Cafe Melba – Of Green Meadows and Blow-up Castles

4 11 2012

Easterners have been lamenting over the lack of brunch places in the East for the longest time, at least I have. Recently however, I chanced upon this laid back Australian brunch place at Goodman Arts Centre near Mountbatten MRT. I’m surprised there’s not much online coverage about it yet, especially since it gets pretty packed with expats during the weekends. I guess word of mouth travels fast.

Facing a field of green, it makes for a perfect setting for a weekend brunch. The cafe seems to be both pet and children friendly, as I saw dogs playing in the field which I assume to be pets of the customers, and a blow up castle entertains the kids as they bounce up and down on it.

The menu features brunch items, appetizers, mains, sides and a variety of pizzas.

Considering that this is an Australian eatery, some items on the menu seem out of place, such as the Melba Beef Rendang ($18++). Cooked in Coconut Milk, Ginger and Spices, I found the Rendang to be very ordinary and a little too spicy. Instead of rice, you get pizza bread to complement the rendang, a little bit of east meets west. As rendangs of such quality can easily be sought after in most nasi padang stalls, I wouldn’t recommend it here. The best thing was probably the shoestring fries which comes freshly fried alongside the dish.

The Full Melba Cooked Breakfast ($24++) comes with a choice of Eggs (Scrambled, Poached or Sunny Side Up), Pork Sausages, Cured Bacon, Roasted Cherry Vine Tomatoes, Baked Beans, Mushrooms and Home-made Toast. It sounds heavier than it really is and personally, an extra side of sauteed potatoes would have completed this breakfast platter.

The Free-range Eggs Benedict ($18++) arrived with 2 puny kampong chicken eggs that had been slightly overpoached. The Hollandaise sauce wasn’t as creamy nor flavourful as I would have liked either.

If you are really hungry, the Melba Burger ($23++) is something to consider. The burger is made with home-made Relish, Cured Bacon, Cheese and a choice of Shoe-string fries, Salad or Wedges. I thought this was done competently but the beef patty could have done with a little more flavour. Wedges were really awesome though.

I enjoyed the thin-crusted Smoked Salmon Pizza ($18++ for 9 inches), which comes topped with Capers, Dill and Creme Fraiche aka sour cream. I would recommend the Truffle Fries ($13++) as it was good enough to warrant getting it again on my second visit here. I usually shun the truffle flavour by the 20th fry as truffle oil can get a bit overwhelming but the ones here are just unbelievably addictive. By the way, I hope you don’t feel cheated discovering that most truffle oils are not made using real truffles but simply a synthesis of a chemical compound (that smells like truffle) with olive oil.

Overall, the food at Cafe Melba is nothing to shout about and slightly overpriced, given the small serving portions. The main draw therefore, would be the laid back vibes that can make your weekend a truly lazy one.

PS: There’s one other restaurant housed within Goodman Arts Centre called La Barca, which does Tuscan cuisine and is helmed by an ex-Michelin Starred chef. Been wanting to visit but online reviews have been giving me second thoughts.

Cafe Melba

90 Goodman Road, #01-56 Goodman Arts Centre Block N

Tel: +65 6440 6068

iFly and SkyLoft, Sentosa – Indoor Sky-diving and Rooftop Dining

24 08 2012

I’m quite the risk averse person when it comes to physical activities. I shy away from scuba diving, sky-diving, bungee jumping and theme parks, though I admit I do ride the occasional roller coaster and spinning teacups to avoid looking (too much) like a wuss in front of members of the opposite sex. So I was a little apprehensive when I received an invitation to try out iFly, an indoor sky-diving tunnel in Sentosa, which was followed by a tasting at Skyloft, a rooftop bar restaurant located in the same premises as iFly. Unsure if such an activity was too adventurous for my risk-profile, I went to check out the online videos and pictures of iFly. Fortunately, they didn’t look too extreme for my feeble heart and I decided to take the leap, literally.

Even little girls can do it!

The most basic package is priced between $50 to $89 (depending on the time and day of visit, whether you are an adult, student or child and whether a booking had been made in advance) and consists of 2 skydives. Each skydive simulates a fall from 12,000 feet to 2,500 feet and lasts approximately 45 seconds.

Do not fret if you have no experience in sky-diving as a short training session is conducted pre-flight to advise flyers on the various hand signals used, basic postures for the dive and of course, a review of safety tips. In all, the whole activity lasted approximately 1.5 hours.

Me during a dive

During the 2nd flight, the instructor lifted me up all the way to the top of the wind tunnel and dropped me back down to the base of the wind tunnel for the additional thrill.

Happy sky-divers 😀

Happy that I didn’t embarrass myself too badly during the flights, I then proceeded on to SkyLoft, which is housed on the roof of the iFly complex. It’s a pretty chill place and in the late mornings and afternoons, the outdoor area makes for a great place to do some light reading and casual chit chats, as it is rather spacious and conducive enough for mugging, working or slacking purposes.

However, I would imagine that the best time to visit SkyLoft is in the evenings, where you get to catch a glimpse of the sunset, the laser show and fireworks display from Songs of the Sea, followed by live music by renowned musicians such as Claire & Charmaine (on Wednesdays), Jack & Rai (on Thursdays), Shirlyn & the UnXpected (on Fridays) and Sara & 53A (on Saturdays).

Lazing at SkyLoft on a Saturday Afternoon

View of Songs of the Sea from SkyLoft

Of course in the afternoon heat, I would rather escape into the cool embrace of air conditioning.

SkyLoft’s Indoor Seating, for lovers of air-con

The cuisine at SkyLoft isn’t very pronouced, though it veers much towards western. Just when you think it’s an Italian joint with its list of pastas and pizzas, you stumble upon items like Pork Ribs, Steak and even Laksa.

We started with a serving of the Wings ($14++), sinful fried chicken wings that were coated with a marinade tasting suspiciously like prawn paste and garnished with a light sprinkling of chicken floss. You can hardly go wrong with fried chicken. I believe most of us can attest to that. But in terms of preference, I would still go for a good old bucket of KFC fresh out of the fryer!

Stone the food blogger who raves about KFC right?

Perhaps a better snack worth ordering is the chunky Truffle Fries ($12++), which was very decent and managed to stay crisp for a surprisingly long time.

I found the Big Breakfast ($16++) unexciting. It is made up of the usual suspects, Egg (choice of sunny side up, overeasy, poached, scrambled, runny scrambled), Pork Sausage, Bacon, Semi-dried tomato, Baked Beans, Sauteed Mushrooms and Mixed Salad, none of which stands out from the mediocre in terms of taste.

I believe food should be made fresh, from scratch if possible to justify the premium we pay when dining out so it irked me that the Baked Beans seemed to be of the canned variety. The Bacon too was much too salty. I would have loved to try some homemade sausages but there’s hardly any cafes around that do, so I can’t fault them on that but if you know of any local cafes that do, do share and comment below!

The Eggs Benedict ($14++) has room for improvement too, as the Hollandaise Sauce was way too tart.

Instead of the usual white noodles that we are familiar with, SkyLoft’s Laksa ($18) is made using Yellow Noodles and topped off with Jumbo King Prawn, Fish Ball, Fish Cake, Tow Pok, Spiced Coconut Gravy and Sambal Chili. Perhaps familiarity with the slender white noodles has made me resistant to change, but I find the yellow noodle a bit too thick and chewy, so much so that it felt like I was having a bowl of curry chicken noodles instead. I didn’t take to the  coconut gravy either as it was too watered down, and too spicy for me to handle. The best thing in this dish was definitely the fresh and springy jumbo prawn, which could be something you might be paying $16 for in Newton Circus.

So while SkyLoft gets full marks for its laid back ambience, the food has some way to go. This was surprising as I found their canapes very well executed when I was there for their restaurant launch about half a year back.

In conclusion, I would say that iFly is worth a visit, especially if you have not sky-dived before. If you have some spare cash lying around and are planning to throw a party, what I can suggest is to book the sky tunnel for a private event, followed by food, booze and music at SkyLoft. It promises to be an experience you and your friends will not be forgetting for a long time.

Special thanks to iFly and SkyLoft for the invitation!

SkyLoft @ iFly Singapore

43 Siloso Beach Walk, #05-01

Tel: +65 6270 0602

&Made by Bruno Menard – Not Making the Cut

12 08 2012

Waking up at 11.30am and far too lazy to make any reservations, I met up with R in town for our usual nice meal routine. Being a weekday, it was inconceivable that Salt Grill & Sky Bar would run a full house but alas, it was so even as we trotted in late at 1.30pm.

So, it was a mere coincidence that we ended up at &Made for lunch on this eve of National Day. While a friend had highlighted its existence to me just the day before, I had no idea it was conceptualized by a man holding 3 Michelin Stars, Chef Bruno Menard. I guess it’s good that I was unaware of this fact as one tends to form unrealistic expectations and set unobjective standards in such instances, even if it’s just a casual burger joint.

Truthfully, I have little respect for burgers. Too many eateries have frivolously used the term “gourmet burgers” for something far too mediocre, leaving me increasingly wary. In addition, too many anti fast food movies like Food Inc have unveiled that a meat patty might not purely be derived from a nice cut of meat but from the many random nooks and crevices of an animal carcass. So you really can’t blame me for thinking poorly of burgers.

Even amongst the Top 10 Burgers rated by IS Magazine, not all of them make the cut in my book. In fact, one of the more impressionable burgers I have had to date, The Foo Works from Foo House Cafe & Bar, is sadly missing from the list.

The big question today however, is whether or not &Made’s burgers make the cut.

Housing approximately 40 pax with the dining concept of gourmet burgers in a casual setting, &Made prides itself in creating ingredients and fillings for its burgers from scratch, which explains the origin of the eatery name.

The food menu is simple enough, compacted into a single sheet of paper for easy reference.

I had The Lamb ($25++), a burger that is made from a Lamb spiced patty, Fresh coriander, lime pickled sauce with curried raisins & onion jam. This burger fumbled on many aspects. There was just way too many flavours going on at the same time that left my palate confused. I felt that the curry didn’t go well with the caramelized onions and deconstructing the burger didn’t help much either, as some elements such as the lime picked sauce was far too sour and left me cringing.

I was sadly mistaken thinking that the Truffle fries (add $3 for upgrade from normal fries) would be a respite from the disappointing burger. The fries were overfried, soggy and tasted stale.

&Made categorizes Shakes and Smoothies under 1 section but as best explained by, there’s some differences between the 2.

“A smoothie is typically made with fruit – frozen fruit, fruit juice, fresh fruit, etc. It’s not a dairy affair. It’s a fruit party. A shake (“milkshake” being the source of the word), on the other hand, is a dairy-based treat usually made with ice cream, milk or both. The thickness of either does not change the name; as long as you can suck it up through a straw, it’s either a smoothie or a shake. When you start to need a spoon, then it becomes an ice cream or a sorbet.”

Given the 1 mouthful I tried, I couldn’t tell if the Banana & Honey ($9++) served here was a smoothie or a milkshake but I wouldn’t put much extra thought into it, since a return purchase is unlikely. The drink was just too thin and not rich enough for my liking.

Sticking to The “B” Burger ($19++) is a far better choice. It’s less fancy than some of the other burgers on the menu but what you get is a respectable and moist dry aged beef burger with onion confit, caper garlic sauce & Comte Cheese.

Most other food blogs have glowing reviews of &Made so I guess I’m pretty much alone on this one, as overrated and overhyped pretty much sums up my impression of &Made.


9 Scotts Road, #01-04/05/06 Pacific Plaza

Tel: +65 6732 9808

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