It was not too long ago when De Burg (a decent burger outfit which has since moved to Kallang) was still situated at the rather quiet coffeeshop along Blk 119 Bukit Merah Lane 1. In the space of a about a year, much has changed and the same coffeeshop is now bustling with stalls selling different produce and crowds patiently queuing up for a table. One such stall that has moved in is Immanuel French Kitchen, a much publicised (by the media) outfit selling fine French cuisine at seemingly affordable prices.
Duck Rillettes - Served up in a tin container alongside another tin of gherkins and a platter of sliced, rather dry and hard baguette, the duck rillettes came across as decent; Generous and well shredded with a nicely smooth, oily finish. Would have been better if it had been a little creamier and a little less salty.
Pork Belly Braised In Kakuni Style Served With Duxelle Mushrooms, Onsen Egg & Potato Foam - This dish was a little east meets west as the pork belly was done Kakuni style (simmered in dashi, soya sauce, mirin, sugar and sake and popular in Nagasaki). The belly was relatively tender but had quite a fair bit of fat, giving it a nice wobbly texture but also a rather nauseating effect. Amidst the richness of the pork belly and a quivery onsen egg sporting a runny center (topped unfortunately with bacon bits that tasted straight off the shelves), the duxelle mushrooms provided a commendable earthy complement whilst the lightly smooth potato foam and croutons dispensed the necessary carbohydrates. Pretty decent but honestly it was the potato foam that impressed me more than anything else.
1 duck rillettes and 1 pork belly dish for a grand total of $25.50. Whilst I appreciate the thought and effort that has gone into both dishes, I personally do feel that $16.90 is a bit too much to pay for the pork belly, given the quantity (not much!) and setting of the place (coffeeshop). But to be fair, food quality is a notch or two above average so that should count for something I guess?
I had been meaning to try Les Amis for the longest time and the wife and I finally got down to it one sunny Saturday afternoon. Les Amis has been around for 20 years and is regarded as one of the pioneers of independent French fine dining in Singapore. It has also consistently appeared in various rankings as one of the top restaurants in Asia and the world (ie. 14th in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants by San Pellegrino in 2013 and 2014). Expectations were high, naturally.
I like the high ceiling and chandelier but couldn't quite wrap my head around the two levels of seating (the 3 private rooms are on the mezzanine floor whilst the normal seating is on the ground floor. Maybe it's just me but I didn't get a very good vibe upon stepping in; The place just seemed a tad too stuffy for my liking.
Complimentary Bread - A decent enough basket of bread to quell any growling pangs before the meal proper. This proved to be very useful later on.
White Asparagus In "Blanc Mange", Oscietra Caviar - The white asparagus came in the form of a blancmange (flavoured dessert made from glutinous or starchy ingredients and milk), which came across as creamy and smooth with a distinctive asparagus taste amidst a mousse like texture. Topped with caviar for that salty slant and aesthetically surrounded by a ring of sour cream to cut through the fishiness of the caviar. Nice but too much of sour cream and blancmange together can be a tad nauseating. A very decent start nonetheless!
Warm Lobster Encased Within Baby Spinach Accompanied By Classic Fish Bone Sauce - I couldn't quite make out the significance of the baby spinach leaf as the taste didn't quite feature but the warm lobster encased within was very good; crunchy with flavours accentuated by the creamy yet not too rich fish bone sauce. And finished off with salty fish roe. I liked this dish but found it tiny and a tad overly fishy.
Angel Hair Pasta With Lobster, Crispy Sakura Ebi And A Touch Of Parmesan - First impressions, "god it's tiny!". Al dente angel hair pasta topped with small, crunchy lobster pieces, crisp sakura ebi that provided a nice crunch and chilli flakes for that mild fire; All simmered in a broth that had a beautiful crustacean flavour to it. Only gripes I had were that it was a tad too salty (and believe me, I have quite a high salt tolerance level) and that it tasted rather pedestrian, like a more refined version of 虾面 (prawn noodles).
Hot Souffle Of Reine-Claude With A Refreshing Yoghurt Sorbert - The Reine-Claude (greengage) souffle was a tad soggy but relatively light. Served with a mildly sour yet sweet yoghurt sorbert. Pretty nice way to end off the meal.
Petit Fours - Lemon madeleines and vanilla canelés. Not great, especially the canelés, which came across as bitter and hard on the outside. The lemon madeleines fared slightly better, sporting crisp edges and a mild lemony taste.
Remember the basket of bread at the beginning of the meal and how I mentioned it was useful later on? Well, with the portion sizes, I definitely needed the bread to fill me up. And even so, I was left rather unsatisfied. Decently competent food but lacking the spark in my humble opinion. At almost $165 for a 2 pax lunch and with all its credentials, I was certainly expecting more; More creativity, more outstanding flavours. But sadly, both seemed to be a little lacking. Service was professional but reserved. So is Les Amis past its prime? Maybe...
We were on the lookout for pancake places in Singapore when we chanced upon Little Pancakes, a little shop on the ground level of an apartment along Upper Thomson Road. To be honest, it was the cute pancake pictures that attracted us.
The interior isn't big, with capacity maxing out at about 10 pax or so but it has this cosy cafeish vibe to it; Dark walls, wooden furniture and cute little signs like the one above. Ordering and payment is done at the counter and your food will be served to you.
Big Fan Of All Day Breakfast - What a mouthful! The name of the dish, that is. And it came with ten mini pancakes (side of syrup), scrambled eggs, a couple of mini sausages, potato salad and greens. The pancakes were soft with a little fluffiness and mildly sweet. Being snack sized, there was no issue of the flour being undercooked in the middle but I would have liked the accompanying syrup to be a tad thicker (tasted very similar to the hotcake syrup from McD). As for the scrambled eggs, it also tasted similar to what the golden arches serve albeit a little more moist while the sausages were well, your off the rack sausages. If that's insufficient, the creamy potato salad will fill you up real fast! Pretty decent.
Chick & Cheesy - This was essentially two layers of cheese sandwiched between two mini pancakes and topped off with mini sausage. Pretty decent and something that might appeal to your inner child. The only difference between this and the All Day Breakfast is the cheese, which comes in lieu of the scrambled eggs. Personal preference really but do note that this is slightly cheaper.
Brunch for 3pax with drinks cost just over $41, which is relatively reasonable given that there is no service charge or GST. Food quality is decent (pancakes are above average) and miles better than Batter Fluffy Flaps in my humble opinion. Worth a stop if you are in the area but I wouldn't make a trip specially to eat here.
Had dinner with a couple of friends at Seasons Bistro, an American styled bistro that has garnered pretty good reviews since its opening a couple of months back.
Located on the ground floor of Triple One Somerset (the former PUB building) and playing neighbour to Imperial Treasure Windows of Hong Kong and Imperial Treasure Steamboat (which I personally don't find that great), Seasons features a down to earth wooden interior with huge wall to ceiling glass panels for a view of the exterior pedestrian walkway.
Season's Poutine ($10 ) - I love my poutine and even though Season's poutine was specifically recommended in quite a few reviews, it was quite a let down in my humble opinion. Sure, the fries were moist but where was the lightly crisp skin? Also, the gravy was a tad too bland and the Stripey Jack cheese came in cubes, not mildly gooey curds, which is one of the hallmarks of poutine. I will take gladly take Triple O's version over this anytime.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($22 ) - After a rather disappointing start, this Southern dish of buttermilk fried chicken perked things up a little though it did look rather dry on the outside. Thankfully the meat was flavourful and juicy with a nice crunch from the skin. 3 rather small pieces, served with a side of corn salad.
Banana Split ($12 ) - Season's deconstructed banana split. Done to an almost perfect disaster. 1 rock hard scoop of vanilla bean ice cream coupled with a dash of nutella and 2 pieces of caramalised bananas (goreng pisang) that came coated with a limp layer of flour and lacked any sweetness or taste for that matter. The granola nut crumbs gave this dish a slightly chewy taste which I personally didn't like; Crushed nuts would have suited better in my humble opinion.
1 poutine, 1 chicken and 1 dessert cost me about $52 nett. Expensive? Quantitatively speaking, not really. But qualitatively, yes. General food quality was average at best and definitely not worth the price paid. Service was pretty decent though and the restaurant offers a relatively quiet place to catch up with friends in Orchard road over dinner but unfortunately that's just not enough.
The Royal Mail had been around for about 2 years but it was never on our to dine at list for one reason or another. We finally decided to give it a shot one Friday evening before the wife took off for an extended work trip to Korea.
Occupying a spot in Ascott Raffles Place, the restaurant's name is inspired by its location, where a former British post office once stood. And it serves up "modern British cuisine" of course.
The restaurant is situated on the second floor, up a flight of stairs that open up right into the oddly shaped dining area whilst the bar takes up a small corner on the first floor. If you value your privacy, it might be a good idea to request for seats further in and not along the stairway, especially on a busy night.
Complimentary Bread - Puff pastry with brie cheese - Now that's something you don't get very often. Soft and moist with a nice cheesy nuance. I did find it a wee bit too oily though.
Amuse Bouche - The amuse bouche was a classic duck rillette on toast; nice but not creamy enough with a mildly spicy kick. Still a good start nonetheless!
The Royal Mail Caesar Salad - Our quintessential greens for the evening, the humble Caesar salad. Spiced up with bacon strips, a nicely poached egg, strips of cheese and toasted bread. Nothing too fancy but it kept the positive momentum going.
Sous-Vide Half Maine Lobster - That's a pretty small lobster if you ask me but it was good. Crunchy meat cooked to a perfect consistency and served with a shard of crisp ibérico ham and a slice of mildly sweet Japanese pumpkin, sitting in a pool of rich emulsified butter sauce.
Roasted Whole Chicken - The roasted chicken needed quite a fair bit of work, coming across as bland and uninspiring. The accompanying chermoula sauce was just plan oily and we had a hard time finishing the chicken, small as it was.
Roast Prime Rib - A signature of the restaurant, we had the classic cut (280g), which came served with delicious sauteed Brussels sprouts topped with pine nuts and blue cheese, a roasted whole garlic and Yorkshire pudding. Done up medium well instead of medium as per my request, the prime rib was quite good; Thickly cut, succulent and tasty. I didn't quite fancy the Yorkshire pudding though, which was neither crisp nor hot.
Truffle Risotto - The side of truffle risotto was al dente and beautifully creamy and fragrant with chunks of mushroom in it. Delicious!
Chocolate Fondant - Nicely moist fondant with a molten chocolate center and served with a scoop of lacklustre vanilla bean ice cream and deliciously crunchy chocolate soil with freeze dried raspberries atop. I personally loved the texture and tartness that the chocolate soil, dried raspberries combination brought to this dessert.
Banoffee Tart - A pretty decent rendition of one of my favourite western desserts (I have many by the way), the banoffee tart sported a crisp tart shell with a filling of banana, crumble and toffee, topped with a dollop of cream and dusted with cocoa powder. The salted caramel sauce could have featured a little more prominently and the bananas could have been a little more moist whilst the tart would have been better with a little more baking in my humble opinion.
With a 50% discount, the bill for the both of us came up to a mere $105, which is a rather good deal considering the very decent quality and quantity of food (with the exception of the chicken). Service was excellent; Personal without coming across as overbearing. At such a price point and quality, I'll be hard pressed to find an excuse not to revisit.