Food review: Oriole

The cosy cafe and bar serves quality coffee and a good variety of international cuisine

Situated conveniently next to 313 @ Somerset, Oriole is one of the best places in town for that lovely cuppa coffee.

Choose to enjoy your flavourful coffee while people-watching at the al fresco section or have that cosy chat indoors under the warm hues of Oriole’s ambient lighting.

Named after his favourite songbird, owner Keith Loh had envisioned Oriole as a meeting point for friends and like-minded individuals to flock to, much like the social gathering habits of birds. In keeping with this larger aviary theme, the cafe’s unique circlet chandeliers were picked for their abstract resemblance to birds' nests.

The cafe uses specialty-grade coffee beans from the Brazilian association and these are roasted to precision, with the help of computerised timers and a careful watch on the beans. The sleek coffee machine at Oriole has also been cheekily dubbed Ella; their Nigella Lawson of coffee machines.

The coffee beans’ freshness contribute much to the quality of the blend that is served to your table. Once roasted, these beans are kept for no longer than a month and the cafe easily goes through one tonne of beans each month.

At the same time, there’s more than just good coffee to be had at Oriole; the chef makes seasonal updates to their food menu.

You’ll find an interesting showcase of international cuisines and some quirky changes made to the classics. The St. Louis pork ribs for instance, is prepared in an Indonesian kicap manis-chili marinade and paired with greens, roasted sweet potato and sambal matah  — a spicy, shrimp-based Balinese sauce.

Give these dishes a try, while they’re still on the menu:

We started our meal with the crispy arancini ($10), which are basically fried risotto balls filled with porcini mushroom. These were starchy and a little on the dry side but the taste improves with the gorgonzola dip — a cream cheese dip made from the famed blue-veined Italian cheese.

New to Jamaican food? Diners could pick the tender and well-marinated Jamaican jerk chicken ($19). Oriole’s take on the dish tones down on the hot spices so it’s more palatable to diners unused to Jamaican food. This jerk-rubbed baby chicken is served with corn salsa and crispy onion rings.

If you’re bored of the typical cream or tomato-based pastas, try the squid ink tagliolini and lobster ($24). Paired with fresh slipper lobster and asparagus, the black ink pasta is served with a tomato cream sauce.

It may seem like quite a curious mix but it works. The dish isn’t as salty or sweet as one might think and the savoury sauce does not overwhelm the unique flavour of squid ink pasta. Although the tagliolini stops short of being the cafe’s newest must-try dish, we do like the unusual combination.

The moroccan fish tagine ($27) was truly the star dish of the day. The john dory fish is slow-cooked with chickpeas and spinach in a spicy tomato harissa-saffron sauce that we love.

Even if you have a low tolerance for spices, we think you’ll still be able to enjoy this dish. It may not be fiery-hot but it still had that zippy, savoury bite that makes it so appealing to us; we couldn’t resist mopping up all of the sauce with the sliced baguette provided.

Food review: Oriole

 Food review: Oriole

Diners itching for that sweet end to their meal can opt for the classic chocolate fudge cake with almond rosette and raspberry sauce, pictured above ($6.50).

The fudge cake should probably be shared, unless you’ve got that insatiable craving for chocolate. Thickly covered and layered with chocolate ganache, the rich confection may be a tad too much for a single diner.

We couldn’t wait to try the coffees and we’re pleased to report that these do live up to the hype. I’m not usually a fan of lattes but I did enjoy Oriole’s aromatic Picolla latte ($5.80), a brew made out of double ristretto with steamed milk; I can’t wait to try the espresso ($4) or the macchiato ($4.20) for a stronger coffee fix on my next visit.

The mint mocha ($6.50) was another surprising favourite; the home-made mint syrup was a subtle and refreshing addition and it doesn’t overpower the coffee brew. Diners who prefer sweeter and milder coffee blends should give this a try.

Oriole Cafe & Bar is located at 96 Somerset Road, #01-01, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites. Visit for more information.