Every so often, a new entry joins Singapore’s burgeoning scene of self-proclaimed hipster cafes, bistros, and craft beer joints – so much so that it’s impossible to keep up with who’s coming and going.
Taking over the space previously held by Botanist (another cafe from my growing list of places that I never got to visit before they closed) on Neil Road is Cheeky, a cafe-by-day, craft-beer-joint-by-night establishment.
Like so many of its predecessors that have come and gone in our ever so fickle F&B landscape, Cheeky aims to break the mould by delivering “top-notch cafe fare with a twist or two”.
Despite the narrow structure of most traditional shophouses, Cheeky’s dining areas are surprisingly spacious, with generous amounts of space between tables. An ideal situation for when you want to while away the afternoon sharing confidential gossip with your inner circle.
The kitchen takes up the entire ground level of the shophouse’s interior, with an additional dining area on the second level for you to enjoy your food and drinks in air conditioned comfort.
As mentioned earlier, Cheeky aims to serve food that is not only tasty, but also shows the amount of thought and care that was put into its inception.
Cheeky’s foray into “typical, but not so typical” brunch territory begins with the Chilli Crab Scramble ($15).
The richness of the silky smooth scrambled eggs is contrasted with the briny and spicy notes of the chilli crab it is mixed with. Interestingly, I could not spot any visible morsels of crab meat, which means it was probably blended into the scramble egg mix during the cooking process. This is a promising side dish that does not verge on overly rich, and is best enjoyed with the accompanying sourdough toast. It almost seemed our bowl of chilli crab scramble was a bottomless one (read: very generous portion for two).
The main dishes are where Cheeky’s take on brunch gets a little interesting. The Smashed Avocado Toast ($18) is one dish that, for want of a better word, defies expectations. Cheeky’s rendition of this beloved brunch staple departs from typical servings of plain or lightly seasoned smashed avocado on toast. Instead, what you get here is something closer to egg mayonnaise in terms of consistency and taste. It’s also notably citrusy, a result of adding tomato into the seasoning mix.
Two onsen eggs encircled by smoked salmon slices complete this eye-catching dish. Oh, and a pat of sweet chilli jam cos why not. The mix of savoury, spicy, and citrusy notes may overwhelm at first, but some of the more adventurous diners may appreciate this non-cookie cutter of an avocado toast.
Another main dish that’s been making the rounds in reviews is the Cheeky Burger ($15). Bite into a 150g beef patty smothered with aged cheddar, special sauce, and pickled slaw. Served with a side of curly fries for some smokin’ diner vibes.
Familiar brunch territory can be found in the Cheeky Breakfast Club ($22), a substantially sized breakfast platter that includes fluffy scrambled eggs (sorry, no chilli crab here), balsamic roasted mushrooms, honey confit cherry tomatoes, spinach, and one of the thickest cuts of bacon I’ve seen.
With such an enticing mixture of aromas wafting from this plate, you’ll be struggling to resist the temptation to dig right in while your cafe hopping buddies clamour for a photo of this beautifully plated dish.
Cheeky’s dessert menu is currently limited to two items, although the team is currently working on bringing new additions to the line-up. The Kaya Pancakes ($15) combines the best of both worlds – Western brunch fare infused with local flavours. Made in-house, the kaya sauce adds richness and sweetness to the fluffy pancake, which has been quartered and stacked alongside a medley of fresh berries and jam.
I’m not one to recommend sweets that often, seeing as I’m biased towards savoury food. But believe me when I say the Kaya Pancakes are worth breaking your diet for!
With a little fine-tuning, Cheeky is one to watch for quality food and service. While its location along Neil Road may be a little out of the way of some, its quiet atmosphere makes it an ideal spot to refuel and recharge. The team is already in the midst of experimenting with more creations, such as a bubble-tea themed beverage lineup, so watch their space!
Address: 74 Neil Road
Nearest MRT: Outram Park EW 16
Tuesday to Friday: 10.30am – 6.30pm
Saturday: 9.30am – 6.30pm
Sunday: 9.30am – 4.30pm
Closed on Monday