Re-new-al, but the same old gig. PODI, Paragon, Ochard Rd, Singapore

It has become even more apparent on my latest trip back to Singapore of how much the landscape has been changed. We were driving past the busy Bukit Timah / Dunearn Rds vicinity where the old Yeo’s factory used to reside, when it dawned upon me that in its absence, the pseudo-garden Jardin apartments had moved in. From the King Albert Park side, it is a somewhat sobering image to visualise the old faded Bukit Timah plaza in the distant background to the posh-looking Jardin. I’ve tried to locate a picture of the old factory, but a google search turned up nada. There goes another memory from my childhood. There are the obvious merits of renewal, but I am left wondering whether nothing is untouchable on this land scarce island. It is difficult to determine the criteria by which establishments should be deemed “time-to-move-on”. This is much more straight-forward for business, where the first principle of “if you aren’t making profit, then out you go”. The exception being certain English Premier League clubs.

I’m sure many will remember Cafe Cova Pasticceria (hungrygowhere link)which used to occupy the open area adjacent to where you’d redeem your free parking ticket at Paragon. They had a tea room, as well as a restaurant, which would occasionally fill up with patrons, but had decor which suggested a poor attempt at something Italian. Well, this business has closed down and in its place, PODI – an off-shoot of Cadele (hungrygowhere link). The restaurant space has been taken over by The Hour Glass watch group (see some great pictures here).

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I had heard something good about the PODI cheesecake, albeit the hefty $12 price tag, and thought it’d warranted a try. This was following a post-basketball lunch at Imperial Treasure Nan Bei in Takashimaya but there is always room for dessert, isn’t there? One of the early quips I noted about Podi is that patrons are asked for their choice of still or sparkling water, rather unusual for the Singapore scene. I’m sorry, but Singapore is not Paris where everyone drinks sparkling, and our tap water is sufficiently clean and fluoridated for straight consumption. I have even come across one review sharing their experience that warm water is a no-go here. This minor difference in service will most certainly be annoying to the older patrons or whom hot water, in spite of the Singapore heat, is necessary. Mind you, the last 5 days of my visit was marked with daily bouts of heavy monsoon rain.

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Back to the desserts, our table ordered the maple & macadamia cheesecake ($12) and the PODI fruit flan ($10). While I commend the kitchen for providing sufficient quantities of macadamia nuts in the cheesecake, certainly by no means a cheap ingredient, this cake would be more accurately described as a cheesy macadamia cake. When I order a cheesecake, I want it to be predominantly cheese overlaid with the additional flavours. The over-use of macadamia nut obliterated the texture of the cake, and I felt like I was chewing through a gravel road. The price may be justified by the generous inclusion of macadamia nuts, but the overall impression was highly unsatisfactory.

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The fruit flan which cost a light purple note less than the cheesecake was no more inspiring. A crisp cookie base, the sponge filling was dry and almost crusty. Whilst appearing appealing, making our way through this flan was more tiresome than enjoyable. I would have much rather thinly sliced fruit (mango, banana, strawberries) layered atop the pastry instead of strawberry halves.

The coffees are an exorbitant $5-6 for average brews, although the teas might be reasonable enough at $5. If you are ordering an espresso, go straight for a double shot for only $1 more. A latte syrup’d with Irish cream is $7, and a straight-up cappuccino is $6.

Overall, I see no reason to spend your hard-earned money at PODI. The service is no absolutely fantastic, and the decor and fittings aren’t exquisite either. If you want to pay premium to supplement the high rental that this establishment is likely to be paying, then by all means go ahead. Otherwise, just go to starbucks for a quick drink.

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About simplepalatesseriously

I am a neuroscience researcher in Melbourne, Australia with a keen interest in wines of the world.
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