Populus Cafe, like its neighbour along Neil Road two doors away, Lokal Cafe, has enjoyed great success from day one. Unlike many new restaurants in Singapore which see their crowds wane off as the novelty wears off, this pair of hip cafes continue to pack them. In an earlier visit to Lokal, we had stopped by to see what was the hype all about and were convinced that it did have something special to justify the hype (see our post here). This time, curiosity made us check out why Populus Cafe is so popular. According to the Populus website, they are “a gastro-cafe serving up contemporary progressive café nosh and speciality coffee.“
There is no need to describe Populus Cafe. It is the usual shophouse cafe in a long narrow space with an industrial interior decoration theme, but two points stand out. The first is that the quality of the furnishing seems higher than the typical hipster cafe. While most make do with bare concrete floors and simple walls. Populus Cafe has nice paved floors and wood panelled walls, which is a positive. The other feature is not so positive. The tables are small and packed really close together. A token six-inch gap separates one dining group from another. Too close for comfort for us. Perhaps we were over-sensitive because other patrons seem to be undeterred and a short queue formed. Fertile conditions for the law of inverse courtesy to bloom.
Our readers who have read our post some time back would know about this law.
In case you are not aware, the law of inverse courtesy states as follows: the level of service (S) at an eatery is quite often inversely proportional to the popularity (P) of the eatery multiplied by the average number (N) of people who are in the queue at peak hours.
S = 1/(P * N)
Unfortunately the law applied that day. No smiles were detected on the faces of any of the servers. Their tone and facial expressions sent the message that “you are so lucky we are letting you get a seat in this place, we will deal with you when we are ready”.
Here is a picture of the weekend food menu. In case the print is too small, you can read the full menu on their website (link below).
Our first dish – the Spring Pancake and Fried Chicken ($21). It was a few pieces of fried chicken piled on top of a thin pancake. The chicken was good with the meat still tender and the batter had a good mix of spices to give it a good taste. The pancake with spring onion and corn flavours should have been very nice. But being placed at the bottom of a pile of fried chicken, it acted as a sponge for the oil and other dressing and was just too oily and soggy.
The baked eggs ($19) was a more usual all day breakfast kind of dish. We liked the eggs and salad. The two slices of bread were quite ordinary.
The beef burger ($20) was the favourite dish of the day. The beef had a deep complex taste. The buns looked good and had good texture. Crusty on the outside but light inside.
Finally, we tried the most photogenic dish of the day – the lovely French Toast ($19). If we started a restaurant, we would decorate all our dishes with flowers and fruit as the dish looked so pretty. The taste of this dish was however quite ordinary but all is forgiven as it looked so good. It however loses out to the candidate from Paddy Hills Cafe which is still one of the prettiest dishes of all time.
The coffee at Populus Cafe was indeed good ($5 for coffee and $5.50 for cappuccino), especially for those who like their coffee robust and powerful.
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
The Populus Cafe
146 Neil Road
Tel : +65 6635 8420
Mon 09:00 – 19:00
Wed0 9:00 – 19:00
Thu – Fri0 9:00 – 22:30
Sat 09:30 – 22:30
Sun 09:30 – 19:00