Sunday, November 27, 2005

Review: Miss Clarity Café

What is the point, I often ask myself, of running a food blog and reading other food blogs, if you don't learn from each other in terms of recipes and new places to go for good food? Having said that, I should admit with great regret that I haven't yet managed to try a fellow flogger's custom recipe, but that's mainly because I have so many of my own to try.

On the recommended restaurants front, though, I am doing slightly better. After Cheryl the baker repeatedly plugged Miss Clarity Cafe, inundating them with outstanding reviews, I decided I had to take a trip down to see for myself this jewel of the Orient.

Unfortunately, circumstances conspired to prevent my visit for months, until I discovered, to my great surprise, that one of my colleagues is part of the family that owns the cafe; in fact, he's Clarity's brother. With a pedigree like that, how could I not go? Still, it was some time more before the opportunity arose to take a gander at this cosy little eatery.

So last Saturday, it was decided that Eugene's birthday should be celebrated there, allowing me to kill two birds with one chicken ballotine.

Miss Clarity Cafe

Located along Purvis Street, almost directly opposite Yhingthai Palace, Miss Clarity Cafe is kind of hard to miss.


The cafe can accomodate about 50 people, and while I must admit the decor is a little kitsch for my slightly pretentious tastes, it does work; within half an hour all the empty tables you see in the photo were filled. Of course, this may also have had something to do with the affordable prices.

Miss Clarity Cafe has an impressively extensive menu; it offers three set lunches ($8.80, $12.80 and $15.80), pastas, white meats, red meats and seafood. The entire menu spans something like eight pages and more than fifty items.

Mushroom soup

All three of us had the $8.80 set, which includes a soup/salad, main course, dessert and drink. The soup of the day turned out to be mushroom soup, which was, unfortunately, rather lacklustre (2/5). It was quite diluted, and (I suspect) contained some MSG, without much mushroom aroma at all. [Ed: Nora has assured me that no MSG is used in the preparation of any of the cafe's food].

Chocolate milkshake

I decided to replace my drink with a chocolate milkshake ($3.50), simply because I'm a sucker for chocolate milkshakes and wondered if, in addition to being one of the cheapest milkshakes in Singapore, this would be my elusive answer to the best milkshake in town. Unfortunately, it proved not to be so (3/5), as it wasn't chocolatey enough, but at that price you won't find me complaning. I've had worse for twice the price.

Garlic-crusted dory

Liwern had the garlic-crusted dory, which, although I'm not a big fish fan, did seem quite good. I didn't really taste the garlic though, which one imagines is the dish's defining attribute.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I couldn't decide between the chicken ballotine and the chicken cordon bleu, which Eugene eventually had, but in the end I decided the chicken ballotine sounded healthier.

Chicken Ballotine

The chicken ballotine was actually quite nice (3.5/5), but I was somewhat less than impressed with the accompanying fries baked potatoes and vegetables, which seemed a little soggy. It didn't occur to me at the time, but I realise now, after looking at Cheryl's previous posts, that the portions at Miss Clarity Cafe have definitely become smaller, and that prices have gone up. Instead of the $5.50 Cheryl quoted for her Chicken Cordon Bleu, it now costs something like $7.00.

Bread and Butter Pudding

This was most evident with the dessert. We were given the option of either jelly or bread and butter pudding, and I decided to have the pudding, thinking it'd be more substantial. The little sliver of pudding that was placed before me was in stark contrast to the one you can see in Cheryl's review. While it was very good (4/5), I did think the parsimonious serving size was a little discomforting. [Ed: I've been told that the dessert was so small because it was part of the set. While I have no doubt that this is indeed the case, I disagree with in on principle. I don't think it's right to advertise a set meal without telling your patrons that some portions of it are going to be severely undersized.]

While the prices are undoubtedly attractive, the cafe's location in Purvis Street makes it a little inaccessible unless you happen to be in the City Hall/Bugis area. Also, while the boss lady, Nora, is extremely friendly and chatty, some of the service standards need to be improved a bit. For instance, the bill lumps every order together under one total price, so you have no idea what you're paying for.

Miss Clarity Cafe (casual, cafe)
5 Purvis Street
Tel: 6339 4803
Open 7am to 11pm
Location: 3/5
Ambience: 3/5
Service: 3.5/5 (4.5 if you strike up a conversation with Nora)
Food: 3/5
Overall: Probably one of the most affordable places to have a casual lunch

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