If one was there for lunch, chances were they were in for 7atenine’s “Lunch Unlimited” offering @ $37 per pax – where there’s no menu in sight, and diners are subjected to unlimited elements of surprises and heighten anticipation by the chef.
First up, we had the Tomato and Thyme on Parmesan Biscuit – this was one of the two dishes that we did not complete. Uninspiring.
Another dish that looked better than it tasted, the pairing of Thai Asparagus Rolls with Wasabi just didn’t make the grade for HFB in this instance. The veggie was slightly tough too.
Sadly, the Homemade Ravioli with Parmesan Cheese and Ebi Bisque was flavoursome in a bad way - the cheese totally overwhelmed this dish i.e. the prawn flavoured broth waned in comparison.
To be honest, HFB certainly didn’t expect to spot the Maguro Sushi with Roe at his table. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly didn’t impressed. Perhaps the whole Japanese dish served in a western restaurant concept didn’t resonated well with him.
However, if there was any reason why HFB would be back at this establishment, the Beef Roll with Parmesan and Wild Herbs alone would sufficed as the answer. Served atop a piece of hot rock, one gets to enjoy the very bottom of the beef cooked, the middle portion medium rare, and the top raw. The play on the texture was amazing, the meat was succulent and the parmesan complemented the dish. We certainly did request for repeated servings of this dish.
The Crispy Pork Belly with Apple Puree was another brilliant dish. Nicely crisp on the exterior, the sweet and savoury combination also flourished. Marvellous!
The Jerusalem Artichoke Puree with Foam was flavourful despite its lacklustre appearance. HFB enjoyed this!
However, none can be said about the Cucumber Gazpacho with Crouton. It didn’t work well for HFB - acting as a palate cleanser, he found it too “green” for his liking.
The Caesar Salad was another one of the "ordinary" dishes that day - nothing quite wrong, yet nothing striking.
Another reorder we had was the Seared Scallops with Avocado Mousse and Red Grapefruit. The scallops were really sweet, luscious and nicely seared. HFB though craved the scallops to be bigger.
The Crab Salad Wrapped with Onion was the other dish that was left unfinished. Although in its defence, HFB had to say he enjoyed this dish pretty much. His guess was one probably need to enjoy onions to appreciate this dish. He surely did.
The Tuna Tartare with Miso Jelly was a dish of hits and misses. While he truly enjoyed the tuna, HFB felt that the miso jelly didn’t quite make the grade – its texture was chewy and the assortments of veggies within just didn’t quite gel.
Simply called the 7atenine Burger, the beef patties were really yummy and goes really well with the salsa coupled within. Only irk was that the bread was a tad oily.
One of their signatured dishes, the Udon Carbonara with Miso Scented Cream Reduction and Serrano Ham was in replacement of the beef roll, when we wanted for a third serving. Luckily for us, the Lolita of Spicc, Katharina, was gracious enough, as it was unavailable for the day’s lunch unlimited offering, to offer us a chance to savour her favourite dish. It was really a pleasant twist and in truth palatable, although HFB thought the noodles were slightly overcooked – al dente would have been much better welcomed.
Once we were done with the carbs, we signalled for the desserts to be served. The Cranberry Pastille with Chocolate Praline looked unimpressive yet it tasted oh so good. Simple yet packed a punch!
The Vanilla Mousse with Mango Ice-cream was really fruity and HFB thought it was a nice way to end the meal, along with Assorted Biscuits which went really well with our cup of coffee.
Overall, it was an out of the ordinary dining experience and although there were some misses with the dishes, there were others that makes a revisit a possibility.
You can view all the photos here.
I have seen so many posts on this restaurant that I finally decided to try it. My full review can be found at: http://foodieah.blogspot.com/2009/03/7atenine-lunch-unlimited.html
The 'Lunch Unlimited' menu seemed like the best deal, and I went for that. The restaurant has a very cool and modern design as you would expect from a nice eatery within the Esplanade. Although I visited the restaurant during the day, I could imagine that the outdoor bar with patio could be a nice spot for evening drinks and dining.
Soft drinks and juices are free flow, as well as the food. They keep serving new dishes until the courses are over, but you can always ask for extra portions of any dish you like. They opened up with a potato salad with beetroot and asparagus. A well presented dish, with a nice combination of textures.
The pasta salad was Japanese style pasta with sesame seed, nori seaweed and a guacamole sauce served on the opposite side of the plate. Nothing surprising, but quite pleasant.
I found the tomato tart a little confusing. The sweet tart base topped with mozzarella and tomatoes and complemented by a sweet basil ice cream was a little bit of a clash of flavours. Being Italian, I believe that there are better ways of combining beautiful flavours such as basil and tomatoes. Well, they tried something different!
The fresh salmon with mango cubes had a smokey flavour and a smooth and firm texture. I thought the salmon was nice, although the mango was more of a decoration than anything else, as it didn't pair up with the salmon. Once again, proposing fusion and innovation is not as simple as it looks...
The squid tempura was without a doubt the worst dish out of all. Quite disgraceful, actually, as you can tell from the picture. This rock-hard, oily lump of batter gave me no reason whatsoever to eat it. Pretty frankly, I can have better deep fried seafood at a MacDonald!
Luckily, the next deep fried dish, the cheese croquettes, was much better. Nicely fried croquettes with melted cheese inside, topped by a sweet chutney.
One of my favourite dishes was definitely the beef roll. A roll of raw, tender beef Italian style, filled with tomatoes, rocket and Parmesan, served on a hot stone. Obviously the more cooked you want it, the longer you have to leave it on the stone. I enjoyed mine as raw as in the picture and ordered another one!
Ranking second for disgracefulness were the risotto and the pasta. I returned them both. The edamame pasta was worse than what I can imagine "spagheddi's" would serve you -although I never adventured myself in there and never will :) It was just a mass of spaghetti, drowned into a creamy sauce that tasted so intensely of garlic I had to spit out my first (and only) mouthful of it.
The mushroom risotto on the other hand, was not what you can call a risotto. I would rather call it a lump of melted cheese. There was no taste of mushroom in that whatsoever, beyond a lump of creams and fat with Parmesan-like taste and overcooked grains of rice emerging here and there... Obviously, these are dishes that you can't really prepare in advance and there is no room for cheating!
On a positive note, the lamb shoulder with polenta was tasty, tender and well balanced by the sauce, herbs and polenta bed underneath. This was a dish worth having!
The red snapper on carrot puree' was also quite nice, although the extra serving that we ordered was a bit salty. This dish consisted in a crispy pan fried fillet of red snapper, served with a sweet and sour think carrot sauce.
The beef brisket with mashed potatoes was my favourite dish overall. The slowly braised meat was incredibly tender and juicy, the sauce was rich and tasty, balanced by creamy and buttery mashed potatoes. I ordered this dish a second time and it was just as good!
The first dessert I was served was a coffee trifle, which included sponge cake, mousse and coffee ice cream topped by caramelised rice crisps and milk foam. I enjoyed this dessert the most out of the three. Cooling, nice textures, light.
The pineapple crumble was a combination of diced pineapple topped by ice cream and crumble. I am not a big fan of pineapple or crumbles, so this was definitely not my 'cup of tea'.
Finally, the well presented chocolate cake was a rich, thick and intense chocolate cake topped by a chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream decorated by a wafer of white chocolate. This was a nice cake, although I was so full when this was served, that I just couldn't afford to have more than 2 spoonfuls of such a rich cake... what a shame.
The total bill, including all the dishes described and free flow of juices, came up to a total of $87.10 for 2 people. At about $44 per person, I would say that this is a reasonable deal. You won't love the whole range, but you are served a reasonable variety of dishes and it can be fun tasting them one by one if you are with the right company. However, I doubt I would go back for this. For the same price, I can have a lunch at places like Cassis or Petite Salut (also reviewed on this blog), and although you don't get 14 dishes, you can have 3 well made dishes and you will walk away well satisfied. Personally, I would rather have 3 quality dishes made with care than 14 dishes out of which 4 are bad, 8 are so-so and 2 quite nice. However, I am not discouraging you to try this place as it's good to have a such new offering in Singapore, and I am sure there is a public for it.
Chic hangout 7atenine at Esplanade Mall has only been open since Dec 2008 but is fast becoming a popular chill-out spot. This alfresco bar/restaurant/bistro serves what it terms "Latin Asian" - marrying the tapas concept with fusion Asian cuisine. Chef Florent Gerardin and consultant chef Emmanuel Stroobant have worked out an array of creations from the land, sea, and sky along with sides and "gattsuri taberu" (eat like there's no tomorrow) mains.
My full review with over 20 photos here. Sorry I can only upload five here.
If you love variety, value and surprises, you will love their Lunch Unlimited (a steal at S$37 per person). Chef Florent will pull together a symphony of 20 dishes. You won't know what you're going to get, and some dishes may not even be on the regular menu. Freeflow chilled juices, soft drinks, coffee and tea complete the deal. Available daily from noon to 2.30pm.
Of course, with 20 mystery dishes, there are bound to be some you like, and some you don't. Let me just quickly dive into what we had. The dishes change daily, so what you see here may be different from what you get.
We started with various appetisers. The "Cream of Celery" had a jelly celery base, and a deeply savoury cream soup topped with chili oil. We liked it. Do not be deceived by its small size, it can fill you up more than you expect because it is very rich.
Potato salad - this tasted quite rustic and woodsy.
Pasta salad - the shell is al dente all right, but a little dry. I cannot remember what the filling tasted like, it was rather mild.
Salmon platter - The salmon looks like sashimi but is salty and cured. I had the whole plate because this was too fishy for hubby.
Now this tomato tart or something other was hubby's favourite. He liked it all, from the beautifully treated tomatoes to the crumbly biscuit base. I wasn't that impressed. I think the herbs in it reminded me of pizza somehow.
Their mushroom tempura is piping hot and very juicy within. Simple but good. I just made mushroom tempura myself the night before, and mine did not have that much juice inside. Makes me wonder if they soaked the mushrooms before putting them in batter.
Beef roll on hot stone: Now I have seen photos of this very pretty dish on other blogs, but those were of much thinner beef slices. I think they experimented with thicker slices here but the stone was probably not hot enough. We were not sure what cut of meat this was either as it was very gamey. It tasted almost like liver.
Pan-fried seabass with pumpkin puree. Crispy (and boneless) fried fish is usually fine by me. But this piece was way too fishy for hubby.
Ah, the risotto. Not the seafood or mushroom version, but still very comforting. They got the flavours and texture just right. Tiny bits of garlic added more "mmmmh" factor.
All hail kakuni-style kurobuta pork belly! This is not in a fajita like the version stated on the menu. It's encased in a shell of caramelised sugar that you have to crack through to get to the pork. The pork was tasty enough - I just wished there was enough lean meat (about two-thirds of the cube was pure fat). What was out of place was the applesauce it sat on. Pork and soy, yes. Pork and apple, yes. But pork, soy and apple is a bit too complicated.
The chicken kebabs were a little cold and underdone (still translucent in the center). They replaced it with a more thoroughly cooked version, and that turned out to be way better.
This is how pasta with just vegetables can taste so good. Heartwarming and sweetly rustic. We were quite full by this stage, but still finished this carb-heavy dish.
The beef brisket is delicious. Tender and beautifully braised. I almost regret not going for a second portion.
How fun these look! Garlic infused cod croquettes. On their own, they are a little bland, but taken with the wasabi mayo dip, they are a party in your mouth. Love the painted toothpick skewers.
The organic beef sashimi looks like carpaccio. We are not fond of raw meat, unless it's fish. But I braved my first bite of raw beef. The meat on its own seems oddly flavourless but relies on other ingredients (manchego cheese, salt, chili powder, tomatoes and onions) for body. The thin shavings do melt in your mouth though.
Now for what is probably my favourite and most memorable dish. The signature chili con carne, with wagyu beef and edamame beans (braised for 36 hours apparently). It has a spicy kick to it, and robust flavour. This is the way I've always wanted chili con carne to be. This is excellent.
Be careful when eating this though. The jar and its contents are very hot. Everything is perched rather precariously on the wooden display. I accidentally toppled the jar while fiddling with my camera.
I normally do not have quick reflexes a la Angelina Jolie in Mr & Mrs Smith (catching the falling wine bottle), but I really wanted to save this. I caught the jar and some of its precious cargo with my left hand. The extreme heat forced me to let go. Oh, what a waste! But the staff cleaned up very efficiently and promptly gave me a glass of ice-cold soda to stop the scalding. And a whole new jar to enjoy.
And now we come to desserts. There were four. First up - churros sprinkled with vanilla sugar, and served with a Nutella dip. Rather soft and fluffy for churros but enjoyable nonetheless. What can I say...Nutella = magic.
This was good too. Café triple trifle. Espresso jelly, almond crumble, milk foam and coffee ice cream. So many textures in one. The abundance of foam makes this feel very light though.
Strawberry shortcake with raspberry ice cream. Hubby loved this, so I let him have most of it. The cream was a bit too dense for me.
Yummy. Chocolate fondant with lime sorbet. Yes, the melted chocolate oozed out nicely when you break this open. Rice crispies lent crunch and the tart lime sorbet helped cut through the rich chocolate nicely.
So there you have it. Twenty dishes that took up more than two hours. The presentation is stunning and faultless. They do vegetables and sauces beautifully. The meats for this session were a little hit and miss. The desserts are worth saving room for.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Ate. Nine. Ten.
Esplanade we were at, yet it certainly didn’t feel anything like Esplanade. The al fresco area was within the ground floor, yet while sitting there and people-grazing, the mood was out away from this world.
Service was almost impeccable. Since most of the tapas were off-the-menu, we wanted to know what we were eating and started asking the staff a lot of questions. Initially when they served us the first few appetisers, they were not sure of the names, and the ingredients in it. But they got used to us asking questions, and when they served the rest of the tapas, they made sure they checked the names and ingredients. Well we did make them stress that day, akin like taking a spelling test. Nonetheless, the staffs were always cheerful and friendly.
In the time of recession where people cut down on their expedition, it takes a brave soul to come out with interesting dining concept. The idea that the chef serves whatever he wants, is actually not new. But there just isn’t much places doing it, most people after all, aren’t adventurous enough and want to have a say in what they are eating. 7atenine. Catchy name, check. Unique concept, check. Ambience, check.
There’s something about Salmon which makes them irresistible to ladies. For some unknown reasons which continue to elude me, most ladies seem to love them. The salmon tartare. For the ladies! Fresh crunchy salmon in lemon cream sauce, with walnuts & some leafy greens providing the crunch. What impressed me was the effort entailed in preparing the cucumber. Instead of short slices, the cucumber was peel off vertically, in a long string. This, surely warrant our praise.
What I liked about the Taco cerbice was the simplicity of the dish. The crunchy sour dough plus the smooth octopus meat. Topped with greens, it further beautify and added balance to the appetiser.
Like couples who are always together, ham always comes with cheese. The dish is a basically an appetiser of ham & cheese. Cubes of green apple, cheese, and ham. While there’s nothing intriguing about the combination, it’s a simple dish to kick-start the meal.
I always remember the significant and special food that I’ve before. Like the best mushroom soup, the best dim sum, all those are deeply engraved in my memory. And the Beef roll on hot stone, would definitely be the latest addition to my memorable list. Putting the thinly-sliced beef rolls on the heated up stone, a brilliant idea! The usage of salt to bring out the natural taste of the beef, with the hot stone keeping the beef warm at optimum temperature. Divine.
Tangy, was the best way to describe the lobster gaspach. Shredded lobster fried was good on its own. But having left it too long in the slightly sourish sauce, it was soggy when we tried it. And did I mention I loved the way 7atenine decorated the bowls with a brush of the sauce. A stroke of genius.
With the pairing of cheese and anchovies, the Mozzarella cheese with anchovies certainly let our imagination ran wild. Just exactly what does the humble small salt-water fish and cheese have in common. Well nothing, but that’s what makes the pairing unique. The presence of bell pepper and tomato brighten up the aesthetic aspect. Much as I’m for creative cooking, this dish didn’t exactly impress.
The best. Mushroom Risotto. 7atenine rendition was done close to the porridge form, quite unlike the harder glutinous-rice like version I had before. Boiling several types of mushrooms to get the stock, the end result was a strong mushroom infused flavour in the risotto. The presence of strong cheese taste was a plus. I do not think words alone can describe the goodness of the risotto. Comfort food.
Again, we see the use of raw salt to bring out the natural flavour of food. Poached lightly, the Salmon with potato wrapped bacon was another worth mentioning dish. Even when eaten on its own, the salmon was fresh, but when you dip it with the sauce, it brought it to a brand new level. The bacon bits, by the side, was salty and flavourful. My date enjoyed her roast mini potatoes, although I didn’t quite fancy that.
When ocean meets farm, the Seabass in celery cream. Sprinkled with bits of salt, the seabass reminded me of my mom’s home-cook fish. The fish was better eaten alone, rather than together with the brown sauce. The mesh celery represented the farm.
At first look, we were guessing the ingredient used to “dye” the calamari black. Guess guess, squid ink! An interesting twist to the otherwise boring calamari. The tomato salsa was refreshing, but other than that, there wasn’t much wow factor. The crusted calamari.
A cheesy pasta. The spaghetti with ham symbolised every aspect of the cheese pasta. A simple dish done right. We were wondering what ham was used though.
If 7atenine is all about interesting new dining concept, then the sizzling wings would definitely be the best representative. Using the pegs (for hanging clothes) to hold the chicken wings so that diners were not dirty their hands. Bravo! While the effectiveness of the peg remained to be questioned, we should applause the innovation. On the other hand, the chicken wings were nothing to shout about. I was pretty astonished when they served the wings, since nothing in my dictionary told me that wings were classified under tapas.
The beef flank was the last main course that we had before serving desserts. The meat was tough and inelastic actually. I didn’t touch much of it. Well, a disappointing anti-climax for the main course.
Caffe latte trifle was the first of the three desserts we started with. Everything coffee. From the ice cream, meringue, to the thin layer of sponge, all of them are coffee flavoured. There’s rice krispies on top too.
With a base of berries, there’s the strawberry ice cream and vanilla bean on top. The execution of the simple strawberry gazpacho was enough, for us to end the meal on a sweet note.
We were surprised by the inclusion of vanilla bean ice cream since the sight of the normal walls ice cream was so common everywhere else. I liked the fact that they spreaded some Oreo crust by the side. I can taste vanilla bean, and with some help from the crust, it turned into Oreo ice cream. And oh yes, warm chocolate brownies must always be eaten together with chilled, cold ice cream.
Total bill was $86.58 for 2, lunch unlimited buffet. In my humble opinion, my date and I agreed that 7atenine is the best new restaurant in 2009, that is until i try a better one. Although not all the tapas impressed me, but the food taste is more on the extreme ends, it’s a case of whether you love it or hate it. Personally, I felt food lovers will generally accept this concept better than the rest, especially so if you are the type that are adventurous and love to try new creations.
It is definitely fun to be keep in the suspense, and wondering what is coming next. Of course, with expectations there will be disappointment. I’m sorry if you do not agree with me. But I love this type of dining concept, the playful presentation of food, the friendly services, bold creations, the ambience and the amazing value. Of course, the company of my date plays a vital part as well. This year, the best meal I had so far, 7atenine!
You are always welcome to visit ladyironchef for a full-up on this trip. Whatever written herein are my genuine feelings expressed in words. Food, my dear, is what they call an adventure!
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