Brunch is popular for a simple reason: it lets you dig into a comforting breakfast without having to yank yourself out of bed at an ungodly hour. Yet any gourmand worth his salt would know that most of what’s served at these brunch spots are hardly inspiring.
Call it fuss-free if you will but you know exactly what we’re talking about: there’s always the sliced avocados, poached eggs on toast soaked in vinegar-ed water and soggy mushrooms with as much visual appeal as damp gym socks.
But if the breakfast offerings are as scrumptious as those put out by the team at Firebake, these spots better sit up. Breakfast is the new brunch. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how it’s done.
The buns don’t get any fresher than this
But first, here’s a primer on the restaurant. Firebake is a bakehouse which made waves when it opened in mid 2017 for its sourdough loaves cooked in a cavernous wood-fired oven. The 56-seater rustic establishment is now firmly a Katong icon, drawing hungry bon vivants in search of some honest, soul-satisfying food.
For starters, the new breakfast offerings adhere to a strict 8:30am to 11am timing. Consider this a commandment for it’s roughly the time when the baked goods are freshly turned out and placed on the counter for passersby to salivate over.
As you get settled in for the bright, beautiful morning, the first thing to order is the breakfast set which comes with a charcoal-grilled wood-fired milk bun, butter, two eggs and your choice of kopi and tea ($4.50++). Top up the set for $1 for a serving of Hainanese-style kaya. In an age where most of our kaya comes out of jars, the serving here is handmade by a family friend, stirred lovingly for five to six hours.
That can only mean that supply is limited and if you arrive late on a weekend, you’d only have yourself to blame if it’s sold out. Should it still be available, you’d notice that the kaya has the glossy hue of a butternut squash and the smooth, molten consistency of raw honey only possible by cooking the custard over a low, slow heat.
While the kaya is the star of the show, the entire set comes together beautifully like a carefully orchestrated ensemble. The eggs are perfectly done (as if we would expect anything less?) and the cracked black pepper is a nice spark as compared to regular white pepper ground to a powder.
As you soak in the leisurely morning, the kitchens will be hard at work churning out the day’s bakes. Around 9 to 9:30am, the cheesymite ($4++) and morning buns ($3.50++) will be just about ready. Order these as you mop up the last of your eggs and tear into them while they’re still warm and fresh.
Both are sourdough buns and the cheesymite will be a savoury gift from heaven for fans of vegemite. Here, Australia’s favourite spread is interlaced with cheese in a chunk of bread spun into a deliciously dense roll while the morning bun is a similar take albeit with cinnamon and lime zest.
Stick around long enough and you’ll be treated to the wafting smell of butter from the pies and scones which come out around 11am to 11:30am. Granted, that’s a long time to sit for a meal so take it home if you wish — though if you ask us, they taste best when still warm from the oven. Otherwise, the sourdough scones come in a pair with jam or marmalade and clotted cream with coffee or tea ($10++, available individually for $2.50++) while the pies are served with a side of luscious mashed potatoes ($10++ for takeaways or $18++ with a pint of beer)
If you’re going to get up at an ungodly hour, it better be for a good reason. Let that reason be Firebake.
Tuesday to Sunday 8:30am to 10pm
Recommended dishes: Breakfast set, morning buns, cheesymite, scones, pie
Noise Level: Low
Service: Friendly and attentive