Nestled in the Outram Park district is a newly-opened cafe, The Social Space. There’s more than meets the eye to this place as it’s actually a multi-concept lifestyle store that also houses a retail space for socially-conscious goods and a mini The Nail Social outlet.
Founded by Cheryl Ou (boss lady behind The Nail Social) and her husband, Daniel Yeow, the couple hopes to provide the disadvantaged with employment opportunities while simultaneously prompting the public to support social enterprises.
Stepping into the cafe, we were greeted with marble tables and rattan chairs that, in combination with the crotchet-and-tassel pillows by the retail section, exuded a charmingly rustic, bohemian vibe. Meanwhile, the baby blue tiles and teal cushions felt reminiscent of clear skies and crashing waves, giving patrons a semblance of being by the beach.
Though the space is divided into three sections — the nail parlour, the retail area and the cafe space — the interior design tied them together seamlessly.
Hidden from view from the rest of the cafe by a wall painted with a beach mural, this mini nail parlour has only three stations which are available by making a prior appointment.
A lot of thought has gone into providing patrons with a cosy and comfortable experience — just look at how each station comes complete with its own set of iPad and headphones! The owners have also kept the area looking classy with gold hardware.
The Social Space carries only fair-trade, eco-friendly and socially-conscious products that range from homeware to accessories. Thus, with each purchase, you’ll be supporting local and international social enterprises.
For instance, proceeds from these beautiful handmade mugs by Center Pottery will go towards “funding special clay classes for people with mental health issues, terminally-ill patients and the elderly”.
Another brand that caught our attention was Purpose, boasting dainty and delicate jewellery that come with a message to “wear freedom”.
This is because these pieces were handcrafted by women rescued from human trafficking in Mumbai and Orange County. Every purchase goes a long way towards helping provide them with a fair wage, thus freeing them from their predicament.
Patrons motivated to follow The Social Space’s lead and switch from single-use plastic to more sustainable options can pick up a reusable straw from the retail section. We love how there were different varieties to choose from!
At The Refillery, customers can bring your own (BYO) bottles and fill them up with eco-friendly cleansers ranging from household cleaners, such as floor cleaning liquid or dishwashing liquid, to personal care products like soap and shampoo.
The prices are affordable, with a bottle of yummy coconut and vanilla scented hand soap working out to be approximately S$7.31. Don’t fret if you forgot to BYO containers though, as they have reusable ones on sale too.
An alternative to the cleansing liquids are these blocks of cleansers from Biconi, a brand based in Singapore and Malaysia. Biconi uses ingredients sourced locally to produce handmade products that are vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and contain no harsh chemicals.
After all that browsing, we were ready to dig in to the food we ordered.
The first thing we tried was the Sea Salt Chocolate Cake (S$7), which was sinfully decadent. It was rich in flavour with just the right amount of gooey-ness and the sea salt tempered with the sweetness of the chocolate, preventing it from becoming cloying.
While enjoying the delicious cake, we were heartened to find out that we were actually supporting a local enterprise too. The cakes and cookies at The Social Space are made by Flour Power, a social enterprise bakery that helps people with special needs by equipping them with occupational skills in the F&B industry.
For drinks, we opted for the Blooming Bliss (S$12), which is part of the Blooming Tea collection. This tea’s a little different as the tea leaves are hand-formed into a sphere and shaped to resemble a closed flower bud.
Diners can choose to have the tea leaves placed into the hot water by the staff or to have it served separately. We opted for the latter for the novelty of watching the “petals” unfurl.
Taste-wise, it was a refreshing rendition of jasmine green tea that accompanied the cake perfectly.
Though we enjoyed the drink, I wouldn’t repurchase it on my next visit as I didn’t find the taste enough to justify the steep price tag. However, it’s understandable considering the amount of effort needed to shape the “flower buds”. Perhaps just try it once, for the visual spectacular of watching your tea leaves “bloom”?
When it comes to mains, The Social Space has a less extensive menu and offer either Open-Face Toasts or Smoothie Bowls.
We chose to go with the Roasted Mushrooms + Creme Fraiche (S$8 for the single), likely because we were overwhelmed by the smell of mushrooms right when we entered the cafe. It wasn’t unpleasant but it did linger throughout our whole visit and gave us some pretty intense cravings.
The toast didn’t disappoint and turned out to be really tasty. Layered atop the sourdough bread, the mushrooms had a nice smoky taste and the cheese tied everything together.
We ended our visit with the Berry Berry Good Smoothie Bowl (S$12), which was refreshing and light on the palate.
The taste of the bananas was prominent but it was balanced by the sweetness and slight tartness from the blend of berries (raspberries, cranberries, blueberries and strawberries). Also, the little balls of watermelon and chunks of papaya added a nice variation in texture while the nuts and granola provided a delightful crunch.
Overall, it was the perfect dish to counter the afternoon heat wave. At the same price point, this was more worth it than the tea.
Kudos to The Social Space for creating a tropical oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle and supporting various social causes while at it! We enjoyed our visit and will definitely be back again. Hopefully they’ll roll out more food options in future?
Price: S$4 – S$18 for food and drinks