The first time I saw the name ‘Our Tampines Hub’, I thought it was just some possessive eastie who really likes the place. But no – turns out, in our gradual slide into Orwellian horror, it’s the actual name of the actual building complex. Repeat it enough times, I guess, and it will feel true. This is Our Tampines Hub. Our Tampines Hub. Our Tampines Hub…
Anyway, wouldn’t have known about this place, or be within 10 km of it, if not for a little errand I had to run. Also a blazingly sunny day that forced me to seek shelter anywhere. But since I was there, Commonground – well-situated right at the front of the building – seemed worth a visit.
Thankfully, Commonground eschews the worst excesses of ‘industrial’ decor, while retaining just a few elements – a brick ‘facade’, for example. Even, warm lighting is also pleasant, as is the good view of a spacious kitchen that spits fireballs every now and then. They refrain from packing the wide space too tightly, which is nice.
The menu is pretty group-oriented, with lots of vast meat platters and mixed grills, but there’s also plenty for the lone diner – including, to my surprise, chicken fried steak. It’s not called that here, but that’s what it is – steak, pounded thin, breaded and deep fried.
And it’s not bad at all, even if the breading is a little plodding and has taken in a bit too much oil. The beef is thin enough that doneness doesn’t matter, and is chewy but still tender with a nice animal reek. In place of cream gravy, there’s the cream sauce that holds its bed of pasta together; mild and mellow, it does its job, clinging tightly to the firm spaghetti.
Commonground makes its coffee and soups in-house; I’m not that much for coffee, but seafood chowder sounds good. And it looks good too – the contrast of the blue-rimmed bowl and the pale, properly gloopy with its roux. Little shrimp and clams pop and snap to the bite, though I’m less sure about the kernels of sweet corn – it distracts from the flavour of the rest of the soup. Bread, too, has been soaking in humid conditions too long, the crumb dense but the crust unyielding.
Nonetheless, little hiccups aside, I could definitely see myself coming back, if not for the small problem of it being out in Tampines. The menu is so vast it would take weeks to check everything out, but what little I’ve tried suggests that, if they haven’t quite mastered the range of dishes, they know enough and are working at it.
Then I read the menu again and – wait, what’s this? They’re selling Kraftwich? A little more Googling, and it turns out these guys grow from the same rootstock as PastaMania.
Oh bloody hell.
Am I being a terrible snob if this affects how I see the whole meal? Maybe it’s better to think, in line with Commonground’s marketing, that it is not a corporate offshoot but our honest communal spot. Fine, I’ll go with that. Our communal spot. Our communal spot. Our communal spot…
51 Tampines Ave 4
Our Tampines Hub, #01-103, S’pore 529684
Contact no.: 6386 6917
Mon – Thurs, 10am – 10pm
Friday, 10am – midnight
Saturday, 8am – midnight
Sunday, 8am – 10pm