Marché at Vivocity: Mediocre and Expensive

Marche at Vivocity
Marche at Vivocity

About three weeks ago my wife and I went to Marché at Vivocity.  We’d seen the place quite a few times while at the mall and while passing through on our way to Sentosa, and we always thought about stopping there to eat but we never did.  It’s a long way from where we live in Pasir Ris too so I’m not really surprised that it took us this long to make it down there.

Marche Cows
Marche Cows

Marché is a Swedish Swiss restaurant that serves food in a style similar to Manpuku, with in-store credit cards that you use when ordering and carry to the check-out register and all.  It appears that cows are their mascot.  These guys are sitting in front of the restaurant close to the door you exit from after paying.  It’s a nice way to draw the eye and attract customers.

Marche at Vivocity

When we first walked into the restaurant there was a waiting area filled with people.  Our wait wasn’t that long and the hostess at the desk was very quick, pleasant and professional.  She had on a pretty neat outfit too.  It looked like a milk-maid get-up.  The place was starting to get crowded and when we showed up I think they opened up another seating area because they led a bunch of us into the restaurant at once to a seating area in a corner.  It was way back past where the register is.  It was nice because it was private, but it was also hard to get in and out of because of the line of people waiting to pay.

Salad bar at Marche
Salad bar at Marche

The first thing we did was walk up to the salad area and order a “medium” salad.  The lady behind the counter then handed us a dish the size of a coffee cup saucer, smiled and turned away to work on something else.  We looked at the plate in disbelief.  Seriously, I’ve seen coffee come on bigger saucers.  For 9.80 I expected more than that.  It’s salad after all, not filét mignon.  Then we saw the salad bar itself.  What you see in the picture is it.  That’s all.  For a European restaurant their salad bar was lacking and didn’t even include things that are normally found on a salad, like mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon bits, croutons, shredded cabbage, kidney beans… In short the selection was severely limited given the amount we paid for our tiny medium plate.

Lettuce on the Marche salad bar
Lettuce on the Marche salad bar

The biggest let-downs was that besides having a small selection some of the items were running low and they hadn’t bothered to refill them.  The “Fresh Sprout” (alfalfa) plate was empty.  The lettuce was also pretty gruesome looking.  I asked for both to be refilled with fresh food.  The girl either didn’t understand completely or ignored me.  She did put out more sprouts but left the lettuce as it was.

Salad at Marche

In an effort to spite the small plate size we overloaded it by going vertically where we couldn’t go horizontally.  It wasn’t too bad, but … it just wasn’t 9.80 good.  If you do go to Marché I recommend just avoiding the salad bar entirely.

Entree at Marche at Vivocity

For a few weeks before going to Marché I’d had this craving for pork chops and when we got there we saw that you could chops freshly grilled so we both went for it.  You can see the meat before you choose it.  They have it set out in pans over ice and you pick what you want by pointing to it.  The cuts were pretty good sized.  I think it was around 10 bucks for the meat.  The potatoes you had to order extra, which was a bit odd.  Everything there is bought by the item though, down to the buns or breadsticks.

Bundaberg Root Beer
Bundaberg Root Beer

This is probably the best thing to come of the whole trip.  I’d never noticed this drink before going to Marché, though afterwards I saw that it’s stocked at the Shop N Save near where we live.  It’s really good, and reminds me of Ginger Ale from back in the US. Since having it at Marché we’ve bought a few cases so we can have them with dinner.

I can’t say that Marché is bad, but it’s simply mediocre.  The customer service is good.  The ambience is comfortable.  The food just wasn’t up to par though, especially not with the prices they were charging.  I have to say though that my opinion is a little biased because we wound up getting sick later that night.  After eating at Marché my wife and I both got headaches, felt lethargic in a recovering from an illness sort of way, and we had stomach… issues.  So, Marché is one restaurant we won’t be returning to.  At least, we won’t be returning to this one.

Ben and Jerry's Double Brownie Sundae
Ben and Jerry's Double Brownie Sundae

Another highlight of our evening was this delicious treat!  I can’t remember what it’s called exactly.  Double Brownie something maybe?  It’s from the Ben & Jerry’s restaurant in Vivocity.  It’s a tad expensive at 14.40 but it’s good for two people (maybe 3 since it was served with 3 spoons?) and is incredibly delicious!  I suppose it depends on what types of ice cream you pick to go in it but this one came out great.  I think I chose Cookies and Cream and New York Fudge Chunk.  Just looking at this is making my mouth water.  I’m a sucker for ice cream and baked goods!

Coconut Cakes

I’ve posted about these before but it was a long time ago. These are treats you can get from a small push-cart vendor in Food Republic at Vivocity.

They’re incredibly delicious but the reason I felt it was worth posting about again is that I found out that they’re Indonesian treats. The maid where we live is from Indonesia and when I offered one to her she got really excited and asked me where I found them. Apparently she’s been searching for them since she got here. I doubt she goes to Vivocity very often though.

So the next time we go I’ll bring a bag of them back for her.

Kipling Bags

While my wife and I were out today, we had to pass through Vivocity Mall. The monorail going to Sentosa Island departs from there. Since we were there anyway, we decided to stop by the Kipling store to have a look at the bags. My wife has been talking about wanting a new Kipling bag for almost a year. The last one she had was ruined when battery acid got on it.

So, we took a look inside, and, thankfully, almost everything was on sale. It’s the Great Singapore Sale right now! So, she found a bag she liked and while she was posing in the mirror I went ahead and browsed around a bit myself. I saw the one on the right and liked it and decided I should get one as well.

In the end, my wife wound up paying for both of the bags, as a gift, since I was covering the costs of our outing to Sentosa.

If you’re not familiar with Kipling, they’re a really good brand. Also, each bag comes with a monkey attached to it, like you can see in the photo. Each monkey has a tag on it with a name. My wife’s bag, on the left, has a monkey named Lorena (scary right?). My bag has a monkey named Clotilde on it. Sounds like some sort of heavily muscled Norse woman to me.

Regardless, the bags are nice. They’re made of a good quality and should last us for quite a few years. I want more!

TAN’s Tu Tu Coconut Cake

Looking for something sweet to nibble on while you’re walking around Vivocity mall? Want a snack to enjoy while you’re sitting outside, enjoying the breeze and the wading pools? I really have to recommend that anyone who visits Vivocity stops by this stand and picks up some of these coconut cakes. They’re about the size of your palm and about half an inch thick. They’re made fresh as you wait, and they’re best when eaten warm. The outside is some sort of chewy dough and the inside is sweetened coconut shavings. It looks like it’s mixed with brown sugar, but it still maintains a mellow, even taste. I know, I know, I should’ve taken a photo of them, but we gobbled them down too fast!

If my recommendation isn’t enough, you can see in the picture above that her stall was featured in The Straits Times, which is the major newspaper for Singapore.

The last time we were at Vivocity, which I think was in September, we tried these coconut cakes on a whim. I mean, why not? You get four for only 2 SGD. They were incredible, and since then I’ve talked about them frequently, reminding my wife that the next time we’re there we should get more. Sure enough, almost right after arriving at the mall we made our way to this cart and snagged a little bag of four of them. We then found a cozy spot outside with a view of the water, got comfortable and enjoyed them.

The shop lady making our coconut cakes.

A cruise ship docked in front of the mall, and you can also see the Sentosa cable cars that go between Sentosa and the main island of Singapore.

National Geographic Store in Singapore

Last night my wife and I were at Vivocity mall at Harbourfront and we noticed that there was a new store, a National Geographic Store. In Singapore, there seems to be a specialty store for everything. I guess National Geographic is no exception.

We went ahead and went inside to check it out and we wound up having a lot of fun! Looking through the store was like looking through a museum where everything is for sale. I took photos of a few of the more interesting attractions/products:

This thing greets you as you first come into the store. It’s pretty visible and is actually what caught our eye in the first place. When I saw it, the first thing that went through my head is stuff about pale horses and death. It’s a horse made of pieces of some type of old wood. I didn’t check the details on it but my wife said it’s selling for the low low price of only 9k SGD. I think I could build one myself for cheaper than that, but maybe it has some historical value?

Next up was this bookcase that was apparently made in Sweden in the 1880s. I thought it was particularly interesting because one of the blogs I follow is written by a Swedish girl in China, Jonna Wibelius. Besides, I love books, and it would be nice to have a fancy bookcase to put them on. I don’t think I’d go this far though. The bookcase is selling for about 25k SGD.

Next I saw this really neat jewelry case. It’s 7k SGD. How’s that for a high end Valentine’s gift?

Though not the most expensive, this one was probably the oldest. It was the oldest one I saw anyways. The tag says it was made in the 900s in England, and it was selling for 21k SGD.

What I want to know is how anyone can afford to buy any of these things, especially with the current financial troubles. Maybe these items are just there for show, and are meant to amuse and attract customers more than anything. The store also carried framed prints and a large selection of wearable clothing (as opposed to costume type clothing as pictured below) and bags as well. Plus, there were some interesting notepads. I should’ve checked the price tags on the clothes and bags, but I’m sure it was all very expensive. I did look at the price of a little 3×5 inch “Expedition Notebook” and was disappointed to see it was 17.50 SGD. I would’ve bought it if it had been 6 to 7 dollars, but I can’t see paying more for an empty notepad than I would pay for an actual novel.

Also, the store of course had issues of National Geographic set up on displays everywhere. I used to have a huge collection of those magazines. They were old ones that my dad had in storage. I don’t even remember what happened to them now. I should’ve kept a closer eye on them. They might have been worth money some day.

Besides old furniture and clothes the store also featured two other unusual and interesting attractions. One was so interesting that I don’t even remember what was on the stands around it. An area of the floor was lit up by a projected image of sand. It had some sort of motion sensing technology built in that would display footprints when you walked across it. Also, seeminly at random, scorpions would pop up out of the sand, or out of your footprints, and skitter around. My wife and I weren’t the only ones that found it incredibly amusing. There was a little girl, maybe 6 or 7, that was going nuts trying to squash the scorpions. I recorded some of it. Sadly, I turned off the camera just before the little girl screamed, “Nasty! Nasty! These things are so nasty! GRRRRR!” It was hilarious!

The other attraction is a “cold chamber.” It wasn’t open when we went into the store, but for 1 SGD you can stand inside the chamber and experience -25 C (about -13 F) temperatures. The chamber has glass windows so everyone can watch, and, if you want to pay 5 SGD and submit a valid e-mail address, you can have your picture taken and sent to you as well. For some people in Singapore this might be a thrill because they’ve never experienced temperatures anywhere near that cold before. This is a tropical climate after all. For me, it would be a welcome relief to finally feel some real cold air. Even in the malls here the temperature is average, rather than the cool I’m used to. -13 F is a little extreme, but it would still be great!

So, even though we didn’t buy anything, we still got to have a lot of fun just browsing the store. Even if you don’t have 25k extra to spend on old furniture, I still recommend you at least poke your head in to look around.