A cafe which provides free Wifi, it is tucked on the 8th floor of Novena Medical Centre with both indoor and outdoor seating. The interior is pretty small and it sells the usual cafe favorites from coffees to pasta and all day breakfasts.
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Nothing spells hidden gem quite like La Ristrettos. Nestled on the 8th floor of Novena Medical Centre, the chances of anyone bumping into this cafe is pretty slim unless you’re there for an appointment. However, the tiny cafe still manages to attract quite a crowd on most days, with coffee lovers and cafe hoppers alike frequently visiting. Perhaps that largely down to the cozy feel of the place.
The warm ambience of the cafe is perpetuated by the red bricks walls and lovely interior decor with their espresso machines all out in full view of diners. Instead of just a plain wall, a giant window overlooks a rosy garden just outside the cafe, providing a great dining environment regardless of whether you choose to dine indoors or al fresco.
The Tostino E Arrosto ($11) was impressive, with a perfectly poached egg sitting atop a well marinated and tender chicken thigh. Service was decent, but as the staff seemed quite busy it took a while for the order to be taken. Do take note that its opening hours are rather short, closing by 6pm on weekdays and 2pm on Saturdays and Public Holidays.
I came here with my mum for an early lunch. At around 12pm, it was already pretty packed, with all the outdoor tables fully occupied owing to the lovely December breeze. We simply walked in and weren't served; had to take the menus and find a table ourselves. The barista and cashiers looked pretty occupied. Just a note, all prices are nett as there is no GST or service charge.
I ordered an Americano ($3.50) and a Tostino E Arrosto ($11), whereas the maternal unit ordered a croissant dish of some sort with ham and cheese ($9) and a Caffe Macchiato Lungo ($4). The coffees arrived first. Both of us agreed that it was a very strong, and I liked my Americano. When it comes to coffee, the darker and stronger, the better.
Then came my mum's croissant dish. The portion size was pretty large and she couldn't finish it. I didn't try it, but there were no complaints except that there was too little dressing on the side salad.
My dish took a while to come. After 10-15 minutes, my mum had almost finished her dish and I went to the cashier to check on my dish. It arrived almost immediately after that.
The Tostino E Arrosto was basically roasted chicken breast, garlic olive oil, spinach, tomatoes and a poached egg on sourdough bread. The menu said 'breast' but it tasted more like chicken thigh to me; the meat was on the dry and salty side, but decent enough and wasn't oily at all. The egg was beautifully poached and flowed out; the lovely yolk seeped into the bread and, together with the garlic olive oil, was a joy to eat.
Ambience-wise, the place was very nice. There's a long communal table but we sat at one of the bar seats facing the outdoor patio instead. Love the dark, woody interior and I'm sure it would have been lovely to be able to dine outdoors, especially when the weather's actually being kind. Service could use some improvement; the servers didn't give any reply when I asked for my dish, they simply walked to the kitchen to check on it. I liked how the espresso machines were placed outside along the wall, very open-concept.
Overall, a nice place to sit and chat, with good coffee that's perfect for coffee-lovers. Prices are decent as well, ranging from $8-$14 for all-day breakfast and under $20 for pastas that look pretty good. I will probably try out their pastas next time 'round! The all-day breakfasts are nothing to shout about but are generously portioned and taste pretty good, considering their price point. I'll definitely be back with friends.