Spruce – 320 Tanglin Road
This is one eatery whose reputation for good food in a beautiful setting has ensured a steady flow of pilgrims to its central yet inconvenient locale. Tucked away in the foliage of
Ambience is such an important part of the Spruce experience that I’ll deviate from my typical straight-to-the-food approach. The rustic charm of this “country cottage” was so compelling in its earthy, casual appeal that I fell in love with it from the moment I stepped in, unable to even contemplate leaving. The laidback atmosphere was evident from the get-go; I slipped through a narrow alley between potted plants and a cupboard into the shady, fan-cooled alfresco dining area. When I asked a passing waiter for directions to the main entrance where I could request for a table, he looked at me quizzically and informed me I had just waltzed through it without even realising.
The patio alfresco area is filled with the warm, dim glow of an eclectic but harmonious mix of ceiling lamps. This cosy atmosphere is further enhanced by beautiful dark wood floors, brick and many potted plants. In this airy space, some ate at tables while others lounged on couches at the rear, tapping away on Macbooks. On the other hand, the indoor dining area I opted for was bathed in late morning sunshine streaming through picture windows, rebounding of white stucco walls and glass doors. I have no doubt that anyone would feel that same immediate desire to spend an entire lazy Saturday amidst the lush greens and warm woods of this sanctuary, dreading the inevitable return home.
I was recommended the Eggs Benedict on Corn Waffles ($14) and it did not disappoint. Waffles are a refreshing twist to the traditional English muffin base which I am getting a little jaded of. These were made a little soft to accord a degree of yolk-mopping absorbency and had sweet corn kernels ingeniously slipped beneath the poached eggs. The eggs were a little overcooked with a thin outer shell of cooked yolk surrounding the yellow goo instead of a mere delicate, sheer egg-white membrane. However, this was more than redeemed by a gastronomic symbiosis like no other: the eggs themselves were unseasoned, borrowing saltiness from the crowning of lean bacon whose lack of fat-richness was compensated for by the yolk. Even the gorgeous hollandaise with its ever-so-subtle acidity was rendered a third wheel in this whirlwind flavour romance.
How could one go to Spruce without trying the Signature Burger with Bacon ($19)? So despite my already happy belly, I placed an order. The patty was a tender, juice-dripping, rosy-hued masterpiece of medium rare. This was topped with crisp and sweet red onions, a generous smear of mustard, the same lean bacon from the eggs Benedict and julienned lettuce. I may have mentioned this before but julienned lettuce is my secret extra-credit when it comes to burgers, satisfying my neurotic need for neatness when I eat. Alas, this perfect picture fell victim to the quintessential burger-architecture mistake. While the top bun was protected by several layers of garnish, the bottom bun’s thin coating of butter rapidly caved to the onslaught of juice from the adjacent patty for a soggy result.
The potato wedges were like the love child of a roast potato and his French fry paramour. Instead of typical mealy mush, one is met with an actual piece of solid potato beneath the crisp skin. A flourish of character and punch was accorded by a dash of spiced salt, move over ketchup.