Thursday, September 13, 2018

Restaurant Review: Rider's Cafe @ Bukit Timah Saddle Club, Singapore

I am a die hard cafe-lover. And I love brunch. And it is no secret among inner circles that I love to talk (a LOT). So, when I get to go for brunch to a cafe with a pal I haven't met in ages, the combination is sheer gold 😀

That is how I landed at Rider's Cafe one balmy Saturday afternoon. I had heard about this cafe umpteen times as it is a popular brunch destination among locals.

Nestled in the lush greenery of Bukit Timah, Rider's CafĂ© is a cafĂ© serving contemporary comfort food housed in a rustic white and black building belonging to the Bukit Timah saddle club. 

The cafĂ© isn't accessible by public transport so the best way to reach there would be by car (it really is super ulu lah). As you get closer to the cafĂ©, keep your eyes on the road and you will notice the serene drive flanked by a canopy of trees and sprawling verdant meadows. Accentuated by blue skies, you really feel like you are escaping Singapore into a secluded countryside. 

Since I knew that the café could get insanely crowded on weekends, I made an online reservation the day before via Chope. I would heavily recommend doing this - it barely takes 2 minutes and saves you the unnecessary waiting time (note that same day reservations are not allowed).

Me and my friend reached the cafĂ© at 12:30pm and were promptly shown to our table by the amicable staff. The restaurant was almost full with a mixture of both locals and expats enjoying a casual and relaxed brunch. 

Given the open concept of the restaurant, there was greenery visible all around and the high ceiling added to the airy feel (be aware that there is no air conditioning at all). The interiors of the café are dominated by white and the style may be described as minimalist rustic with a colonial flair. The café exudes a lovely old world charm that adds to the laid-back ambience.

If you get a chance, grab the seats by the balcony. There aren't too many of them so you would have to be lucky! You get to soak up the scenery and will surely get a glimpse of the horses in the stables or in training. 

The menu isn't extensive but there are the usual crowd pleasers in the breakfast and lunch selections with a limited vegetarian selection (including two vegan options). You have choices such as full English breakfast, French toast, Bircher muesli, burger & sandwiches, salads, bowls, finger foods, pasta, beer battered fish and chips, steak and hot and cold beverages. Blackboard specials are available daily.

I ordered a hot and frothy cappuccino ($4.5) to begin with. My friend went with an iced mocha ($6).

We ordered a side of Parmesan and truffle fries served with salsa mayonnaise ($12) to share. The portion was generous and the piping hot fries were delicious. Fresh tasting, non-greasy, just the right amount of seasoning and that delightful truffle flavor carried through in every bite. The dip was good too. Way better than just plain ol' mayo. 

I was torn between the truffle egg white scramble and the Portobello sandwich. After going back and forth, I went with the Portobello sandwich served with sundried tomato pesto, zucchini, swiss cheese, garlic ranch and whole meal bread ($16). I wasn't aware that the dish came with fries (probably worth mentioning in the menu). I ended up scarfing down a lot of fries that afternoon! 

The Portobello sandwich turned out to be a good choice. You could tell that the bread was of superior quality and it had been buttered and toasted until crisp. The pesto, sauce and choice of veggies complimented each other and the end result was a tasty and satisfying dish. 

My friend ordered the 'full-on' usual served with two eggs (served your way), bacon, breakfast banger, mushrooms, tomato, baby spinach baked beans and rustic bread ($20). This was predictably a huge plate of food. It looks appetizing, vibrant and wholesome. My friend opted for her eggs to be poached which were executed perfectly. Her breathing had gotten slightly labored by the time she got done with the plate though! 

We also shared the homemade banana bread served with gula melaka cream ($7). I am a bit of a snob when it comes to banana bread because I can rustle up a pretty decent loaf myself. The banana bread at Rider's CafĂ© gets the thumbs up from me. It was moist and flavorful and even though the cream was a bit too sweet for my preference, slathered on the banana bread, it did taste very good. A great way to end the meal. 

Despite the cafĂ© being crowded, our orders were served without delay and the staff periodically checked in on us. 

I was expecting to be sweating buckets considering what a sweltering hot day it was but surprisingly both me and my friend were very comfortable the entire time we were there. The cafĂ© is very well ventilated and breezy so the lack of air conditioning will not be missed. 

We were so stuffed after our meal that we stayed a good half an hour there chatting and letting our stomachs settle! After we left the restaurant, we walked along the stables observing the horses (but note that public is not allowed entry inside). I noticed a small outdoor play area and my mind immediately drifted to my children. I made a mental note to bring the kids next time. They would love to see the horses and they could play outside until the food arrived. 

Rider's Café: Hearty Brunch Amidst Breathtaking Views

What sets Rider's CafĂ© apart from most cafes is its unique location and association to the Bukit Timah saddle club. The cafĂ© has a chilled-out vibe which makes it the ideal place to hang out on a weekend afternoon. You will be sure to find something on the menu that catches your fancy so the lack of options should not be cause for complaint. The portion-size of the dishes are good and the food is fresh, simple, hearty and well-prepared (don't expect any fancy-schmancy presentation though). The service was faultless during our visit despite it being a full house. The prices at the cafĂ© can be classified as mid-range with you having to fork out $30-50 per person. Not exactly what I would call value for money but the location is worth the extra $$ 

I'd recommend this cafĂ© for couples, families with children and small gatherings. 

My rating for this café is

51 Fairways Drive 
Singapore 286965 
Bukit Timah Saddle Club

Operating hours:
Sunday – Thursday: 8am – 9pm 
Friday & Saturday: 8am - 10pm 
Closed on Monday

Contact information:
Phone: +65 6466 9819
Fax: +65 6366 7456


This is NOT a sponsored write-up. All opinions are my own and based on personal experience

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