By Pagie Wilson
In Singapore, eating is a family event and recipes are handed down and taught in the family during festivals and events. “Food is a celebration and it should be shared with others,” said Irene Emory, who owns Crossroads Café with her husband Richard.
Irene has brought her culinary experience from growing up in Singapore to the Mountain, and she has developed them to serve to the surrounding community. Irene even buys most of her produce from local farmers. The food served at Crossroads Café is nothing but authentic Singaporean food with the original ingredients – nothing in the recipe has been changed.
Crossroads Café is named for Sewanee’s identity as a crossroads in Tennessee and Singapore’s identity as a crossroads between different cultures. Richard Emory, Irene Emory’s husband and an architect, has furnished the restaurant with beautiful wooden tables and pieces collected from around Asia, and they hope to add more in the future. The atmosphere of Crossroads Café is subdued and comfortable, emphasized by the high ceilings of the restaurant. It is a place that has a calming and exciting effect that hits you the moment you walk through the door.
On Saturday, the night of Feb. 2, Crossroads Café was packed with students and community members hoping to enjoy authentic, fresh Singaporean food. It has an open-kitchen set up for the customers to see the quality of food they are getting, as well as the authentic methods used to make their dishes. It is a thrilling experience to witness the hustle and bustle of the kitchen.
While deciding to order, I noticed a lack of vegetarian options. I decided to order the Chicken Satay as an entrée and Green “Chy Sime” with peppers and rice as my side. When ordering at the front next to the menu, Richard Emory, who was taking orders, was very helpful in describing what different items on the menu included and guided me towards the right items to order.
The food was served promptly and arrived hot to the table. They did not wait for the entire table’s food to be ready, but brought it out just as it was ready from the kitchen. First came the chicken satay, a chicken dish served in a peanut sauce. The four pieces of chicken were on the smaller side, and exceptional, served on a kabob-like stick. Along with the chicken there was freshly sliced vegetables and additional peanut sauce.
Next, my side came out with the serving of rice. The vegetables were fresh, green, and had beautiful coloring. The freshness of the food was revealed in its taste. I began eating the vegetables and leaving the rice to the side, but then I decided to eat the rice with the vegetables. The rice added to the flavor of the vegetables.
Other notable items on the menu were the egg omelette side dish, Asian teas, which are made fresh every day, and the dumplings, which were by far the best item on the menu. The best feature about the menu, other than the fresh food, is that the laidback quality and simplicity of the food makes mixing and matching the entrees and sides easy. The dishes, though all are simple, are packed with flavor, and you do not leave the restaurant feeling gross and overstuffed. It is very refreshing.
The prices at Crossroads Café are also refreshing, as you can order an entrée and a side and be perfectly content with your portion size as well as your wallet size. And even if you are still hungry, ordering another dish will not break the bank, and you will receive your food quickly.
However, Crossroads Café is still a new restaurant and learning what to improve. I noticed that they are in need of more seating and chairs for larger parties.
Upon leaving the restaurant at closing time, I passed Irene, Richard, and the entire kitchen and waiting staff eating dinner together at the bar facing into the open kitchen. It was the perfect ending to the evening as I saw Richard and Irene sharing their food with their employees and sitting down to celebrate their hard work and delicious food.
Crossroads Café is located at 38 Ball Park Rd behind the Sewanee Market and adjacent to Ivy Wild. It is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.