Catching up at Marcello

These days, it’s difficult to find a photogenic cafe to meet up with friends where you need not shout across the table to have a conversation, or find yourself an unwilling accidental eavesdropper of the adjacent table’s. Easily overlooked on the way to and from the more popular Publico Ristorante, Marcello is actually right next to the lobby of the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay.

Warm, inviting lights add to the casual and modern setting

The cafe offers indoor seating at these tables (pictured above) or booths which comfortably seat four adults, as well as outdoor dining where you can bring along your furkids for a relaxed outing. Capable of accommodating up to 200 adults, the venue also caters for private events, with the possibility of live food stations or DJ pop-ups, according to its website.

When it comes to the menu, think brunch fare instead of heavier multi-course meals. The emphasis here seems to be on striking a delicious balance between comfort and healthy food options, so Publico Ristorante – located around the corner – would be a better bet for a full-on dinner. There’s still room on the menu for a burger and beef lasagne though, and portions are fairly generous, so you won’t leave feeling like you need to look for more food at your next destination.

Singaporean Shrimp Po’boy ($26)

Adding the Singaporean touch to a Louisiana tradition is this Singaporean Shrimp Po’boy which I ordered. Consisting of batter-fried shrimp drizzled with a sweet and tangy sambal mayonnaise on a leaf of lettuce and toast, it’s more like an open-face sandwich than the typical po’boy resembling a lobster roll. The dish includes a light salad with roma tomatoes and French fries on the side, but with an earlier order of sweet potato fries while waiting for one of our friends who was running late, I struggled to finish the fries here.

These banana pancakes – don’t they look stunning? If they aren’t heart-stopping enough, perhaps the side order of bacon rashers will give your fitness tracker cause for concern. I may not be a fan of these (except the bacon) but each person who had a taste of the buttermilk pancakes – banana, butterscotch, bacon and all – was gushing with superlatives for the harmony of sweet and savoury flavours.

We also ordered the egg shakshuka and club sandwich, although I didn’t get any photos of them. I tried the egg shakshuka and thought the tomato sauce was a little too salty, but I really enjoyed the strong hit of earthiness that came through from the cumin. Eaten with the grilled flatbread, it’s a rich and very satisfying entrée.

As far as hidden gems go, this cafe near the end of Nanson Road is worth considering if you’re hoping to avoid the mainstream flock and enjoy a little more peace and quiet. The coffee here also won’t disappoint as we both enjoyed our flat whites, and at $5 per cup, I would argue it’s more reasonably priced and better-tasting than some supposed specialty coffee joints. There’s free Wi-Fi and I spotted some wall outlets, which makes Marcello an option if you want a quiet place in the area to get some work done.

Beverages of the alcoholic variety are also available here if that’s up your alley; you could sit near the glass wall and have a chat while occasionally observing the comings-and-goings of the nightlife at this side of Robertson Quay.

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