Starbucks vs Sophie’s

I ate at Fortune Centre’s New Green Pasture Cafe (aka Sophie’s after the owner’s name) yesterday with mum and her maid and I ate alone (grabbed a bite literally) at Starbucks at Great World City today, as I have to load up the fridge for home, because I’m going away for a few days from tomorrow.

There’s no big deal about Sophie’s: its service is erratic to sucky and every time I’ve been there, I’m left to wonder why I’m back. But go back I do, because the food is really good, as there are several dishes which catch my fancy. It’s one of those few places where my taste buds light up when I think about the food.

When I first wrote about Sophie’s back in June 2008, I thought the food was OK but not great and its prices not cheap. But since then, I got converted. I like the food hugely and the prices are no worse than what’s charged at some of the more upmarket food courts.

It’s one and only drawback is that it’s certainly no thru train trying to get service. You place your order at the counter, as others also try to do while yet others are going through the book containing the menu with colour photos illutsrating the mouth-watering dishes. Up to half a dozen of us are congregating at the counter most times.

Meanwhile, the order taker, Angela, is erratically noting down the orders, while answering queries about the food, the prices of the dry goods which the cafe also stocks and accepting payment.

It’s an exercise in supreme patience most times, because after my order has been scribbled into a list that only Angela can decipher, it could be a long wait be4 the food comes, sometimes all at once, but more often than not, in dribs and drabs.

It was no different yesterday but somehow I still go back. And the cafe had no lack of customers, of all ages, races, nationalities and I dare say educational backgrounds.

Perhaps we are all willing to accept some sacrifice in service standards for a palate pleasing meal?

tasty n healthy udon

I’m not sure I can say the same of Starbucks. I have never been enamoured of the chain but as usual, I’m a sucker for “freebies” even tho I know the “freebie” is already embedded into the price.

Hence, I allowed myself to be induced to subscribe for two years’ worth of Business Times online, in return for two $10 Starbuck vouchers that SPH offered as a lure.

And as the weeks rolled by, I got worried that I might never use up the vouchers be4 they expire. This was because despite popping by several Strabucks outlets from Raffles City to Tan Tock Seng Hospital to recce, I found none of the offerings appetising.

Prepacked sandwiches? Over-priced muffins that looked hard?

But today, because I just needed a bite rather than a good meal, I decided to bite the bullet. Spent one of my $10 vouchers + $1.20 top up. Had a tuna sandwich with caramelised appel and two honey waffle biscuits. Worth the money? No, but the sandwich  and biscuits were passable.

Not something to drool about

Will do same with the remaining voucher. But swear, will not ever want Starbucks vouchers, whatever the promotion.

Which leads me to wonder how Starbucks ever managed to make it this big anywhere, let alone worldwide!


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