Nothing To Go Too Mad About
Shopping with friends is never considered complete without a stop-over at an eating place for a meal as we admire our purchases and think about the forthcoming credit card bills. This is an unyielding ritual I have followed for years. Of course, when your shopping companion is your husband, this ritual is not recommended, because you really don’t want to give them the chance to get their arithmetic on credit card expenses right until the bill arrives weeks later.
Anyway, on a lazy Friday afternoon last month, my friends and I stopped at the Western-style café, Mad Jack, during a shopping trip at Parkway Parade to re-energize. While there were many options available at the mall, I recalled some friends had talked about Mad Jack a few times. Clearly, it had been around for some time, and it was strange that we had not tried it before. This was the day, I guess.
As we entered, I noticed the restaurant was full; there was obviously something that the customers liked. We grabbed a table, skirting past some eagerly waiting customers at the peak lunch hour. We were quickly greeted by a server, and I noticed the speed of service was pretty good with a high turnover of customers.
The ambience of the cafe was simple – the décor was Western, with a few standalone tables spread out across the restaurant. It was like an old-town food joint. Nothing too flashy, just clean, convenient and no-frills!
Mad Jack started back in 2005. Within a short span of time, they expanded and now have 3 branches in Singapore. The menu was full of tempting Aussie-style options consisting of pies, cakes, burgers, roasted cuts-of-meat, grilled steaks and chops, and other forms of meat.
A lot of us are familiar with European, French, Italian and continental cuisines, but Aussie food, not quite as much. I myself had never tried it, and it piqued my interest immediately. My knowledge of Australia starts with the Gold Coast, the Harbour, cricket, hockey, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and of course, kangaroos. Adding Aussie food to the list would be nice!
We placed our order of salad, burgers, steaks and lasagne, and of course, desert. There were many delightful options available for coffee and dessert. I admit, I was looking forward to desserts more than the main course.
Strawberry Broccoli Salad
This salad was served on a bed of fresh green lettuce, broccoli mixed with raisins, peaches and strawberries. It was more of a fruit salad, in which one prefers fresh fruit, while this one had used canned fruit. The salad was topped with mayonnaise and yogurt dressing, which was confusing, and did not create a taste worth trying again.
This was the star selection of our meal: crispy battered, fresh, juicy and chunky prawns – crispy on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside. In spite of being deep fried, they were very light and fresh.
Turkey Bacon Beef Burger
This burger was stacked with a beef patty, turkey bacon, grilled onions, lettuce, mayonnaise and fries on the side. The beef patty was tender and well-cooked but emanated a beefy smell. Overall, the burger was dry, and an addition of cheese or a sauce could have made it better.
Grilled Beef Tenderloin in Pepper Sauce
I am a steak lover and was very excited to have this on the table. Served with mashed potatoes, corn and grilled veggies, it looked appealing enough. The beef portion was generous, but to our disappointment, the first bite – dry and bland – killed the excitement. The pepper sauce drizzled on top added some flavour, but not enough for me to recommend this dish. Pepper sauce steak should have a kick, and a certain spice level.
Quick advice if you are particular about your beef steak: stick to the chicken dishes here.
This was a regular fast-food type lasagne, with a very sweet aftertaste. I felt very let-down as it tasted more like tomato puree, and while it had a nice layer of cheese on the top, there was far too little in the layers! Lasagne should be rich, with a generous sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan and flavours of fresh herbs, and this was nothing like that.
Finally something good to talk about! A crispy chicken fillet topped with homemade sauce and cheese, served with fries and apple peach salad on the side, this was a tasty dish of crispy, tender, succulent chicken with flavourful cheese sauce.
After a mostly disappointing main course, I was looking forward to the desert. The options looked fabulous on the menu, with quite a variety of choice, and all looking very tempting.
This is an authentic Australian desert created by an Australian chef for the famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, in the 1930s. It consists of a meringue cake with a crisp crust, which is soft and light on the inside. The dessert is topped with fruit and whipped cream. A sticky texture makes it very tasty in a unique way. This one is a sure thumbs-up!
This was a melt in the middle, hot chocolate pudding; nice, but if you are a hard-core chocolate lover, you won’t find it exceptional.
This was a freshly-fried banana fritter served with vanilla ice cream and rich chocolate sauce. Not very sweet, and nice overall.
In terms of beverage, Mad Jack offered many options in coffee and power juices. We noticed many people dropped in just for these. Perhaps, that is what the restaurant is popular for, especially since youngsters these days like their boutique drinks. This might be the reason for Mad Jack’s mad rush.
Verdict in a nutshell
Overall, to be honest, the food at Mad Jack did not wow me at all. At the end of the day, the menu was far more appealing than the food. The dessert options are worth a try, and it offers some decent starters at affordable pricing in numerous, accessible locations. It could be considered good for a quick evening coffee/tea with prompt service and decent starter options. Children definitely like the place as the food is not too spicy and there are kid-friendly fast-food-type options such as juices, onion rings, wings etc. This Halal-certified eatery offers delivery to certain parts of Singapore, and offers some vegetarian options.
If I do go back to Mad Jack, it will be for very specific and very few dishes, namely the Butterfly Prawns, the Chicken Parmigiana and the Pavlova.
Kiran Khurram confesses to being a shopaholic and watching Friends almost daily. She is stuck in the ’90s, and likes to believe Pakistan’s cricket team is still doing wonderfully well. Kiran collected twelve years of generalist Human Resource experience. A Master in Public Administration, Kiran plans to return to full-time work once her 7-month-old daughter starts school.
Read more about Kiran in Contributing Writers.