The Knolls @ Capella Hotel – A Revamped Lunch/Dinner Menu

25 10 2015

With room rates starting at the ~$800 region and up, the first imageries that come to mind at the mention of Capella Hotel would definitely be one of opulence, exclusivity and grandeur. Nestled away on Sentosa Island, this 5-star hotel houses The Knolls, which specializes in French-influenced Mediterranean fare and Cassia, a fine-dining Cantonese Restaurant. On this occasion, I was here to sample the newly revamped “bistronomy” menu at The Knolls.

Better known for its award-winning Sunday Champagne Brunch (priced between $128++ to $258++ depending on the various options of free flow drinks) and Afternoon High Tea ($39.90++), the lunch/dinner bistronomy menu at The Knolls has been left somewhat forgotten. This is a pity because selected items on the lunch/dinner menu were delicious and reasonably priced, with 3-Course Lunch/Dinner Sets going for $52++/$78++ respectively.

We kicked off the meal with an amuse bouche of Chicken Liver Pate, which I enjoyed immensely. The abhorring scent of gaminess was absent, leaving just a savoury velvety spread to whet the appetite.

Of the two appetizers I tried, my preference was the Octopus Ballotine ($27), served with Orange Martini dressing. A Ballotine is typically made using poultry and pretty similar to a roulade, where deboned poultry meat is stuffed, rolled and tied up for further cooking. For this instance where octopus was used instead, we saw pieces of octopus held together by a gelatinous layer. I liked that the octopus wasn’t too rubbery and went well with the dried tomatoes and a glass of German Riesling.

The Open Ravioli ($23) comprised of an Asian-inspired duck & foie gras dumpling served with its bouillon (atas word for broth). Pleasant but uninspiring, the dish failed to capture my attention and I was unable to detect the foie gras.

For the Mains, I liked the Pan Seared Seabass with Mediterranean seafood ragout, Orzo pasta (rice shaped pasta), chipirones (tiny squids) and aioli ($44). My main feedback was that Seabass skin could have been made to be more crispy but otherwise, I enjoyed the rich mix of aioli with the pasta and complementing seafood.

I found the Grilled Marinated Beef Short Ribs, Truffle mashed potatoes, mixed green salad and gherkins ($35) rather one-dimensional in taste, with the sweet marinade coming in the spotlight.

The Crispy Lamb Rib Confit ($38) tasted slightly gamy but I did appreciate the Bell Pepper Coulis (red sauce), which helps to cut through the excess unctuousness from the lamb. I didn’t take to the piece of Grilled Mini eggplant stuffed with cumin, rice and raisins, as the rice was on the heavy side and excessive in terms of the rice to eggplant ratio.

Of the 3 desserts I tried, the Cassatta ($16) was the only one that stood out. The Pistachio sponge forming the base, raspberry sorbet at the core and lemon meringue on the exterior was an excellent combination. The tartness from the raspberry and lemon was perfect for ending the meal.

On the other hand, the Profiteroles ($16) and Pandan Coconut Crème brûlée ($16) were forgettable.

Overall, the meal was a mix of hits and misses. On the plus side, I liked that the restaurant is spacious and dining tables are spread far apart enough to have a private conversation going. The casual setting left me at ease and provides a relaxed environment for date nights and gatherings. The wait staff while attentive, were unintrusive as well. My main grouse would be the food. Some of the restaurant’s signature items like the Pate, Octopus Ballotine, Seafood Pasta and Cassatta are worth a return visit, while the other dishes came across as pretty meh, so do stick to the tried and tested here where possible. The price point for food is reasonable, though the wine list is slightly pricey relative to the food.

This meal was sponsored by The Knolls. A special thanks to Melissa for hosting.

The Knolls

1 The Knolls, Capella Hotel, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098297

Tel: +65 6591 5046

Blu Kouzina – Greek in Bukit Timah

29 07 2013

Happened to drop by Blu Kouzina for dinner with fellow food-blogger Xinli from the4moose (his post here) about a month back. Greek cuisine is rather uncommon in Singapore and this might possibly be the only restaurant that does it (based on a quick google search). That said, Greek cuisine is a subset of Mediterranean cuisine (which includes North African, South European and Middle Eastern cuisines) so it wouldn’t veer too far off from what our palates are used to, especially if you are comfortable with Mediterranean dips, grilled meats and seafood.

While the restaurant looks rather small from the outside, the seating capacity is actually quite large given that there is a second and third floor as well to accommodate patrons.

The staff are really friendly so don’t be surprised if one of them puts their arms around your shoulder halfway during the meal to ask you how’s everything going because this was what really happened to me. Initially, I thought that the guy was trying to pick me up or something (given that I was dining only with another guy and my sexuality might have be miscontrued, plus it was the day after Pinkdot SG) but later realized that this was something he did to other guests as well, leading me to think that this is probably the culture back in Greece where people are so much friendlier.

As it wasn’t cost-effective nor stomach-room efficient to order an array of individually-priced dips for just 2 people, the staff recommended that we order a 3-dip sampler platter ($22.80++), which was not listed on the menu. The sampler platter serves 3-4 people nicely, leaving just enough room for mains and desserts. The 3 dips (in order of decreasing preference with prices listed for individual orders) comprised of:
  • Melitzanosalata ($13.80++) – Smoked eggplant mixed with herbs. I found it very flavourful with a very distinct smoky savoury taste.
  • Tzatziki ($12.80++) – Yogurt mixed with cucumber, extra virgin olive oil and flavored with garlic.
  • Fava ($11.80++) – Yellow lentils with fresh onion, oregano and extra virgin olive oil. The texture held a heavy semblance to beans.
Pita Bread ($3++) is not included and must be ordered separately. It seemed to have been prepared upon order and arrived on our table piping hot which is a plus.

We also tried the Spanakopita ($12.30++), a filo pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese, and herbs. Going by its looks, I initially expected the texture of the pastry to be like a spring roll but soon discovered that it was way thinner and lighter. I would recommend this.

For main, Xinli had the Souvlaki me Pita ($19.80++), or Beef kalamaki wrapped in pita bread, with fresh tomatoes and red paprika served with chips. Kalamaki means grilled skewered marinated meat cubes. I usually stay away from such wraps because the grilled meat fillings often turn out dry and rubbery but the one here was actually quite tender, where I could bite a sever off a chunk of beef effortlessly in one chomp with the pita bread, rather than having to tug and pull to tear the meat off.

I stuck to a rather safe option, the Me Patates ($22.80++), or half a roast chicken with potatoes, lemon, extra virgin olive oil and oregano. Nothing terribly exciting about it.

To complement our meal, we had the Cair Retsina Gold ($26.80++/500ml), a traditional type of Greek wine made ​​by adding pine resin into white wine. The pine resin was used in ancient times to increase the storage life of the wines. Personally, I didn’t quite like the pine flavour as I thought it tasted a bit like medicine. Guess it’s more of an acquired taste.

Overall, what charmed me most was the ambience of the place. The staff were genuinely friendly and I felt like I had been transported to a cosy little European cottage, where I could truly enjoy an unhurried meal. There’s also the potential plus point of sipping on affordable wines over post-dinner chit chat.

Blu Kouzina

893 Bukit Timah Road

Tel: +65 6875 0872


Original Sin – Going Vegetarian for Once

12 03 2013

While I’d like to think myself as a rather adventurous foodie, I always chose to steer away from one particular type of cuisine; vegetarian. I guess the perception that vegetables taste bad still holds true for most people. For me at least, my daily intake of vegetables is purely for the sole purpose of playing the role of roughage. My recent visit to Original Sin however did make rethink the validity of such a loosely accepted notion.

Having been around for the past 14 years, Original Sin has established itself as one of the most well-known vegetarian eateries around. It offers Mediterranean cuisine that surprisingly rivals even non-vegetarian Mediterranean restaurants I have been to in both tastiness and quality.

We started off with the Mezze Platter ($22++), which is a typical Middle Eastern selection of dips, in this case consisting of Hummus (a dip made from chickpea), pumpkin & carrot dip, Baba Ganoush (an eggplant dip), Yogurt tzatziki, Falafal balls (A deep fried patty made from chickpea), served with pita bread. On the whole, it was pretty good, especially the Baba Ganoush that had a heavier than usual garlicky taste that I liked and the pita bread which was served freshly baked and crisp.

The Magic Mushroom ($18++) was a baked Portobello mushroom with ricotta cheese, spinach, pesto, topped with a tomato basil sauce and mozzarella. It came across as more Italian than Mediterranean but still made for a simple delightful starter.

The pan fried Haloumi ($18++) served with salad greens, roasted capsicum, lentils, cucumber and mint salad was my favourite dish of the meal. Haloumi is a type of Cheese and tasted similar to savoury fried fish roe, both in terms of taste and texture and went well with the starchy lentils.

For Mains, we had the Vegetable Tandoori ($26++), which was a dish of char-grilled button mushroom, brinjal, capsicum, onion and tofu marinated in tandoori spices served with yoghurt, mango chutney and rice. Pretty decent with a moderate spice level.

The Bosco Misto ($26++) was very tasty as well. It was basically spinach, feta and tofu patties, coated with crushed almonds and sesame seeds, served with asparagus in a button mushroom plum sauce. The patties reminded me of flavourful crispy croquettes and I loved it.

My least favourite was the Capsicum Quinoa ($26++), or roasted capsicum stuffed with spiced quinoa, carrot, chickpea and mint with tzatiki, pickled grape, onion, cherry tomato and olive salad. Compared to the other mains, the flavours from this dish was a lot more subdued, with the yoghurt more or less drowning out most of the other flavours. Having had the tzatiki from the mezza platter earlier on, this felt rather boring.

The Hazelnut Chocolate Cake ($12++) came highly recommended from our host. It was a good recommendation indeed and despite using dark chocolate, the cake boasted a familiar taste that I likened to Kinder Bueno, probably because of the crispy hazelnut base that felt similar to the crunch you get when you bite into a Kinder Bueno.

The Tiramisu ($12++) didn’t fare quite as well. It wasn’t unpalatable but personally, I found the bitterness accruing from the coffee to be a little too intense.

The meal felt totally atypical for a vegetarian meal. I was surprisingly stuffed and honestly if I had a blindfold on, it would have been difficult to tell that no meat was used in the making of the meal with the highly interactive textures and flavours of the various ingredients used. I guess for once, I wouldn’t mind going vegetarian.

Special thanks to Original Sin for the invitation and hosting the meal.

Original Sin

43 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-62

Tel: +65 6475 5605

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