A new steakhouse, Bull & Butcher, recently opened up in town and I had the opportunity to drop by to sample a couple of its signature dishes, courtesy of the restaurant. The eatery attempts to differentiate itself from the other steakhouses by offering diners a view of the butchers in the kitchen (dressed in traditional chain mail aprons, no less) slicing up their choice of meat. And in case you are wondering if it is in the same league as the big boys (Morton's, Ruth Chris etc), no it definitely isn't. Price wise at least.
Occupying a rather prominent unit just next to the main entrance of Plaza Singapura along Orchard Road, Bull & Butcher doesn't come across as very big but there is an outdoor alfresco area if you prefer Singapore's humidity and heat (not to mention cigarette smoke). Inside, tables are spaced decently apart which makes for relaxing conversation but the overall design isn't much to rave about - very much like your typical western restaurant.
Prawn Cocktail ($14) - Dinner kick started with a prawn cocktail, which featured huge, crunchy prawns amidst an avalanche of thousand island sauce. Decent.
Roast Whole Garlic ($8) - This was actually a side and although I do like garlic, I don't quite relish the experience of eating it whole with skin and all. But that's just a personal preference.
Crab Cake, Sundried Tomato Sauce ($16) - The crab cake had a generous amount of crab meat but the breaded coating probably wasn't the best way to encapsulate the crab meat due to the absorption of oil. And the sundried tomato sauce failed to capture the intense burst of tangy, mildly sweet flavour that I had hoped for. Instead, it had a mild curry tinge to it for an Asian slant. Fusion maybe? Personally I still prefer the renditions from Morton's and Ruth's Chris.
Australian Wagyu Bolognaise Pasta ($26) - I'm of the humble opinion that good beef should never be minced because it would affect the texture and taste of the beef. And this pasta dish wasn't about to change my mind. Minced beef coupled with a rather mild tomato based sauce and less than al dente tagliatelle made for an average, carbohydrate laden dish.
Braised Australian Wagyu Beef Cheek ($38) - Melt in the mouth tender beef cheek sitting on a bed of charmingly smooth mashed potato and a stock that's not overwhelmingly sweet - what's not to like? Well maybe the price to portion ratio. But that aside, this was easily one of the best dishes of the evening in my humble opinion.
Petit Tender - The petit tender or "beef shoulder tender" is a small centre cut beef tenderloin which lies below the flat iron steak and is known to be of similar quality to the filet mignon. This cut isn't used much as it apparently requires a certain level of skill to extract. And it is currently exclusive to Bull & Butcher (off the menu though!).
First looks, the medallion shaped piece of meat was of reasonable thickness and done up medium rare. Natural flavours were drool worthy and accentuated through the use of a little salt seasoning. The only gripe I had was that the meat came across as a tad too dry for my liking.
Pear and Chocolate Crumble, Vanilla Ice Cream ($12) - And for desserts, pear and chocolate crumble served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The crust lacked the oven baked taste whilst the chocolate came across as a little underwhelming. But on the bright side, I loved the little wayward chunks of crumble.
Popped by Bistro Du Vin's original outlet one sunny weekday afternoon for lunch with a couple of my colleagues. Promising to serve up honest to goodness classical French food, the restaurant is one of the many brand names under the Les Amis umbrella.
Located on the 2nd floor of Shaw Centre, Bistro Du Vin plays neighbour to a Vietnamese Restaurant and of course it's upmarket sibling, Les Amis. The interior is reminiscent of a typical French brasserie, from the red walls right down to the tiled floor. However, tables are spaced a little too close for comfort which makes normal conversations a tad difficult. Proper sound proofing is also lacking and the entire place sounds like a market when running at full capacity.
Complimentary Bread - The bread was a simple and simple crusty baguette served with orange butter. Pretty nice and a great way to stave off the hunger pangs.
White Asparagus Velouté - I honestly didn't quite take to the white asparagus veloute, which was a little too runny for my liking. There was also a bitter aftertaste to it - something which I certainly didn't appreciate.
Char Grilled Australian Angus Ribeye - This required a top up of $10 to the price of the set lunch but it was well worth it in my humble opinion. Done up medium as per my request, the meat was flavourful and juicy with hints of smokiness from the char grilling. The accompanying truffle mash ( $3 ) was smooth and fragrant as well and the truffle honestly helped elevate what would have been a boring, bland side of mash.
However, in a subsequent visit, I had the exact same thing and it was still good, just that the salt content was a little too high for my liking.
Walnut Tart - And for desserts I had a pretty good walnut tart - solid tart base with walnuts set amidst rich chocolate and caramel filling. Between this and the Pink Tiramisu which I had on my subsequent visit, I honestly preferred this (though the pink tiramisu was something different). Served up with a scoop of real vanilla bean ice cream.
The standard lunch set is a reasonable $30 but it is the top ups that really "upsize" the bill. Still, food quality is pretty decent and I especially like their steaks. Service is rather clinical and lacks warmth though - an area that the restaurant might want to look into.
Twas the weekend before Mother's day so we decided to beat the crowds (not to mention the ridiculously priced menus) and celebrate beforehand. A decision was made to try out Majestic Restaurant this year and honestly, my expectations were high as many people have raved about it.
The place wasn't big and the interior leaned towards western influences rather than Chinese, with a huge open kitchen and booth seats. We had a corner booth to ourselves which was pretty nice and cosy although I must say that the air conditioning that evening was underwhelming.
Wasabi Chips - Things got off to a good start with the wasabi chips - lightly salted, thin and crisp chips with a mild wasabi kick. Pretty addictive.
Pan Seared Foie Gras - Served up on a slice of watermelon, the foie gras's crisp, well seared exterior belied a soft quivery composition whose sweetness was complemented by that of the watermelon. One of the best foie gras dishes I've ever eaten in a Chinese restaurant.
Double Boiled Sea Treasures with Superior Shark's Fin and Black Truffle - I thought that the soup was deliciously sweet yet light. It definitely helped that there was a plethora of ingredients, from baby abalone to sea cucumber, fish maw, dried scallops, chicken etc. I'm usually not much of a soup person but this was one soup that had me yearning for more. One question though, where is the truffle taste?
Deep Fried Brinjal with Pork Floss - I actually dislike brinjal but this dish was surprisingly quite palatable, with a crisp coating of flour and pork floss, very much like tempura. What I didn't quite take to was the oil content though.
Scallops Wrapped with Bacon - Looks can be deceiving and the scallops wrapped with bacon was one prime example of that. The scallops were huge and the bacon looked like it had nice charred bits along the edges. Alas, the scallops weren't sweet and had a flour like texture whilst the bacon came across as soft and limp. Seriously seriously disappointing.
Salted Egg Yolk Prawn - A seemingly common dish in most Chinese restaurants these days, Majestic's variation came with slices of watermelon and chopped mango. The prawns were quite a size but I couldn't make out any taste or texture of egg yolk. Decent but there are probably loads of restaurants that do this dish better.
Zhejiang Spare Ribs - This was another disappointing dish, with the meat coming across as too hard. But at least the zhejiang vinegar was nicely tart with a hint of sweetness.
Signature Stewed Mee Sua with Baby Abalone - As much as I would like to understand the hype behind this signature dish, I am afraid I fail to comprehend. For starters, the baby abalone was, well, tiny and the soup base wasn't flavourful enough nor was the Mee Sua (面线) silky enough. Overall, a rather average dish in my humble opinion.
Signature Claypot Chicken Rice - Another signature dish from Majestic - the Claypot Chicken Rice. I can't say that I was wowed by it as it was evidently high class chicken rice. Sure, the rice was more fragrant than usual and less oily while the chicken was tender and reasonably plentiful. But seriously?
Durian Paste - We opted for the Mao Shan Wang (猫山王) durian paste to end off our meal and whilst rich, it didn't taste any different from eating straight out of the fruit as the gula melaka taste was non existent. Maybe I should have gone for the fried durian ice cream instead.
One word. Overrated. Dinner was a case of more misses than hits and wasn't cheap by any yardstick, standing at about $577 for 6 pax ($96/pax). Service was very good but I don't think that justifies the high price tag and less than stellar quality of food. I am pretty sure with $96/pax, I can get seriously better food elsewhere. Also, the choice of music played in the restaurant is pretty weird. Why would you play English pop music in a Chinese restaurant?
Popped by Canton Paradise @ I12 Katong one weekday afternoon for some dim sum to chase away the weekday blues. I honestly would have preferred Wah Lok but didn't quite fancy jostling with the CBD crowd and it definitely helped that the porridge at Canton Paradise had a certain allure. Just for the record, as at time of writing, I've been to Canton Paradise a total of 9 times in 3 months, but this is probably going to be my only post on Canton Paradise (I am usually too famished during lunch to bother taking photos). And yes, I'm that crazy about dim sum.
The place is huge and sports a rather "ancient Chinese" decor with its uneven brick walls and wooden decorative panels. If you can stand the cold air conditioning, ask for a booth seat (2-4 pax) because the other tables are spaced a tad too close for comfortable conversation.
BBQ Combination - We had the combination platter of BBQ pork belly with honey sauce and roasted pork, of which the former was sinfully better with a high fat to meat ratio and smothered in gooey honey marinade. I personally like to eat the BBQ pork belly with the salted peanuts that are served alongside. Makes for a nice contrast in both areas of taste and texture. Unfortunately, the BBQ pork's skin wasn't crisp enough and I think they need to add in a wee bit more salt for flavouring.
Steamed Cheong Fun with BBQ Pork - The cheong fun featured translucent but rather limp skin with a reasonable amount of BBQ pork filling. Decent but no great shakes. And remember to eat immediately when served, lest it turns cold and clammy.
Steamed Prawn Dumplings - Fresh, crunchy prawns coupled with translucent but mildly elastic skin. Pretty decent.
Steamed Pork Dumplings - The "porkyness" of the siew mai wasn't too overwhelming and the fat to lean meat ratio was reasonable. As with most dim sum items, eat them while they are hot.
Century Egg Porridge with Lean Meat - I personally think the porridge, especially the 皮蛋瘦肉粥, at Canton Paradise is quite good and this is one of the main reasons why I keep coming back. Consistently sticky with visible rice grains and a subtle, savoury aftertaste. And that's coming from someone who doesn't take century egg. The meatball porridge is nice as well but a little on the bland side.
Baked BBQ Honey Pork Bun - This is reminiscent of the one I had at Tim Ho Wan in HK. Unfortunately, the standards did not quite match up. For starters, the base was overly oily and the BBQ pork wasn't gooey enough. Decent but try the real thing from Tim Ho Wan when it opens in Singapore!
If my memory serves me correct, the bill for this lunch came up to around $50, which is pretty much the range you pay for decent quality dim sum these days. However the staff did seem a little overwhelmed with the place running at almost full capacity, which naturally led to slower service and forgotten requests.
Popped by &Made by Bruno Menard for brunch one late Saturday morning since we were in the area. Read pretty good reviews about it and coupled with the fact that it is 3 Michelin Starred Chef Bruno Menard's (owner of the now defunct 3 star L'Osier in Tokyo) first restaurant in Singapore under his own name, we were pretty psyched about dining there.
&Made occupies one corner of the ground floor at Pacific Plaza and has a rather quirky (a cross between a typical 80's video game and Alice in wonderland) feel to it. Seating capacity isn't extensive, probably about 60 pax or so and the best pick seems to be that of the booth seats if you have no more than 4 pax. Interestingly, with all the hype surrounding the restaurant, it was practically empty, save for 2 tables.
The 'B' Burger - The 'B' Burger was a tad tinier than expected whilst the patty, though done a perfect medium well, came across as tender but a little dry. The onion confit atop also proved a little overwhelming and I could hardly make out any beefy taste from the patty. I did like the bread though, soft and lightly toasted. For sides, the truffle fries ( $3) was definitely a good choice, lightly salted with the strong fragrance of truffle oil. Overall still a pretty decent burger.
Viking Toastoo - It's the first time I'm seeing a Toastoo on a menu and apparently it is a new generation sandwich made with French buckwheat crepes (according to the menu). The viking version spotted smoked salmon, cream cheese, curry and broccoli, which sounded really interesting. Alas, it was nothing out of the ordinary. The sandwich had a crisp exterior with a stuffing of salmon (couldn't taste the smokiness unfortunately) and broccoli. The curry taste was hardly existent and honestly, the whole sandwich tasted healthily (probably due to all the broccoli) normal.
Lollipop Waffle - One of the rather quirky desserts on offer at &Made, the lollipop waffle. In actual fact, it is nothing more than a waffle cooked in a huge lollipop mold and served on a stick with 3 cylindrical containers of white, dark chocolate and caramel sauce respectively. But I did appreciate the visual creativity and the dessert looked almost too good to be eaten. However, the waffle did seem a little limp but credit goes to the consistency in cooking and the crisp edges. Not something I would personally order again for dessert though.
Hot Caramel Lava Cake - This, in my humble opinion, is the star of the entire evening, the pièce de résistance, if you may. Warm, not cloyingly sweet caramel oozing out of a fissure in the soft shell and served with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream coated with crispy flakes. Simply decadent! If you like your chocolate fondants, you should definitely try this.
The both of us literally stuffed ourselves and even had 2 smoothies to round up the meal, all at a cost of about $95. Cheap? Definitely not. The prices of individual items aren't really expensive per se but add everything up and the bill can be a tad alarming. After all, food quality is only slightly above average at best, save for the caramel lava cake. Service wasn't quite up to scratch with periods of inattentiveness.
To sum up, I think &Made offers a decent meal proposition in a nice setting but lacks actual finesse in its food (bar desserts) and service can definitely be improved.