Firebake for a Bread Spread
Firebake opened in March this year. I read about them back in April and a trip to the East Coast on the weekend was the perfect opportunity to give them a try. I’ll be honest, I didn’t do much research beforehand, but I established they had a breakfasty/brunchy kinda menu and that was enough for me.
Given that my friends had walked 15km to get there and I’d cycled 15km we were fairly desperate for food and watering when we arrived. It was 12:30pm on a Sunday, pretty much peak time, and I got slightly panicked that we wouldn’t get a seat. After a short wait we were seated but then we had staff walking past us without taking an order. We’d basically arrived just as the first brunch sitting was finishing up so, quite understandably, service was slow to start. Once we’d put in our orders though everything changed.
A few things quickly before I get to the food. One is that water at Firebake is of the free flow variety. You pay $4++ for sparkling and $3++ for still water, per person, and can drink as much as you want. The water is filtered so it tastes better than tap water and I don’t mind paying for water that arrives chilled and in plentiful supply. Ingredients of everything seem to be thoughtfully sourced, and whilst a lot are imported, it’s hard work getting local ingredients here so I can’t mark them down too much for that.
We went for a plate of mixed breads to start, given that’s what Firebake is all about. A slice of each bread was served, alongside a lovely and salty Norwegian butter and an olive oil with sea salt. I guess now is a good time for me to talk more about the bread. Firebake, as the name suggest, is all about the wood-fired oven. Two of them actually. In fact there’s 37 tonnes worth of oven – all built brick by brick. The ovens are especially built for baking bread, not pizza.
I know all if this because the Michelin Guide visited in March and they made a great Facebook video. The video goes for half an hour but I learnt just how much thought and effort had gone into Firebake. I developed a whole new love for them that was entirely independent of the food that had already whet my appetite.
There are two ovens, each about 2.5 metres deep, suitable for baking at different temperatures. The wood-fired ovens are the “two heroes of the house”. It took six weeks to build them. Materials were brought in from New Zealand, Australia and some were sourced locally. Four types of bricks were used including volcanic bricks that are used to retain the heat. The ovens take time to season so they were on for a month before being used. And once they’re on they never turn off. Amazing hey?
Firebake is entirely focussed on wood-fired sourdough bread. Their aim is to bring sourdough bread to the forefront of the menu. Which brings me back to our four breads. The four breads of the house are a white sourdough called ‘Wave’, a wholemeal loaf called ‘Field’, a rye bread called ‘Rock’ and a fruit bread called ‘Fruit’ (I made that last one up, I can’t remember). It all goes to what I’ve said before and will say again, simple is best. There are only four main ingredients in the bread; organic flour, water, salt and yeast. Each bread had a distinctive taste and none left us feeling bloated or weary.
The founder of Firebake, Konstantino Blokbergen, or, ‘Tino’, as he’s known, is half Greek and half Swiss. Artisanal breads from childhood on Greek holidays always had a special place in Tino’s heart. In later years, when visiting Yallingup, Western Australia, Tino discovered the wood-fired techniques being used across the region.
Firebake has, very sensibly, been ramping up operations gradually since they opened in March. Dinner was the main focus to start and now brunch is included in their repertoire. Our weekend brunch visit was a great way to sample what’s on offer, but I’d love to get back for dinner too. Cooking is done on a combination of a wood fired grill using charcoal, wood and wood chips and two cast iron stoves. There’s no gas or electrics! The menu takes inspiration from European techniques and adds colour and other elements through the ingredients and clever plating. Dinner includes charcuterie and grilled meats whilst lunch and brunch are more focussed on tartines, pastas and salads.
We tried two tartines and one salad. My toasted ‘Field’ bread with scrambled eggs, charred asparagus and chorizo ($22+) hit the mark perfectly. I now know that the gorgeous charred flavour was due to the wood fired grill, ditto on the chorizo. The eggs were slightly on the watery side but the portion size was perfect and overall I thought this was a great dish.
A went for the tartine with bacon meatloaf and two eggs, sunny side up. You can’t see the meatloaf but it was a homemade roll of meatloaf, wrapped in crispy bacon ($20++). My bad for not getting you a good photo of this 🙁
And J went for a wood-fired pumpkin, generously coated in pistachios and served with burrata and an orange blossom molasses ($16++). It was gorgeous and sublime in taste, although I have to say fairly small on the portion side.
We all tried coffees ($4 to $5++ each) and they didn’t let things down at all. A double shot is worth the extra but the coffee was rich and strong and the coffees with milk were made well. A berry iced tea was also a refreshing addition.
We loved Firebake and they’re all about being part of the community and creating a comfortable setting for people to enjoy good, simple food. In case you’re interested, baking is done in the afternoon allowing customers to buy fresh bread on their way home. Sorry for jabbering on so much about the bread and the people, but this is the kind of place I absolutely love and I’d love to see more of.
237 East Coast Road, Singapore
Open 11.30am to 2.30pm on Saturday and Sunday and 6pm to 10pm Tuesday to Sunday