The Forage Cafe, Tanah Merah: “The fried chicken thigh is nothing short of orgasmically crispy”

Since I’m all for the cafe life and my Instagram account knows it, The Forage Cafe has been showing up on my feed countless times. In fact, The Forage Cafe has established itself in my imagination as one of the must-go in order to qualify as a cafe lover.

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At long last, the time has come for me to find out if they’re worth their popularity, along with the drawn-out journey to Tanah Merah. To the West-dweller like me, this really feels like the middle of nowhere.

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The Forage Cafe sticks faithfully to their honey theme, from the bee decor to the honey shots accompanying most of their dishes. Here, honey is the golden backbone of all things sweet and savoury.

What I tried

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Barring the initial sting of taking the latter’s name personally, Forage Signature (S$8.50) and Slimming Potion (S$8.50) are welcome refreshments. 

The coolly amber Forage Signature hits the palate with citrusy and flowery notes that mingle gently with the honey sweetness, but what I remember most about it is the feeling of having drunk soap with the final floral hit. While this comparison might sound shockingly bad, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the drink. It was still pleasant, just that if you’re very averse to floral scents in your drinks, I’d suggest you give it a miss.

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Meanwhile, in Professor Snape fashion, the waitress doses the initially blue Slimming Potion with apple vinegar and honey.

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We watch with fascination as the concoction turns a light purple. Sipping it feels like drinking a lightly sweetened Ribena, which brings back happy memories of childhood. Now that I’m slim as a reed, I’m ready to feast.

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The moment of truth comes surprisingly quickly with the Chili Cheese Chicken Grilled Waffle Sandwich (S$15.90), providing enough oomph and wow to confirm that The Forage Cafe is in no way overrated. The buttermilk waffles are so fluffy and light that it’s a shame we didn’t get to have them for dessert too.

Chicken and waffles is a tried and tested combination, but The Forage Cafe neatly aces it. The fried chicken thigh is nothing short of orgasmically crispy as it complements the soft waffles. As I always staunchly stand by, waffles are considerate pancakes. A mandatory shot of honey is served on the side.

Pour that all over your waffle and watch as it helpfully pools in each little cubby. Enjoy the sweet complexity it adds to the savoury chicken katsu. However, with that much sweetness from the honey, I would’ve liked a bit more fire in the cheese.

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I do wonder how the other meats work with the waffles though, such as the Jalapeño Beef Ragu (S$18.90) and Smoked Salmon & Eggs (S$17.90). Since they’ve so confidently nailed the chicken rendition, I am beyond eager to return for a try.

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My enthusiasm falls a little flat when I take a turn at the Granchio Pasta (S$20.90), which just doesn’t match up to the Chili Cheese Chicken Waffle’s fireworks. It’s good for places to diversify, but it’s also heartening to know that they excel in a specific area. Come to The Forage Cafe for the waffles, not the Granchio Pasta.

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Though delightfully consistent with the shredded crab meat, the granchio sauce ends up homogeneous and slightly thin against the generous portion of linguine. Perhaps more cream would help, but as it is, I turn back to the Chili Cheese Chicken Waffle.

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It pains me to see the Chili Cheese Chicken Waffle end, so much so that I scarf down the token salad on the side in a futile bid for closure. I’ll preface the next few comments by saying that I usually find these side salads an unnecessary addition, which I eat only to avoid wasting food. 

The mesclun salad here is ordinary, taking the easy way out with sesame soy dressing to trick you into going in for more. Sesame soy dressing feels very 2017 to me, and after a few whirls with it, I’m pretty much over its honey mustard-like sweetness. Then again, I still let myself be taken in. With a waffle sandwich so wonderful, it can get away with anything.

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Still, mesclun offers little closure, but sweet cream cheese stacked on a digestive biscuit base does. Finished with a nub of honeycomb and a drizzle of honey, the Forage Honey Cheesecake (S$9 per slice) delays our departure from The Forage Cafe. It’s a little dry and crumbly for me, but my six-month-cheesecake-starved companion happily takes over.

Dark chocolate ganache is a welcome antithesis to all that cream as the Chocolate Tart (S$5) aggravates my throat satisfyingly. With the teasingly thin drizzle of white chocolate, everything melds into a beautifully milky bite.

Final thoughts

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The Forage Cafe proves faithful to its honey brand, crafting dishes that support and shine with its sharp and saccharine flavours. For its raging popularity, though, they are mortal as far as cafes go. Like a good cafe, they have perfected a specific range of their menu in the waffles. The other sections take a bit of a back seat, mainly for the fact that the waffles are so unforgettable. 

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If you’re contemplating a visit, do! My only two suggestions would be to keep expectations in check (as with all things exciting) and to order the waffles. 

Chope Reservations

Expected Damage: S$16 – S$21 per pax

Price: $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

The Forage Cafe

30 Jalan Pari Burong , Singapore 488696

Our Rating 4/5

The Forage Cafe

30 Jalan Pari Burong , Singapore 488696

Telephone: +65 8869 7131
Operating Hours: 8am - 10pm (Daily)
Telephone: +65 8869 7131

Operating Hours: 8am - 10pm (Daily)
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