The vibe: Julia Roberts’s character in Eat, Pray, Love may have been depressed when she embarked on a globe-trotting journey of self-discovery. Fortunately, the aptly named Eatplaylove Café – one of two F&B outlets at the newly opened Aliwal Arts Centre – is anything but, occupying a bright and airy space that’s best visited with your kids to explore its crafts corner.
The fanciful brainchild of two young mothers, Jessica Wong and Gayle Tan, the café is the furthest thing from the cool and slick joints in hipster-friendly Kampong Glam. You could call it old school chic: hand-painted wooden furniture, vintage typewriters, sewing machines and a trove of retro knickknacks (childhood snacks and toys, including those pesky paper gliders).
For $5, the children get two hours (or however long they stay) of unlimited access to Eatplaylove’s collection of pencils, coloured beads, coloured pasta, ice cream sticks and stickers while the adults have a meal or try their hand at doll-making ($25), making a sock monkey ($35) from the original Red Heel socks and shrink plastic ($3.50), a nifty exercise where you trace out shapes on a sheet of special plastic and pop them into toaster to make bookmarks, keychains, earrings and necklaces. Expect craft classes to be introduced next – we hear a recycled art class could be in the works.
The menu: Tan owns a string of Thai eateries, so it’s not surprising to see a menu filled out with Siam-inspired mains. Portions are hearty and the homespun flavours add to the overall nostalgia – the mango salsa chicken burger ($12.50) and grilled fish with spicy sauce ($10.50) we had were faultless examples of home-style cooking. For drinks, there are fresh juices, hot teas such as red date with honey ($3) and hot lemongrass ($3), plus cold options. Try the Red Hale’s Sala Drink with crunchy basil seeds ($3.50), a popular street drink in Bangkok that’s a mildly pink syrupy concoction with milk. Those with a sweet tooth had better save room for dessert. Skip the doughy and overly-dense waffles ($3.50) and head straight for their range of mango desserts, including the decadent mango love ($10.50), fresh mango sticky rice paired with a homemade pudding and ice cream.
The verdict: Kids will adore the endless possibilities for a funfilled day, but grown-ups shouldn’t feel left out either. There’s plenty to eat, play and love about this unpretentious café. LMK
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