Featuring The Alley Cafe
The most important thing for me is to walk the little alleys of the city, to find the little alcove where someone is cooking something, and just watch them do it. That's my idea of fun. –Yotam Ottolenghi
A FRESH ALTERNATIVE to coffehouses in and around Everton Park, and bars lining Ann Siang Hill, this former bar turn café is making a name for itself in all the right ways. That’s right; we’re talking about The Alley Café. Located down Keong Saik Road nestles a café that somewhat exudes an air of mystery yet a sense of homeliness, in the way it is almost inconspicuous amongst the many bars lining the street yet the distinct aroma of freshly brewed coffee is able to tug at one’s senses as you pass by, almost like an invitation in.
Formerly a red light district area since the mid 19th century, the revamp and clean up that came as late as last year was key in giving Keong Saik Road the vintage-retro look it possesses today. Casting one’s view diagonal from the café will reveal one of the last standing brothels in Singapore. Indeed, this place boasts rich history. Rich, bold, full-bodied with a sweet finish, akin to the coffee served here.
“We make it a point to remember faces. The baristas here make an effort to remember how you like your coffee. That’s probably why there is a warm and cosy vibe to this place,” says assistant manager Aslam Zainal proudly.
Patrons only realize the truth in that statement as they admire the décor in The Alley Café. With fairy lights hanging from the ceiling and an open bar concept used for the preparations of beverages, it creates a somewhat intimate and cosy vibe. In the corner stands a vintage Pac-Man machine that boasts a high score that challenges anyone to try match. They promise an attractive prize for anyone who can beat the high score.
The Alley Café, which flourished at just the right time after the closure of former coffeehouse Oriole’s in the area two months ago has somewhat taken over as a locale spot for caffeine junkies along with The Lokal and The Plain, which are located minutes away. On an average weekend, the place packs to the brim by people from all walks including the regulars, the suits and skirts of the office men and women nearby as well as teenagers looking for a new hangout spot. And with them taking over from a bar, they were sure to make full use of the alcohol licence by offering a selection of cocktail drinks that they came up with on their own. Their signature Espresso Martini sounds like the perfect drink to start a party night; caffeine to keep you going, and alcohol to kick off the party vibes!
Mark Long, manager of Alley Café also shared some nuggets of wisdom. “People think we’re crazy for working seven days a week, but I love my job! That’s what work is all about. The crew is especially important; you have to be like a family. When you aren’t tight with your family, the atmosphere changes. Customers notice that.”
The Alley Café hosts its own house blend of coffee, with beans from Sumatra, Ethiopia and Brazil, thus giving it an alternative to coffee offered by other coffeehouses, such as Nylon Coffee Roasters and The Lokal, which serves up acidic coffee.
Not only do this café serve up beverages, they whip up mean main dishes as well. Boasting an all day breakfast consisting of special platters like The Greasy Spoon ($16) and mains such as The Alley Half Pounder, which is 227g of beef topped with caramelized onions and cheese and a side of fries. The café is also able to bring about an Asian-meet-Western feel with a dish in the form of Sawadee-Chicks ($12), which consists of Buffalo Wings with Thai chilli sauce, sure to tantalize your tastebuds. Finally, a trip to The Alley Café is not complete without trying the Truffle Mac & Cheese ($15) a four layered cheese and macaroni dish infused with truffle paste and ham/chicken bits to perfection guaranteed to satiate even the most passionate of cheese lovers.
When one thinks of an alley, the stereotype associated with is that of dark and dingy with no way out of. This Alley however, has no dead end. Instead, it opens up into an alcove of good vibes. Good vibes, nothing less.