Food Review: Criollo Cocoa Cafe

My first invited food tasting is to Criollo Cocoa Cafe! They are a simple and no-frills cafe that aims to bring comfort food to the masses, all day, every day. Even though they are named after a type of chocolate beans, they don't really specialise in desserts/chocolate.

Interestingly, I came here for lunch a few months ago, and the above and bottom photo was taken then. They are located in a very convenient place - level 2 of Orchard Gateway.

One huge plus point of their location is that it overlooks the busy Orchard Road! Their full length glass windows thus also makes it an ideal spot to people watch while having a slow, relaxing meal.

During my first visit on a weekday afternoon, they had the above weekday lunch menu, which is very affordable!

Recently, because they rolled out new items to their menu, the new additions are written on the whiteboard above, the burgers and breakfast items on the left.

Big Breakfast ($16.90)
2 scrambled eggs, served with chicken sausage, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, hashbrown, toast and fresh fruits in sweet yogurt

What say you about having breakfast for dinner? I say AYEEE! This dish has so much on its plate, and it's bound to keep you full for at least the first half of the day! The scrambled eggs were not bad, quite fluffy, and the fresh fruits with yogurt was a delightful addition. However I found the chicken sausage too salty and the bacon overfried.

Good news! Criollo Cocoa Cafe is having a promotion for this dish now, going for $12 (nett)! It's very worth the money for the variety you get on the plate! I can't remember when this promotion ends, (could be the end of June) but whatever it is, go try it out!

Portobello Burger ($12.90)
Grilled portobello mushroom with onions and capsicum, tasty cheese, lettuce and sliced tomato on toasted brioche bun, served with fries

I said before I'm not a fan of burgers, but this very humble dish actually kind of impressed me! The grilled portobello could have been bigger, because if you see in the picture it's like hidden under the cheese. But nevertheless, what stole the limelight (for me) was the brioche bun! It was nicely toasted with a slight crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside! And I guess the sauces of mayo and mustard (on the cheese) also did the trick of making it more flavourful.

Seafood Laksa Pasta ($16.90)
Pan fried spaghetti with prawns and squid rings in special laksa sauce

Perhaps it could be due to my first time trying a laksa pasta, but I thought it's not bad an attempt at having creative dishes. While the laksa gravy tasted quite powdery, the seafood tasted quite fresh. Overall it could possibly satisfy those laksa cravings, but of course not as good as having the actual dish itself.

Mixed Grilled Platter ($18.90)
Grilled chicken and beef on skewers, black pepper chicken sausages, served with fries and coleslaw

Unfortunately this dish disappointed us all. The beef (pictured above) was tough and personally I'd rather have beef satay than that...

The chicken was average, and I think the ones at Tori-Q are better! The sausages were salty again, maybe it's just sausages in general that tend to be salty... :/ Anyway I feel this dish doesn't warrant its rather high price tag.

Chocolate Waffle ($9.90)
Cocoa flavoured waffle topped with chocolate ice cream, marshmallow and dark chocolate sauce

Now where shall we start. The ice cream, shall we? I'm happy to say that it was good! Not too icy nor milky. They make their gelato by themselves as they have a gelato machine. I think this is where they stand out!

As for the waffles, you can see that it isn't the thick and fluffy kind, but more of the thin and crispy kind. It's something different from the usual waffles served in cafes, and I enjoyed the crispyness and chocolatey-ness of it! I guess this is where they live up to the name of their restaurant. Oh oh, and for less than $10, this is really value for money!

We were still feeling a bit peckish so we walked over to their cakes counter to check out their cakes. This cake stood out to me and I was tempted to try! Lucky us owner Mr Lam was generous to serve a few more desserts to us, so yay! :D

Malt cake ($6.90)

But... maybe it was not meant to be. The cake, while looking delicious with the frosting on top and at the side, tasted dry and hard! :( Before having this cake we saw another table left with this half eaten, and on hindsight, we know why...

Earl Grey tea cake ($5.90)
Thankfully, this tea cake fared better. While I don't really like tea flavours, the earl grey here was not overpowering and just nice to have you enjoy the moist cake. The portion is also bigger than its counterparts served normally in cafes.

Left: Lychee ice cream
Right: Coconut ice cream
Some of the rest requested to try more flavours of the ice cream since we enjoyed the one that came with the waffles. Most of us prefer the coconut to lychee flavour. I thought these two flavours were slightly more icy than I'd have liked.

Since I'm blogging about them, I might as well review the food I tried during my first visit right?

Lunch menu: Aglio Olio Spaghetti with Bacon ($7.90)
Very straightforward there. The pasta was alright, a bit on the oily side (as with most Aglio Olios sigh). The portion of bacon was quite generous, so that's great. Best of all, it's really at a steal so come by and try out their weekday lunch menu as well!

Fresh Fruits Waffle ($9.90)
Freshly baked waffle topped with seasonal fresh fruits and maple syrup
I had their waffles then and upon trying their chocolate one during the tasting, I feel it was just as good as before. Plus points for the nice variety of fruits given! I topped it up with a scoop of Cookies and Cream ice cream too (in the flatlay photo above) and that sealed the deal. Yummm~

Oreo Cheesecake ($4.90)
My favourite type of dessert but it failed to impress me. It wasn't thaaat bad, like there were sufficient cookie bits in the cake, but it didn't taste 'fresh' to me? The cheese tasted salty and the cake reminded me of those commercialised kind where they make in bulk.

Hazelnut Royaline ($4.90)
I like hazelnut too and my friend and I decided to give this a try. The sponge layers in between were soft, and the chocolate flavour was strong enough. Reminded me of a tiramisu actually haha. Worth a try if you'd like to end off your meal with some sweets!

So overall I feel Criollo Cocoa Cafe has some hits and misses, and it's quite a pity because they've got a very good location that overlooks Orchard Road. Plus the food is very reasonably priced too (no GST, no service charge) so they've got potential to do well! With some tweaking of the food quality, who knows, they may just become the next go-to cafe in town?

Thank you openricesg for the food tasting invite and Mr Lam for being so accommodating!

Criollo Cocoa Cafe
Orchard Gateway
277 Orchard Road
Singapore 238858
Mon - Sun 1100 - 2230