Call me a purist (or simply unadventurous) but coffee and ice-cream? Shouldn’t it be one or another, not some hot-cold fusion mess?
The affogato, an Italian dessert popular in the ‘90s, where a shot or two of espresso (never instant or brewed coffee) drowns – incidentally, that’s what the word affogato means – a scoop of gelato, sometimes with a hint of amaretto or frangelico, and a sprinkling of biscotti. While it has a little bit of everything I like, I’m still wary.
For me, coffee should only ever be served hot, either black or with properly foamed milk; not iced, nor a frappe and definitely not a frappuccino. Still, if the Italians invented the affogato there has to be something about it.
Visiting the Affogato Bar
Apprehensions aside, The Affogato Bar at Cluny Court – it claims to be Singapore’s first specialised affogato bar – is as good a place to yay or nay it.
A small café with just 15 seats, it serves a side food menu of bagel sandwiches, salads, 12 different gelatos and sorbets and a menu of coffees and teas. The real highlight though remains its five affogato desserts – Death by Chocolate ($13.90), Pot of Honey ($11.90), Banana Ramble ($12.90), Classic White ($10.90) and Carota Carota ($13.90) – each served with a double shot of Dimattina espresso from Melbourne.
Choosing the signature Death by Chocolate ($13.90) with chocolate sorbet and Grand Tazza espresso, it comes served in a martini glass with some brownie chunks, chocolate struesels, topped with a circular disc of dark chocolate. Tasting a little bit of everything first, the semi-sweet chocolate, the slightly biscuit-like brownie, the sorbet rich but icy in texture – makes sense since sorbet is made with water, not milk – the Grand Tazza, a strong pull with a slight bitter edge to it; so far so good. Altogether though the flavours ended up being too rich. And while the espresso could tame the rich chocolate, it ended up heavy-handed, the bitterness (irony) drowning out the subtler cocoa flavours.
The Carota Carota ($13.90) with chunks of walnuts, carrot cake, carrot cake ice cream, a dollop of cream cheese and a side pour of Mocharoma espresso, ended up being a lot lighter (if a tad sweet on the palate). What lifted it from every other deconstructed carrot cake/dessert was its texture, thanks to the embedded biscut-like bits found within the ice cream and the cake crumble, resulting in a nice crunch and flavour to every bite. As for the Mocharoma espresso, it was better suited to this combination but still ended up slightly overpowering.
The verdict: affogatos are for people who want to have their cake and eat it too. As an overall concept – cake/dessert + coffee – it definitely works. In practice, it’ll take a few affogatos (or being Italian) before perfecting how much coffee to pour in. While the standard practice is to “drown” the ice cream, for some (definitely me), this is too much of a good thing.
Still, would I come back? Yes, The coffee is good, the gelato selection interesting and it works as a first date or catch up over coffee type place. As for the affogato, next time I’ll just share mine.
#01-04B Cluny Court, 501 Bukit Timah Road, tel 9238 9005, www.theaffogatobar.com