“Is your name actually Jane?” we jokingly asked the bubbly lady who served our cakes. “Yeah,” she exclaimed and we laughed hysterically. Jane was the founder of The Plain Jane, a cosy cafe at Serangoon that specialises in Swiss rolls. As the name suggests, there was nothing extraordinary about the cafe. It was a small establishment with 4 tables and a small menu that only comprises of Swiss rolls and a few others. But, perhaps it’s due to the large influx of cafes– some with avantgarde creations, others with glamarous decors- in the past few years, but the unpretentiousness and simplicity of the cafe, ironically, caught our eye.

Swiss Roll Speciality Cafe

There are two types of food you can get at The Plain Jane: Swiss rolls and a handful of fresh bakes. While popular brunch dishes such as avocado toasts and grilled cheese might be profitable, Jane didn’t want to dilute her brand. “There’s nothing wrong with it. I just wanted the cafe to specialize in one item,” Jane explained. And I do agree with her. It might be more convenient for consumers when cafes have a large menu, so we can satisfy all our cravings in one location. But, there’s no doubt that the cafe scene in Singapore will turn more vibrant with more speciality shops.

Simplicity doesn’t just end at their menu and decor. Even the Swiss rolls were simple. There were no fancy designs painted on, or interesting shapes in the centre (Mount Fuji Swiss roll at Sweets Craftsman). It was Swiss roll at its elemental form. The cake was perfectly moist and airy and the cream was whipped to the perfect consistency. With a healthy amount of cream and just the right amount of sweetness, it didn’t feel like I was sinning while scarfing down the cakes.

We got the Strawberry Yogurt, which according to Jane, was a popular item among guys. The flavours were mellow and mingled harmoniously. Both tangy with a touch of sweetness, neither elements overpowered the other.

We also tried the Yuzu Cream and Ispahan. We noticed the yuzu wasn’t as yellow as it should. Meanwhile, the Ispahan was tinted purple instead of pink which we would expect. Turns out, all the bakes in The Plain Jane were inviolate of artificial flavouring and colouring. This would explain the genuine and lighter flavours. That being said, I would still prefer the yuzu to be stronger.

The Plain Jane and Kurasu Collaboration

We found the Matcha Latte (S$6.9) a little too sweet for our liking. If you want a drink that’s a little more ‘pure’ to go with your Swiss roll, head down to Kurasu instead. Located near Bencoolen MRT Station, Kurasu is a coffee speciality shop from Kyoto that serves a small collection of The Plain Jane’s swiss rolls. A popular item on their menu is the Dirty Matcha, but their array of filter coffee shouldn’t be left out too.

Alternatively, you can just get the cakes to go and make your own matcha latte at home!

Serangoon’s ‘Kopitiam

To outsiders like us, The Plain Jane was a cafe that specialises in Swiss rolls. But to the regulars who lived in Serangoon, it was a second home. Some customers of the older generation even jokingly told Jane that this was like a kopitiam (coffee house) for them to hang out with their buddies. Jane intentionally opened her cafe in Serangoon where she grew up. She loved the community. And instead of choosing Serangoon Gardens or NEX, which have bustling F&B scenes, she wanted somewhere more secluded. It wasn’t about the profits. It was about creating a safe space.

Verdict

Maybe it was the cosy Taiwanese-inspired decors, the slightly messy personal space at the back of the cafe, or the light-hearted conversation we unintentionally eavesdropped on, but The Plain Jane exuded feelings of home.

For hearty French-Italian dishes, head down to Eleven Strands which is across the road.

Location: 211 Serangoon Ave 4, #01-10, Singapore 550211
Tel:
+65 6281 2477
Opening hours:
12pm- 6pm (Tue – Fri); 10am- 6pm (Weekends); Closed on Mondays

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