My colleagues told me about Cafe Melba some time back but the fact that the cafe does not take reservations made me hesitate to check it out. Also, like most brunch places that are new, there is always a crowd hungry to check it out (pardon the pun!). It is the Deepavali holiday today and after our breakfast of chocolate croissants from Mayson Kayser at Scotts Square (they were DIVINE! Buttery with dark chocolate – YUMS!), our tummies rumbled for more substantial nosh.
I suggested that we (bravely) check out Cafe Melba since it was already 1pm-ish and hopefully, the brunch crowd would have cleared out. Also, the sky was threatening to pour and I was hoping that it would deter other diners. Hur hur.
The cafe was pretty filled and the guy who served us (looked like the owner/manager) told us in a rather curt manner that “the second wave of customers are coming so we only have high tables and you have to share”. Well, we didn’t mind that but I would have appreciated it if it was conveyed in a less haughty tone. What’s the deal with cafes who behave like we owe them a living for patronising them?! Pffft.
After that less than stellar ‘welcome’, we were shown to our high-table and given the menu. The boy went for the egg benedict (his favourite) while I opted for the penne carbonara. I ordered an iced-lemon tea ($7!) while he had a cappuccino ($5).
The cafe has a bouncing castle for over-active kids (who made full use of it) and a HUGE field. Did I mention that this is a dog-friendly cafe? It is, quite possibly, the only reason why I chose to check it out since dog-friendly eateries are as rare as Singaporeans not queuing up for Hello Kitty. There were a couple of other dogs at the cafe with their owners and the crowd seemed rather PMEB. I spied a Japanese family (more on that later) and a couple of Caucasian families. The interior of the cafe is chic and reminded us of cafes in Australia which is a good thing.
While waiting, the boy took Moon to the field for some training. Yes, we never let up 🙂 All this time, the sky was threatening to pour but thankfully, it held up for a bit. In fact, it was rather lovely weather to be outdoors (under shade, no less).
As with most eateries, our drinks order would arrive first but surprise surprise, after 5 minutes, our food order arrived. How quick was that?! They must have an extremely efficient kitchen.
They do look pretty good eh? The boy enjoyed his eggs benedict but he quipped that he would have preferred it with more hollandaise sauce. My penna carbonara was perfectly al dente and there was a sweet undertone to it. Me thinks it could have been due to the onions. It wasn’t too ‘heavy’ and I particularly enjoyed the mushroom and home-cured bacon bits.
Halfway through our meals, our drinks were still no where to be seen. I walked up to one of the (harried) waitress who waved me away by saying “Oh….coming…”. Erm, ok.
In her defense, our drinks finally arrived. The couple sharing our high table wasn’t as lucky though. I heard them asking for their drinks THREE TIMES (!) and the best part? The lady ordered…a pot of tea. How hard is it to prepare a pot of tea? Towards the end of their meal, a lady (presumably the lady owner/manager) came round to their table and presented them with a complimentary plate of dessert (cake) to apologise for their wait. Decent service recovery, I say.
I struggled a little trying to finish my pasta so the boy took Moon for another round of training at the big field. However, a group of Japanese boys had other ideas. They wanted to pet and feed Moon snacks which halted the training session.
Alas, soon after, big claps of thunder was heard and fat rain drops came falling down which had everyone scurrying for shelter. By then, we were also done with lunch. The bill came up to $56.50 for 2 mains ($18 each for our mains) and 2 drinks with service charge and GST thrown in.
The environment and food was decent to say the least but the service standards are lacking. There were lots of service staff around but they all seemed to be running around like chicken without heads. I wonder if there’s a systematic way of taking/serving orders. It just seemed…haphazard. Also, I think it sorely needs a host/hostess who will attend to guests promptly and politely without being snarky. Despite it being a dog-friendly cafe, I would only think of returning if I am not made to feel as if I should be grateful for a table at their establishment. Oh and taking reservations wouldn’t hurt too.
90 Goodman Road
#01-56 Goodman Arts Centre
Opening hours: Mon-Fri, 10.00am – 10.00pm; Sat-Sun, 8.00am – 10.00pm