My first Scoot experience!

It was an extremely last minute decision made by an ever-indecisive me to travel for a short holiday, so it wasn’t surprising that I ended up (again) having to fork out a sizeable amount for the airfare. Despite this, of course, what I paid to fly Scoot was still relatively cheaper than if I had chosen the full-service carriers. For some weird reason, perhaps in order to sell the premium seats, the Scoot-Biz tickets were actually on offer at a lower price than the “Fly” option, which does not even include checked luggage. I could have gotten it cheaper but the time factor made it such that by the time I got round to making up my mind, I had to pay more.

Scoot-Biz offers priority check-in with a separate queue, so it was a breeze to get my boarding pass and luggage deposited. The fare comes with this privilege, together with 20kg of checked bags, meals and entertainment (streamed on your own device, e.g. iPad).

The 2 things that they could improve on, one of which I believe is already in consideration and in the works, is online check-in. Currently, they only offer check-in service at the airport, which if you are flying in Economy and not early, can mean long, snaking queues. The other thing I would like to see would probably be the distinction of checked bags for Scoot-Biz customers. I don’t know if they tag the bags separately, but on both out and inbound flights, I realised that I had to wait a long time for my bag to appear on the carousel, even though there were other Biz passengers whose bags came out earlier, together with normal Economy bags. So Scoot if you ever get to read this, a suggestion and point to consider perhaps?

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The Biz fare gets you ample legroom, much more than the usual Economy class on even full-service carriers anyway, at 38-inch (as described on their website), and the seats are leather. Well, I don’t really mind if they are leather or not as long as they are clean and keeps me warm in the cold cabin, but it was comfortable for me, with lots of legroom available. Besides, since most people tend to fly Economy for such short flights, it means that the Biz cabin is generally emptier, at least for the outbound portion that I took. The inbound flight was fuller and as such, even Biz was almost full, but I was lucky to get both seats to myself next to the window!

Biz passengers also get priority boarding but there wasn’t any control exercised by the ground staff to ensure this was followed. Rather, the moment the boarding announcement was made, everyone just rushed in, segregated only by the use of separate aerobridges. However, upon arrival, there was only one aerobridge provided, and Biz passengers ended up having to exit through the common door, after a batch of Economy passengers located between the Biz cabin and the door.

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Food is included and there are several options available, whether it is a full hot meal such as pastas or rice, or lighter meals like wraps and salads. For a small premium, you could even upgrade your meal to enjoy a Haagen Daaz ice-cream and a premium meal choice. Each meal comes with a Toblerone chocolate bar and non-alcoholic drink, and a complimentary cup of water.

I chose the soya chicken with rice, even though originally I had contemplated a vegetarian curry option. It wasn’t too bad but oddly, the soya chicken reminded me of canned braised meat dices. It was a nostalgic feeling that I got from that, and partly, I seemed to feel like I was eating rice dumplings.

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On the return flight, I chose the Teriyaki Chicken wrap, which wasn’t too bad but it was served cold. I don’t know if wraps are meant to be served cold but it would have been nice if it was warmed up, and although I suppose I could have requested for it, I couldn’t be bothered at that point as the return flight was fairly full and the flight attendants seemed to be already having their hands full.IMG_0251-0.JPG

So perhaps I will make other trips using Scoot in future, I don’t know. It isn’t compelling, depending on which destinations I am considering and also the flight departure times. If I could have found flights on other airlines with competitive pricing but other options in terms of the airport and the flight times, I would probably gone with those other options. But if you can get a good fare for the Scoot Biz, I would say, go for it and give it a try!

Wild Honey, Scotts Square

It may sound really incredible but I have never once visited Wild Honey, whether it is the branch at Mandarin Gallery or the newer outlet at Scotts Square. I have heard good reviews about the food served up but also of the off-putting queues, especially since the outlet at Mandarin Gallery does not take reservations, meaning if you want to dine there you will need to brave whatever crowds who share similar thoughts as you on the same day at the same time. Besides, I don’t think I am really a brunch person. I can eat any time of the day, and I love breakfast foods like grains, breads, yogurts and the likes, but the likes of bacon, sausages and eggs are not exactly within the repertoire of foods that enter my list of indulgences. Eggs maybe but depends on how they are done.

Anyway, Wild Honey at Scotts Square provides online reservation through Chope, and I made a 1:30pm reservation for two. The reservation was promptly confirmed via the system and on the day itself, there is actually an automatic call to you to confirm the booking. Good first impressions! Unfortunately, that didn’t last long. When we reached at slightly before our reserved time-slot, I saw a whole bunch of people waiting outside, and I tried to tell myself that these could be the walk-ins who are waiting for free tables beyond those who have made reservations. It was kind of a weak reassurance but nevertheless I wanted to stay positive. We asked about our booking and was told that they are preparing the table for us and clearing up. Ok.

15 minutes passed and still the host did not come out for us. We kept going to check with them and they kept telling us the table will be ready soon, until at one point I think they told us that the guests are paying and leaving soon. Well, by the time these guests finally left and the table was cleared, we got seated at 2pm. To be honest, I find it ridiculous if for restaurant bookings, we have to endure the same kind of wait like when we visit the doctors, where appointments are futile because you never get to fulifll your objective at the designated time. To add on to this, it was stated in the reservation that we have a maximum of 1.5 hours so that the next reservation can be kept to, something along those lines. Quite obviously, this wasn’t adhered to and if there wasn’t an intention to adhere to it, then it shouldn’t even be mentioned.

Done with the rants. We were at least given a decent seat, a table that although was near to the entrance/exit, was by the side so that we were not really in the midst of thoroughfare of wait staff rushing to and fro with the orders. Ordering was a little questionable as well, even for just the 2 of us, they got the order of our drinks mixed up when I asked for a coffee to be served after the meal but was instead presented with it while my friend’s tea didn’t come until we asked for it.

This was my order of the Californian, an egg-white scramble with tofu, fresh herbs, peppers, mushrooms and scallions char-grilled ciabatta. I really enjoyed this despite that the taste of the scallions was pretty strong and overwhelming, but the egg white scramble was quite a nice change for me from usual scrambled eggs (that I wouldn’t have ordered if it was regular eggs) and it was really very filling! Imagine all that protein goodness. However, the char-grilled bread that was used as the base for the eggs was too soggy for my liking. My friend commented that I should have eaten them together but I had wanted to keep them for last and also because there was really a lot of egg-white!IMG_0073.JPGA closer look at the dish.

IMG_0076.JPGMy friend’s order of the Boulevard St. Michel, which is savoury French toast with double baked cheese & spinach souffle, parmesan crumbed poached egg, slow-roasted tomatoes, grilled back bacon and spicy tomato chutney. The souffle sounded really interesting to me and I would have liked to order it too but felt iffy about French toast and I am so not a bacon person. The egg didn’t turn out that good though, as the yolk was already cooked by the time my friend sliced through it, half-hoping and wondering if the yolk would be oozing or squirting out when the knife went into it.

IMG_0074.JPGBut it was probably good because the entire plate was gone quickly! Although I guess it could also be because we were hungry from all that waiting.

IMG_0075.JPGBy the time we were done, it was just about 3-ish and then asking for the bill took a bit of effort because nobody seemed interested in generating our bill. It took about 15-20 minutes for the bill to be presented and we left at 3:30pm. So food is good, and by where we sat, I guess ambience is pretty ok. Service of food is fairly prompt but aside from that, I would not say service is good, in fact, it borders on poor. Maybe it’s the timing, that 1:30pm is just a bad timing when most would still be in the thick of action devouring their brunch. Around 3:30pm when we left, the restaurant was not as busy even though it was still full but at least there wasn’t that daunting crowd of people waiting outside.

Ben & Jerry’s, Dempsey Hill

Went to Dempsey Hill one afternoon for lunch. It was a tad warm but with a balmy breeze blowing so it wasn’t too bad. Weekday afternoons are fairly quiet at Dempsey, even if the F&B outlets are not devoid of people. There are still people who drive there for lunch, but maybe the warm mid-day sun bearing down kind of slowed the pace down a few notches so it just felt kind of lazy and quiet.

Headed to the Ranch, home to Ben & Jerry’s and CA*California. Originally, we thought they were closed, because the sign posted on the door of the outlet displayed a forbidding CLOSED, yet when we peeked in we saw that it wasn’t the case. So we popped in, perhaps to the chagrin of the wait staff who probably thought not flipping the sign to OPEN would mean they could spend the afternoon languishing in the cool comfort of the eatery.

So anyway in we went and created quite a bit of noise. We asked about the menu, which was misrepresented to us in terms of the breadth of items available. We were told when we just entered they only had the finger food, which was shown on a page of the menu, but then it was afterwards upon further probing and clarification that we understood that everything else could also be ordered. Hmm.

Anyway, it’s standard typical bistro food, nothing special to rave about and no big complains either. We were there for the ice-cream to be fair, and this was one of the orders. A waffle with a couple of scoops of their yummy ice cream. I cannot now remember what flavours these were, but one of them supposedly contained potato chips. Isn’t that interesting, ice cream flavours these days are getting more and more unusual and out of the ordinary.

IMG_0040.JPGAnd for lunch, besides all that bar-grub type of food like truffle fries, chicken wings and deep-fried cuttlefish balls or whatever, this is the healthier amongst the lot, a great mixture of rockets, walnuts, strawberries, raisins and peaches. I really enjoyed this salad, much more than anything else, which can be a good or bad thing, since our intent on visiting was the ice-cream.IMG_0038.JPGTo be fair, I am not so much an ice cream person these days. Besides, our grouse with the ice cream was that it melted way too fast. Even upon presentation of the waffle to us, which was when the picture was taken, it was already melting. By the end of it, I guesstimated that the amount of ice cream that was actually eaten was probably just a little over 50% per scoop since the rest of it had already liquified.

Little Prince Cafe, Somme Road, Singapore

Unfortunately, this outlet will be closing its doors for good in a few days’ time on September 27 due to some problems of the landlord. But the good news is that it’s not the end of the road for Little Prince Cafe, as they have another outlet in Toa Payoh! Not surprisingly, I am totally clueless about this place, even though I don’t stay very far away from it, just like how there is the well-known Creamier that is so hyped but I have never tried it once. I have heard that it is perennially packed with people and it would be kind of strange to buy a waffle with ice-cream for takeaway, as I can imagine that in the heat of our little island, by the time I get home, there will be just waffles and cream, no more ice.

So anyway, those are another story for another day. I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years, finally connecting again. That is called making the effort. We decided to go check out Little Prince Cafe as my friend’s suggestion and it was a nice, quiet afternoon, albeit a tad humid towards a certain point especially since we took a fairly long hike from the MRT station to the cafe. Along the way, we actually passed by a couple other places, one of them being the Tiramisu Hero and Window Sill Pies, the latter being totally packed with a queue forming outside. I’d wanted to try Window Sill but have not had the chance, yet.

So, Little Prince was quite quiet, with us being the only other set of customers. But it is a cosy shop with few tables, so it was good for catching-up.

We ordered a waffle to share, and two scoops of ice-cream, a Thai Milk Tea scoop and an Earl Grey Tea scoop. We didn’t opt for savoury waffles which they had started offering on the menu too. The waffle is quite yummy and freshly made in store, I think. As for the ice-cream, I found the Thai Milk Tea to be a tad too creamy and sweet. Earl Grey was fine but somehow it still loses out a little to Fauchon. I don’t know, perhaps they don’t really differ much but somehow Fauchon has set the bar at a level that sub-consciously I might have already deemed it as the best, none too creamy but still with a distinct scent and aroma of earl grey. IMG_0032.JPG

IMG_0031.JPGI ordered a coffee as well to go with the waffle but it was quite a small cup, though that was not the highlight I suppose. Anyway, coffee or waffle are secondary, the meet-up was the main dish for the day!

Drury Lane, Tanjong Pagar Singapore

I have read and heard about this place before and had always wanted to check out the cafes nearby the office. So one afternoon, I finally decided to do it and went there for a small lunch of coffee and cake. They didn’t really have many choices where cakes and pastries are concerned, instead they do serve sandwiches and all-day breakfasts, which I wasn’t that keen on anyway. So I ordered an Americano and a slice of banana bread served up with espresso butter. The description piqued my curiosity, I have heard and known of nut butters like the usual peanut, almond and cashew, even some others that I have never tried before, but espresso butter??!? I was just browsing the pictures on their Facebook page and there seems to be so many yummy-looking food. Unfortunately I wasn’t in a breakfast mood that day and maybe I was too late for the tarts, cakes and etc., that are supposedly baked fresh in-store daily! :(

Oh well, that is probably a great big hint from the Drury Lane folks, subtle or otherwise, that I need to go back one of these days. Hey guys, I want to try your pastries!

So here’s a look at the second level of the cafe that is located in the double-level shop houses along Tanjong Pagar Road. I was seated at a small table next to a window, just right in front of the stairs landing leading up from the ground level, so this is pretty much almost the whole of level 2 that you can see. At least it’s fairly spacious.IMG_0016-0.JPGAnd there was a lovely small pot of flowers on the table to brighten up the afternoon, letting me enjoy the solace and peace of this sojourn.

IMG_0014.JPGAnd a closer look at my slice of banana bread with the strong brew. The coffee is good though having Americanos always mean that I don’t get those lovely latte art that I always see in pictures online and elsewhere. Well, I suppose maybe on some days I should opt for a latte or cappucino just for the latte art, but then somehow that just kind of masks the real taste of the coffee and gives it too milky a flavour. Not that I am a connoisseur but there really is a difference drinking coffee with and without milk.

IMG_0015.JPGAnd the espresso butter is really quite something! It’s special and contains palpable hints of espresso. I just hope that the next time I visit, I will be able to try something else and not veer back to this unique offering on a banana bread that is still moist and delicious!

Jamie’s Italian, Singapore

After what seemed like forever, we finally got to check out Jamie’s Italian at Vivocity. Well we never made it there because we were daunted by the queues, and I am truly averse to queueing for food. Well, not always, but generally. I would rather settle for something that is just decent or passable than to spend time queueing for something that is supposedly good. Food, is at the end of the day, just food.

The other time I tried Jamie’s Italian was somewhere in the UK, not in London but Reading I think. The food, from what I recalled, was pretty decent but I wouldn’t say exceptional. Maybe I don’t know what is considered to be really good Italian food but to me, pasta is pasta. There is bad pasta, for sure, but how good it can be, I guess I don’t have a yardstick for comparison.IMG_0007.JPGSo this time we finally made it to the outlet at Vivocity, not without waiting for queueing though, even if there was not really a visible queue in sight. They will make you leave your name with the host who will then let you know an approximate time you will need to wait. I figured it wasn’t due to the restaurant reaching its maximum capacity because as we loitered in the vicinity we could see that there were quite a number of empty tables. But it was probably more to ensure that guests who are seated are more or less promptly attended to and served. It can be good or bad in a way, good in that you can turn around tables much faster but bad because you make the customers wait while standing outside the restaurant. Unless of course you want to shop around and hope they remember to give you a tinker.

Well service was indeed prompt. We already knew what we wanted since we had a fair bit of time before being shown to our table, not in the best location though, as it was a 2-seater in the midst of thoroughfare. We decided not to be ambitious and chose several small portions of sides. This is the roast potatoes dish with fennel, garlic and chilli, which I love of course, what do you expect, this is an entire dish of potatoes!

IMG_0009.JPGThen we had a main too, which was the pumpkin tortellini, filled with roasted squash, ricotta and parmesan, in a pumpkin, chilli and rosemary butter with smashes amaretti. We ordered a half portion, thinking that with 2 sides it may get too much, but if you take a look at this, you will see that there are just about 8 small pieces of tortellinis to be shared among the 2 of us. We are not big eaters, so I can imagine that those who have a hearty appetite may need to order more stuff in order to be truly full.

IMG_0010.JPGOne of the other sides, the cauliflower and parmesan fritters with arrabiatta dip. As much as I enjoyed this dish, it was a little miserable in terms of size.

IMG_0008.JPGTada, the “spread” that we had.

IMG_0011.JPGI was nicely satiated but I wouldn’t say I was full, but I could be from the bottle of lemonade that we ordered for sharing. So since we still had room, we decided to have dessert as well, also because we were celebrating my birthday! Haha, shameless I know, but what is a birthday without a cake? So we ordered the Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue. To be honest, I am not a fan of meringues, knowing how sweet they can be, despite that I am a cake-lover these days. Which come to think of it, I really do ought to cut down on. Sigh. Anyway, this was a huge serving, in contrast to the conservative amounts of the mains and sides. I liked the base that was made from limoncello and crunchy pistachio brittle, as it had a zesty and refreshing flavour to it!

IMG_0012.JPGOn the whole, this was a good dinner with nice food and desserts, coupled with of course great company! The service was polite and professional but it somehow lacks a touch of warmth which I would have preferred.

Pampering thyself (part 2)

Part 2 would invariable be talking about the return trip from Seoul. Obviously on the flight from Seoul to Singapore, there wasn’t the Book-the-Chef service available but I was still looking forward to the food being served because I’ve had the opportunity to try the premium class food a few times when I was working at the airline, and I really do think the quality is pretty decent. I still don’t get why people complain about airplane food all the time like they are eating it everyday for every meal. C’mon people, be a little thankful! And since it’s already paid for, why let the food go to waste right? By saying this, I am not even talking about the premium class food, even in cattle class, whether it is Singapore Airlines or not, I do think that food is fairly decent. At least it is edible.

So for starters, they are still serving the same thing, i.e. satay! I do really quite enjoy the satay, which I have had only one other time I think.

IMG_9971.JPGI had the chance to check out the in-flight catering facility before, the place that prepares all these food and so I guess that led to me appreciating what is being put out in front of us.

Unfortunately, the return flight was quite full. So besides the fact that I had someone sitting next to me as compared to the trip to Seoul, being seated at the last row of the cabin means that I am the last to be asked what I would like to have for the meal, and everyone else seemed to want the same thing as me. So despite that there were 4 choices available, there was no more “stock” of that one option I wanted.

At least the appetiser was quite good though. The satay and the salad made up a little for it. And of course, that huge bun you see on the left. I really like these soft buns that they serve on the plane, sometimes it is the highlight of my meal, not that the rest of the food is that bad, but because I really really had an unfathomable love of bread.

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Ah… I really miss this. Where you get the food being served course by course on a tray table complete with table cloth and salt and pepper shakers! In economy where common folks like me usually travel in, we can only be contented with all our food arranged compactly and neatly (usually anyway) in small rectangular trays, much like a tetris game. That is if we are not travelling in those fuss-free flights with meal service where they just dump a burger and some snacks on your table along with a plastic cup of a beverage.

So this was the other main that I could think of eating. I had wanted the fish but it was not available anymore, and I didn’t want sweet and sour pork (which is to me like zi-char and I would rather have that at a zi-char stall) nor the beef.

IMG_9973.JPGThe chicken wasn’t all that bad, particularly since it was served up with a dollop of mashed potato and some grilled vegetables but I wasn’t in the mood for chicken, so I had to do the unthinkable act of wasting it.

IMG_9974.JPGAnd to finish off the meal, I asked for a cappucino! I think I also took some desserts, i.e. chocolates but I can’t recall now already if I took the ice-cream. It really is a lot of food for one sitting but since I have already used my miles to redeem for this flight, might as well enjoy to the fullest right? Call me a cheapo if you want, but hey I don’t get to fly business class otherwise.

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