Pierside @ One Fullerton

28 12 2011

There is a sheer abundance of discount coupon websites nowadays like Groupon, deal.com.sg, VoucherWow etc, and while I used to be intrigued by them initially, the novelty has worn off somewhat. Apart from the more common holiday and spa coupons, some of these websites do offer coupons for restaurant meals as well, often including a glowing excerpt of the restaurant and a brief overview of its dining concept on its website. Using such a website, my friend C had purchased $170 of food credits at Pierside (using $100) and invited me along. Personally though, I have never trusted these excerpts, I mean, why would a restaurant offer a discount unless it’s not doing well enough the draw in a crowd? Hence, despite a very promising menu (avail on their online website), I kept expectations in check just in case.

We were first served a complimentary amuse bouche of marinated fish. While it looked rather dry, it tasted surprisingly good, with a taste and texture resembling unagi in a light kabayaki dressing, though springier.

As excessively greedy individuals, we figured getting a Plateau De Fruits De Mer ($60++) consisting half a Maine Lobster, 3 Rock Oysters, Prawn Cocktail, Tuna Tataki, Cured Salmon, Baby Octopus, New Zealand Green Shell Mussels, Venus Clams & Brown Spotted Shrimp provided more flexibility and utility than any other appetizer on the menu. Sadly, we found the platter slightly underwhelming, pulled down by the stale deep fried shrimps that had been left to air for too long, the lackluster tuna tataki and salmon as well as the tasteless lobster lacking its natural sweetness. However, I did enjoy the Rock Oysters which starts off briny before a gentle sweet undertone hits you, as well as the fresh prawns.

The Pan Roasted Foie Gras on Toasted Brioche, Aged Port & Prune ($28++) turned our moods around as the portion was pretty generous, not to mention it’s also one of the better ones I have had. Forget about the Brioche and just savour the wobbly livers in its unadulterated glory. Eating the pineapple at punctuated intervals does help to relieve the unctuous nature of the foie gras too.

The Char Grilled Organic Pork Rack with Fava Beans, Compressed Granny Smith & Green Mustard Grain ($38++) fared averagely as some portions of the pork was a little to lean for my liking but I like how the poached sweet apple (under the round piece of meat)  goes well with the pork. The round piece of fried meat (which the server said was a roulade though it doesn’t look it) was bad, way overfried and utterly dry. We left that untouched after an initial bite.

From what I read on Hungrygowhere, the Oven Roasted Miso Cod with Minted Pea Puree($33++) seems to be a popular item here. It’s not bad but I would have preferred if more miso marinate was used as the flavours comes across as slightly too mild, especially since the sweet miso flavours was retained almost entirely on the cod surface and failed to infuse into the cod flesh. If you read food blogs often enough, you might have come across a Miso Cod that is most highly acclaimed in Singapore. The one I’m thinking of is the Miso Cod at Restaurant Ember, currently my favourite restaurant for a set lunch. Coincidentally, I’m going to be lunching there tomorrow, ready to be spoiled once more. Yay!

I was too full for desserts, partially because I had downed 2 pots of their herbal camomile tea as I was having a sore throat. Overall, I guess what you pay is what you get. While I would not rate the food as stellar, the full view of MBS makes up somewhat for it.

Bon Appetit!

Pierside Kitchen & Bar

1 Fullerton Road, #01-01 One Fullerton

Tel: +65 6438 0400

L’Entrecote – You don’t need Wagyu for good Steak

22 12 2011

One problem I find when dining out is that sometimes there are just too many choices available on the menu that I’m left overly spoilt for choice, not knowing what exactly does the restaurant specialize in. Often, I resort to simply asking the restaurant staff for their personal recommendations to facilitate my decision making process. If this is what frustrates you often, L’Entrecote might just be the place for you!

The dining concept at L’Entrecote is simple. They offer you the best of what they do – the Entrecote Steak ($29++), drizzled in a fiercely guarded secret butter-based sauce with a free-flow of Crisp Golden Shoestring Fries & Salad and complemented with a complimentary glass of their hand picked red wine. The only decision left to the diner is whether or not to order any appetizers and/or desserts.

We ordered our steaks medium rare and it was done as such. While the steak wasn’t marbled, it is cooked in a fashion that enables you to enjoy it lean, with a texture resembling that of a slab of lightly seared tuna. The steak is served as 2 portions, possibly to allow the 2nd portion to be kept warmed before it is finally served, so what is seen below is just the 1st portion (about 60% of the actual amount of steak)

So for that affordable steak meal, do try out L’Entrecote. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Bon Appetit!


36 Duxton Hill

Tel: +65 6238 5700

Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar – Very Meh

14 12 2011

Now that holidays are here, I have been trying my best to spend more time with my non-SMU friends whom I might have neglected through the school term. This term has been a trying one for me, but which term hasn’t? One thing’s for sure though, I had definitely spent more time in the library and less time with the nom noms this time around. So now, it was time to go on an eating spree to make up for lost time… 

I arrived ahead of C, excited to be dining at what was considered to be one of Singapore’s leading Italian fine dining restaurants. The service was impeccable, and the maitre’d saw to it that I wasn’t too bored, coming over to chat a while I waited for C.

When C arrived, we were served with complimentary freshly toasted Dried Tomato Focaccia Bread. First impressions count and Garibaldi nailed it as this was the 2nd best complimentary bread I have had so far (the best being from Private Affairs which has recently shifted out of its Joo Chiat premises). C even got himself a third slice!

Their 3-Course Set Lunch is priced at $38++, a huge discount from the ala carte prices which would probably set you back by about $100ish.

For appetizer, C chose the Cocktail Di Gamberetti or Poached Shrimps with Romaine Lettuce in Cocktail Sauce. They are quite generous with the shrimps, and the shrimps were fresh and springy so no complaints here. It does remind me of the cold dish prawns you get at wedding dinners.

For myself, I opted for the Soup of the Day which happened to be Asparagus & Crab Soup. It’s quite starchy, so I think they might have blended in some potatoes to thicken the soup a bit. Overall, it was meh.

For Main, I had the Spaghettini with Calamari, Black Olives and Fresh Tomatoes, thinking that a fancy Italian restaurant would definitely get their pastas right. Yet again, I was left disappointed as this was forgettable.

C’s Stewed Red Snapper served with Grilled Polenta and Green Peas fared slightly better, though severely lacking a wow factor. Polenta is made from cornmeal and supposedly looks a bit like mash potatoes which I don’t see any of. Perhaps it is the toast lookalike behind the fish.

For desserts, diners get a choice of what they want from a cart of homemade cakes by Sweets Garibaldi.

Diners can also choose if they would like a sauce (Chocolate, Vanilla and one more I can’t recall) to accompany the cake.

C got a Chocolate one which I didn’t try.

For myself, I had a Hazelnut Flavoured one which on first bite tasted like Kinder Bueno with the soft hazelnut cream and crisp praline base. I thought it could have been better if the sponge was lighter and more airy.

The set lunch comes with a choice of coffee or tea. The coffee was fragrant and robust despite being quite bitter (typical of french and italian coffees perhaps?)

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the food but felt the service made up for it.

Bon Appetit!

Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar

36 Purvis Street

Tel: +65 6837 1468

Pasta Brava – Hearty Italian at Mass Market Prices

13 12 2011

Sherwin’s, Sophie’s and Annie’s birthdays were long overdue and due to the 101 reasons that kept everyone busy over the past month, we didn’t get a chance to celebrate during the school term. And since school’s finally out, I had tasked myself with finding an appropriate place for a casual birthday lunch.

You know for large group gatherings, an appropriate lunch venue requires affordability, accessibility and of course, a minimum standard of quality, and finding such an ideal lunch spot is indeed a tall task. Faced with such a situation, I humbly suggested Pasta Brava, a restaurant on my to-go list which I had yet to try.

Located within walking distance from Tanjong Pagar Mrt, Pasta Brava serves hearty authentic Italian fare at very very reasonable prices about $25ish to $35ish a person for a generously portioned main. It has cemented its position and credibility in the Singapore food scene after garnering numerous accolades and awards over the past decade which are conspicuously framed up on the wall of the reception area.

The pastas here are pretty heavy so while I’m an advocate of having a complete meal consisting appetizer, main and dessert, you you might want to consider skipping the appetizers unless you are planning on sharing the mains. And instead of having desserts here, you can also consider strolling around the Ann Siang or Duxton area to try the various highly acclaimed patisseries such as k ki, Bonheur Patisserie and Flor Patisserie.

In descending order starting from my favourite pasta, I enjoyed the Spaghetti Della Pescatrice, “Spaghetti with Seafood in Squid Ink Sauce” ($23++) the most. Some of my friends found the briny squid ink sauce a little too salty but I thought it was awesome with the subtle bittersweet clam juices infused into the pasta.

One of the better risottos I have had, the Risotto Al Funghi Porcini, “Arborio Rice cooked with Porcini Mushrooms, White Wine & Parmesan Cheese” ($23++) is something I would recommend ordering here. Don’t attempt to finish this alone though as the cheesiness gets to you after awhile. The Porcini Mushrooms adds a texture akin to smooth fresh scallops to the dish which I find extra inviting,

I have a particular fondness of clams. I think it’s because of the fond memories I have about my trip to Gold Coast when I was younger where I picked up live clams off the beach and boiled them back in the hotel to eat. Subjectivity aside, there was consensus that the Spaghetti Alle Vongole In Bianco, “Spaghetti with Fresh Clams, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, White Wine and Parsley” ($19++) was one of the favourites of the meal.

Spaghetti Anacapri Al Cartoccio, “Spaghetti with Crayfish, Garlic, Herbs & Tomato Sauce served in Parchment Paper” ($23++). I’m not sure if it’s because of the effect of sealing it in parchment paper that stops the white wine from vapourizing but I detected a stronger than usual wine taste which I quite enjoyed (then again, no description of wine is mentioned for this dish so I might just have imagined things).

Agnolotti Farciti Al Salmone, “Round-shaped Pasta filled with Fresh Salmon, served with Tomato and Cream Sauce” ($22.50++). Agnolotti is a type of ravioli, and the difference in naming convention arises mainly from the initial place of origin, with Agnolotti originating from Northern Italy and Ravioli from the Coastal South. The difference in locale also results in a difference in terms of stuffing used, where fish, vegetables and cheese was commonly used for Ravioli while meat was used as a stuffing for Agnolotti.

The Fettuccine Alla Carbonara, “Fettuccine with Bacon, Onion, Egg Yolk, White Wine & Cream Sauce” ($20++) is decent but too heavy for my liking. The pasta was also a little on the soft side.

While the Linguini Regina Del Mare, “Linguini with Clams, Prawns, Scallops, Squid, Crayfish, Garlic & Tomato Sauce” ($23++) looks like the Spaghetti Cartoccio (above), the tomato sauce comes across as less flavourful.

There’s no end to good food around the Tanjong Pagar and Outram area but Pasta Brava has left a deep enough impression to warrant future revisits.

Bon Appetit!

Pasta Brava

11 Craig Road

Tel: +65 6227 7550

Rocks Urban Grill + Bar @ The Sail – No Smooth Sailing

6 12 2011

Rocks Urban Grill & Bar is the latest addition to the Emmanual Stroobant Group, which features reputable restaurants such as Saint Pierre, The French Kitchen and Picotin in Singapore. However sad to say, I find Rocks falling way short of its sister restaurants which is rather surprising since friend LZ did provide positive feedback on his last visit here.

Currently, there’s a festive 3-Course Set Lunch menu priced at $49++ and since my party was not provided with the usual weekly $39++ set lunch menu,  I’m guessing the festive set lunch menu might have replaced it for the time being. Personally, I was quite disappointed with the choices made available in the festive set, as they seem to feature cheaper and less popular alternatives compared to what is usually made available on the weekly set lunches, yet being priced at a premium. In the end, we decided to just go ala carte.

Served atop a hot pebble, the Sizzling Beef Maki ($18++) was more a feast for the eyes than the palate. The beef was slightly on the chewy side (though the extent of chewiness/rareness also depends on how long you leave it on the hot stone), and stuffed with what I believe to be Spinach, Mustard sauce and Parmesan cheese. Dipping it into the side of Soy (like how you would for sushi) is optional in my view because the soy simply overpowers everything, though eating the beef maki au naturale doesn’t result in a symphonic harmony of contrasting flavours either. In short, not recommended…

While it might seem aesthetically appealing, I suggest avoiding the Braised Lamb Shank with Rosemary, Thyme & Garlic ($33++). As far as I remember, this is definitely the most gamey and pungent lamb dish I have ever come across and I had quite a bit of trouble wolfing it down. This is definitely one of the areas Rocks should look into.

The meal started going uphill from here though I was already left with a bad taste in my mouth. While GR and CC liked the Grilled Baramundi ($30++), I thought it was merely pleasant. Enjoyable to eat, but not the best in town. The searing of the skin could have been made slightly crispier.

The Duck Confit ($33++) is done competently here. My only grouse is that the meat is slightly on the dry side but the duck skin and fat is simply marvelous and flavourful. Needless to say, duck confits are salty so a dessert is definitely in order after eating this.

We got the Baked Apple, Toffee Ice Cream with Double Cream & Brandy Snap ($14++) at GR’s request since he’s a huge apple fan and apple crumbles are his kryptonite. I think he quite enjoyed this but since I’m not much of a baked fruit kind of person, I thought the concept behind this dish is good and zingy with the combination of concentrated apple goodness and sour cream, but shall still prefer to stick to safer and more boring options such as cheesecake and chocolate fondants in future.

My favourite dish for the meal was the Cheesecake with Red Berry Sherbet & Apricot Chutney ($16++). I knew this had to be good seeing the specks of fragrant vanilla beans scattered throughout the cheesecake. The Sherbet is good too, and has a hint of yoghurty flavour despite sherbets supposedly having low dairy contents.

While I wasn’t impressed by their lunch, I concede that my negative experience could be partially because I failed to try what Rocks is known for, which is their Beef.

Bon Appetit!

Rocks Urban Grill + Bar

2 Marina Boulevard , #02-01/02 The Sail @ Marina Bay

Tel: +65 6438 4404

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