There’s nothing quite like dessert to make old Babette ponder the big questions of life. In the case of Poppy Pops, the obvious question is – is it better to serve ice cream in a cup or cone, or on a stick? This is an important question, for from an objective perspective, popsicles are clearly worse. The whole ice cream is exposed, providing a bigger surface area for melting. Licking is an ungraceful activity that only speeds up the melting, after which gravity naturally pulls the melted ice cream onto the hand that’s holding it. And you can’t take a small sample of a popsicle, either.
It’s a poor arrangement, but for one thing. It looks great. It’s photogenic, it shows off the ice cream. And in the days of Instagram, maybe that’s enough. Thankfully Popppy Pops doesn’t stop at merely good looking. They work a little harder.
Mind you, they don’t even have to, because the cafe has snagged a lovely position – glass walled, sitting in the middle of JEM’s roof garden. The views are… not exactly awe-inspiring, no. But Poppy Pops’ relative isolation (you take an escalator up from the food court and there’s no other shop on the roof) adds to the sense of serenity. It’s enough to make one forgive the conventional hipster decor of dangling light bulbs and heavy clanging chairs.
So after all that, how are the goods? They were still making them when I came in (a good sign), so I had a tasting set to go with waffles. Those waffles turn out to be the bready rather than crisp kind, but soak and mop maple syrup nicely.
As for the popsicles, lychee lime is a pleasant surprise, its paleness belying a one-two punch of the two fruits, sweetness tailing off into teasing acidity. Vietnamese coffee, on the other hand, is quite as advertised, smooth and milky and saving its bitter, nutty notes near the end. Only the mandarin orange falls rather flat; the flavour is dilute, and the pop itself is so icy it squeaks eerily between the teeth.
The menu includes savoury dishes as well, including several variations on fries. Here, mentaiko mayo – slightly spicy, a little sharp – adds interest to a very generous serving of shoestrings, though the most interesting thing about this bowl of fries is still the bowl. It’s not the fries’ fault – they’re default starch, and no zhuzhing elevates them very far – but look at that lovely bowl.
Anyway. Less overshadowed by its receptacle are the chicken bites in maple syrup, which from the looks of it was made to order. Fried foods and maple syrup are already an established pairing by now, but here they’ve shown admirable restraint. A light hand with the syrup preserves the crisp, bubbly batter, and also lets the woody, high notes of maple shine through without getting drowned by sweetness.
So the food is not half bad. But it is as great a pleasure to be gazing out at the roof garden, the ever-churning malls all around the new Jurong. That it has wifi and alcohol on offer makes it an even better place to relax. Just one thing though – should the lightbulbs be hanging that low if you’re expecting tipsy people?