The area of Tanjong Pagar and Duxton Hill is filled with plenty of instagrammable brunch and dessert cafes, atmospheric bars and wonderful upscale restaurants to boot, and a new Australian-style cafe has opened along Tanjong Pagar Road in the form of Five Oars Coffee Roasters.
The first thing you notice is how much space the cafe has, seeing as many that have opened in the heart of the city tend to go for the cosy, smaller spaces.
The decor is in line with a more minimalistic, no frills style, which makes the cafe feel expansive.
There is an outdoor seating area facing the road which felt a bit more like other cafes that have really incorporated plants and greens into their interior decor.
I quite liked the vibe of it there, which worked out well enough because the indoor seating area was so packed we would have to be put on a waiting list on a Saturday if we wanted to sit indoors.
Inside though, I felt it was a little barren as there wasn’t much greenery inside, and it looked a little too no-frills if I’m being completely honest.
On a good day, I wouldn’t mind just sitting outside instead.
This cafe has gotten really popular since it opened earlier this year.
Few cafes in the city actually have a very large and extensive menu, but Five Oars Coffee Roasters prides itself on exactly that— it’s “extensive brunch game,” and running through the day menu, you get all-time favourites like Avocado and Eggs, Halloumi Portobello, and the Five Oars Breakfast plate being your equivalent of big boy breakfast plates in other cafes with sourdough toast, sausages, hash brown, tomato, bacon, eggs, and all the works.
It is pretty impressive on first glance, though the brunch options are very reliant on dishes with eggs, but you can also find pastas, rice bowls, and sides.
Prices here run from $16 to $25 before taxes, which of course, is a little expensive considering the calibre of the dishes and ingredients which are bog-standard for cafes these days, but understanding the prime location, this wasn’t all that surprising.
For the casual lunch time grab and go, I can imagine Five Oars might not be the best option in town.
We ended up going for the Chicken Rosti and Crab Benedict.
The Chicken Rosti features slow cooked chicken breast with potato rosti, finished off with gruyere cheese, hollandaise, sour cream and topped with a free range egg. I thought it was a pretty simple dish in all honesty, and the texture of the egg was just right and balanced nicely with the sauces.
Simple dishes do though, have to be extra special to make it very good, which means they’re actually harder to do.
I went for the Crab Benedict as I thought a soft shell crab dish is a lot harder to get right than what most might think.
Five Oars’ Crab Benedict is served on an English muffin type of sandwich and pastry, which had a plain and slightly sour-sweet taste served with crab meat and a free ranged poached egg and hollandaise. On the side, the soft shell crab is served with mentaiko and a bit of shrimp roe (ebiko).
To be honest, I thought the dish was okay but the soft shell crab was a little drowned out by the mentaiko sauce which was really slathered on.
At the same time, if they cut back on the sauce, the dish would’ve felt a little too dry.
I’ve definitely tasted better soft shell crab around but it was a nice alternative to have on the menu.
By night, Five Oars turns into a casual dinner place, and the brunch options turn into heavier mains, such as Coq Au Vin, Black Angus Burger, and Pan Seared Salmon etc.
All in all, Five Oars Coffee Roasters is a good cafe for simple, reliable and traditional options, with great convenience in the middle of the city and Central Business District.
Apart from it’s location, the extensive menu does work in its favour, though I’d like to see more varied options in the day, and for the price it commands, bigger portions might help make it feel more worth the money.