Where not to eat in Singapore: Cafe Cartel

I realise that many of the Singaporean blogs I read wax lyrical about food, as do I from time to time, so I thought it was time for a new series on where not to eat: places with bad food, unforgivable prices, exercrable service, hopeless ambience, or a combination of all these.

Then I procrastinated.

Congratulations, Cafe Cartel. You made my dinner experience last night so wretched that it jolted me out of my limbo and into writing this inaugural entry in the series.

* * *

I should begin by declaiming that I used to like the food at Cafe Cartel when they first opened. Terz and I were regular patrons of the Siglap outlet in its early days. It was 1998 and the great mushrooming of cafes all over Singapore was just beginning. The menu wasn't as varied as it is today, but what it served, it served well and we ate it contentedly.

I don't recall exactly when things changed, but at some point a few years after, we had a truly awful experience at that same outlet. His pasta came with a soupy substance masquerading as a cream sauce and we swore thereafter not to eat there.

I've broken that promise five times. Sometimes it wasn't my choice where to eat. Other times, I wasn't eating, warned the people who were, and listened to their complaints pile up as the meal wore on. Once, just once, they served up a massive sundae that was everything a massive sundae should be. So that's at least one thing they can do right.

Last night, at the Raffles City outlet, I crossed the rubicon.

Oh, all right, I suppose last night was my fault. I didn't protest when my friends wanted to eat there, mostly because I used to work with them and now I see them less often and I didn't want to make a fuss. I didn't heed last week's warning, when Ondine waited fifteen minutes for them to pack up her leftover cake and eventually had to stand right there at the counter beside her neglected cake before someone scared up a box for her.

So last night, we went inside and as usual, alarm bells went off in my head as soon as I stepped inside. They've deliberately designed the interior of the outlet to pack in as many tables as possible, to the extent that there's only enough space between each chair for someone of an anime heroine's proportions to slip through. I'm a small girl, but the hair's breadth between the backs of each chair made me feel like I was the size of Mr Snuffleupagus.

This, in a cafe where the trademark is self-service: customers scribble their orders down on an order pad, take it up to the cashier to ring it up, and serve themselves water, bread and condiments. And each cup provided for water is about as large as what you get at the dentist's, i.e. it requires refilling after two mouthfuls. If you're going to make me roll over and fetch my own food, the least you could do is give me enough space to walk up to the counter without twitching my butt into other diners' backs.

The food order itself caused a little confusion. I'd ordered a roast chicken sandwich, which the menu states includes egg (but doesn't say 'egg mayo'), and I'd written "no mayo" on my order. My friend who took the order up to the cashier had to flag me over to clarify it because apparently they had run out of egg mayo and would I be all right if they substituted it with just egg? At which point I blinked uncomprehendingly at the cashier and said, "It's egg, right? And I said no mayo?" She assented. I wanted to ask her how that would be any different from what I'd actually ordered, but it was early in the evening yet, so I simply nodded and let her process the order.

But no, they were out of shitake mushrooms as well, which means my friend's mushroom pasta would only have button and canned mushrooms in it. (Who the hell admits on the menu that they're serving canned food anyway?) And was she okay with that? Because she is a much nicer girl than me, she was.

The other two orders were processed and served without incident. When the mushroom pasta showed up, the sauce was on the watery side, but my friend ate it anyway. But it was my sandwich --- a freaking sandwich that doesn't require any cooking beyond toasting the bread --- that proved to be the real challenge.

After a reasonable wait, a manager type pops by to inform me nicely that, doh!, they burned the sandwich, so they were making a new one for me. I squinted, but (again) didn't kick up a fuss.

Many minutes later, by which point my friends were more than halfway through their meals, I got up and pointed out to the first waitstaff I encountered that I'd been waiting a really long time and could she check it please? Of course she couldn't without the receipt, so we had to weave and squeeze our way back to my table (see above on table crammage situation), where my friend had to scrounge the receipt out of her bag. By the time I handed it over to the waitstaff --- who was, to her credit, indefatigably polite throughout all this --- my sandwich had serendipitously appeared in the hands of the manager type and was about to land on my table.

I was hungry. I sat down. I took a bite.

It had mayo in it.

Apparently, the Cafe Cartel SOP for re-making a food item is: Make the food in as much as time as it would take if it were a new order. Ignore the original order slip and any special instructions that it might have. Oh, and be a doll --- try not to screw things up again, or you'll have to start over from the first step.

I thought about making a fuss, especially since the mayo didn't taste exactly fabulous, but hunger won out and I ate it. And it was a good sandwich, not as hearty as Seah Street Deli's, but it would've passed the test --- had it not been excruciatingly late and made so carelessly.

The moral of the story: Only go to Cafe Cartel if you're eating ice cream, which is commercially produced by an external supplier and can't be screwed up. Eat all other prepared foods at your own risk. I will never eat there again --- and this time I mean it.


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At 7/06/2005 11:26 am , Blogger Abigael said...

Ah girl ah ... I hate Cartel too ah.

But when the rest of the loves it for what it's not worth, I cave in without much resistance too.

May I add the following points about Cartel that I absolutely hate??

Ok, I'll take that as a yes.

Red cushion seats with dirty bread crumbs stuck in the crevices - Stuff that you can't remove without soiling your fingers and finding chunks of leftover potato mush.

Service staff who say no without thinking. The kind where they will tell you that don't serve iced tea ... only iced tea with a lemon slice. The kind where you will argue that they just don't have to add the lemon slice, but they still say no. So you end up ordering a cup of hot tea and a complimentary cup of ice.

But at least the have nice ribs with meat that slides off with a mild tug.

At 7/06/2005 12:53 pm , Blogger Sivasothi said...

Hmm..interesting. Friends and I had a bad experience at the Suntec branch - disintersted, slow and below par food (May 2005). Yeah, got to wait for a change in management/attitude until I step in there again.

At 7/06/2005 1:32 pm , Blogger tscd said...

Why do people still go there to eat if it's such a nasty place? I visited it once and was so put off by the cutlery that had been handled by loving but unwashed fingers (and had bits of pasta clinging to the fork), I left without waiting for my order.

At 7/06/2005 3:17 pm , Blogger Agagooga said...

The food's alright, but the service is abysmal.

At 7/06/2005 9:20 pm , Blogger the baker said...

I couldn't agree more. That's why I'm always so amazed when people actually tell me they like cafe cartel. And I immediately object when friends suggest we go cafe cartel to dine. I simply dislike cafe cartel. i do not like the food, and I think there's nothing great about the place. heck, my friend had food poisoning dining there. And you are so right, they must be deaf or something - they never get their orders right.

i think the reason people still horde the place is because of its supposedly 'reasonable' prices. oh please, i'd rather pay a bit more and have better service and edible food than have to settle for cafe cartel.

At 7/06/2005 10:40 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

so far, i only went Cartel once situated at Bishan br. I find the service there still ok even though it was a busy weekend afternoon and is quite pack. maybe becos there was a manager walking ard the restaurant helping out.

my whole family was pleased with the food they served too..

At 7/06/2005 11:17 pm , Blogger Unknown said...

Cartel's food are cheap, but hey, that's why you get junk food.

Only the free-flow bread passed my test. :(

At 7/06/2005 11:33 pm , Blogger Jaschocolate said...

I only ate there once and i had a supreme platter which was quite fast.. My poor friends got their food only after i finished mine..

At 7/06/2005 11:34 pm , Blogger Cowboy Caleb said...

i agree with you.

Last time I was there, they totally screwed up my order as well.

Zeus damn them!

At 7/06/2005 11:37 pm , Blogger Gremlin said...

Add another person who agrees. Service is bad, especially the one in Bishan Junction 8... and my wife absolutely refuses to eat there anymore.

At 7/07/2005 12:38 am , Blogger Elia Diodati said...

Hear, hear. My own suggestions for next once-great-now-no-longer-restaurants: Lips Cafe at Orchard Cineplex and Baker's Inn (the quality's been going way down since their franchising thing started).

At 7/07/2005 12:51 am , Blogger JellyGirl said...

Ah, the Cartel. Yes, I've given up on them a long time ago. It amazes me that despite the bad food, they still manage to pack the crowds in.

At 7/07/2005 1:32 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeap... the one at J8 made me wait 1h 15mins for my food. Which came only after i talk to the manager after i tried talking to the waitress twice.

At 7/07/2005 3:32 am , Blogger littlecartnoodles said...

I used to visit their Raffles City outlet and have Belgian waffles with strawberries and ice cream for lunch. Very filling.

That was 3-4 years ago. It's no longer on the menu.

Now it seems like teenagers go there to hang out only because the Starbucks next door is full.

At 7/07/2005 11:17 am , Blogger Tym said...

It's official. Griping about bad food places brings more traffic than blogging about good food places :)

I have to admit that I've not experienced egregiously poor service at Cartel, so I'll at least give them that as far as my own experience goes.

Why do people continue to pack its outlets? I have no idea. It's one of those mysteries of urban life, like why did people stand in line and get into fights at McDonald's for Hello Kitty dolls

At 7/07/2005 11:22 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pasta Fresca. From being the only Italian restaurant in Singapore, it's now the worst, in terms of food quality.

At 7/07/2005 11:25 am , Blogger Tym said...

Grrr --- clicked 'publish' too quickly. I also meant to say:

I don't find their prices reasonable at all.

E.g. My roast chicken sandwich last night was $10.95. This puts it on par with Seah Street Deli, where the much heartier and tastier ham-and-turkey (I think) sandwich was something in the region of $13.95 (without service charge).

At the slightly lower but much tastier end of the scale, O'Brien's charges $6.80 for a roast chicken sandwich (and when you tell them no mayo, they hold the mayo), and this Far East Square sandwich joint (bee, what's the name?) sells theirs for about $8. The marsala chicken wraps (they don't have sandwiches per se) at Toast come in at $6+ too. And let's not forget good ol' Subway, which will serve up a very tasty, no-mayo sandwich for less than $6.

(I eat chicken sandwiches a lot, can you tell? Next time you know what to buy me for lunch if I ask you to da bao...)

At 7/07/2005 11:28 am , Blogger Tym said...

Eh, other people like griping about bad food places too!

I haven't eaten at Bakerzin or Pasta Fresca recently, so it wouldn't exactly be fair for me to excoriate them for the sins of one year and four years ago respectively. I will only say that Pasta Fresca is very much on our Do Not Eat list and, unlike the case with Cartel, nobody ever tries to talk us into eating there.

At 7/07/2005 12:08 pm , Blogger ming said...

the cartel is passe. go to the GODFATHER's cafe - cafe menotti. not like it really cheap at cartel.

At 7/07/2005 1:59 pm , Blogger Jess said...

Can I please be totally irrelevant and ask:

Did you manage to spell "Mr Snuffleupagus" without googling the name??

At 7/07/2005 7:29 pm , Blogger Tym said...

I'm a big fan of Menotti, especially of their desserts. But it gets a bit noisy sometimes when it's crowded --- I think the design of the place traps noise, unfortunately.

panaphobic --- I am ashamed to admit that I had to Google it and that my original spelling (which I can't remember now) was one letter off. It's a good thing Google has that term-matching "Did you mean to search for ... " function, or poor Mr Snuffleupagus would never get his dues.

At 7/07/2005 9:45 pm , Blogger the commentator said...

i hear you. had the same appalling experience at cartel. was so inspired by your piece, i did a follow-up post on my blog.



At 7/07/2005 10:24 pm , Blogger Abigael said...

OK ... Menotti.
Ah Ming, don't be so partial ah.
Subjective too ah.
Inconsistent too ah.

Things to die for:
Warm chocolate cake.
Lemon meringue tart.
Madagascar hot chocolate.
Gelato - cannot go wrong.

Things you pui chao nua at:
Pina Colada - taste like coconut flavoured crushed ice.
Chocolate martini - taste like murky crap.
Elaborate licorice flavoured puff crap that fires up into a pile of incoherent mess.

Sometimes here sometimes there:
Fettucine, chicken and mushroom.

Everyone sucks!
Jai is the man!
Look for Jai!
He is da bomb!

At 7/07/2005 10:25 pm , Blogger Abigael said...

By the way, that place with the chicken sarnie melt is called Aromaz. At Pekin Street.

At 7/07/2005 10:33 pm , Blogger Kiv said...

I've never eaten at Cartel before but have always meant to try it out one of these days, seeing the crowd it's drawing. But I guess after reading this...well...maybe not.

My very own memorably lousy dining experience was at Al Dente - the restaurant at the Esplanade with a view overlooking the Bay area. But not even that cld distract me from the really really bad service.

At 7/14/2005 12:35 pm , Blogger Jac said...

hmmmm the serangoon gardens' one is really not too bad. loads of alfresco space too - unless its food ball night of course.

At 7/14/2005 12:35 pm , Blogger Jac said...

ok. i meant to say football not food ball.

At 7/14/2005 4:10 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the Serangoon Gardens branch - also because friends wanted to go - a few months ago. I'm vegetarian and I asked which items were vegetarian on the menu and was told, none! I asked if even the green salad was NOT vegetarian and the wait staff told me that was the case. I went home and emailed to complain about the badly informed staff and asked if they could have maybe, please just have ONE vegetarian item on the menu. I never got a reply.

At 12/15/2005 5:29 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zombie-Coated Marshmallows wrapped in fiery pink candy floss!! With ancient expired low-fat milk poured on them!! In my hands!! In my wooly hands!!!

By the way the expiry date was 9th March 1985

At 3/22/2006 9:24 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tym, I meant to comment on this the last time when i saw this on tomorrow.sg, but well, didnt. just stumbled upon this link again whilst trying to find the exact address of my former holiday-job.

"By the time I handed it over to the waitstaff --- who was, to her credit, indefatigably polite throughout all this"

If you can believe it, the waiters really do understand you if you get cranky if your food takes a bloody hour to arrive to arrive. And after working as a waiter, i realise there's no point being nasty to waiters - they are only the intermediaries who bring you your food and take your order. If the order is late, it's the kitchen or something even as stupid as the "check printing machine ran out of paper" and messes up the orders.

Thanks, tho it was a long time ago, just neglected to make a comment till now.When i read it back then, it made my day that someone noticed that i was being polite, because there were times when i was just walking by (to top up their famous breads and erm, free water) and a customer starts yelling at me for some reason or another (when you don't know what's his order because there's more than you in the whole operation), and no matter how i keep smiling and helping them they just keep on at it. :S. so you see...sometimes it's not that service staff don't want to be helpful, or just love giving bad service, it's that when everyday pple keep beating you down, calling you to the table and laughing at you when u heed their call and make your way to their table.........., isnt it understandable too that service staff in singapore just get tired of giving good service? So service is a two way process. just smile and say thank you, even to the elderly aunty who clears your plates at the hawker center, and u'd make someone who is making a living in a decent job feel appreciated and enjoy it...then maybe good service wont be so hard to come by. It's all about mutual respect - it's a two way street!

Well, at least that's what i think. I only worked as a waiter for a while, but it was an eye opening experience.

hmmzmzmmz. anyway, the worst nights to eat there, i would think, are friday nights. thats when it's the most crowded. best nights would be sunday nights. and most popular dish would be the st louis pork ribs. Best service i heard was at dhoby gaut, cleanest i heard was at siglap.

- jo

At 7/06/2006 4:33 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Plaza Sing outlet is the best with enough space between the seats, just don't go for the plastic chairs. Food at PS is good too. Bishan/ City Hall is not bad too. BUT the Tampines, Suntec branches sucks - cramped and slow food/ service. Moral of the story? Go to those in town.

At 1/10/2007 9:38 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the Plaza Sing branch 2 weeks back. Sundae was a small pathetic scoop of ice-cream, topped with half a glass full of whipped cream. Not to mention, I scrapped it off my list of restaurants to frequent. What I don't get too is the addition of service charge, when no one cares whether you get your serving of bread nor any other service. But with the huge influx of diners, doubt they'll do anything about that.

At 1/10/2007 10:31 pm , Blogger Tym said...

Yeah, I made the mistake of allowing myself to eat at a Cafe Cartel recently (the Siglap outlet). The Oriental chicken salad was the most pathetic salad I've seen in a place that isn't a hawker centre Western food stall.

Never again!!

At 1/13/2007 9:27 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work at Cartel myself, about 3 years back (I was barely 17 then). I have to agree that the service is really quite bad - because some of the crew really dont bother or are not trained (well, service crew aint trained when they first join. they got trained themselves as time goes by).

And the most probable reason of bad service is because they hire young service crew (16-18 yrs)who probably don't give a damn about whether your sandwich has mayo in it anot. Also, even if they truly bother, they would probably be not able to answer your question as to whether is it egg mayo or plain egg, is because they don't know! cartel segregates its crew into categories. the waiters (who does nothing but serve and clear plates), cashier (who rings your order and collect $), bar & dessert and kitchen staff. newcomers will progress from waiters to doing probably bar or cashier and perhaps learn how to cook or make sandwiches. thats the reason why if you ask a waiter or cashier about contents of the food, they probably will not be sure.

and i was pretty disgusted with the way they cramped all the tables and chairs. gosh its worse than a canteen..

so after working there, I realise how screwed up the management of the cafe is and how it spills over to consumer. and, kitchen crew being kitchen crew everywhere, after i saw how yucky some of them can do to our food...i will never dine there.

Ex-cartel crew.

At 5/14/2007 4:57 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, imagine my surprise. Fell onto this blog by mistake (looking for something completely different) and stumbled on this post. What luck.

Cafe Cartel (the one at City Hall) has the spectacular distinction of being my #1 choice for a 'Worst Service in Singapore' award. I've ordered coffee there twice now (fool me twice, I know) and both times I've practically had to dislocate my shoulder to wave over one of their comatose waiters. To be fair on them, they don't seem to have a clue what they're doing and that's probably not their fault.

I've spent years working in cafes and restaurants - never let myself get angry over this kind of stuff but the way this place runs, it's almost like it's designed to piss their customers off.

Their weak, cold coffee gets about a 3/10 too.

Coffee? Can't tell...

At 6/21/2007 7:11 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah... lol. I used to work at cartel. I can say they're really screwed. And they're getting worse. Geez. They totally do business the way that they want to get each and every customer's order over and done with, quick at that, too. Ugh.

xoxo Jank

At 8/12/2007 6:02 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

same here! I went to Cafe Cartel at Junction 8 and Raffles City..

Soup served at Junction 8 was DAMN COLD! Dad complained to the manager until they were served DAMN HOT.

Seafood Set for 4 at Raffles City were served to my parents and me after half a hour's wait!! Then they already turned COLD.. Dad complained to the manager again!

So till then, we never go Raffles City. We go Junction 8 as it s near to our home.. I always write down on the order pad - SUPER HOT!!!!! in capital letters so that they can see CLEARLY..

At 10/25/2007 3:26 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kenny Cafe Blk 276 Jurong West St.25 #01-01 A worst place for service especially the midnight shift where you can see a chinese girl definitely from china parading herself as a model. She doesn't even know english at all how can she be put in the counter to serve coffee and she always has a habit of yelling loudly heheh i guess the management need to revamp their hiring status i ordered coffee with sugar she gave me coffee with milk and when i say it was wrong she gave me those sarcastic look... come on i'm the customer here its not my fault you can't understand english and she was swearing which made me quite frustrated i guess i never will step in there ever again not in my life!!!!!!! And she make the worst coffee which i guess she did not wash the container of tea properly cause it doesn't taste like coffee.. Hey get someone more capable and can understand simple english even aunties can understand simple english but this young woman my god she thinks she is a high class model working at a coffeeshop

At 11/08/2007 1:05 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

to the "1/11/2007 10.38am Anonymous"...please..u complain bout the sundae being juz a small pathetic scoop onli..r u sure it's their fault..??didn't u read the menu...written cleary there with one scoop of ice cream..oh do u need a magnifying glass..??how big do u want.??a lover's fantasy bowl that big an ice cream scoop..?

At 11/08/2007 1:10 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

to abigael...for your information.,cafe cartel only sell HOT ceylon tea,early grey tea english breakfast tea and etc,as well as ICED lemon tea and ICED peach tea with lemon slice..so did you ordered a Cup of HOT peach/lemon tea with a complimentary cup of ice.??

At 3/03/2008 11:56 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

for your info.. the service at different cartel outlets vary, so you cant judge like that! the ones i've been to have really good service and food. if you really dun like the place, jus dun visit it!! why criticise it so badly!

one man's junk may be another's treasure.

At 3/09/2008 3:46 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree. Had a really bad experience last night. the Cartel branch in Marina Square has no utensils. It just made my day. Cartel sucks. and yes, i was wrong not to protest when my friends wanted to go Cartel. Anyway, i hope more people will heed the`advice and stop eating in cartel.

At 4/12/2008 12:03 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left a comment in the Cafe Cartel website, maybe more should go and leave a comment and tell others to boycott such lousy services.

At 4/12/2008 5:55 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey how come i see no comments about swensen's?
i was totally exasperated by their food, price & service too!!!
crayfish pasta - crayfish with a stale funny taste.
ordered a crabmeat fried rice.. rice not FRIED evenly.. 1 spicy softshell crab (full of pepper taste) w some scattered shredded crabmeat @ $14.90++!
From Q-up, we waited for 10 mins. No one attending. finally came. tone was hostile. but very friendly towards the ANG MOHS! (Well we were at the 24 hour branch in town!)
Had to wait at least 45 mins with 3 reminders for their well known desserts. Does preparing ice-cream really need such a long time?
Best part.. no matter how u waved your hand.. no one seems to be able to see you. so much so for service charge. its not alot though.. only 10%.. but at least they should show some justifiable hmm.. basic level of service..

oh yeah have you realised the Grilled Fish Sambal tasted like its been microwaved before??
And the Salmon n mushroom baked rice with 2 pathetic pieces of salmon @ $12.90++.

im sorry to have commented like a miser. but i just cant help but to wonder.. is Singaporeans spending power any lower than those Caucasians. Perhaps on the tipping part.. but why should we should give tips to such a sucky service?
not even the food deserved an extra cents than the cost.
simply overcharged!

At 5/30/2008 3:08 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love how replies are still coming in after what, 3 years? Death to overpriced 'Western' food chains!

At 6/05/2008 12:04 pm , Blogger Tym said...

Yeah, three years on, I still don't eat at Cafe Cartel, and people still find this post and add something to the conversation (be it yeas or nays). I suppose it'll only become redundant when Cafe Cartel shuts down? :)

At 6/08/2008 1:02 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez..FOOD IS JUST FOOD..why on earth all these bloody complains from people? I for one eat just about anything (cold food, cold canned food etc. So what's up with serving canned mushrooms which has even been heated up?) and i've got no problems compared to people who are fussy. Sidetracking, would like to quote a real-life incident. I've got a friend who was in hospital and there was this freaking patient beside her who was freaking fussy about food. This girl fussed about every single morsel and this patient died few days later. My friend who is super easy with food, like me(that's why we hit it off well)and eats just about any junk u give her, survived. Few years on, she's still going strong unlike her 'FUSSY with food' counterpart in hospital who died there fussing over food. Poor girl but then again, she was too particular about food and that's presumably a bad thing then. To people who complains-Eat whatever and stop being a pest or sad to say, might end up like the gal

At 7/05/2008 10:34 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Add one more vote to "where not to eat in Singapore: Cafe Cartel". Brought my two kids, wife and mother-in-law to the one at Serangoon Gardens; the fact that the restaurant next door was full and Cafe Cartel was half-empty should have warned me.

Order was terribly slow, didn't serve water until asked; didn't offer cutlery until one of the mains was served. Four mains, one came within 5 minutes (not spicy became very spicy, sigh), another 15 minutes later, two others NEVER CAME AT ALL.

Kitchen totally forgot about the order, despite SIX times of asking them to check, each time response was "oh, it's coming, 5 minutes".

FINALLY, gave up waiting, wanted to speak to the manager to ask what was going on, manager chose to hide behind his staff.

Please be warned. Proceed at your own risk.

At 11/03/2008 5:11 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...


cafe cartel....the last time i went there was the plaza singapura branch about a year ago, where i got really really REALLY bad food poisioning from a tuna sandwich, which btw, took about 3000 hours to get from the kitchen to the table, they do have some sort of problem with sandwiches...

i study at raffles lasalle so im constantly looking for good places to eat in the area, so far i've narrowed down the list to the following for good food and service...

seah street deli @ raffles hotel, i love love love the burgers there!

next door cafe on arab street, newly open so still very good service and excellent food, hopefully will stay that way ;) must try the date & walnut cake (also, 10% student discount)

rochor duck rice along beach road
sooooo goooood!!! they also do a very good mutton soup, but the duck rice - WAH! :D

also as a warning, places to avoid:

any cafe cartel outlet, ANYWHERE!

coffee bean food, they are called the coffee bean and tea leaf for a reason, stick to the teas and coffees when there, food is yuck!

the other sandwich place at raffles hotel, never fresh food. and the bread is all dry, and the service staff sux.

blu jaz on ophir road - greasy food, deadly slow service, live music is ok but i can go to proper pubs for that, ppl seem to love this place but i had a horrible experience more then a few times.

hope thats useful! :D

At 2/05/2009 2:55 am , Blogger Chuang Shyue Chou said...

I just stumbled upon this and my experiences were similar. The last time that Café Cartel was worth visiting was in 1998 or 1999. And I had the unfortunate experience of visiting it again and again by sheer force of habit. Doh.

Swenson, Breeks, NYDC, Sizzler, Ponderosa, what else? Oh well..

At 6/01/2009 4:28 am , Blogger DarkKnight said...

I totally agree..had a terrible experience at the Hougang Mall outlet of Cafe Cartel and made me decide never ever patronize the place again..

At 7/13/2009 12:34 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

May this blog serve as feedback (read - not criticism) not only to Cafe Cartel but to rest in F&B. The cafes/restaurants that serve $10-$25 non-Asian meals are mostly not worth patronizing. Poor customer service, meagre quantity, instant-microwave tastes. The list goes on.

I said "mostly" because I believe there are a shining few that sits undiscovered to me.

Till then, street hawker food for me, please.

At 12/01/2009 4:18 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

2yrs back the food was ok @ service was not that bad for the Cafe Cartel @ tampines mall but 6mths ago i went back there cos the chicken wing & sandwich we had before tasted alright...till we ordered a meal set that's comes with soup & drink but u know what it was a quite evening i waited 15mins for my pasta & 5mins later than comes my soup!What,s is this?the sevice is so poor that we just walked off from there & guys remember not to eat their set lunch especially the chicken teriyaki pasta...if not u will regret & ruin your day....i will nevery go back again!Janet from Tampines


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