We found ourselves in the East on Sunday, and since we had a couple of errands to run in Parkway Parade, we decided to have lunch there. Since the Fish and Chip shop in the basement food court has closed down, we were looking for a place to eat that we couldn’t get anywhere else. Hence, no Ajisen Ramen, Ichiban Sushi or Crystal Jade.
We ended up at CaffeBar, a little café tucked away in one corner of the first floor, right outside Marks and Spencer. Given the hustle and bustle of the rest of the mall, it was quite tranquil and a pleasant respite. We were there with M and J, and little baby E, and the servers nicely ushered us to a table for 6 so that we had enough room for all the paraphernalia.
The menu is pretty comprehensive, with quite a decent variety of pastas and hot main dishes, but the set menus will pretty much reel you in for their good value and considerable array of choice. And they’re available every day, so none of that “Monday to Thursday 12 to 2 pm” type sets. There are 3 sets, varying in price and the selection of main course. The Executive Set is $12.80, Gourmet Set is $18.80 and Cuisine Set is $19.80. All come with a soup of the day, and while the Executive and Gourmet Sets come with a drink, the Cuisine Set comes with ice cream for dessert.
Soup of the day was a Mushroom Chowder, which though slightly insipid in taste, more than made up for it in thickness and heartiness. This was no watery dishwater soup – it was thick, creamy and absolutely loaded with mushrooms. Button, shitake and even some traces of wild mushrooms. Quite a promising start.
A and I had the Cuisine Sets, and the main courses were much better than I expected in a joint like this. A had the Medallion of Salmon with Soy-Honey Glaze and Wasabi. The salmon was actually a roulade of sorts, rather than a straight-up salmon fillet, and it was cooked really well. It was still slightly pink in the center, and the combination of the soy-honey glaze and the wasabi puree was very good.
I had read about the duck confit in this place, so I decided to have the Spaghetti with shredded duck confit. Again I was a little hesitant about ordering something as sophisticated as duck confit in a simple café like this, but I needn’t have worried. The duck had a good texture, wasn’t too strongly flavoured and most importantly, wasn’t overly salty. The spaghetti was done aglio olio style, with lots of whole chilli padis tossed in as well. I ate a couple whole, but after my tongue exploded, I decided to cut them up into smaller, more manageable pieces. The heat added a welcome zing to the otherwise pungent duck and garlic combo.
The ice creams weren’t outstanding – A’s lime sherbet tasted like a Super Lemon and my espresso ice cream had authentic but very strong flecks of coffee grounds – but the latte and flat white (brewed with Illy coffee) that we ordered were both very good.
The service here deserves special mention too. Given that the servers are the usual young waiters and waitresses that you find in almost any café these days, the ones at CaffeBar were a few notches above the rest. They took the trouble to ask if we all wanted our drinks before or after our meal, and got every single order right. They also provided an empty plate to J to dispose of prawn and clam shells because she ordered the seafood pasta. They were all very polite and very professional.
I definitely want to come back to this place again. Problem is, we don’t really want to venture to the East. How…?
Considering the size of the place, our service was super. Best service I’ve had in this kind of casual dining place in a while.
The menu’s a bit simplistic but at least they do simple café dishes well and rather than overreach the limits of their set up. The bread counter was also a bit blah but I liked the balsamic they use. The set menus are pretty decent value but I’d skip the sorbets or fancy ice creams. Maybe will try the regular flavors next (although if I didn’t get a set, I’d rather save stomach space for a New Zealand Natural Chocolate Shake).
Overall, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather eat in Parkway. It’s not difficult to get a table, the food is better than you’d expect, and the service is tops. Too bad they don’t have something like this on our end of the island.
80 Marine Parade Road
Opening hours: 10 am to 10 pm