La Strada has been around for quite a while but after our rather uninspiring lunch at Les Amis (sister restaurant under the same umbrella) a few months back, I wasn't too keen on dining at La Strada. But as fate would have it, I had an errand to run in the vicinity so decided to drop by for a quick lunch, seeing that the place was relatively empty on a Monday afternoon.
Located just next to Bistro Du Vin (which serves great set lunches by the way), La Strada sports a compact, cosy interior with red tiled floors, wooden tables and chairs against a yellow backdrop. I opted for one of the 3 small tables by the window for a view of the adjourning walkway but do note that means the passersby see you as well.
Carbonara - La Strada's signature Carbonara; didn't look like much but every bit an excellent dish. Beneath the thin, al dente, homemade guitar string pasta lay a confit of egg yolk which added to the creaminess of the dish when the yolk broke. Sprinkled with crisp but a touch overly salty lardo crumble (salumi, an Italian cold cut made by curing strips of pork with herbs and spices) for that extra crunch, this dish also boasted a rich fragrance and earthiness courtesy of the truffle butter sauce. Delicious without coming across as nauseating. But to be fair, I guess that in part has to do with the portion size, which was really quite small. I would probably need at least 2 bowls to fill myself up but at $28 a pop, it's definitely not that affordable. One of the best Carbonara I've had to date.
Tiramisu - Served up in a bowl and dusted with chocolate flakes (not the usual cocoa powder), the mascarpone cheese to sponge ratio was pretty good but unfortunately, the bottom of the sponge came across as very soggy from soaking in too much of the Kahlua. Topped with coffee lookalike, chocolate beans. Decent but not outstanding.
Lunch cost me about $54 and prices are undeniably on the high side for a relatively casual restaurant and the small portions. In this aspect, the set lunch @ $35 does seem like a more viable alternative, just that you won't find the signature Carbonara listed as one of the options. Service came across as rather friendly and good. I'll definitely be happy to return for the Carbonara when the craving hits.
We had read reviews and seen pictures of the nostalgia packed Brunches Cafe and were very much drawn to its decor. So it was with much anticipation that we dropped by one lazy Saturday late morning for brunch.
Just ~ 5 minutes from Farrer Park MRT (parking is very limited), Brunches Cafe's interior is a blast from the past, with nostalgic knick knacks, movie posters, furniture, and a dissected morris mini with its bonnet holding a selection of condiments. A little reminiscent of W39 Bistro and Bakery (which was plain disappointing by the way), just more elaborate.
Nachos with Cheddar Cheese Sauce - The chips tasted bland and straight out of a packet whilst the cheddar cheese dip was rather stingy and watery. I hate to say this but the nachos you get at the cinemas in Singapore (GV, Cathay) taste better because the nachos have a mildly spicy kick to them and the cheese sauce is alot richer.
Shrimp Aglio Olio - Less than al dente but mildly spicy spaghetti coupled with reasonably sized, crunchy but bland prawns made for a very average shrimp aglio olio. Bonus points for the fragrance though.
Baked Egg with Bacon - The baked egg was cooked on the outside but runny inside with an oozing yolk and bits of transparent egg white whilst the bacon was limp and came across as soft and rather fatty - nauseating. Thankfully the side of mushrooms was earthy and the slice of white toast, crisp. Average at best.
Our average brunch for 2 cost to the tune of $41.80, which isn't expensive but food quality doesn't go past average. We were so uninspired by the food that we didn't bother staying for desserts. Service was okay but I don't understand the service charge especially when we had to order and pay at the counter and help ourselves to the iced water. The only thing Brunches Cafe has going for it is its decor but I don't think that's sufficient to warrant a revisit, especially since Jewel Cafe down the road serves slightly better food in my humble opinion.
Back in 2009, we were contemplating between dining at Joël Robuchon (currently the chef with the most Michelin stars to his name - 25 stars) or Guy Savoy in Paris and ended up choosing the latter. 6 years on, we finally stepped foot into Joël Robuchon's first foray into Singapore, the eponymous Joël Robuchon Restaurant (opened in April 2011), for lunch. Gosh, what a long time coming.
If you enter by the main entrance, turning right after the door will bring you to Joël Robuchon Restaurant (left brings you to L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, the more casual outfit). The main dining area strikes one as posh and sombre, with a beautiful chandelier as the centerpiece. The adjourning indoor winter garden strikes a stark contrast with a classy yet cheery appeal, sporting a glass roof to allow plenty of natural light in.
There is a smart elegant dress code but I guess it's not strictly enforced (I spotted some guys wearing t shirts and shorts).
Amuse Bouche - A calamansi jelly flavoured with vanilla, topped with anisette cream; a little too tart for my liking.
Complimentary Homemade Bread - All the bread is homemade and pretty good in my humble opinion, especially the viennoiserie; buttery yet light rolls that reminded me of croissant sans the flakiness. The baguette came across as crusty and went very well with the smooth butter. We were so enamoured with the bread that we jumped at the chance for a second helping. And thankfully we did.
Le King Crabe - Seasoned king crab meat, avocado and crunchy vegetables on tomato coulis. A very well thought out dish with the avocado providing a nice smoothness to the crunchy vegetables and the lightly tart tomato coulis and green apple cubes playing counterpoint to the delightful crustacean sweetness of the king crab. Excellent!
Le Thé de Crevette - "Botan" shrimp in fresh coriander and turmeric infusion. I'm usually adverse to turmeric (or any plant in the ginger family for that matter) but this soup was surprisingly light, mildly sweet yet spicy at the same time and accentuated the sweetness of the crunchy botan shrimp chunks.
La Noix de Saint-Jacques - Pan-fried Hokkaido scallop with spelt risotto and coral emulsion. Undoubtedly the pièce de résistance of the afternoon; a lightly spicy, savoury, creamy sauce base coupled with al dente spelt and a huge, perfectly cooked scallop that was oh so sweet. A pity portion sizes were oh so small.
Le Boeuf "Wagyu" - Wagyu beef hanging tender grilled with medley of aromates and shallots marmalade. Done to a perfect medium rare - tender and juicy. Topped with caramalised shallots for a rather strong sweetness. Good but portions are really small and I personally prefer huge slabs of steak of the salted variant. Served with JR's famous mashed potatoes. Incredibly delicious; silky smooth without coming across as overly dry or moist and with a buttery aftertaste to boot. One of the best "traditional" mashed potatoes I've eaten to date.
Le Minty - And on to desserts. Flowing chocolate Araguani with icy mint sorbet. First impression, it looked more like a layer of cream twirl decorated with a chocolate ring than a molten chocolate cake. But looks can be deceiving because dig beneath that layer of cream to find a scoop of light mint sorbet and a layer of chocolate fondant, complete with a mildly crisp shell and oozing chocolate. Although I don't quite fancy mint but this was quite a treat!
La Pavlova - Lychee lightness, lemongrass mousseline and "Mara de Bois" strawberry. The pavlova was crisp on the outside yet soft and gooey on the inside (like a marshmallow) and carried a pleasantly light lychee flavour and sweetness. Generously adorned with an assortment of berries, including the "Mara de Bois" strawberry (apparently very highly sought after for its flavour and fragrance) to juxtapose the sweetness of the meringue. Very good.
Petit Fours - We ended off with petit fours, which provided an additional sweet ending to our meal. Nothing was memorable here and I did find the raspberry macaron a little lacking in tartness and its shell a wee bit too moist.
Our wonderful lunch for two cost ~ $254 which is definitely at the higher end of the pricing spectrum. However food quality is undeniable and we enjoyed it quite a bit. Service could be a little more personable though.
Remember the mention about being thankful for the second serving of bread earlier on? I kid you not but we had to rely on the bread to fill our tummies because of the tiny portions (my set had an appetiser, a soup, two mains and a dessert by the way). French haute cuisine indeed but very unlike my experience at Guy Savoy Paris. However, having said that, we have already made plans for a return trip in the coming weeks ;)
Having patronised one of the 3 different Liang Kee outlets in Singapore on a relatively regular basis, we decided to venture out of our comfort zone and drop by Mu Liang Zai Liang Kee (literally translates to son of Bak Liang) which, as the name suggests, is run by the son (fifth) of the founder, Ng Bak Liang.
Sitting amidst a row of shops along Beo Crescent, MLZ sits along the same stretch as another restaurant bearing a similar name, G7 Liang Kee, which is managed by a Taiwanese former partner. The place isn't big and is reminiscent of a typical air conditioned cze char place, nothing too fanciful.
Teochew Braised Duck - Thickly sliced but tender, the braised duck was decent but I did find the gravy a tad too sweet for my liking. Accompanying beancurd was decent too. Portions are a tad small though.
Stir Fried Broccoli - Though the broccoli was nice and crunchy, it lacked wok hei. I did appreciate the saltiness and mild crunchiness of the ti po (dried sole fish) though.
Beancurd with Minced Meat - MLZ's signature beancurd with minced meat; crisp on the outside whilst smooth and quivery on the inside with a nice savoury taste. I did find the minced meat gravy a little too runny but overall still pretty good.
Silverfish Egg - A simple yet well executed dish, the fried egg came across as fluffy and moist with a nice saltiness (from the silverfish) and wok hei.
Pumpkin Yam Paste - The orh nee came looking like a mess but was surprisingly decent; smooth and fragrant but a wee bit too sweet for my liking. Still, I had two bowls to end off the evening.
A rather filling dinner for the four of us came up to $58.50, which is relatively inexpensive considering the quality and quantity of food. However, having said that, I personally still prefer the food at Liang Kee @ Whampoa. Besides, it's alot nearer to home.
We were at Orchard Road running some errands one weekend morning and decided to drop by Nassim Hill Bakery Bistro Bar for brunch since it was in the vicinity.
Nestled within Tanglin Post Office and just behind Swiss Butchery, Nassim Hill's parking is sorely limited. There is the option of "free" parking (< 10 lots) right in front of the eatery but it's park at your own risk (so scramble if you see a warden) or the tiny carpark at the basement of the building (~10 lots) that leaves you stranded on a steep slope should the barrier refuse to lift when the carpark is full. So take public transport if you can, or park somewhere else.
Once you sort out the transportation issues, getting a seat is relatively easy as there are plenty of tables around. The vibe is rather cafe-ish and the abundance of natural light streaming through the full length windows lent the place a certain cheerfulness.
Chilli Crab Pasta - The chilli crab pasta came in 2 portion sizes; half or full. We opted for the former as the plan was to have waffles (lots of carbohydrates!) as well. And I'm glad we did as the half portion was big enough to feed an average eater. Al dente spaghetti coupled with a relatively rich yet mildly sweet and spicy sauce that featured chunks of crab meat and garlic for that additional kick. Very decent in my humble opinion.
Nassim Hill Double Decker Burger - Nassim Hill's namesake burger wasn't impressive to say the least. Although it featured a double patty, both patties lacked a firm texture, a discernible beefy taste and relied on the seasoning and herbs to give it flavour (onion rings added a mild sweetness as well). The bread, all soft and slathered in mayonnaise, could do with time on the griddle whilst the accompanying shoestring fries were a tad hard but pretty decent. Average at best.
Banana Chocolate Waffles - This was meant to be dessert but somehow got served together with our burger and pasta with no offer to take it back and re-serve it later. A bit of a boo boo I must say but seeing that most of the wait staff seemed to be rather green (mostly students I assume), I guess I don't really blame them. But it did prove to be rather annoying as the ice cream was melting rapidly and we had to alternate between mouthfuls of sweet cold dessert and warm burger/pasta at an accelerated pace (we certainly didn't want the waffles swimming in an ice cream puddle).
Grievances aside, I personally liked the waffles quite a fair bit. Lightly crisp along the edges with a rather chewy center and topped with banana slices, sweet chocolate sauce and a huge scoop of real vanilla bean ice cream (as evidenced by the black spots). It's rather pricey at $18 though, especially with only four small waffle rectangles to show for it.
A somewhat decent brunch for the both of us cost almost $59, which is still somewhat acceptable considering the overall quality of food and location of the eatery. Service needs a little polishing and I'll probably drop by again if I'm in the vicinity to try out some other items on the menu.