Hog's Breath Cafe, Singapore
This is apparently a big Australian chain that opened its doors in Singapore recently (CHIJMES #01-26, 6338-1387). And a chain restaurant it was indeed. It had all the hallmarks of a successful chain restaurant: very friendly and prompt service, a fun - if plasticky - atmosphere, and...ahem...mediocre food. I started with the buffalo wings, which had everything I that comes with bad buffalo wings: soggy skin, way too much meat on the bones, and a lack of spiciness (it was a sweet BBQ sauce). Then came the blackened prime rib, something they seemed to take a lot of pride in. I'll admit that I was caught off-guard by how amazingly tender the meat was (could it be natural?), but the taste unfortunately couldn't keep up (and the Cajun spices had absolutely no kick to it). I got the fries on the side instead of my usually-preferred baked potato since the menu seemed to make a big deal out of their special fries, but it was nothing but curly fries (and without any special seasonings worth mentioning). Finally, I got an apple crumble, which wasn't bad, but was just too much food in the end, so I stopped.
That was enough. The food wasn't horrible, but it tasted so "clean" and "safe" that I really didn't want to eat anymore. Perhaps this is just part of what I assume to be a proven chain restaurant formula: provide dependably consistent (read: boring) food. Even if the food is not spectacular, people will come for the happy ambience (it was a bit excessive: even when they delivered ice water to my table, they told me, "Enjoy!"). They even gave me a little fabric Hog's Breath patch that could have been from a souvenir shop.
I'll admit that I briefly considered coming back on account of some burgers and a Jamaican chicken that I saw on the menu. I got excited when I thought that the latter meant jerk chicken, but the menu mentioned some mango sauce on it, which didn't assure me too much (the burgers featured beetroot too - an Australian signature that I'm not a big fan of). This place just reminded me of a bunch of American chain restaurants, be it the Hard Rock Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Bubba Gump's, or Applebee's (cue the flair scene from Office Space). Oh well - I don't think I'll be coming back.