Last Updated: April 22, 2019
We seem to have a thing for giving our historical buildings a lease of new life by injecting bits of modernity. The surest way we go about it is introducing food places into them.
The bustling nightlife of CHIJMES, the former Bukit Timah Fire Station and rows of shophouses along Telok Ayer are testaments to that. What is rare, though, is leaving the interiors of these places almost as it was without restoration, a unique touch Colbar along Whitchurch Road has.
Given that the cafe is located in the depths of the estate, it was difficult to get there without driving. Long queues and ulu eating destinations have never fazed me nor deterred me from getting my food knowing that the wait and navigating struggles would all be worth it in the end. I could only hope to say the same when we reached Colbar.
It is essentially a glorified kopitiam left untouched since the 1950s with an unmistakable face of the past. Abbreviated for ‘colonial bar’, it served formally as a canteen for the British army which definitely piqued my interest.
I’m quite on-the-fence when it comes to pork cutlets, considering their tendency to be either too dry or too tough to bite through. But the breaded Pork Cutlet and Mushroom (S$13) which resembled a crispy Japanese katsu sure looked promising.
Most cutlets tend to have a poor meat-to-batter ratio; too thick a crust and too little meat. This pork cutlet was quite the opposite. Cutting into it, the cross-section revealed a decently thick cut of meat coated in a thin crispy crust.
The crust, though satisfyingly crunchy, didn’t compensate for the less-than-juicy meat that needed quite a bit of chewing to get through.
Out-of-the-can mushrooms on the side didn’t quite make the cut for me either, the only thing that came through was perhaps the potato wedges. Skin-on and thick-cut, the roasted potato wedges had a crispy exterior and soft inside.
A rather extensive list of Asian dishes are also served alongside the Western dishes to cater to the locals. Usual plates that make the list include Dry Hor Fun (S$8) and Fried Rice (S$8).
What came when we ordered the Chicken Curry Rice (S$11) was perhaps a grander version of the typical dish, in terms of size. Instead of multiple joint wings or a drumstick, it was served with a whole chicken thigh in a thick gravy.
While the name of the dish suggests only the combination of curry and chicken, we definitely expected the inclusion of potato chunks and a handful of taupok, typical of the local dish. Not finding these ingredients in the dish made it a rather sub-par chicken curry.
The strong and prominent flavour of cumin made it distinctively more of an Indian curry as opposed to the Chinese version, being milder in flavour without the addition of certain strong spices.
Of everything we had, the Cheesy Omelette & Chips (S$11) was the best as much as it was a let-down. We crowned it the best on the account that it topped the charts for what a good cheesy omelette should entail.
The folded omelette encased a slightly runny interior with a tangy melted cheese that oozes out as we cut into it.
That said, it definitely was a comforting item for brunch yet it really wasn’t anything that couldn’t be easily prepared at home without much of a hassle.
The inclusion of a variety of English craft beers was an interesting modern touch that stood out against the otherwise very rustic interior. You’ll find a good range available, from sweet and fruity ciders to bitter IPAs.
It would usually be quite unfair to crucify a place solely based on its inaccessibility, but I find it difficult to reconcile Colbar’s remote location with its mediocre and less-than-exciting menu.
I’m sure you’ll be amazed at how much of the past it’ll remind you of, but beyond nostalgia, it’s a place that wouldn’t offer you enough satisfaction to make your journey there a worthwhile one.
Expected Damage: S$5 – S$20 per pax
Our Rating: 2 / 5
9A Whitchurch Road, Singapore 138839
9A Whitchurch Road, Singapore 138839