You can have it for breakfast, for brunch and even dessert. Such is the versatility of the humble French toast.
Essentially a thick slice of bread soaked in custard, pan-fried, doused with powdered sugar and drizzled with a sweetener such as honey or maple syrup, the dish has long since taken an indulgent turn. And fortunately for us, there are several cafes in Singapore that really know how to make a great serving of French toast.
But before we jump into where you need to go, let’s look at why this dish resonates so well with diners. Some historians point out that French toast was first enjoyed in the Roman empire as far back as 5th century AD.
The recipe itself was created to utilise stale bread. Cooks would dip old, dry bread into an egg and milk mixture before pan frying it in oil or butter. The added moisture allowed cooks to creatively use the left over bread. The addition of sweeteners and fruit also transformed the dish into an indulgent treat.
Over time, the recipe would spread across Europe. In France, the dish became known as ‘pain perdu’ (lost bread), and it immediately struck a chord with the people. As the popularity of ‘pain perdu’ grew, it was gradually referred to as French toast, due its perceived country of origin.
That said, there are many variations to the dish, some refer to the recipe as ‘Bombay toast’ or ‘Spanish toast’. In fact even the classic ‘Croque Monsieur’ serves as a hearty savoury variation to the classic recipe. Today, French toast is perennial favourite amongst diners, especially the brunch crowd.
Stale bread has made way for more delicious and indulgent breads such as Brioche, Sourdough, Challah and French bread. Regardless of what bread serves as the base, innovative restaurants continue to elevate the dish by inserting their own indomitable style. If you’re looking to dig into some delicious French toast here in Singapore, we may just have a few suggestions for you.
Halcyon & Crane, for instance, encrusts theirs in cereal crisp. Tolido’s dish has stout-glazed bacon. Wild Honey turns to panettone with salted caramel mascarpone and hazelnut toffee. See below for where to find them.
8 Best cafes in Singapore for delicious French toast
(Hero and featured image credits: @tolidosnook / Facebook & @elixirboutiqueroasters / Facebook)
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Elixir’s Brûlée French Toast (S$18) has been on the cafe’s menu since it opened. Now part of their signatures, they take a thick slice of brioche, dip it in custard, caramelise it until the edges are crispy, and joined by a heaping of fresh, seasonal fruits. You can have it with a scoop of Madagascar vanilla bean gelato costs S$4 more; for us, it’s never optional.
Thursdays to Tuesdays, 8.30am to 4pm
On Facebook, Forty Hands calls it “Singapore’s most EXTRA French toast,” but the dish was never an exercise in restraint in the first place. So it’s fitting that they went all out on their Banana Bacon French Toast (S$19): brioche joins caramelised banana and streaky bacon in a party dressed up with maple syrup. Available only at their Tiong Bahru location.
Weekdays, 7am to 5.30pm
Weekends, 7:30am to 6.30pm
For a crunchy rendition of the dish, order Halcyon & Crane’s Crispy French Toast (S$13 for 2, S$17 for 3). Almost hash brown in appearance, the cafe at Paragon encrusts a slab of brioche in cereal, then plates it with smooth Chantilly cream and fresh berries. A pour of maple syrup makes it even more divine.
Sundays to Thursdays, 9am to 8pm
Fridays and Saturdays, 9am to 10pm
(Image credit: @natoeats / Instagram)
Yes, the brews are excellent at One Man Coffee, but they are deft at brunch items too. One of the highlights is the French Toast (S$17), which pairs toasted brioche with caramelised banana, strawberries, blueberries, candied walnuts, and salted caramel sauce. If it’s a hot day, an optional scoop of vanilla ice cream (S$4) helps beat the heat.
Wednesdays to Mondays, 9am to 4pm
Your doctor probably would not recommend The Fabulous Baker Boy’s “Heart Attack” French Toast (S$18). It is decadently dangerous: sourdough brioche is dunked in a batter of eggs and cream, deep fried, then dredged in cinnamon sugar. A final soaking of maple syrup makes a cardiologist wince, but a side of berries can’t hurt, right?
Tuesdays to Fridays, 11am to 9.30pm
Saturdays, 9am to 9.30pm
Sundays, 9.30am to 6.30pm
This Australian cafe takes the dish seriously enough to name it after their founder. One of their food menu’s signatures, Toby’s French Toast (S$16.50) brings together eggy brioche with berry compote and a side of espresso-inflected bacon. Finished, of course, with maple syrup.
Daily, 7.30am to 5pm
(Image credit: @the__nettes / Instagram)
Beer, bacon, and maple syrup: that’s Tolido’s approach to the dish. The laidback cafe serves their Stout-glazed Bacon French Toast (S$18) all day, which brings together fluffy brioche stuffed with mascarpone, topped with Guinness-slicked bacon strips, and drizzled with maple syrup.
Thursdays to Tuesdays, 8am to 5pm
Wild Honey offers French toast with a global flair. The Persian (S$26; available at Mandarin Gallery and South Beach outlets) involves Starter Lab sourdough brioche with Damson plum and rosewater compote, lemon myrtle creme Anglaise, and a garnish of pistachio labne and rose petals. There’s also the savoury Parisienne (S$25; available at Mandarin Gallery and South Beach outlets), which comprises of ham, gruyere, and Dijon mustard, and topped with fried egg and Hollandaise.
Over at their Scotts Square branch, they serve the Boulevard St Michael (S$25): with double baked cheese and spinach soufflé, parmesan-crumbed poached egg, slow roasted tomato, grilled bacon, and tomato chutney. The Brittany (S$26) reimagines panettone with chocolate hazelnut filling, salted caramel mascarpone, hazelnut toffee, and salted caramel sauce.