Our original target was Oosters, a Belgian restaurant. We set out late, as usual, but when we arrived (it must have been after 2pm), it was obvious that the restaurant had not opened at all that day. Confession: I hadn’t done my homework. Oosters is in that cluster of eateries and bars on Church Street that seems only to exist to service the kind of well-heeled class of people working in the trendily-located offices around there. It appeared to be shut entirely on a Saturday (but that's when people who are busy earning money during the week are – surely? - out and about trying to spend it). A big disappointment.
Anyway, we discovered a Vietnamese place – we had dined well the day before on Vietnamese food, against the odds, so maybe Indo-Chinese lightning would strike twice? I mean, there was a storm gathering after all (although that could have been the rumbling of my stomach.) But no: we were wordlessly dismissed by the two waiting staff lounging around out the front of the place, in the manner of true, friendly, polite Singaporean restaurant service.
Apart from staff, it was deserted except for a young couple who were utterly absorbed in each other. Well, it was at that juncture that my misgivings ended.
Having researched the place a bit after my visit, I wondered if it was worth posting a review at all: I am clearly not alone in considering this place to be truly excellent, so here I will only be adding to the heap of tributes it has already earned online (100% recommendation on Hungrygowhere, a rating of 4.4 out of 5 on its Facebook page with 1,186 likes at the time of writing, plus other positive reviews on various blogs). It swiftly shattered my ridiculous prejudices into a thousand pieces. And my companion and I had been third time lucky yet again!
My companion had a freshly squeezed orange juice, which we had obtained for a matter of few extra dollars when ordering from the lunch menu. The value to be had in The Mad Poet is something to behold. Our mains cost 10 bucks each (that is: ten bucks – no typo here). And I don’t know who is in the kitchen at The Mad Poet, but he or she really knows his or her trade. Given that I normally spend about 12 bucks for my pedestrian lunchtime salad at work, and given that the food was outstanding here, this establishment deserves to be highly recommended – the combination of good location, high quality food and low prices being so uncommon in Singapore in my experience.
But let’s get back to the salad – it was a masterpiece. A large bowl, crispy leaves, very thickly sliced (and generous) chicken with a Cajun-spiced skin that was addictively moreish, ripe and sweet mango, and finally, the pièce de résistance, the dressing, a combination of actual sticky honey and whole-grain mustard. We’ve all had honey-mustard dressing, but this was clearly homemade, boosting the mango sweetness and enjoying a happy and sensual marriage with the Cajun chicken. It was nothing like your sour, piss-yellow and cream-coloured bilge from Subway. Crowned with a heavy dusting of parmesan, the salad was all guzzled far, far too quickly.
For the cost (from memory) of another purple one with Yusof bin Ishak and a Cypraea moneta, we added a chocolate brownie and vanilla bean ice-cream to the set. I must admit, the brownie was very small, but it was rich and delicious, and warm enough to gently melt what was proper vanilla ice-cream (i.e. it was white and actually tasted of vanilla – instead of being yellow and tasting of chemicals and sorbitol). Not the highlight, but an acceptable ending to a cheap and unexpectedly excellent lunch.
To get out of there after a three-course meal plus alcohol for less than 44 bucks all-in was genuinely hard to fathom. Mad Poet? You’d have to be mad not to like this place.
https://www.facebook.com/themadpoetbar - The Mad Poet gastro bar’s Facebook page
http://www.citynomads.com/reviews/restaurants/770/the-mad-poet-nyc-underground-style-and-10-lunch-sets-come-to-singapores-cbd - another positive review: they liked the prawns and spaghetti too! I couldn’t remember what the Juicy Prawns Pasta was called – thanks to this site for eating it and reminding me.
http://rubbisheatrubbishgrow.com/2014/03/10/mad-poet-singapore/ - and another…
If you agree or disagree with what I said, why not leave a comment? It would be great to hear from you!