This is not yet another cafe in the vicinity. The Populus Coffee & Food Co. is an offshoot of the popular Department of Caffeine, a few streets down the same road. Populus is latin for ‘The People’ – Andrew (the owner) says the cafe is all about connecting and recognising the people in his life who made it all possible, all the way to even the coffee producers.
Like its sister cafe, Populus Coffee is housed in a conserved shophouse and a patterned glass facade greets you past the charming Peranakan swing door. Largely a contemporary designed space, the cafe’s highly textured surfaces were briefed so that all, if not most of the restaurant is ‘instagrammable’. The wooden panels were cladded piece by piece, and the tiles were chosen for lighter foods to stand out against it. The pyramidal wooden pillar has light emanating from it – the word ‘elaborate’ is probably understating the effort that went into the design.
The Food of the People
Populus Coffee has a much larger coffee selection, mainly an increase from the number of drip coffee options. The standard coffee choices are still present, and pretty much the same good quality as D.O.C. For the first few opening weeks, I’m glad that they didn’t just replicate successful menu items, waffles in particular.
The breakfast/brunch selections were rather extensive for differing palates, with options like Harissa Baked Eggs (S$18.50), Delhi Chicken Sandwich (S$16.50) and good ol’ hearty Italian pastas. I was uber glad it’s not another Benedict / Florentine / Royale symphony – most of the items were pretty original and creatively executed.
My one dining habit is ordering items that bear the establishment’s name and The Populus Scramble (S$17) definitely did not disappoint. Adorned with chives, and sparingly distributed slices of chilli that gave a spike of flavour without the fire, the creamy eggs are a great combination with the bacon and chopped up croissant segments. Beside obviously conferring the savouriness of taste, the smoked sea salt gave it a light tinge of smokiness.
The Spring Pancake & Fried Chicken (S$21) had some similarities to D.O.C.’s Texas chicken and waffle but it was really quite different. Drenched in a homemade ranch dressing that’s bright and tangy with paprika sprinkled on top, the fried chicken was well-marinated and had a delicious batter and nice crunch. Although, I’d like for the chicken to be drained further of the oil because the pancake acted like a sponge for it, making it slightly soggy (and overly greasy). I’d say split the two once you get it, then piece it up as you spoon each delectable mouthful in.
I typically order anything with chocolate and the Dark Chocolate Sundae (S$14) was a suitably sweet ending for me. Cracking pop rocks and honeycomb pieces that remind me of Violet crumble sat on a bed of vanilla sponge cake that slowly soaks up the dark chocolate goodness – how’s that for an ending?
Quality of food: 8/10
Value for money: 7.5/10
146 Neil Rd (After Bukit Pasoh Road)
Tel: +65 – 6635 8420
Hours: Mon & Wed 9am to 7pm | Thu & Sat 9am to 10.30pm | Sat 9.30am to 22.30pm | Sun 9.30am to 7pm
Do reserve. It was packed at 11am and by D.O.C.’s standards, this place will fill up really quickly.
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