It’s COVID season. To be safe, we scouted around for a cafe far from the madding crowd so that we can give business to small businesses. We settled on Small Ville Bakery Cafe at the industrial area at AMK/YCK.
If you think it’s a Superman-theme cafe, it’s not. As a far-flung cafe, it is beautiful. Mirroring the lush verdure surrounding the industrial area / private residences, the cafe has a garden theme complete with hanging plastic plants from the overhead beams.
Lately, I’m really into bakery cafes, that is, cafes that bake their own bread and showcases them in their menu.
But, touted as a bakery in the shop name, the baked goods—breads, buns, and cakes—are pathetic. At the corner sits a rack displaying desolately one lonely loaf of bread, and a couple of sad cookies. I can’t blame them. The dearth of footfall means goods don’t move and in order to cut costs, they bake only a few items.
Their menu does feature their bread but the bread dishes are uninspiring. Small Ville Breakfast ($14.90) is what other cafes call big breakfast: toast, eggs, ham, and paraphernalia. I never order big breakfast because it’s not innovative and you can easily cook it at home. Other bread dishes include baked avocado ($13.90) and bacon egg cup ($12.90)
So we eschewed their bread items and ordered from their mains (which is really just western food) and pasta.
Their truffle carbonara ($13.90) is rather delicious only because it’s so creamy and cream is liquid fat. And fat is umami. But there is nothing unique about it and the ham is of an inferior quality. Regardless (or “irregardless,” which is now a bona fide official English word), it is a standard fare that is hard to go wrong; it is delicious and I wish I didn’t have to share it.
Looking through the mains menu, I did not understand their pricing. Their chicken chop costs $13.90 but their chicken chop nasi lemak is priced at $7.90. Are fries so much more expensive than coconut rice to justify the $5 difference?
They have cordon bleu ($19.90), breaded, deep fried chicken with cheese and ham in the middle—perhaps the most interesting thing on their menu. But we didn’t order it.
The double chicken ($15.90) consists of fried chicken, black pepper chicken chop, fries, baked potato cubes, and coleslaw. The fried chicken is tender. The coleslaw has a twist, a zing of green apples and orange, which I really like.
The chicken chop is nice but unfortunately the black pepper sauce is generic and way too salty and since the chop sits on top of baked potatoes, they become salty in association. What a waste, the potato cubes are nice.
For a bakery, their selection of cakes is limited. Again, blame it on the footfall. As a result, they keep their cakes in the freezer from spoiling, and cakes turn frigid and slightly stiff. Even in its chilled state, their signature cake ondeh ondeh ($4.80) is still moist although it can be less sweet. I can imagine it to be awesome when freshly baked.
On the whole, this cafe was what we needed: quiet and unhurried and reinvigorating. No stress eating slowly and enjoying ourselves. But it could be a lot better if they have customers to keep the baked goods going and fresh. Also: I would suggest figuring out a signature item because the menu suggests run-of-mill cafe dishes.
We paid $48 for two persons.
Price / value: 7/10
Decor / ambience: 7.5/10
Service: It’s just us, so the service was great.
You may be interested in…
–195 Pearl Hill Cafe, Chinatown: The Haunting (Good Food) of (Pearl) Hill (Terrace) House
–Baker’s Bench Bakery, Outram: Sourdough-based Breads and Pastries
–Bao Makers, Jiak Chuan Road: Cafe Carving their Own Space with Local Buns and International Flavours
–Apollo Coffee Bar, Serangoon Gardens: Shockingly Expensive at This Super Popular Cafe
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.