On the outside, Senso Ristorante and Bar looked very much like a boutique hotel. The first scene that greeted us when we walked through the doors was the receptionist desk, akin to that of a hotel check-in counter. On the right was the Senso bar and on the left were the private function rooms. To get to the main restaurant indoor seating area, we had to go around the courtyard. The owners retained the colonial architecture of the building; the courtyard exuded a rustic charm, while the indoor dining area looked posh and chic. Even before our meal started, our entire mood was lifted up by the sheer style and class of Senso Ristorante and Bar.
We ordered 3 main courses, and prior to that complimentary bread and canapés were served.
There were 4 different varieties of bread; the most popular one being the long deep fried bread stick. It was crunchy, slightly more savoury than the others and had a faint cheesy taste. The brown rectangular cuboid shaped bread had a subtle taste of herbs and would be better if they made the flavour a bit stronger. The hors d’œuvre served was Smoked Duck with Lettuce and Mango Salsa. The first taste which welcomed us was the saltiness of the duck. Taste and texture wise, the thinly sliced duck meat, with a thin layer of fats, resembled that of bacon. The mango salsa was overshadowed by the smoked duck and the mild sourness only set in after a few bites. The accompanying lettuce provided moisture, crunchiness and a refreshing taste, such that one would not get too sick from the saltiness of the smoked duck.
Senso ‘Bolo’bster Lasagna – Homemade Lasagne with fresh Lobster meat and Tomato sauce. The Senso ‘Bolo’bster Lasagna was a crowd favourite. The lobster meat came in huge chunks, and every piece was fresh, succulent and juicy. Though drenched in the tomato sauce, the lobster meat retained its intrinsic sweetness of seafood. The chef was very generous with the amount of lobster and all we can say is that every mouth we took was never lacking in lobster meat. The lasagna was soft and smooth; the proportion of lasagne was just nice. With the lasagne soaking up the tomato sauce, accompanied with the salted semi-melted cheese and the fragrance from the sliced garlic pieces, this dish was packed with so much flavours but ultimately the main lead was still the lobster. Absolutely divine and our personal favourite from Senso.
Pappardelle XXLong – 1 meter long homemade Pappardelle with braised Wild Boar, black Taggiasca Olives and sun-dried Tomatoes. Pappardelle are large and very broad fettuccine. In this special Senso version, the Pappardelle served was a total of 1 meter long in length. We couldn’t exactly tell if it’s really 1 meter long. We had that far-fetched thought that the Pappardelle would be spread out 1 meter across the plate and then served, but clearly we were wrong. Nevertheless, the Pappardelle was cooked al dente – firm and chewy. The sauce was tomato based and was rather salty. The wild boar had a taste and texture similar to minced meat. We couldn’t really differentiate the uniqueness of wild boar. It just reminded us too much of the minced meat you can find in hotplate tofu in Chinese dining places.
Duo of Risotti by Federico – Risotto Carnaroli with ‘Ca’ del Bosco’ Franciacorta sparkling wine and Risotto Carnaroli with Baby Squid a la plancha, fresh Italian Herbs. Carnaroli was used as the rice in the Risotto; it has a higher starch content and is stickier and firmer than the more commonly used Arborio rice. This dish was divided into the black and white regions. The black risotto was flavoured with squid ink. It was creamy and saltier than the white risotto. Taste wise, the white risotto was less strong in flavour, with the alcohol taste being barely detectable. Overall, it was an interesting and unique dish since you don’t find duo risotti in most Italian restaurants.
Desserts wise, we chose the Chocolate – Hot dark chocolate eruption served with Passion Fruit and Vanilla Ice-cream. The Chocolate was a huge disappointment. Reading the description ‘Hot dark chocolate eruption‘, we had expected an eruption of hot molten chocolate when we broke open the cake. Instead, all that welcomed us was … … more cake, perhaps more moist and softer, but still it was just chocolate cake. That was a major upset of the meal. The Chocolate cake was also pathetically small and taste wise, it was something that could be found in many dessert places, definitely not worth the $18 we were paying. The vanilla ice cream was too soft, and tasted mediocre. The Passion fruit sauce was also very miserable. The Chocolate was the only blemish in our otherwise wonderful Senso experience.
Service wise, Senso Ristorante & Bar displayed impeccable serving standards. From securing a table to us, helping us with our bags, taking our orders, explaining and serving the dishes to clearing our plates and table, the serving staff executed patience, friendliness and efficiency. It was befitting of a fine dining restaurant and their top service made the meal an enjoyable one.
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The Baked Cheesecake ($3.80) from Delifrance was a far cry from our favourite cheesecake from Coffee Bean. The cheese flavour was very subtle, too faint to be classified as a cheescake. Texture wise, it was on the moist side, but wasn’t sticky enough. And strangely, the cheesecake base had a faint pandan flavour.
The Chocolate Toblerone ($5) fared slightly better; it was essentially a chocolate spongy centre, encased in a chocolate shell, and covered entirely in a generous serving of cocoa powder. The cocoa powder was rather bitter and the chocolate shell was literally detached from the chocolate sponge centre. The chocolate sponge centre was pretty inhomogeneous, where there were certain areas which were more fudgy than other areas. There were small chunks of Toblerone chocolate embedded within the sponge, which added a bit of crunchiness to the cake. Overall, the Chocolate Toblerone was considered pretty average, not too fantastic.
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Our 2nd Restaurant Week escapade brought us into St Regis Hotel and its resident French restaurant Brasserie Les Saveurs. The moment we walked into the restaurant, we were blown away by the opulent and majestic decor. Our table was just by the floor-to-ceiling-windows, giving us a great view of the pool and water fountain display situated behind the restaurant. P sat on a large, red lounge chair, in absolute delight and comfort. Before the meal began, we were already pretty happy with our choice of restaurant.
Restaurant week menu wise, we were more than delighted at our choices. The simplest reason being that for this 3-course lunch, there were 2 choices each for the entree, main course and dessert. Plus the fact that there weren’t any beef, lamb or veal dishes, the 2 of us could effectively try all 6 offerings! Kudos to Brasseris Les Saveurs!
First up which the Canapés De Bienvenue (not part of the 3 course meal). Bienvenue means welcome in French; Canapés De Bienvenue are bite-sized finger food served at the beginning of the meal. There were 3 offerings – rock melon topped with radish, deep fried potato and onion ball, truffle bread. The rock melon was frozen cold; you could still feel bits of ice within the rock melon. But it was very refreshing; when we bit into it, the tinge of frostiness went through our teeth, gums and tongue, awaking our taste buds to prepare us for the sumptuous meal ahead! The deep potato balls exuded a taste and aroma similar to onion rings, only that it had small bits of potatoes inside the shell. The deep fried shell was also decorated with black and white sesame. It was pretty good savoury food, only with typical deep fried oily taste and texture. The truffle bread was slightly salty, with bits of cheese inside. Nothing too fantastic or unique about that.
Shortly before the entrees were served, the waiter brought over a basket of complimentary bread for us to pick and choose from. There were 3 different types of bread and we picked one from each kind. There was the square (lighter brown in shade) bread – it tasted a bit oily and had a slightly glossy surface, which led us to conclude that it had been deep fried. It tasted like crackers. The outer layer was harder with a tinge of crispiness while the insides were soft and fluffy. The long bread was a typical french baguette. P’s favourite was the round (dark brown) sourdough bread. The outer crust was pretty tough and chewy, but overall the bread had the tinge of sourness which she enjoyed.
Truite de Mer - Petunia ocean trout Carpaccio, Nashi pear, lemon jelly served with horseradish. This dish exudes a spectrum of flavours, ranging from - the saltiness of the trout akin to that of smoked salmon, the sourness of the thick lemon jelly, the crunchiness and refreshness of the juicy Nashi pear, the juicy and salty fish roe. We rolled up a slice of the trout, packed it with the accompanying condiments and sent it into our mouths. We were pleasantly surprised by the sudden colourful burst in flavours. Though there were many different flavours and textures in 1 mouth of the Truite de Mer, every condiment complimented the main trout perfectly – a wonderful balance in terms of taste and texture. It was an excellent and innovative creation, something which we had not experienced before. Combining the trout carpaccio with the complimentary baguette makes a delightful open-face sandwich ideal for high-tea!
Creme de Champignons Sauvages (Cream of Wild Mushrooms) - Wild mushroom veloute accompanied with porcini sabayon and Perigord truffle butter. When the dish was first served, it was not as what the above picture shows. Rather, it was a thick yellowish cream sitting in the bowl. What took us by surprise was that the waiter then proceeded to pour a jug of greyish fluid into the bowl. After which we came to the realization that the thick yellowish cream was the truffle butter, together with bits of mushrooms and onions. The greyish fluid was the mushroom soup. We suspect that the chef pan-fried the mushrooms and the onions with butter first. It was a very interesting way of presenting a dish. Taste wise, the mushroom soup was definitely not as thick as those we have tried before. One would not be able to taste the mushroom residuals in the soup. Still, the presentation and appeal were enough to win us over.
Tortellini a la Courge, Bouillon de Chataignes - Homemade pumpkin tortillini and chestnut broth topped with aged parmesan. Tortillini are ring-shaped pasta, stuffed with fillings, in this case being pumpkin. Once again, the presentation of this dish was a big plus point. The serving staff brought along with him a small jug, and proceeded to pour a brown liquid over the tortellini. The serving plate was warm to the touch and looks wise, the dish looked appetizing and attractive.
The brutal blind taste test: In order not to allow the looks and plating of the dish affect our judgement, we subjected the tortellini to a blind taste test. To us, the tortellini skin tasted like that of wanton dumplings. The fillings were also pathetically little and bland. In short, the pumpkin taste was not detectable at all, in both the skin and fillings, much to our disappointment. On its own, without the broth, the tortellini was tasteless. The broth itself was slightly peppery, hence adding a bit of flavour to the tortellini. However, we could not detect any chestnut flavour. The tortellini were served on a bed of assorted vegetables, which included onions, carrots etc. The vegetables were rather moist, and tasted pretty similar to the fried bean sprouts which our mothers could whip up. It seemed pretty odd for a French restaurant to be serving such a mediocre fare of vegetables.
Simply to say, the desciption on the menu was far from what we ate.
Sole Limande – Pan-roasted lemon sole, clams, mussels and razor clams served with organic spinach and smoked garlic sauce. Similar to how the tortellini was served, the waiter too brought along another jar of garlic sauce to be poured over the lemon sole. The blind taste test – the pan-roasted lemon sole was rather bland on its own, without the sauce. It was on the tougher side too. And somehow, it reminded us of the canteen western food fare, nothing too spectacular. The clams, razor clams and mussels were fresh, fulfilling the minimum criteria of seafood, but standard wise, they were just average.
Compared to the entrees, the main courses were lacklustre and not impressive. We were rather disappointed; the unique and appetizing entrees brought our mood to an all-time high, only for us to be disappointed by the mediocre main courses.
The disappointment with the main courses was salvaged by the arrival of the desserts! Martini Exotique – Coconut dacquoise, coconut mousse, lime crémeux with passionfruit sorbet. Coconut was used extensively in this dessert. There was a thick layer of cream on the top, filled with bits of dried coconut flesh. Beneath it was a layer of sponge, followed by some lime cream. The passionfruit sorbet was pretty sour and one good thing about it was that whenever we got sick of the coconut, a small mouth of the sorbet would refresh our taste buds immediately. Contrary to the name “Martini Exotique”, no Martini was present in the dessert, rather it just meant that the dessert was served in a Martini glass.
The better dessert has got to be the Entremet Chocolat – Manjari chocolate mousse served with gianduja palet and sablé breton (shortbread). 1 bite of the cake and we could taste the premium quality of the chocolate used. There were around 6 different chocolate layers – the sticky chocolate topping, followed by a thick layer of mousse and denser layers of fudge. The layers of chocolates were progressively more bitter as you moved down the cake. Accompanying the cake was a thick dark chocolate sauce decoration, 2 sweeter and softer milk chocolate cubes and a slightly charred sugary biscuit. Overall, the cake wasn’t too sweet, it was very smooth, rich and dense, but not too overwhelming.
There was 1 major shortcoming of our dining experience – the dismal conditions of the utensils and cutlery.
Both the tea pot, dining forks & spoons and the tea spoons were stained and badly scratched. For a resident French restaurant in a luxury five-star hotel, Brasserie Les Saveurs ought to replace their old and wearing cutlery sets. The dismal conditions of their cutlery do not reflect well on their luxurious status.
This 3 course meal was full of surprises, the main courses were slightly disappointing, but the entrees and desserts made up for it. The plating and presentation of every dish was done exquisitely and tastefully garnished. Ambience wise, it was fantastic. The setting was elegant and majestic, the service staff were welcoming and helpful. It was a very delightful experience.
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With the new entrants like Koi Café, 贡茶 and the long standing Each-A-Cup, the bubble tea industry in Singapore has once again been revived. Well, we have never been fans of bubble tea. Somehow, we just don’t seem to appreciate the fuss and long queues over it. Hence, we have never thought of trying Koi Café before.
But that doesn’t mean we haven’t try Koi Café before. In fact, because of friends, we had the chance to try 2 different flavours – Macchiato Green Tea (50% sugar level) and Cacao Barry (100% sugar level).
The Macchiato Green Tea differed from conventional milk tea; there wasn’t a need to shake the cup to ensure a homogeneous mixture of milk tea. On the contrary, we must never shake the Macchiato Green Tea as it is meant to be a layered drink. It was made up of around 1/3 layer of fresh milk and 2/3 layer of green tea. There weren’t any pearls and we weren’t given straws. Rather, we were given a small plastic knife to make a hole for us to drink from. Pretty interesting. But we weren’t exactly blown away or deeply impressed by our Macchiato Green Tea. It tasted mediocre.The first mouth was largely fresh milk, as you drank further, you get to slurp in more green tea. And towards the end, it was just green tea. Overall, it felt like the typical ice cream float, but in this case, with vanilla ice cream topped over green tea. Ok, we are no connoisseurs of bubble tea/milk tea. We just felt that the best thing about Koi Café is that we can determine the sugar level, so 50% was just nice for us.
The Cacao Barry was bought as a treat from a friend. Given a choice, we would probably not choose 100% sugar level. The Cacao Barry was meant to be dark chocolate, so adding too much sugar would seemingly destroy the essence of drinking dark chocolate. And true enough, Cacao Barry (with 100% sugar level) was too sweet and it tasted like Ice Milo. However, in this version, we get to taste the pearls. And Koi’s pearls are indeed pretty good. It was on the softer side, slightly chewy and not overly huge. It had a subtle sweetness and was pretty commendable.
We have never had milk tea cravings and ultimately, we would never queue for it either. Milk/bubble teas are still not our cup of tea.
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We have not tried Mrs Fields‘ brownies for a very long time. And since we happened to walk past 1 branch at Esplanade, we went in and got ourselves a Macadamia Brownie. The brownie was pretty expensive, $3.20 for 1 rather small piece. Taste wise, it was nowhere near that of Brownie Factory’s. The brownie was overly sweet with sugar crystals scattered inhomogeneously within it. The chocolate wasn’t dense as well. Overall, it was not worth the calories.
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