good, better-than-average bistro food at this branch of the yummy-mummy chain in the ion shopping mall. this is a long post, because I came here twice in barely a week – and I’ll tell you why: the food is pretty decent, the prices competitive for the area, and there aren’t much better options around for a place to sit down and have some cake and tea.
it’s pretty flabbergasting to realize that though the orchard road precinct is hangout-de-rigueur for most people on the weekends, and so ought to (and does) have a slew of eateries, there really isn’t much to eat around there, just a whole lot of overly expensive sit-down places or trendy takeaway options. this place remains my fall-back option when I’m out with the girlfriends, and has been since I first visited their palais renaissance outlet nearly five years ago.
the food may not be spectacularly surprising, but it is reliable and very enjoyable. the menu runs the gamut of european-fusion-ish bistro dishes: easy brunch food, salads and sandwiches, proper entrées and pud. I tend to come here for brunch or tea, and so the menu does me well – don’t come expecting a formal dinner service here, it ain’t that sort place.
I liked the chicken and avocado salad: a rather large portion of suitably ripe avocado and quite a bit of chicken topped with a poached egg – the spicy oriental beef salad was a little less substantial, though still quite tasty.
I managed to try their cashew hummus with tomato focaccia, and this was a let-down. the bread was very good, airy and tasty in the best sort of way, but the hummus: there were chopped cashews atop the rather measly portion, but it really didn’t taste like anything. I think it could be an issue of underseasoning, but it’s rather astounding how ingredients can be worked into having no flavour at all – especially unforgiveable when the hummus is the eponymous star of the dish; skip this.
truth be told though, my constant visits are for their sweets. they have the same sort of style as the p.s. cafe chain (and both do a mean sticky date pudding). the granny smith and stem ginger pudding – really a rift on the standard toffee pud formula, is a slightly gingery sponge and salted caramel drizzled atop really good vanilla ice cream (they use a very creamy and delicious one), with cooked apples – still a little sour, almost pickle-like. I think the apples were the weakest component, but the other bits fantastic. the massive slab of carrot cake was also pretty good – the cake layers might have been a little dry, but still very tasty, and there was quite a bit of frosting – if that’s your sort of thing.
on the second visit, I got to try something new: their caramelized pear and salted caramel bread pudding. doesn’t that sound fantastic! and it really was quite intriguing – two rectangular slabs of bread pudding are wrapped with filo, baked to a pale golden, and topped with another scoop of that delicious vanilla ice cream. the filo was a little floury – I think it could have been baked a little longer, or brushed with an egg wash – but I’m quibbling: that bare drizzle of salted caramel on the plate was just the right accent to the pud – it was a great way to finish the meal.
Marmalade Pantry City
ION Orchard #03-22
2 Orchard Turn
tel +65 6734 2700
p.s. I had a disappointing visit to another café this weekend (cough: jones the grocer) which reminded me of why I really like the marmalade pantry and ps cafe: I may have to wait a little longer for my puds, but they never come microwaved. microwaving cake and bread completely ruins the texture – the outside gets distinctively dried out and tough, and the food cools down way too fast. but that’s a story for another post!