It’s cool to sip outside

It’s cool to sip outside

 

Singapore‘s weather is hot, but alfresco cafes are hotter, with at least 20 of them in Orchard Road

 

By Frankie Chee

 

It’s getting pretty crowded on the sidewalks of Orchard Road, and it has nothing to do with Great Singapore Sale shoppers or pamphlet-distributi ng touts but chairs and coffee.

 

Yet another outdoor cafe, The Coffee Connoisseur (TCC), is set to open – bringing the number of such outlets between Forum The Shopping Mall and Plaza Singapura to 23.

 

TCC’s cafe is opening this month at International Building.

 

Already, from classy IndoChine to popular coffee chains and even the budget McCafe, there’s no lack of places to sit and watch the world go by with a flat white – or long black for that matter – in hand.

 

While pavement cafes are common in Europe, it might seem strange that hot and steamy Singapore has its (coffee) cup running over with them. You’d think it would be more pleasant to people-watch from the coolness of an air-conditioned outlet.

 

But many in Singapore’s cafe society would agree with the likes of bank executive Akshay Prasad, 36, who was spotted at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlet at Paragon Shopping Centre. He said: ‘I prefer the outdoors as I enjoy the scenery. I’m sick and tired of air-conditioning. ‘

 

Alfresco outlets are bustling with tourists and locals ranging from students to middle-age office professionals.

 

Most joints are WiFi-enabled so you see people working or surfing on their laptops, while others sit around chatting, reading or just people-watching.

 

Naturally, coffee shop players are lapping up the fact that as Singaporean cafe patrons become increasingly sophisticated, they are showing a taste for the great outdoors.

 

Mr James Donald, managing director of KJ Coffees, which owns the local franchise for Gloria Jean’s, says: ‘Sidewalk cafes do work well in Singapore even though the weather is quite hot and at times very wet.

 

‘About 30 to 40 per cent of our guests sit outside and soak up the atmosphere, versus those who sit inside.’

 

Gloria Jean’s has a sidewalk cafe at Orchard Cineleisure.

 

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf general manager Michael de Jong adds: ‘Alfresco areas allow our customers to enjoy the sights and sounds of Orchard Road, sitting under a fan-cooled canopy and sipping their favourite beverage.’

 

He adds: ‘To see and be seen is a lifestyle experience that our customers enjoy.’

 

But being able to gulp and gawk is a relatively new pleasure. It was only in 1996 that the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) gave the green light for Outdoor Refreshment Area licences, which enabled operators to use outside spaces for seating.

 

To provide such seating, operators have to pay higher rent for the space, as well as apply for a licence from the URA or the Singapore Land Authority. This rent usually goes to the landlord owning the outdoor space. If it’s a public area, that would be the relevant public authority.

 

With so many cafes on the scene, why aren’t shoppers tripping over seats then? Well, the URA has guidelines on what’s allowed, such as the size of the area, the layout and how far it can extend onto the pavement.

 

Not that such considerations enter the heads of cafe lovers spoilt for choice when it comes to sitting down for a spot of sunny Singapore coffee culture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where to go alfresco

 

 

 

Best coffee: Gloria Jean’s

 

01-K1 Orchard Cineleisure

 

Gloria Jean’s reputation for brewing a good cuppa was proven right after LifeStyle tasted the coffees offered at the various cafes. Its long black was the most aromatic, and at $3.80 a cup, it was reasonably priced.

 

The blasting mist-fans here may make you feel as if you are in a tropical rainforest, but they do up the comfort level, especially on a hot, stuffy afternoon.

 

 

 

Best place to surf the Web: Spinelli

 

01-09 The Heeren

 

Surf for free and in comfort at Spinelli, which provides free Wireless@sg. Although many other places offer the same service, the comfortable chairs and easy ambience make it a winner.

 

Greenery and the breezy surrounds make this the spot to open up the laptop for the latest YouTube video.

 

 

 

Best place for chats: Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

01-45/46 Forum The Shopping Mall

 

Isolated from the crowds in Orchard Road while remaining close enough, you can see who’s wearing what without being checked out yourself. An ideal spot to sip and gossip.

 

 

 

Best place to be seen: IndoChine Wisma Atria

 

01-23A, 24A and K3 Wisma Atria

 

If you are looking for somewhere cool, the classy IndoChine fits the bill. With its music spilling onto the walkway and calming water features, it never fails to turn the heads of passers-by, which means you’ll get plenty of attention in your seat.

 

 

 

Coolest joints: Outdoors Cafe and Bar; Gloria Jean’s

 

180 Orchard Road, Peranakan Place; 01-K1 Orchard Cineleisure

 

No, we don’t mean chill-out zone, but as in the fact that these outlets are completely sheltered so you don’t need to wear sunblock to have a coffee.

 

Outdoors Cafe keeps things cool with ceiling fans. Gloria Jean’s uses mist-fans – though if you sit for too long here, the spray effect can cause you to look a bit drippy.

 

 

 

Hottest joint: Burger King

 

09-01 Liat Towers

 

Girls always want to look hot, but they sure don’t want to be hot.

 

This Burger King outlet manages to get its patrons flustered and sweaty because its concrete outdoor tables are under direct sunlight. Some have umbrellas but they aren’t of much use. Many patrons end up sizzling hot, just like their patties.

 

 

 

Best food joint: Santa Fe All-American Tex-Mex Grill

 

B-02-03 Orchard Point

 

This Mexican eatery deserves mention as it offers a more interesting variety of fare than the usual cakes and sandwiches at most sidewalk cafes, and the quality is good.

 

The turkey quesadillas ($14.95) – thin turkey tortillas with sour cream – and the fajita grill (half pound for $26.65, full pound for $41.65), in which you wrap beef or chicken slices with a choice of garnishings, are both tasty.

 

 

 

Best place to meet women: Spinelli

 

01-09 The Heeren

 

Women aged between 18 and 25 often gather here for a chat or even to play card games with friends.

 

 

 

Best place to meet men: Starbucks

 

01-01A Liat Towers

 

One of the oldest outdoor joints in Orchard Road, this place still teems with hip teenagers. There’s also the lunch-time crowd of men who work nearby.

 

It’s hard to explain why guys hang out here, but maybe being next to a Burger King, which dishes out great-tasting greasy burgers, makes them feel at ease.

 

 

 

Best places to people-watch: Cosmo-the Bistro; NYDC

 

01-K2 Wisma Atria; 01-K3/K4 The Heeren

 

When it comes to people-watching, you need two things: lots of foot traffic and an unhindered view.

 

Cosmo, near the exit of busy Orchard MRT station, offers both. Its totally open-air concept is great for keeping an eye on passers-by.

 

NYDC is a voyeur’s dream, thanks to its strategic location which looks out to people crossing at the nearby traffic junction and walking out of The Heeren.

 

 

Source: Straits Times

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One Response

  1. Nice website!!

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