The Bark Cafe is probably the most obscure restaurant I've ever reviewed. It's like, at the east end of our little island, and since I rarely venture out of a 20-minute-drive-long radius from the city center, I would never have known of this place if not for a celebratory birthday lunch organised here.
The entirely alfresco restaurant serves coffeehouse-type fare, so you get a hodgepodge of local classics like nasi goreng and seafood hor fan, as well as western mainstays like beef stew and cheeseburgers. The food was generally up to snuff, but if I had to take into account the 40-minute drive in heavy traffic, I wouldn't think The Bark Cafe was yelp-worthy. That said, this would make a worthwhile visit IF you're already in the area and looking for sustenance in a chilled-out spot with lots of quiet and charm.
The Tangy Calamari Rings ($9.90) was thinly battered and deep-fried to a delectable crisp, but what impressed me was that the squid encased within was perfectly cooked.
The delicate sweetness of the rice flour-coated Sweet Potato Sticks ($13.90) was balanced out by the salty creaminess of the Parmesan mayo dip.
They really shouldn't have slapped a superlative such as this on the Bark Cafe Famous Chicken Wing ($15.90 for 6 pcs) because it set expectations too lofty to meet. The prawn paste-accented wings were nice, but vapid, and so, failed to leave an impression. I've had better for less.
The highlight of lunch was the Smoky Black Pepper Duck Breast ($18.90), which was a surprising revelation. I wouldn't have expected a casual place like this to serve this typically highbrow dish, or to do it this well. Sparkling fresh meat, with nary a hint of game, was slow-roasted to luscious perfection. This was sided by wafu-dressed mesclun greens, and mashed potatoes.
The Fish & Chips ($18.90) was decent, but the deep-fried Pacific dory fillet was a dime a dozen.
The Grilled Guinness Balsamic Chicken ($19.90), marinated in Cajun herbs, sided by steamed root vegetables, mashed potatoes, and slathered in a Guinness beer gravy, was nice enough, but it reminded me of those hawker centre western food stall productions.
Although cheap, the Chicago Roasted Tenderloin ($29.90) was lackluster. The beef was gamey, so no amount of roasting finesse could save it.
The Bark Cafe
1000 Upper Changi Road North
Tel: 6545 4118
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 11am to 1am;
Fridays & Saturdays from 11am to 2am;