem scary to some people, what with the black-colored bun that looks like it got burnt. It is sumptuous, seriously no condiment is required since the smoked salmon and ham provide the savory taste to the sandwich. The sandwiches are also not expensive, at less than S$9 each.
I also tried a dessert, Chocolate Mendiant.
The traditional Mendiant has a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits. But the one in TBB is probably the modern version? Below the dark chocolate disk is a biscuit base filled with nuts and dried fruits. To be honest, I don’t really like the chewy texture of the biscuit base, or it’s because I am not a fan of dried fruits. But my husband likes it, so it all boils down to individual taste. (My husband thinks I am becoming an old foggy with my dislike of chewy texture.) Nonetheless I still highly recommend TTB for their artisanal bread and pastries.
The Bread Project
I read about The Bread Project shortly after it was opened a couple of years ago. This bakery, opened by locals, is located diagonally opposite Long Phung Vietnamese restaurant, in Joo Chiat area, which my husband and I frequent. But we have never stepped into it because we only went to Long Phung at night and the bakery opens only in the day.
It was only when we went to Dean & Deluca cafe at Orchard Central 4th floor, that I found out TBP supplies bread to the cafe, and surprisingly Maison Kayser is another supplier of bread and pastries. So I bought a multigrain bread from TBP there. We like it a lot, it has a rustic and hearty taste.
Last week, we went to Long Phung for lunch and I took the opportunity to check out TBP.
It has a simple layout with not a lot of bread/pastry varieties available at the display counter. Most of the shop space is taken up by a large baking station separated from the small retail area. I asked for multigrain bread (which is known as au pain cereals) and was told it would only be available 10 minutes later, so I got myself a pain Au Chocolat.
This is the traditional buttery flaky croissant, which is how I like it. Even though I didn’t warm it up, it was still pretty good with a lightness to the pastry. But my husband didn’t quite like the texture, saying it was a little too plasticky for him. Anyway we returned later to get the freshly baked multigrain bread (S$5.80), which is a best-seller. One thing about this bakery is that they don’t slice the bread for you unlike others like Maison Kayser, Bread Society (at Ion Orchard), and Dean and Deluca cafe.
I made open face sandwiches with the multigrain bread for dinner that evening. It was an improved version of the TBB sandwich where I added chicken ham, Gouda cheese, lots of arugula leaves and vine tomatoes. My husband thought it was better than TBB’s, partly because of the wonderful bread. We then returned to the bakery a few days ago; unfortunately there was no more multigrain bread, so I got an olive bread and a chocolate concha.
I like the olive bread more than the multigrain, it has such a wonderful bread smell especially after it is toasted. The olive imparts a lovely taste which goes very well with butter. But my husband prefers the multigrain.
The chocolate concha (S$2.60) is basically a bun with dark chocolate filling.
The bakery is a little too stingy with the dark chocolate, there is too little of it inside the bun and the bun itself is also rather ordinary. Still I would recommend this bakery for its wonderful bread.