On Sunday and Monday, (Oct 19 n 20), much against my intention, I found myself back again at two cafes I’ve written about earlier : namely Sophe’s New Green Pasture Cafe at Fortune Centre and 12 X 12 cafe at Suntec City.
So much for intentions! On Sunday morning, SF called and said she’s come down from Kuala Lumpur for a show at the Esplanade and E had tumpanged her to bring bird’s nest in bottles for mum, continuing the stream of gifts of a nutricious nature that had been coming our way since the matriarch went for her op in July.
As SF is a vegetarian not for health but because of a vow she took, asking her along for lunch meant a quick change of venue, to Sophie’s New Green.
Reaching the place and confronted once again by the usual “luan” (confusion, for Englishonly folks), made me remember y I had declined a lunch invite fm P the previous day (ie Saturday) — becos she said she wanted to meet at New Green (her office is in the same building) and becos she wanted a quick lunch. Well, I’m past quick lunches, nowadays!
It is because of the haphazardness and the often brusque treatment that one receives that well, I’ve not gone to Sophie’s more often than the dozen or so times, despite having first discovered the place far earlier than the Tea Shake Hut discovery, and then re-discovering it again after P moved office to the same building, oh perhaps 2/3 years ago.
Do you know that I’ve never once ordered food from Green Pasture’s menu and opted for the set or pointed to whatever someone’s ordered, either at the service counter or when I saw an interesting dish being served to or eaten by a customer?
That way, it makes things a lot easier for me, as Sophie n her assistant (called Angela, I believe) aren’t the most friendly or helpful when one hums and haws when placing an order. Also, there are many regulars who just order over the head of the occasional drop-in.
It was no different on Sunday when we walked in: several pple were clustered around the service counter, one looking at the menu, another two could be waiting to help themselves to the soup (free with set; $1 wholly donated to the Vegetarian Society for those eating a la carte) or cutlery etc and a few more were placing their orders or waiting for their food to be served.
Thus not surprisingly, SF quickly opted for the set of the day (brown rice see pix) as did picky Siti once she confirmed it wasn’t lei cha.
Mum wanted noodles and I would have picked lei cha for myself as I’m rather partial to the green raw herbs soup but in the end decided to also settle for the set for myself as well as mum, reckoning it might be easier and less confusing for those on the other side of the counter.
I needn’t have been so considerate because despite having four of the same orders, the delivery was every bit as much heartburn causing.
We were given one plate of the brown rice set as soon as we ordered but the remaining three sets came in dribs and drabs, with Sophie and her helpers serving earlier and later orders in no particular sequence or convenience that i could detect.
It’s not as if our brown rice needed any special cooking as all the vegetables, salad, rice and seaweed were ready and needed only to be assembled on a plate!
Still, I guess for $7, the brown rice combo and the soup chockful of a mix of vegetables and hard fruits (apple?) are economical enough for many pockets, especially those who must either eat healthy (for which read ‘organic) or vegetarian.
chockful of goodness
However should the bad times now upon us persist for any length of time New Green Pasture can’t compete on price alone. If should spruce up its “mana ada system” type of act and yes, service with a smile instead of a stare would definitely go towards improving your customer’s apetite.
Talking of service and pricing brings me to 12 X 12 where I had lunch on Monday and won’t have done that if J my lunch companion hadn’t nominated the place and because she has problems with “MSG”, I gave in to her choice.
I had been to this cafe earlier in the year and I wasn’t impressed by the food and especially not the prices which this time round were again pretty steep, each of us paying $22 appromixately after all the +++: six “fitballs” ($10); 2 salads (sweet potato and aubergene) ($15); a tiny bottle of mineral water ($2.50) and carrot cake ($6.50). And rounded up with a “chai”, some sort of Indian tea, costing $5.50.
Every item was shared, including the mineral water. Hate to think what the bill per person would have blossomed to if we each ordered as we felt like, rather than compromising.
Yet tho I found the food far below what I enjoyed at Sophie’s, there was some compensation: the cutlery was of heavy stainless steel; the ambience was superior tho could have been better if not for Brauhaus next door, as I don’t think it adds to the food’s flavour with people being de-haired in close proximity.
But the biggest difference, besides price, between 12 X 12 and Sophie’s is the level of service. It was courteous and friendly from the word “go”. The smiles remained even after I dropped half a fitball on the floor while trying to negotiate it to my mouth.
The girl wait came and swept off the mess with grace. It was my fault that she had to do the extra work but she didn’t make me feel that way at all. (I hate to imagine what would have followed if I dropped a few items off my plate at Sophie’s!)
What impressed most of all was what followed after J complained that the “chai” was too milky or “light”. Instead of arguing with her to convince her that that was how 12 X 12 serves its tea, the wait made a whole fresh cup, on the house! And was nice enough to provide a cover for the tumbler size paper cup when we declared we coudn’t possibly drink two cups, even sharing!
Now this is what I call service with class! I guess for the amount of brass we paid, it made good business sense for the cafe to want to encourage a return visit; or at least to have us leave feeling good.