Bird Bird moved to the east a couple of months back and I chanced upon it while dropping by Cedele (a few doors down) one afternoon a few months back. I was hooked and made it a point to visit shortly after. Just for the record, I have been there quite a few times for lunch/brunch ever since.
Bird Bird occupies a corner unit along Frankel Avenue and parking is limited to the private estate behind (however you are free to park anywhere you like as long as you are able to evade the rather frequent patrols by the traffic wardens). The interior is kept simple with cement screed floors and wooden tables.
Cornbread Waffles - At $3 a piece, the cornbread waffles were relatively pricey. But by golly, they were worth it. Mildly sweet with a rather significant corn taste and served with smoked maple syrup. Definitely my kind of carbs. Just watch out - they get cold and limp rather fast so eat them while they are hot/warm.
Black Truffle Mac & Cheese - This was delicious; Al dente macaroni coupled with a light fragrance from the black truffle bits and a not too creamily rich sauce nursing a tinge of zest to keep nausea at bay. Topped with shavings of cheese and croutons for an extra crisp.
Brown Sugar Bacon Chop - I loved this as well. The thick cut bacon chop was seared and coated with a thin, brittle layer of caramalised sugar; sweet with salty undertones. A little different from the renditions of both Peter Luger and Clinton Street Baking, which do without the evident layer of sugar but equally delicious.
Signature Fried Chicken - Our order of half chicken consisted of 5 pcs from wing to breast. It looked absolutely mouth watering but unfortunately I found the seasoning a little underwhelming and not thorough enough. The meat was tender, juicy and moist but the skin was a little bland and lacked the oomph I was hoping for (in this respect, Southern Bird @ Marina Bay Sands does a better job). The signature gravy tasted like runny mashed potato gravy. Maybe the other chickens taste better?
Durian Softie Pie - An absolute crowd pleaser, the toasted milk softie had a light browned taste to it without coming across as too sweet. Topped with a generous scoop of durian pudding, white chocolate, sitting on an almond crust base and drizzled with gula melaka caramel for an added sweetness. Delicious and definitely a great way to end off the meal.
Brunch cost the 2 of us ~ $81, which isn't exactly cheap but I think it's worth the price for the above average quality of food in general. Service is decent but just be aware that the ventilation isn't great so you will walk out of the place smelling like your meal. Weekday lunch sets offer a much better value proposition so it would make better sense to go during lunch (you can even top up $5 for a durian softie!)
We had been meaning to drop by Riders Cafe for the longest time but somehow never managed to get to it until one overcast Saturday morning when we decided to go off the beaten track.
Located at the Bukit Timah Saddle Club in a charming colonial style building, Riders Cafe boasts great ventilation and views of a field and horses (sometimes - not to mention the smells too). Which is great if the weather is cooling (not too common in Singapore though) and you enjoy dining alfresco. The place is a constant buzz so reservations are advisable (I witnessed a few people being turned away without one).
Fried Chicken BLT - The chicken patty was well marinated with spices and came across as mildly sweet but not too dry. Topped with coleslaw, rather weak kimchi mayonnaise and sandwiched between two rather insipid buns. Still palatable though.
Riders Burger - I opted for the works; added mushrooms, bacon rashers and an egg. The Angus beef patty had bits of fat in it which made for a nice chewy texture. However the bovine flavours were a little muted and the bacon, a little limp. I liked the smooth creaminess the egg yolk provided though; a sort of gooey glue that brought everything together. Buns needed more butter and time on the grill in my humble opinion. Decent burger overall but no great shakes.
Death By Chocolate Cake - This was very sinful and oh so good (I'm definitely biased). A luscious slice of moist chocolate cake slathered with mildly viscous chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of ice cream. Watch out for the sweetness overload though.
Salted Caramel Brioche - Salted caramel brioche topped with a scoop of vanilla (not vanilla bean) ice cream and honeycomb. I liked the flavours; salty yet sweet. Unfortunately the brioche was rather inconsistent in texture - some were crisp while others came across as limp and stodgy. A bigger scoop of ice cream would also have been appreciated as towards the end, the brioche got a little too salty and there was no ice cream left to "dilute" it. Still a decent dessert nonetheless.
Our bill came up to ~$74 for 2 burgers and 2 desserts which isn't too expensive but food quality in general hovered a notch above average at best and service, though proficient enough, didn't seem quite friendly. The place is nice but given Singapore's humid weather most of the time, ambience alone isn't a big enough draw for me to return.
Half Pound Burger (or HPB for short) sounded promising so we dropped by one Saturday afternoon to partake in their reasonably priced set lunch.
Located close to the start of Purvis Street, HPB occupies a simply furnished but comfortable unit just metres away from Saveur.
Soup Of The Day - It was either the Roasted Tomato Soup or the Potato Leek Soup for the set lunch so we went with the former. The tomato soup came across as rich but a little too zesty for my liking whilst the croutons were overly soggy, probably from sitting in the soup for an extended period of time.
Grilled Chicken Burger - The grilled chicken patty tasted rather similar to a huge piece of chicken satay but came across as a tad dry. Decent flavour though but maybe having a bit of sauce would make it better? Side of fries was okay though the dipping sauce was rather interesting; a mildly sweet and creamy butter base that actually went well with the fries.
Petite Half Pound Burger - As far as burgers go, this isn't anywhere near the best I've had but definitely not near the worst either. The patty was juicy though it was rather compact and strangely tough with a mild brovine flavour. Layered with Monterey Jack cheese, a strip of decent candied bacon (not as good as the one from Peter Luger or Clinton Street Baking or Bird Bird) and capped with a crisp, buttery bun (a wee bit more time on the grill would have been better in my humble opinion).
Sure the food at HPB isn't fantastic. But at $17 /pax for lunch (includes a drink), it's actually pretty decent value for money especially in the City Hall area.
A revisit 8 years in the making. And here we were, finally. Somehow we had never really made it to Chef's Gunther Hubreschen's eponymous restaurant because of all the new and "exciting" restaurants that had been popping up ceaselessly in the last decade or so.
The restaurant is divided into 2 dining areas and we were seated in the one with windows. Tables are spaced comfortably apart but due to the enclosed nature of the room, private conversations can be challenging unless one speaks in hushed tones (that's assuming the adjourning tables extend the same courtesy as well).
Complimentary Bread & Amuse Bouche - Things got off to a decent start with the complimentary bread; warm and crusty baguette served with a side of salty butter. Would personally prefer a fatter baguette though as that would highlight the contrast between the soft interior and crusty outside.
Amouse bouche was a singular prawn tempura with a dollop of mayonnaise. The batter came across as light but a little excessive so no great shakes.
Cold Angel Hair Pasta, Oscietra Caviar - One of Gunther's signature dishes and rightfully so, the decadent Cold Angel Hair Pasta with Oscietra Caviar. Served chilled, the pasta, doused with truffle oil and finely diced porcini mushrooms, came across as aromatic and al dente with a smorgasbord of flavours; savoury with a hint of saltiness and fishiness from the prized caviar. A most excellent dish.
Daily Special #1 - White asparagus was in season so we had it with morel mushrooms. Moist and tender with a rich nutty and earthy flavour from the morel mushrooms; simple yet delicious.
Daily Special #2 - Hokkaido scallops, shaved truffle and angel hair pasta; it sounded absolutely "droolicious". Well it sure would have made for a magical combination if the scallops (huge by the way) had a more robust sweetness to them. The angel hair pasta came across as warm and firm (though a little less al dente than the previous dish of chilled pasta with caviar) while the light butter sauce provided a nice creaminess with a fleeting hint of the earth from the truffle shavings.
Roasted Rack Of Black Pig, Gratin Potato, Forestiere - Another of Gunther's signature dish, the Roasted Rack of Black Pig was very well done with a good fat to meat ratio; juicily tender and flavourful with just a dash of salt and pepper. Served with a token of mushrooms and tempura long bean on a bed of roasted gooey cheese. Nothing too complicated and absolutely delicious.
Fine Apple Tart “à la dragée”, Havana Rum Raisin Ice Cream - Yet another of Gunther's signature and with good reason. Suitably sweet apple puree enveloped within a ridiculously crisp and thin shell sprinkled with a generous serving of crushed nuts and served with a scoop of rather strong rum and raisin ice cream. Definitely one of the best rendition of apple tart I've had in recent years.
Petit Fours - To end off, petit fours to further cram our already bursting tummies. Decent.
Food overall came across as grounded; nothing fanciful and generally excellent. Prices are a little dear though, at close to $395 for the both of us. But well worth the money in my humble opinion (if only for a special occasion!). Service was personable and unpretentious so that's another plus. Definitely coming back!
We had been itching to try Spago and the opportunity presented itself one Saturday afternoon when we had to drop by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) to settle some business. Spago is Wolfgang Puck's second restaurant @ MBS, with the first being CUT, an upmarket steakhouse. The Los Angeles flagship outlet of Spago had garnered 2 Michelin stars in 2008 and 2009 (Michelin pulled out of LA after that) so our expectations were reasonably high.
Taking the lift up to the 57th level brings you to the famed MBS infinity pool, where one of Spago's service staff will walk you to your table within the confines of a beautiful timber decked room with plenty of natural light (that's if you choose not to dine al fresco).
Served with salted nori butter and unsalted buter, the complimentary baguette and black olive focaccia came across as palatable but nothing to shout about. Somehow the European restaurants (ie. Joel Robuchon) tend to do better bread in my personal experience.
Chicken ‘Laksa’ Spring Roll - This local inspired appetiser was rather interesting. Spring roll skin deep fried till crackling crisp and filled with thick rice noodles and chicken - reminiscent of laksa especially when eaten with the dipping sauce.
Pan Seared Pork Dumplings - The 锅贴 or Gyoza was decent; not overly oily or porky with the skin retaining a light crisp. Simple yet refined.
Grilled Iberico Pork Secreto - Secreto or the "secret" cut apparently refers to different cuts of the Iberian pig, varying from individual to individual and there exists no common or universal standard to date; a clever marketing ploy to make people pay more. But I digress. The famed acorn fed Iberico pork strips were excellent; tender with a light charring along the exterior. Flavours were wonderful - savoury with a touch of earhiness from the mushrooms and sweetness from the pumpkin and chestnuts. Topped with light and crispy pork skin and deliciously smooth parsnip puree.
Grilled Angus Beef Burger - Nothing else really caught my attention on the menu so I went with the usually safe burger option. Unfortunately this didn't turn out as well as I would have liked it to. For starters, the patty was a tad too soft for my liking. I appreciate the hand chopped patty with its uneven texture and bits of fat but it had minimal beefiness to it. The buns were crisp along the edges but slathered with ketchup which isn't my default option for buns (butter is!). An average burger overall. Interestingly, the restaurant 56 floors down in the same tower serves a much better burger in my humble opinion.
Coconut-Passion Fruit Trifle - There wasn't a choice of dessert with the set lunch so the the Coconut-Passion Fruit Trifle it was. Tangy, sweet, smooth and crunchy (due to the rice krispies) all at once. Flavours were light and clean - pretty good. Only small gripe I had was the passionfruit seeds; I know they can be eaten but I'm personally not a fan.
Chocolate – Coffee Semifreddo - We got greedy and decided to share an additional dessert. Served with caramalised banana balls and banana cake cubes, the asthetically pleasing Chocolate Coffee Semifreddo came across as rather strong on the flavours (a juxtaposition to the previous Coconut Passion Fruit Trifle dessert) with a dominant coffee presence. Decent.
Lunch was a pleasant and leisurely affair. Food was decent overall (though not quite up to expectations) and didn't cost us an arm or a leg @ ~$134. Service was very good and so was the ambience. Personally would prefer to dine @ Sky 57 over Spago.