It is absolutely pissing down outside, and with my usual foresight and forethought, I am stuck. As the clouds gathered above Bukit Timah, I dithered my way around a range of possible choices, before heading for the one which would be hardest to escape in case of rain. For you can’t get out of Crown Bakery & Cafe without a car if it pours. It’s right in the middle between two MRT stations and there’s no covered way, not even to the bus stop.
I am stuck. I might even have to get me another of their pastries. And you know what, that’s perfectly fine by me.
For Crown Bakery & Cafe is very much my kind of place, welcoming and unpretentious. Nestled in a corner of Crown Centre, it does not pretend to be, say, a bare concrete warehouse space that happens to be a bakery. It is a bakery, one with a Japanese vibe – meticulously and openly clean, with a powder blue colour scheme and marble top tables. There’s a bread schedule next to the entrance, lest you come too early for your favourite bake.
Crown evidently takes its duties as a bakery and cafe very seriously, given that board – and the bread itself. Their breakfast plate has got a lot of things, but it is the bread – sourdough in this case – that takes centre stage. The crust is satisfyingly thick, the crumb slightly bendy and chewy without being too dense. It is a perfect bed for the lightly seared slices of lean bacon and scrambled egg, even if the scrambled egg is ever so slightly overdone.
A berry chocolate croissant looks like, and is, a curious sort of graft. A blanket of macaron dough – caramel, almond and just the right squish – covers the flaky pastry, which itself holds a balanced filling of sharp berry coulis and warm chocolate. It isn’t a looker, but the whole is more than the sum of its parts. They’ve clearly thought this through carefully.
Which is no wonder, given Crown’s origins – one half of the collaboration behind it, as it turns out, is Japanese bakery Signifiant Signifié. And the front of house is on the level too. Halfway through tea a woman comes in asking if they have vegan bread, and someone suggests the baguette, but his colleague shoots him down immediately. ‘Can’t have that though,’ he says. ‘There’s a little butter in it.’ (Is there really? Maybe it’s part of their process…) I can totally imagine another shop just fobbing a baguette off on her, but clearly the staff hold themselves to a higher standard. Another reason to traipse down to Bukit Timah on a rainy day.
Crown Bakery & Cafe
557 Bukit Timah Road
#01-03 Crown Centre (map)
Contact no.: 6463 3066
Daily, 7.30am – 7pm