Heard that Friends was having a special promotion for dinner so popped down the Jelita outlet one weekday evening with my gf.
Located on the 2nd floor of Jelita Shopping Centre in the upclass residential area of Holland, Friends @ Jelita's interior was simply done up with nice leather seats. Very nice and clean feel till I spotted a table with empty plates and cutlery still on it and no one seemed to be taking the initiative to clear it. And no, the wait staff weren't busy. It wasn't until probably about 5 minutes after we had taken our seats were the plates unhurriedly cleared. Sadly, first impression speaks volumes.
Complimentary Bread - Served up in the folds of a napkin which obviously didn't do a good job of keeping it warm, the complimentary bread was average at best. Tasted like normal bread you could buy from any generic bakery in the heartlands.
Pan Seared Tuna with Nicoise Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette - The tuna was nicely seasoned with salt and pepper and pan seared till cooked on the outside but raw on the inside. Very nice and tasty. However I did find it a little too dry. And portions were rather dainty - 3 small slices of tuna.
Chicken Caesar Salad with Garlic Bread and Parmesan Biscuit - A most forgettable dish and one that relied soley on caesar salad dressing to give the whole dish taste. The chicken pieces were bland and rather soft.
Pan Seared Sakura Chicken Breast on Caramelised Pumpkin, Grilled Vegetables and Orange White Wine Reduction - As tantalising as the name may sound, the sakura chicken breast wasn't a big deal really. For one the meat tasted like normal chicken breast which you can get off the shelves at any supermarket. The caramelised pumpkin didn't exactly sit well with me as the sweetness of the pumpkin didn't blend well with the caramel in my humble opinion.
Peppered Sliced Beef Tenderloin with Sautéed Spaghetti & Vodka-Tomato Sauce - The spaghetti was overcooked, coming across as a tad too soft, which also happens to be the bane of the sliced beef. Taste but no texture. Probably the only saving grace was the tomato based sauce which was relatively light with a nice tinge of smoky after taste.
Chef Kenneth’s Gourmet Trio of Chocolate Desserts - This name bearing dessert was a letdown. Very very ordinary if you ask me. Put 3 small pieces of chocolate and mousse together and viola, you get Chef Kenneth's gourmet trio of chocolate desserts. Very chocolaty, which is good if you are a chocolate addict.
Coconut Panna Cotta - Another average dessert, the quivery but a little glutinous coconut panna cotta carried an evident taste of coconut without the raspberry sauce being too overwhelming. It should/could have been good but more work probably needs to be done on the texture first.
$47 for an average dinner for 2 isn't really that expensive honestly, especially when theres service and ambience thrown in as well. But quality of food here really needs to buck up and I believe I'm not the only one who thinks so.
See all my pictures here.
Having read a few rave reviews about Friends @ Jelita, and armed with their $50 voucher (for every $150 spend), I was looking forward to spend a wonderful evening with a few of my friends. We were surprised to find the restaurant empty on a Thursday evening when we arrived. After ordering, we were served the complimentary bread, and unlike the dip I had @ Wild Rocket, this one comes with Balsamic Vinaigrette along with olive oil.
However, the food took surprisingly long to arrive considering that there were only 2 other tables that arrived after us. After 40 minutes, the starter of Pan-fried Corn Fed Duck Liver paired with Rhubarb & Apple Coulis finally arrived. The combination created a remarkable and appealing contrast in tang – the slightly sweet and sour sauce counterbalance the creamy well fried duck liver – giving this dish a invigorating twist. This was definitely the best dish for the evening.
The next dish that came along was the Timbale of Salmon Tartare, Guacamole and Caviar. I liked the fact that salmon was not too fine, giving the tartare a bite and the creamy taste of the guacamole also complements well, but somehow the salmon tasted fishy and my friends suspected it wasn’t fresh.
We waited a further more for the mains to arrived and I opted the Grilled 100 Days Grain-Fed Ribeye Steak served with Garlic Waffles, Sautéed Vegetables & Veal Jus. However, when I thought the “medium rare” Ribeye I had at Aston Prime was bad, this was absolutely ridiculous! I did my usual first cut at the side and it was done well – the second cut right in the middle of the steak followed and not a hint of pink was in sight. My right mind would have told me to return the steak back to the kitchen, but considering that we waited so long for the mains, I decided to stuff the piece of tough meat down my throat just to satisfy my hunger.
Dessert was Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake served with Ice Cream. Even though I was pretty appalled that the strawberries that came with the dessert was more yellow and white rather than red, the chocolate cake on the whole still looks delicious especially when it’s being halved, with the molten chocolate gushing and oozing out. Although the dessert is made fresh upon ordered, the chocolate that was used taste seemingly low grade, leaving a bad aftertaste at the end.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this place as I expected the food to be much better. Service wise wasn’t as fantastic, but the only aspect that won me over was the fact that it is a great place to gather for a small group of friends for a nice quiet dinner.
You can view the photos and other reviews @ His Food Blog.
Jelita seems an unlikely place to go to, with the main draw being Cold Storage, a video-shop, couple of other shops. However thats precisely where Friends are situated. A Modern European restaurant which proclaims to offer casual fine dining, Friends @ Jelita is just a stone throw away from the popular Holland Village, but offers you the serene environment which the latter could not afford with the omni-present large crowd there.
Having signed up as a member with Friends online at its website, i received a $50 voucher for every $150 spend, or a 1-for-1 Executive Set Lunch/Dinner promotion. Armed with the coupon, my companion and me made our way to Jelita, and arrived at 1250pm. Being a monday, we were not surprise to see the restaurant quite empty, but there were still some patrons though. The staff there told us that Monday is usually a good time to visit Friends as there are less customers, and you probably will not want to come here on a weekend as that’s when the families bring their kids along.
The first notion that striked me was the decorations and furnitures presented in the restaurant. The comfy grey large seats definitely make us feel at home. The lighting was dimmed, which creates a tranquil atmosphere. On the other hand, it pose a predicament to food bloggers because the poor lighting makes the photos turn out not-as-good, that is not a problem if you are a pro at photoshop.
There are two types available, the Classic Set Lunch and the Executive Set Lunch, with Executive being more expensive among the both, undoubtedly the level of standard demand will be higher. It was only sensible to order the Executive Set Lunch since it was 1-for-1. But i was intially sceptical to how good the Set Lunch can be, as the a la carte menu are all priced reasonably higher than that of the set lunch. Friends proved me wrong in this, the executive set lunch ($24.90 ) albeit being limited in options, is certainly value for money.
Australian Garden Salad
Each Set Lunch comes with the Australian Garden Salad. Topped with dried fruits, raspberry vinaigrette, the hors d’oeuvre is positively a good way to begin the meal.
Soup of the day
Mushroom soup with a hint of mashed potatos. This was good until we tried the other wild forest mushroom soup. The latter makes the mushroom soup seems ordinary. Actually its not bad, just that the mushroom soup meet its match with the wild forest mushroom, which is a tad better.
Wild Forest mushroom Soup (Additional Upgrade of $2)
This is the one that makes the Soup of the day seems inferior. Well, you always expect more especially when there is an additional upgrade of $2. The Wild forest mushroom soup does not fails to deliver taste-wise, it is a good appetizer as the soup helps to unlock our tastebuds for the rest of the meal.
Sautèed chicken fillet
For our first main course, we had the Sautèed chicken fillet which was complemented with dried chili, rosemary & garlic anchovy. The first bite of the chicken tells it all, the fillet was tender and soft, It was unlike what normal chicken taste like, Friends re-defined the chicken experience, this certainly impressed me.
The sauce of the chicken fillet was equally good. The dried chili, rosemary & garlic anchovy combinations creates a unique taste. Sometimes the sauce of a dish gets so strong that it cover the meat, but thats not the case at Friends. The chicken fillet with the sauce seems to harmonize and blend with each other, which brings us the Sautèed chicken fillet.
Oven Baked Salmon fillet
Topped with Cajun crust & lemon butter sauce, the Oven Baked Salmon fillet is another winner which bright up our meal. The cripsy cajun crust on the exterior of the salmon was complemented by its soft interior.
The lemon butter sauce has a cheesy taste, and we almost mistook it for cheese. Both mains are accompanied by mashed potatos toppled with mixed vegies. My companion had a slight issue with the salmon though. Being a big fan of salmon, she remarked that the fillet was slightly dried as compared to the other salmons she had previously. Otherwise, the salmon will be faultless.
The pretty sight makes us admire the Cappuccino for a while before we harden our heart and stirred the coffee.
Dessert of the day
To end off our meal, we had egg crustard for desserts. This one is good, egg crustard underneath the breaded top. Every spoonful of egg crustard taste warm, like straight from the oven. We felt that it’s rather similar to whats more commonly known to us, egg tarts.
Total bill for two executive set lunch was $60.6, under the 1-for-1 promotion, we paid $31.70 for the delightful lunch. The set lunch and dinner at Friends are definitely value-for-money, and should worth your try unless you want to go for the a la carte menu. The service-wise are definitely one of the better ones which i encountered on my food experience so far, the staff are polite, knowledgable and a smile is always on their face which make diners feel welcome.
By the way, we took slightly more than 1 half hours to finish our lunch, so i thought it might not be so good if you visit Friends during your lunch work break. This is one place where they waited for you to finish the starter before serving on the soup, the main, the dessert and the drink. So really it all depends on how fast you approach your dishes. My companion and I were starving when we start the meal with the salad and soup, so we were wondering when will then they served the main course. Well, if the main course is what you want, advice will be to finish the starters fast and get on with the main.
All in all, the dining experience at Friends is no doubt a pleasant one, which my companion and i both very much enjoyed. I would say this is the place where you can really have your Casual Fine Dining without really burning a hole in your pocket. For people who felt that fine-dining equates to dress-up, this is not a issue at Friends. Whether you are decked out in suits and ties, or your comfy jeans & t-shirts, you’ll be welcome at Friends all the same. On a side note, if you are driving, remember to call the restaurant for directions, as free private parking are available for diners. The next visit to Friends again, will be for their executive set dinner, or A la carte menu. And lastly i’ll like to thank my companion for accompanying me on this lovely lunch. In the company of a good friend, it just makes the meal at Friends better.
You are always welcome to visit ladyironchef for a full-up on this trip. Whatever written above are my geniune feelings expressed in words that may be subjected to my personal distortion or bias. Please do not feel emotional or distress should you have any violent objections. Kindly click the little X at the upper, extreme right of your screen if negative adjectives would be derived. Otherwise, feel free to furnish me with comments, may it be positive or negative : )
” Modern European Cuisine at its finest “
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