Spring Court has the honour of being one of the, if not the oldest Chinese restaurant in Singapore. Founded in 1929, it used to be located at Great World Amusement Park (大世界) before finally settling at its current location at Upper Cross Street sometime in 2004.
Housed in a four storey heritage shophouse just opposite Chinatown Point, Spring Court spots white washed walls adorned with pictures and warm lighting, very much typical of a Chinese restaurant. The place is bustling when we arrive, a testament to the popularity of the place I guess?
Braised Beancurd With Scallop - I used to think that serving up beancurd dishes by weight or individual portions were the purview of upmarket Chinese restaurants but clearly, Spring Court has decided to buck that trend. It would have worked if the dish tasted great but unfortunately, it was anything but. The beancurd lacked smoothness and the savouriness that I personally like. Topped with a small piece of scallop and draped over with a mildly starchy meat sauce that had bits of chilli in it. Average.
Deep Fried Prawns With Salted Egg Yolk - The small portion had about 10 prawns or so (charged by weight) and came across as crunchy with a mild egg yolk taste (would have preferred something more pronounced actually). While decent, it lacked that savoury saltiness that is the hallmark of any good egg yolk prawn in my humble opinion.
Stir Fried Broccoli - Cooked just right, the broccoli was neither too hard not soft but could do with some wok hei. Nonetheless, greens are always welcome as they help break the monotony of rich foods.
Roasted Chicken - Mildly crisp skin coupled with moist meat and a good pinch of saltiness; a respectably tasty dish of roasted chicken.
Peking Duck - As part of a tie in with a credit card, a Peking duck was offered to us for a mere 85 cents (with minimum $85 expenditure). We opted to have the meat chopped up and served ($5 extra) over frying it with noodles ($12 extra) and to be honest, it was probably one of the worst Peking ducks I've had in a long while, on par with the sub $20 ones that go for sale at the Ubi area. The skin was mildly crisp but came wrapped in limp and dry crepes whilst the chopped up meat was rather oily and had a strong fowl taste to it amidst flittering hints of herbs. We gave up on it after a while.
Lotus Leaf Rice - Apparently a signature dish of Spring Court and one that required pre-booking, the lotus leaf rice or 荷叶饭 had a slight waxiness to it (which was good) with bits of dried sausage, egg and shrimp. However I did find it a little lacking in fragrance and flavour, coming across as bland and nothing like the delicious 荷叶饭 at Peony Jade Clarke Quay.
Dinner for the 6 of us was a rather inexpensive affair, at just over $190 or ~ $32/pax with decent service. However food quality was average at best as a whole and I really don't understand the hype or seeming popularity (yet another Red Star?) of the place. Sure, Spring Court has a long history but I don't see how that's going to bring it into the future.
We were on a burger eating binge and ended up at Omakase Burger one weekend morning. Apparently OM serves up one of the best burgers in Singapore, as evidenced from the frequent citations in various media sources.
The place works (and looks) very much like a cafe. Prices are displayed overhead as well as at the counter where you place your order and make payment. Your food will be delivered to your seat. The interior is rather chirpy through the use of bright colours and bright lights (part of the lighting comes from the mall).
Omakase Chicken Sandwich Combo - We had the truffle fries with our chicken sandwich and it was unevenly splashed in truffle oil, which meant some portions of the fries bucket were dry whilst others were glistening with oil. Real classy.
And we thought that perhaps the chicken burger would do wonders. But we overestimated its potential. The chicken fillet was deep fried to a crisp but could do with a little more moisture (not oil) and seasoning to bring out the flavours. Read. Bland and oily. And I never thought I would ever say this but the batter was way too crispy for my liking and it unceremoniously left a few puncture wounds in my mouth. Almost fifteen bucks for the sandwich alone, seriously? Did I mention that the sandwich was small? Think the golden arches' fillet o fish size, maybe a whisker larger.
Applewood Smoked Bacon Cheeseburger Combo - And in continuing the tradition of small burgers, the bacon cheeseburger was, well, small, by many accounts. However it did taste much better than it's friend, the chicken burger. The patty was done to medium but came across as more oily than juicy whilst the bun, though soft, was bland. The highlight of the burger was definitely the applewood smoked bacon; crisp without coming across as too dry, imbued with a nice smokiness and saltiness.
Available only on weekends, the signature beef tallow fries were pretty good; golden brown exterior with a lingering bovine aftertaste. Think McD's fries on a good day. The fries could do with a little more moisture though.
Both our burger combos came up to almost $53 which was quite pricey considering the size and quality of the burgers. In short, Omakase Burger was a let down and is nowhere near Suprette's offering, neither in size nor in taste.
Located near a corner of the swank The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, BSK prides itself on serving up a British European menu with fresh seasonal produce and takes up 2 levels of space (B1 and L1) at the mall. From our observations, the dining area on B1 is much smaller and consists mostly of bar counter seats as well as an open concept kitchen while L1 offers a more expansive dining area with lots of natural light (from the floor to ceiling glass panels) and views of the surrounding Marina Bay area.
Although the place markets itself as an informal dining space, there is a smart casual dress code listed on the website. But enforcement probably isn't strict as I did notice quite a few people in bermudas and slippers. Note to self to wear favourite pair of slippers next time round.
Complimentary Bread - Served barely lukewarm, the complimentary bread basket didn't quite impress and I must say that the bread roll was rather dense and compact (in a good way) but with an yeasty aftertaste.
Traditional Fish & Chips, Crushed Peas, Tartar Sauce - I'm usually not a huge fan of fish and chips but this was pretty decent; light, crispy batter coupled with mildly sweet, tender flesh. Accompanied by a richly smooth tartar sauce and a sweetly refreshing crushed pea puree (I think there was a sprinkling of thyme in it, which explains the lingering, mild mint like cooling effect). The fries were crisp and nicely salted but having said that, I'm more of a fan of shoestring fries.
Irish Angus Rib-eye Steak 12oz 28 Days Aged Grass Fed - Irish beef is purportedly gaining in popularity for its quality and if BSK's Irish Angus Rib-eye is anything to go by, I'm quite inclined to agree. The 12oz (~340g) piece of steak was done to an almost perfect medium rare, lightly salted, tender with bits of chewy fat and full of juicy flavour. At $68 (definitely not casual dining prices though), this could really give the steakhouses in Singapore like Morton's and Ruth's Chris a serious run for their money.
Macaroni Cheese with Garlic Roasted Crumbs - This was a side that was meant to be served together with our mains but unfortunately, the mac & cheese didn't show up till we were almost done. And if we hadn't asked halfway through, I'm not sure if it would even show up. The much longer than usual wait aside, the mac & cheese, though rich and cheesy with a nice crunch from the roasted crumbs, tasted more like béchamel sauce than cheese. Nothing like the mac & cheese from The White Rabbit (though I once had a nasty rendition from them ~ 2 years back)
Banana Sticky Toffee Pudding, Muscovado Caramel, Clotted cream - And on to desserts. Our toffee pudding tasted like a more refined version of the banana cake from Bengawan Solo; moist, with a rich banana taste and a sweet finish from the caramel. Not a big fan of clotted cream though.
Treacle Tart with Crème Fraiche Ice Cream - A traditional British dessert (and a favourite of Harry Potter), the treacle tart sported a crusty, uneven surface and a rather dry, crumbly filling on a base of rock hard pastry. I've never had a treacle tart before and this virgin exposure was somewhat pleasant although it did come across as overly sweet and a tad stodgy. Thank god for the crème fraiche ice cream, which helped to maintain a balance with its light sourish notes.
There was an issue with the Point of Sale (POS) system so we had to wait ~ 15 minutes for our final bill (our initial bill had apparently been settled with an unknown credit card number). Boo-boos aside, at close to $172 for 2 pax, it's honestly a little pricey, especially for the quality of food and the "informal/casual" labeling of the restaurant. Service was spotty (our bottle of water never got refilled until I asked) but the staff do try to be friendly.
Overall, BSK strikes me as a decent place to have a meal if you are at Marina Bay Sands but I wouldn't see it as a specific dining destination. Having said that, if BSK can iron out the kinks and refine their pricing strategy, I'll be happy to return, if only for the steak.
Common Man Coffee Roasters, a collaboration between Harry Grover of 40 Hands, Five Senses Coffee and the Spa Esprit Group (behind brands such as Skinny Pizza, Tiong Bahru Bakery, ODP etc) and one of the "in" places to have brunch at in recent days. Desperately wanting to feel young again, I made the long trek to Martin Road (cut throat parking charges!) to try and wrangle a table for brunch (they don't take reservations).
Full Breakfast - The Full Breakfast consisted of 2 free range organic eggs done in any style (I had mine poached), bacon, sausage, tomato salsa, chorizo hash brown, mushrooms and pork cannellini beans with artisanal sourdough toast. In all honesty, everything was pretty average and nothing really stood out. It was just a mixture of flavours that happened to find find themselves on the same plate. At $26 , this was really quite expensive.
A coffee and a breakfast platter cost almost $36. I usually wouldn't blink at such a price but quality of food really doesn't justify the price. So what brings locals and expatriates alike to CMCR? Is it the coffee? The food? The service? The sense of belonging? I really wouldn't know but I'm guessing it's not the food.
We dropped by Wildfire Kitchen for brunch one Saturday morning, in search of their highly raved about burgers. But alas, burgers weren't available till 12pm so we had to order off the breakfast menu.
Taking over the spot vacated by Hatched along the leafy stretch of Evans Road (just across the road from MOE), Wildfire Kitchen spots a cafe like amostphere with cement screed floors, metallic chairs, overhanging exposed tungsten light bulbs, free seating and a "pay and collect your food at the counter" ordering process.
Swiss Rösti - The rösti was deliciously crisp on the outside without coming across as overly charred whilst the scrambled eggs had a nice creaminess (a little less milk would be much appreciated though) to it. Best eaten with the chewy, mildly charred sourdough bread and the firm, savoury Toulouse pork sausage. Only gripe I had was that the salt content in the rösti seemed to be unevenly distributed; some parts were saltier than the others. Nonetheless, a pretty nice dish overall.
Wildfire Breakfast - Wildfire's namesake breakfast aka the big breakfast. Fresh tasting hash browns (no recycled oil taste), savoury Toulouse sausage, mushrooms, a choice of egg (I chose poached), crisp bacon, greens and toast. The eggs were mostly runny (a tad overcooked as a tiny part of the yolk had already hardened) and went well with the sourdough. Pretty decent as well.
Brunch for the both of us cost a relatively reasonable $52. Quality of food was a notch above average and I like that there's no service charge imposed. Do note that its cash or nets only so don't be caught unprepared like yours truly.
And I went back during lunch one weekday to specially try out their burgers.
The Works - This had everything thrown in (120 day grain fed beef patty, baby spinach, bacon, rösti, Parmesan crisp, onion rings, fried egg, tomatoes, beer caramelised onions, guacamole and signature sauce) and was it a feast for the eyes; the sheer monstrosity of all the ingredients stacked up layer by layer and culminating in a beautifully (but partially) glazed bun. Unfortunately it wasn't quite as good as it looked. By virtue of the many ingredients, there were too many competing flavours in every mouthful and it was difficult to have all the flavours gel together. Sometimes less really is more. That aside, the patty (done to a requested medium) was a little too mushy for my liking and the buns could do with a little more time on the griddle to achieve a nice crisp. Still a decent burger nonetheless but it definitely won't be near the top of my list that's for sure. Maybe their basic or specialty burgers might fare better.
And of course the bill. I'll probably return just to have another burger before coming to a conclusion. But for now, I still very much prefer Suprette.