café melba, mountbatten

okayish australian brunch food hidden away in the goodman arts centre. this place has drawn mixed reviews since opening this year – and I’m about to toss my own undecided judgement into the mix, just so you have as difficult a time as I did of deciding if it’s worth visiting.

on second thought, perhaps that’s not the best strategy for ingratiating myself into your favor. so here’s it straight up: this place has great potential, but the food and service are in firm not-travel-worthy-but-I’ll-have-it-if-it’s-there territory. or more succinctly, meh.


I admit to wanting to come here for the longest time, despite those reviews: I had seen photos of the gorgeous space in design blogs, and there’s just something incredibly appealing about good lighting for photography.

but the place doesn’t look nearly this good (one day I will learn to stop trusting photos) in the daytime – and there was this slight ramshackle shabbiness about it, like they hadn’t bothered to take care of what should be a well-curated space.

but enough about design – let’s talk food.

the pizzas fared the best that day, hands down. there were three variants on the table: chilli crab, mushroom and a trifecta of meat products on the three little pigs. these were well-cooked in a wood-fired oven, with a crust that verged between cracker and thin-crust (nothing nearly as flavorful as the famed mozza – but good in its way), and the ingredients were suitably piled on.

the crust had good browning and enough structure not to flop over while eating – and for that I give it points. the chili crab was interesting – proper fusion, with a surprising alchemy between the plop of shredded crab and cheese, but my favourite was the mushroom.

the other dishes were less interesting: a burger was stacked high and pretty – as were the pile of pancakes I ordered, a healthy stack of four drizzled with compote – and the full melba cooked breakfast was a generous plateful of food. but these suffered from bimboticism, having mastered the art of looking good without much substance.

so really, if you’re here – head for the pizzas. the other stuff isn’t bad, and actually perhaps on par with some hipsterish cafes, but I don’t think it’s worth traveling for. there is just this pervading sense of unfulfilled potential rather perpetuated also by the sheer nothing-outstanding-ness of both service and food. much better food elsewhere, really.

Café Melba
Block N #01-56
Goodman Arts Centre
90 Goodman Road
Singapore 439053
tel +65 6440 6068
$$.5: each = twenty-five to thirty

p.s. if you’ve been here for dinner, tell me if it lives up to the night shots? I still think it could be such a gorgeous place!

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