My last memory of Fresh Fruits Lab was my one and only visit when I was still in Junior College when I stopped by for an afternoon of pasta with friends. For a long time, I paid it no mind, but somewhere in the deep recesses of my memory lay refreshing fruit juices served in test tubes and a glorious prawn pasta that was worth every student-saved penny back then.
To hear about FFL’s rebranding to Simplicité—let alone to see it in person—is a curious case for me because their previous science lab-esque aesthetic was downright adorable and never-before-seen. But experiencing Simplicité for myself makes it easier to understand that perhaps the change is all for the better.
What I tried
If I could sum up the theme for the fare here at Simplicité, it would be taking what we already know—perennial cafe offerings—and making it better. Take the Smashed Avocado on Brioche with Poached Eggs (S$16) for example; I’ll be honest and say that I don’t exactly have high hopes for the cafe staple. I mean, of course, they had to have it on the menu. But things really take a turn when I pack all the elements in a succinct bite and take a mouthful.
Don’t underestimate the power of the seemingly uncomplicated meld of avocado, poached eggs, tomatoes, arugula, and a sweet, sweet generously-buttered brioche bun. When done right, in all the right proportions, every mouthful is equal parts creamy, savoury, and well-balanced as all breakfasts should be. And it’s incredibly refreshing to say that about an otherwise predictable all-day breakfast menu item.
The Duck Confit (S$28) is not what I’d typically make a beeline for at any restaurant, but right now I’m so glad I’m not missing out on what I can only describe as divine textures and proportions. Arguably, the best part of any animal is its resplendent crispy skin, and today’s crackling duck skin has been seasoned and pan-fried to a tee. Of course, encircling it is a generous drizzle of brown sauce, a serving of broccoli, corn, a bed of mash potatoes, and a spray of edible flower petals that easily makes you feel like you’re cutting right into an artwork.
Honing a newfound affection for rose-scented and flavoured things, I promptly and unrepentantly fall head over heels with the Rose Latte (S$6 hot, S$7.50 iced), which does a great job at looking utterly gorgeous, and a better one at boasting fragrance. If you’re here for the pretty things and dainty fare, then this should definitely be on your order list.
The perpetually-caffeinated might find solace in the Lavender Latte (S$6 hot, S$7.50 iced) that comes by way of a large espresso-milk blend sprinkled with lavender petals to really drive home the flavour. Perhaps a little too much though, because—as I always complain about anything lavender—it feels like you’re sipping straight out of a candle. So maybe it’s not the best feeling in the world for lil’ ol’ me, but if you’re all about that flower field life, then go right for it.
The Cold Angel Hair Masago Caviar (S$10) is designed as a starter but makes for a great sharing dish too, or just one to intersperse your mains and dessert for when you just don’t want the meal to end. I will say this—truffle oil and sesame dressing are both standouts on their own, but the two really shouldn’t go together. Tossing both within the same dish really seems like the culinary equivalent of a JJ Lin and Anne-Marie crossover; they just cancel each other out. The dish on a whole still presents a good bite, but take them seriously when they say it’s a starter portion—it’ll last you four or five bites; six, at best.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find somewhere that has a mocktail list that’s equally long as their cocktails, but then again, Simplicité’s the kind of place to do everything, and do them well. So because actually drinking booze is so 2019, and it’s all non-alcoholic spirits for those who truly know what’s up, the Dark Clover (S$11) is just a dream if we’re talking maximum pleasure and minimum calories.
Its clove, cinnamon, star anise, orange, and chai tea components remind me fondly of Christmas time when mulled wine comes a-knocking, and we all know that the holidays are when work doesn’t actually exist, people pretend to like their families, and give each other gifts to make up for all that time they didn’t spend with them throughout the previous eleven months in the year. I know, it sounds sad, but if you think about it, it really just is a glorious ruse to end the year on as good a note as it can be.
Anyway enough about Christmas, the Twist of French 75 (S$14) is Simplicité’s take on the classic G&T, made with gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, soda water, and butterfly pea for that kiss of blue. My relationship with gin has gone to the gutter… and back, and now I’ve made my peace with it. So this iteration of the cocktail is one I will most definitely vouch for—as if me finishing the entirety of it in one sitting isn’t already testament enough.
The cafe’s dreamy, Vera-in-Paris vibe is really reiterated and sealed with its dramatic dessert offerings. A delicate Lychee Cake (S$7.50), Chocolate Dipped Croissant (S$4), and Lemon Meringue Tart (S$6) fit all too well into the moony mise en scène of the establishment, wrapping up a meal that’s already proven opulent. My only gripe with the meringue tart’s crust is that it could be snappier instead of crumbly, but other than that, it delivers what it promises.
Vera’s ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’
The Duck Confit arrests my tiny heart right off the bat, so I would be a heathen not to crown it (and all its crispy skin goodness) as today’s winner. If there’s one thing you must get at Simplicité, let it be this glorious poultry dish.
Think about some of your usual favourite cafe dishes. Now imagine that, but elevated, and bolder, and better. At the very heart of Simplicité is edible art, an extensive menu, and fare that goes above and beyond.
Expected damage: S$30 – S$45 per pax
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Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
351 Changi Road, Singapore 419818
351 Changi Road, Singapore 419818