The White Rabbit – Church Altar to Bar Counter, where Wine still flows

4 01 2015

Much is to be expected at The White Rabbit, the dishes are competently executed and flavorful, the ambience classic yet not overly sombre despite being housed in a conserved military chapel. It’s also hard not to notice the establishment’s efforts to include whimsical minute details that play to the theme of Alice in Wonderland.

At night, the restaurant is relatively dim, providing an intimate setting and this strongly contrasts with how the restaurant looks in the daytime, where sunlight seeps through the stained glass windows, brightening the entire atmosphere.

The fresh and toasty complimentary bread served was swiftly decimated, a relatively rare occurrence since I usually try to save more stomach space. Instead of getting appetizers, we decided to get some sides to accompany our mains instead but really, the sides were nothing to shout about.

Truffled Mac and Cheese with Mushrooms ($16++)

When Iris mentioned she wanted to get the Grilled Asparagus with Truffled Hollandaise ($18++), groans echoed about the table. $20 for 6-7 strips of vegetables would surely tug at most guys’ heartstrings. Ironically enough, these same guys would probably not bat an eyelid forking out $200 for a bottle of Moet at a club in an attempt to look cool. The absurdity of guy and girl logic…

For mains, we started with the Dorper Lamb Rack ($48++), served with spiced cous-cous, ratatouille, lemongrass basil jus. The Dorper lamb is a common domestic South African breed, very resilient to arid climates. The lamb was executed to faultless perfection, moist and tender with a slight sear on the surface.

Another signature main worth getting is the 36-hour Brandt Short Ribs ($48++), more so if you are a fan of pork ribs and have not tried beef ribs before. You will surely be in for a treat. An interesting touch is the truffle miso glaze that adds a slight crisp to the surface of the rib, providing some texture to the dish. Instead of the usual heavy potato mash, a light smooth parsnip purée and a side of field mushrooms are served on the side instead, a much welcome change that provides some balance.

Prepare also to be mindblown by the 60-hour Braised Magalica Pork Belly ($42++), served with spiced purple cabbage, white beans and miso broth. Just the previous week, I had the 12-hour cooked Pork Belly at Restaurant Ember, which to me sets the yardstick for western-style 烧肉. I wouldn’t say that the White Rabbit does it better but it does come pretty close, in terms of gastronomic enjoyment.

Think of the Tagliatelle ($45++) as a Alaskan King Crab mee pok doused in pork broth and kombu. While it was good, it paled in comparison to the meat mains we had earlier and came across as slightly pricey for a relatively simple pasta dish. Perhaps I would think differently if we had it before the meats, given that the flavours of this dish was lighter and doubles up as a possible appetizer.

The Baked Alaska ($18++) seemed to be one of the signature dishes here, where flaming liqueur is poured over a meringue encased vanilla ice cream cake. My first encounter with it was during national service days, when one of my fellow air force cadets brought us to Xiyan Private Dining along Craig Road, where his parents are shareholders. It has never been one of my favourite desserts taste-wise but as you can imagine, a flaming dessert never fails to excite the crowd.

On a side note, Xiyan has now opened a casual dining outlet at Shaw Centre. Some dishes such as the Salivating Chicken (also available at the Private Dining outlet) were excellent but most of the other dishes came across as fairly mediocre, dashing my high hopes.

If you have preference for a lighter dessert, especially after waves of meat-based mains, do go for the the White Chocolate Mille-Feuille ($18++), a three layered filo-pastry with alternating layers of white chocolate cream. The side of rhubarb sorbet does well to cleanse the palate too!

For chocolate aficionados, you won’t go wrong with the Chocolate Fondant ($18++). I thought that the fondant was more buttery and savory than usual, which was a plus in my view, probably due to its caramel core. Without the menu, it would be almost impossible to guess the flavor of the accompanying ice cream; banana and rum, a splendid combination. In the dim lighting, some might miss out the cute intricacies of this dessert but try looking for the little bunnies made using gold foil, scampering about in the garden-themed plating.

Overall, two thumbs up for our experience at The White Rabbit. The food was near faultless during our visit but there were small hiccups in the service. Given that the restaurant was operating at full house, it took quite some time before anyone attended to me while I stood at the reception. Furthermore, the staff informed me that our reserved table was not ready yet and asked me to proceed to the waiting area, when the rest of my friends were already seated at that table. It’s not that I’m “niao” but these should not be happening in any restaurant that considers itself a fine-dining establishment.

On a side note, The White Rabbit is one of the participating restaurants for The Entertainer App Singapore, that gives 1-for-1 discounts off main courses here.

Last but not least, Happy New Year to all and have a blessed and peaceful 2015!

The White Rabbit

Address: 39C Harding Rd, Singapore 249541

Tel: +65 9721 0536

Amici Authentic Italian Restaurant – An overpriced neighbourhood joint

20 05 2013

Standing proud at a discreet corner of Holland Village is old dame Amici. She has been around for 13 years and counting, entrenching her status as a veteran in Italian cuisine.

Amici means “friends” in Italian and how apt it is as I personally find it to be an ideal place for long undisrupted catch up sessions in the hustle and bustle of Holland V. Meals at Amici exhibit a stark contrast compared to other popular spots in the vicinity such as Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao (which does an affordable steamboat and XLB buffet) and Everything With Fries, as meals here feel a lot less hurried, contributed partially by the cosy, rustic and rather quiet interior of the restaurant. On the other hand, sad to say that much of their food didn’t impress.

We started off dinner with the Deep Fried Calamari ($13.90++/small or $19.90++/large). As with Amici’s rendition, I too like my calamari on the tender delicate side, where a light batter is used and chewing is made minimal. A creamy aioli dip on the side undoubtedly enhanced the palatability of the dish.

Next came the Saute Vongole ($17.90++) aka clams served with white wine sauce and chili. While similar in taste to the steamed lalas’ in spicy sauce one can easily find in Chinese Seafood restaurants or in an East Coast Park hawker stall, the vongole at Amici differs slightly as the spiciness level of the gravy has been toned down a notch, so that diners get a greater sense of the natural bittersweet flavor from the clams.

The undisputed best dish for the night was the Crabmeat pasta with garlic, olive oil & chilli ($27.90++). Cooked to a lovely al dente, the amalgam of flavours exuded by the briny crabmeat, oil and spice left me hankering for more.

The Oven-baked black cod fillet crusted with butter Herbs and garden greens ($36.90++) was pleasant but unexciting and easily forgettable.

Amongst the 4 cheeses (Gorgonzola, Buffalo Mozzarella, Scamorza and Ricotta) in the Pizza 4 Formaggi ($26.90++) aka 4 Cheese Pizza, what resounds most distinctly was the Gorgonzola, a type of Blue Cheese. However, compared to some other 4 Cheese Pizzas I have had, this one comes across as relatively mild. I wouldn’t consider pizzas to be Amici’s strong point given that the thin crust was quite soggy.

We ended with the award-winning Tiramisu. It’s hard to say if it’s worth the hype however as our individual opinions of it were incongruent. Some of my dining companions loved it while I thought it was meh. The main gripe I had was that the Ladyfingers biscuit, the spongy cake used within a Tiramisu, was overly soggy which dampened my spirits as well, pardon the pun.

I don’t consider Amici to be anywhere near the best for Italian dining in Singapore. It’s an overpriced neighbourhood Italian joint, nothing more nothing less.

This meal was hosted and paid for by Amici.

Amici Authentic Italian Restaurant

275A Holland Avenue, Holland Village

Tel: +65 6469 9989

Michelangelo’s – 17 Years Young and Counting

25 03 2013

With the rapid succession of comings and goings in the Singapore food scene, few establishments can boost about having a 17-year track record like Michelangelo’s. Even its next door sister restaurant Original Sin has been around for 14 years. To  be in business for that long, they had to be doing something right, right?

While some eateries have centralized kitchens to save cost, Michelangelo’s takes it to a whole different level with their wine cellar. Many people have commented about their extensive wine list and to hoard such a range, the restaurant group actually owns a semi-detached house just across the restaurant. So, don’t be surprised if you suddenly see the sommelier walking across the road and coming back with a bottle of wine. He didn’t just run to NTUC to get it.

The Carpaccio di Manzo ($22++), “Beef tenderloin, arugula, Parmesan, truffle oil”, is a safe choice, unless you aren’t a fan of raw beef.

The Caprese alla Michel ($22++), “Oven-baked portobello mushroom, mozzarella, tomatoes, salami chips”, was a tad boring. While I love the idea of salami chips (think of it as thinly sliced deep fried luncheon meat), the dish in its entirety seems like something I could whip up at home rather easily and really doesn’t justify the price tag in my view.

We were all taken by the Risotto al Fungi ($24++), “Confit of pork belly, forest mushroom, white wine, Parmesan”. The texture of the risotto was perfect to me, especially since I prefer it on the wet side with the rice grains not overly chewy. I detected the use of some truffle oil as well, which certainly enhanced the savoury cheesiness of the risotto. However, while the dish was really tasty on the first bite, the law of diminishing returns quickly set in, as subsequent mouthfuls tasted increasingly salty and the cheesiness exceedingly cloying for a single person to bear. Now that I think of it, my guess to why the risotto felt increasing salty is because the briny pork belly had a higher probability to sink to the base of the dish. My advice is to share this amongst 3 people for an optimal experience.

My favourite was the Penne Sambuca e Gamberi ($24++), “Prawns, semi-dried tomatoes, rose cream sauce, 50ml Italian Sambuca”. The tanginess of the tomatoes was what caught my attention first. Not as overwhelmingly tangy as the usual tomato-based pasta due to the addition of rose cream. Instead, what I felt was a light fiery aftertaste. Initially I thought I had bitten into some chilis but soon realized it was the Sambuca, a sweet flamable liquer that forms the base of a Flaming Lamborghini. Thumbs up for the progression of flavours.

The Tuscan Rosticciana ($34++), “Full rack of Tuscan style grilled pork rib”, is suitable for those who love their ribs with a little bit of bite, instead of fall off the bone tender. Personally, I’m a fan of the latter but still had an enjoyable time gnawing around the bones. The portion is rather huge so again, sharing is recommended!

As one of my favourite desserts, I never fail to try out a Sticky Date Pudding ($12++) if it’s on the menu. The one here is competently done and just a little less dense than a fruit cake. The Vanilla Ice Cream is of a good quality too and pairs well with the warm pudding that is drenched in sweet butterscotch sauce.

While I had some trouble finishing the Tiramisu ($12++) at Michelangelo’s sister restaurant Original Sin, the one here is clearly lighter in both the espresso flavours and consistency of the sponge cake. I also like how the sponge isn’t soggy and goes down the palate easily.

While some dishes bordered on mediocrity like the Portobello Mushroom and Ribs, no dishes I tried left negative impressions and I thought dishes like the Penne Sambuca really shone.

Special Thanks to Michelangelo’s for hosting this lunch tasting!


Blk 44 Jalan Merah Saga, #01-60 Chip Bee Gardens Holland Village

Tel: +65 6475 9069

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

2am Dessert Bar – Contemporary Desserts with Wine Pairings

22 10 2012

It’s no secret Singapore lacks a wine culture. For most, the urge to splurge on a bottle of wine costing as much as the meal itself just doesn’t seem all that appealing. It doesn’t help that when a wine menu arrives, one meets lines and lines of words that seem all too foreign. Not wanting to buy something that we might not enjoy, we typically settle for a lesser soft drink or a more approachable beer.

Harbouring such feelings for the longest time, I decided to take a little more initiative over the past 2 months by attending wine tastings. Rather than just buying bottles off the rack, I think wine tastings are the best way to get a crash course on wine appreciation. That’s because by trying different wines one after another, you will be better able to appreciate the subtle and not so subtle differences between different labels.

The latest wine tasting I attended was at 2am Dessert Bar, an event organized by the SMU Wine Appreciation Club. I paid a nominal fee of $30 for 3 desserts with wine pairings and if you are vaguely aware of 2am’s price catalogue, you would have realized that I probably saved about $90, much thanks to SMU subsidizing my meals! Now you now why SMU charges school fees that are 20% higher than NUS’s and NTU’s…

While there’s classical fare like Tiramisu, Cheesecake and Chocolate Cake available, I’d imagine that 2am prides itself more on creating contemporary desserts that play on all your senses. To enhance the whole dessert experience, every dessert on the menu also comes with a recommended wine pairing. Friend R tried their degustation menu a while back and told me for one of the courses, she was given a test tube smelling of Popcorn to whiff at while having her Popcorn dessert. Interesting much?

The first dessert I had was the Popcorn ($17++) but it wasn’t the same one as what R got previously if that’s why you are wondering. It’s a creative concept, where 2 different types of popcorn mousses (sweet and salty) sprinkled with dehydrated popcorn are at the opposite ends of the dish, with Passionfruit sorbet in the centre. The silky popcorn mousses totally worked for me, with both varieties tasting exactly how actual popcorn tastes like. Despite being polar opposites, I still found trouble deciding on my favorite. My only gripe was that the sorbet was extremely sour, much too sharp for the delicate tasting popcorn mousse in my humble opinion.

Pairing this dessert was Prophet’s Rock Pinot Gris Central Otago 2oo8 ($18++), a white wine from New Zealand. Despite taking down tasting notes, I shan’t go into describing the wines because I believe the articulation of wine flavours varies quite greatly from person to person and I’d hate to sound like a pretentious snob saying the wine tastes of vanilla, pine nuts and lychee.

For the 2nd dessert, I had the Kayambe H2O ($18++), which is essentially Chocolate Rocks with Caramel, a Burnt Caramel ball, Chocolate Soil and Yuzu Sorbet, made using 72% Michel Cluizel Chocolate (a French chocolate with 72% cocoa content), and Evian water. This dessert didn’t quite agree with me as the chocolate comes across as a little too heavy. The best thing in this dish was probably the yuzu sorbet.

This dessert was paired with Finca Constancia Petit Verdot & Syrah 2010 ($21++), a red wine from Spain that smells of matured fruit (imagine stewed fruit) rather than fresh ones. Anyway a random wine tip I learnt at this juncture was that as red wines get older, it gets a lighter shade. When white wines get older, it gets a darker shade.

Lastly, I had the Cheese Avalanche ($18++), a deconstructed Cheesecake with Biscotti, Candied Figs, Spanish Corn and sous vide Cantaloupe (a classy synonym for Rock Melon). My favourite of the 3 desserts, I was amazed at how balanced this dish was in flavour. The cheesecake was smooth but by itself, it would have been merely pleasant and uninteresting. I liked how the rock melon cubes added the extra sweetness while the spanish corn (tastes like those corn snacks you get from Philippines) added a savoury tone and distinct crunch.

This dessert was paired with Pauleczki Tokaji 3 Hungary 2000 ($16++), a sweet dessert wine that goes down pretty smoothly, downplaying the actual alcohol content.

Desserts take centre stage at 2am Dessert Bar so apart from the few snacks like Fries and Drumlets, there isn’t much “proper food” here. Then again, you might be surprised at how 3 desserts can fill you up quite nicely for dinner.

2am Dessert Bar

21A Lorong Liput, Holland Village

Tel: +65 6291 9727

The Disgruntled Chef – Modern European Communal Dining

29 04 2012

I have a love hate relationship with Dempsey. On one hand, it’s an awesome place to be on a quiet weekday afternoon. The whole place just exudes serenity and peacefulness, and the typical patrons to the area are well-heeled tai-tais with their other tai-tai friends. You can just take out your textbooks, order a cuppa, steal the occasion glance at the tai-tais and greenery, then press on with your readings. At night, Dempsey transforms into a much more happening place, though a little too commercialized for my liking then.

Participants in the SMU Gourmet Club’s latest food event were eager to try out a relatively new establishment in Dempsey called The Disgruntled Chef, helmed by Chef Daniel Sia. Born and raised in Singapore, Chef Daniel started his cooking career as a junior chef at Les Amis, moving up the ranks to become Chef de Cuisine at Marmalade Pantry and subsequently Head Chef at The White Rabbit. His visualization and dining concept behind The Disgruntled Chef revolves around a fun and casual communal dining experience, where diners can have access to good food without the stifling nature of most fine-dining restaurants.

Sticking to the emphasis on communal dining, instead of categorizing dishes as appetizers and mains, they are instead named “small plates” and “big plates”. I’d recommend having between 3 to 4 people share a plate, so that everyone has just about enough to feel satisfied but not too much as to hinder trying out a greater diversity of dishes.

For the small plates, we started off with the Katies Chunky Chips with Aioli. Essentially, it’s just thick-cut fries fried in truffle oil. Personally, after trying truffle fries over several occasions, I find that the taste of truffle fries doesn’t really vary much from place to place but it’s definitely a must try if you haven’t! Well, the truffle fries isn’t on the menu of The Disgruntled Chef and was served today as part of our special lunch menu so I can’t guarantee that you will be able to order it here on your next visit. If you are really interested in trying out truffle fries, other places that come to mind are Barracks and Skinny Pizza, which serves a shoestring variant of truffle fries.

Call it whatever you want, ostentatious; pretentious, but the Crayfish Mac & Cheese ($14++) spoke to me. We were on the same wavelength and I liked that there was a mix of light cream at the base and gratinated cheddar on the top. This definitely helped to avoid an overly cheesy experience that threatens being too heavy and filling you up too fast. However in my humble opinion, the crayfish is pretty redundant since you can hardly taste its presence anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised by the Crispy Lamb Short Rib with Chili, Cumin & Mint Yoghurt ($18++). When ribs are deep-fried, they tend to dry up really quickly and harden but this wasn’t the case here. A light shell of marinade encased the lamb ribs, while the meat remained tender and juicy. It’s possibly one of the most tender lamb ribs I have had and with a light dab of the mint yoghurt, what you get is a very balanced flavour free from gaminess and whets the appetite for more to come.

Without doubt, my favourite dish today was the Baked Pork Knuckle Terrine with Mash Potatoes and Black Truffle Sauce ($18++). Unlike what I envisioned of a typical terrine, where you get a cold pate-like dish that is eaten with bread or brioche, we were instead served a dish of steamy rounded pieces of meat over a very creamy truffled mash. It looked more like a roulade (rolled pieces of meat) than anything else so later on, I queried Chef Daniel about this and he confirmed the existence of hot terrines as well, though it’s a rarer find compared to its cold counterparts. Anyways, the reason why I found this pork knuckle terrine so divine is possibly because the meat is first cooked in a sous vide machine, where it is placed under a vacuum at low cooking temperatures over an extended period of time to ensure that the meat is evenly cooked, tender and succulent.

Maybe it’s a guy thing but I’d rather splurge on meat than vegetables but for those who need their daily greens, the Baby Spinach Salad with Mirin Dressing & Marinated Egg ($14++) is pretty decent. The Mirin Dressing provides a savoury-sweet tang that contrasts well with the slight bitterness of the raw vegetables.

We had the opportunity to sample 2 big plates as well, though they were not as well received as the small plates.

The Braised Oxtail Stew, Carrots, Kombu & Japanese Soy ($34++) came across as overly Asian, not really fitting in with the European theme of The Disgruntled Chef. However, judging this dish from an objective viewpoint and at the risk of sounding a little harsh, I felt it tasted somewhat like canned stewed pork.

The Roast Chicken with Chermoula Spices, Yoghurt and Roasted Potatoes ($34++) wasn’t great either. The yoghurt was similar to the one used earlier for the lamb short rib but didn’t complement the chicken as well because the chicken’s marinade was a lot more bland, and using yoghurt to tone down the savouriness further didn’t sit well with me.

For desserts, we had the Apple Tart with Caramel Sauce & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Thinly sliced caramelized apples rested atop a crisp layer of filo pastry and its sour zing went well with the sweet caramel sauce and ice cream. For vanilla ice creams, I employ a simple test to see if it’s of decent quality by just looking out for the black specks of vanilla beans in the ice cream. And yes, the black specks were evident in the ice cream we had here and it was pretty creamy too.

The Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream ($14++) was a crowd pleaser, similar in texture to the more commonly found sticky date pudding and great for those with a sweet tooth.

Well, after all is said and done, I’d suggest that just for a while, push aside lessons learnt from your etiquette class that you shouldn’t be sharing food in a fine dining restaurant. The Disgruntled Chef doesn’t serve to function as a fine dining restaurant anyways. Drop your airs, stop acting all atas and share your damn food. After all, caring is sharing.

The Disgruntled Chef

26B Dempsey Road

Tel: +65 6476 5305

Pamplemousse Bistro & Bar – Daring and Contemporary French Fare

18 01 2011

When I first heard of Pamplemousse, I thought it was a really bad name for a restaurant, as it evoked thoughts of a pus-filled pimple. However with the wonders of google translator, I later found out that Pamplemousse means Grapefruit in French. So compared with Grapefruit Bistro & Bar, I guess the name Pamplemousse is definitely a great improvement.

Just over a year old, Pamplemousse has already garnered quite a following so I was quite eager to try it out and I wondered if this was going to be one more of those overpriced Dempsey restaurants catering mainly to expats?

Coming in a group of 9, the occasion was to celebrate Min’s and JC’s belated birthdays. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to source out decent restaurants given our student budget and somehow, there seems to be a natural mental barrier for meals costing $20+ and meals costing $30+. Most of the time, I’d rather just top up $10 for tastier food, posher ambience and better service.

While the brunch menu is ala carte and features many interesting dishes such as Baked Eggs in Cocotte which comes with Foie Gras and Port Jus (foie gras for brunch = yummm…), I didn’t spot any ala-carte lunch or dinner menus, but rest assured that diners are still left spoilt for choice with 6 choices for appetizer, 6 choices for main and 3 choices for dessert available for the set lunch.

The 3-Course Set Lunch is priced reasonably at $32++, inclusive of coffee/tea and available on weekends as well, a rarity among Singapore restaurants.

While choices for 3 and 4-Course Set dinners are available, a more extravagant 6-Course Set Dinner sets you back by $98++. However, given that most of the items within the 6-Course Set Dinner can be found in the Set Lunch, I’d recommend the set lunch.

A piece of complementary Ciabatta was serving piping hot and crisp. The downside: it was a little hard.

I’m not sure about the method of cooking employed, but I liked the large slab of Citrus Marinated Salmon with Grapefruit Confit, Saikyo Miso Aioli and Croutons. The flavours are so simple and light, with a nice infusion of lemon within the salmon.

With a supplement of $10, there is the option of opting for the Foie Gras Terrine “Sachertorte” with Apricot Jam and Roselle Espuma as an appetizer. Terrine means “baked in a mold” and that’s exactly what was done with this Foie Gras Terrine but personally, nothing beats an unadulterated slab of pan fried foie gras. Sachertorte is the name of a chocolate cake originating from Vienna, Austria, made by having a thin layer of apricot jam and chocolate cake covered by dark chocolate icing. I found this superfluous and was counterproductive. Chocolate cakes should just be left for dessert! Roselle Espuma means Rose foam. This on the other hand, helped to balance flavours from the terrine.

I’m not an avid fan of Caprese Salad because I find Buffalo Mozzarella too mild a cheese. The pink watermelon foam didn’t do much tastewise but added an aesthetic appeal.

With the Singapore’s weather cooling recently, I ordered the hearty Onion Soup “Breakfast”. The “Breakfast” probably refers to the French Toast and Fried Cheese Balls that accompanied the dish. The French Toast was very special as it had caramelized onions fillings. The cheese balls was a delightful snack as well. The onion soup sadly, was unremarkable.

For the Mains, JC had the Spaghetti Carbonara with Salted Duck Egg Yolk. Among the mains, this was my least favourite, not because it was unpalatable but because the other mains available are simply worthy competition.

The Duck Confit was done marvelously well. While the meat was a little dry, the crisp skin was one of the best I have had so far. The Pomme Sarladaise aka Grilled Potatoes was heavenly as well, it really made me exclaim silently. Ad didn’t like the Lychee Gastrique (Gastrique is a classic sweet and sour sauce made from fruits), but I thought it was good to complement the savoury and unctuous duck confit.

As the description read “Butter Poached Barramundi with Hiratake Mushrooms, Nasu Eggplant, Lemongrass and Saffron Broth“, I thought this was going to be another rich, butter-heavy and thick-as-hollandaise dish. Surprisingly, I felt this was much closer to a Chinese Steamed Fish, which I found awfully refreshing for French Cuisine.

I felt the Uni Tagliolini was more fusion than French, especially with the use of Sea Urchin, Pork Gratons (Deep Fried Pork Lard) and Crustacean Cream Sauce. For those who haven’t eaten Sea Urchin, my advice is to get down to trying it out soon, it tastes somewhat like concentrated prawn brains, very sweet and creamy.

While I was much satisfied with the starters and mains, I found the desserts to be sadly abysmal.

The Creme Brulee had a eggy taste which was overwhelming, and there was too much caramelized sugar. No complaints about the Lychee Sorbet though.

Sticky Date Pudding is my favourite Dessert of all time but I found the version here left wanting. My main gripe is that the pudding was too chewy and dense. However, two thumbs up for the Walnut Ice Cream and Butterscotch Saffron Sauce.

While I find Au Petit Salut nearby serving up more traditional and classic French fare, Pamplemousse comes across to me as daring and contemporary with a cosy ambience.

Bon Appetit!



TEL: +65 6475 0080

Bistro Petit Salut – Le Affordable Authentic French

22 12 2010

Bistro Petit Salut holds a dear place in my heart because as far as I can remember, it was the very eatery that got me madly in love with French Cuisine. At that time, I was a newly initiated foodie convert and French Cuisine was unappealing to me with its high barriers to entry, being seemingly perched up on a pedestal with it’s sophisticated sounding dishes and unaffordable cost.

A visit to Bistro Petit Salut changed this presumption. It made me realize that authentic French nosh can be sought at a friendly price and that French Cuisine is not synonymous with Fine Dining.

Wanting to share this experience with my SMU bidding group, which we have aptly named ourselves The Humbled Group after getting pwned and humbled in class participation during our first class by some North Indian students, I suggested celebrating S’s birthday lunch here.

3-Course Set Lunches here goes for $25++ which is also inclusive of coffee, making this one of the most affordable set lunches around in my book.

For Appetizers, we had the Salmon Tatare in Lemon Dressing, Basil and Arugula Salad (more commonly known as Rocket Salad). To put it more simply, this was just Diced Raw Salmon with Rocket Leaves, with the Lemon Dressing used to lend a brighter and cleaner flavour to the fish. Sashimi lovers would love this.

The Homemade Pork Rillettes, Mesclun Salad with Walnut Dressing and Toast wasn’t as well received. Think of it as canned tuna soaked in brine in where the tuna was substituted with pork instead. To be used as a spread for the toast, the cured pork was not very agreeable with our Asian palates.

The Appetizer I would definitely recommend ordering is the Half Dozen Baked Burgundy Snails with Tomato and Garlic Butter. After all, where better to eat Escargot then at an established French bistro? There aren’t many places in Singapore that serve escargots so having it here would set a good benchmark at a very reasonable price.

The last of the Appetizers we tried was the Prawn Salad with Vine Ripened Tomatoes with Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette. I’m not sure how restaurants do it but there’s definitely a secret in how they manage to make their prawns taste so fresh and crunchy. I don’t cook so this question has always eluded me but I have heard soaking prawns in sugar solution before cooking makes it more springy.

For Mains, we tried the Catch of the Day with Mixed Garden Vegetable and Nicoise Vinaigrette. If I’m not wrong, the fish used was Treadfin and it was cooked in a healthy manner with minimal use of spices, allowing the natural flavours of the fish to be accentuated.

Good Risottos are hard to make, and even harder to find in Singapore restaurants. It’s always a challenge to balance the right amount of cheesiness and viscosity of the cheese and Arborio rice but Bistro Petit Salut seems to have gotten it just right with its Mixed Mushroom Risotto with light Cream Emulsion & Parmesan Cheese.

MZ was quite unlucky, having chosen the Pork Rillette which we considered a miss. Unfortunately, her unlucky streak continued in her choice of main, the Braised Lamb Shoulder “Navarin” Style with Carrots and Potatoes. The meat was utterly dry and tough and subsequently left unfinished.

I was really pleased in my choice of Chicken Leg Confit with Sauteed Potatoes, Bacon & Mixed Green Salad. Lightly crisp skin and tender flesh, with fried cubes of bacon soaking up all the chicken fat, utterly utterly sinfully delicious.

For desserts, J had the Classical Creme Brulee. I felt that it had the perfect consistency and sweetness but with the large portion that was given, a risk factor would be “gelatness” so this would be best shared.

Having had a great experience with the Choux Bun at Au Petit Salut, I decided to get it here as well, the Choux Bun with Vanilla Ice Cream, Warm Chocolate Sauce & Slice Almonds. I definitely didn’t regret it. The closest resemblance I can link to the Choux Bun is the push cart ice cream served with bread. Of course, there is a much higher satisfaction level crunching on the Choux Bun here than a $2 ice cream sandwich.

Normally cheesecakes in set lunches are shams, but I really savoured the “Gateau au Fromage Blanc” aka Homemade Cheesecake with Madagascar Vanilla Beans here which I found surprisingly not too cloying after the rich and oleaginous mains.

Wanting something lighter, you might want to consider the airy Homemade Strawberry Shortcake. Both the Strawberry Shortcake and Cheesecake came with a scoop of Sherbet (forgot what flavour though) which I thought was very generous given the already reasonable price of the set lunch.

Having a penchant for Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, S decided to supplement an extra $5 for it. I thought it was fairly decently executed, nothing you can’t get in other establishments. I really like how Bistro Petit Salut is so flexible in terms of set menu item changes, maybe I should try switching to a Foie Gras appetizer next time.

Compared to sister restaurant Au Petit Salut, I would prefer the latter for its location amidst a lush landscape and classier ambience but if you are just looking for no-frills authentic French food, Bistro Petit Salut would be slightly friendlier on the wallet.

Bon Appetit!



Tel: +65 6474 9788

Barracks Cafe II – Up-market Casual Dining

14 11 2010

I seriously cannot stand pretentious and arrogant people who seem to have a hobby of flaunting their wealth, grades or achievements. It is damn irritating. On the other hand, it is the minority of individuals who dwell in humility despite their social standing or achievements that really impress me.

In the same light, my view of Dempsey veers towards the former. Catering to the young, flashy and wealthy, the days where Dempsey used to be a secluded and romantic getaway are no more, leaving behind instead what I feel to be a superficial shell of its former self, where food and drinks are heavily overpriced. Ok maybe it isn’t that bad, one might still encounter an ambience of tranquilness and serenity at Dempsey but it’s mainly limited to weekday lunches. However, I tend to avoid going over there for dinners, especially on Weekends, where parking is always a problem and where rave parties seem to be going on at every corner.

Anyway, fellow CCA-mate and long time friend GR really wanted to have the Truffle Fries (which I think is highly overrated) at Barracks so despite it being a Friday night, I obliged, though rather reluctantly.

Barracks is a up-market casual dining restaurant, which to me just means less bang for your buck. Like most Singaporeans, I believe in getting a good deal, so while I don’t shun spending on food, I do believe in getting the most value of my dollar.

C had the Lobster Linguine($29++), which was essential a Half-Lobster Linguine, Crabmeat & Prawn Bolognese tossed in Black Pepper Sauce. This reminded me much of black pepper crab, which I thought took surprising well to the linguine.

S & GR both had the Fish & Chips($27++). Apparently, Cod fillets are used which explains the price premium. One good point is that the chips served for this dish are the highly raved about Truffle Fries, one bad point is that GR had a tummy ache after the meal and I do feel that battering a cod for fish and chips is soooooo wasteful don’t you think?

Adwyn had the Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin($24++), which rested over a bed of Fruity Peach Cranberry Chutney, Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Grilled Vegetables. While the Tenderloin was nicely seasoned, I thought it could have been done a bit more tenderly. But if you want a recommendation for Pork Tenderloin, my suggestion is to go for the awesome Yorkshire Pork Tenderloin at Perle Noire, a humble Oyster and Grill Bar in the Siglap area. It’s been more than a year since I last patronized and I’m still hankering over it which means it must be good! (Perle Noire so happens to have a 1-for-1 main course for Citibank Card holders currently, though the condition of the promotion is to make a purchase of a dozen oysters). Ok reverting back to the Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenderloin, what I thought really stood out was the Roasted Garlic Potatoes, which had a soft texture (from cooking and not from being overripe) and very palatable. If Barracks offered this as a separate side, I would definitely order it on my next visit.

Finally, I had the Moroccan Spiced Baby Chicken($19++). Fancy euphemisms apart, this is just a forgettable Roasted Baby Chicken with Yam Crisps. The Chicken isn’t particularly tender, moist nor succulent but the Yam Crisps are a well deserved change from the usual fries.

2 Hits and 2 Misses for dinner, but one thing good about the thriving superficiality in Dempsey, it ensures a constant supply of good eye candy!

Bon Appetit!



TEL: +65 6475 7787

Au Petit Salut – An Initiation Coverage

30 10 2010

Life is all about work-play balance so while food gastronomy more or less depicts the play-side element of my life, I believe in a strong work-side element comprising of academics and understanding the workings of the financial industry(more specifically equities) so bringing both of my passions together, I shall initiate a coverage call on Au Petit Salut.

First step in analyzing a company would be to identify it’s core business segments. For Au Petit Salut, it is a semi fine-dining French Restaurant located in the heart of Dempsey, with its humbler sister restaurant Bistro Petit Salut located at Chip Bee Gardens.

To address consumer demands, there is the choice to dine indoors (with air-conditioned) or al fresco. And if any of you are thinking about the risk of excessive humidity and heat while dining al fresco, fret not as these risks have been mitigated by the installation of many cooling fans.

I’m not sure if the 2 for 1 promotion for their smoothies($9++ for 2) is only available on weekday lunches, but unlike a conventional 2-for-1 stock split, there wasn’t any dilution in smoothie value which makes this deal ever the more sweeter. I found my Peach Smoothie really refreshing but if you are more into sour than sweet smoothies, the Passionfruit Smoothie would be one to consider.

To capture a larger market share and target a wider consumer base, apart from the “normal” 3-Course Set Lunch($30++), there is also an “executive” 3-Course Set Lunch($48++), catering to the rising opulence of the premium diner. C and myself shared 1 set of each.

From what I have read on fellow food blogger HungryEpicurean’s review on Au Petit Salut, apparently the complimentary bread served there comes from Delifrance. Could this be a case of divesting or outsourcing non-core businesses to low cost providers? Still, I appreciated that at least the bread arrived warm and crusty.

For the “normal” Set Lunch($30++), we had the Half Dozen Baked Burgundy Snails with Tomato & Garlic Butter. If you like the texture of clams, you would definitely like this. I prefer well-executed escargots over clams because I find it less chewy and tender, probably because snails move around quite a lot compared to its water-dwelling cousins, albeit at a snail’s pace(pun intended) and this possibly makes its meat more tender. And seriously, what can ever go wrong with garlic butter?

For Main, we had the Red Wine Braised Beef Cheeks, Carrots, Mushrooms & Parsley Potatoes. To me, beef cheeks are an affordable alternative to the ostentatiously priced and highly revered Wagyu. Juxtaposed to the red wine braised beef cheeks I had over at Bistro Du Vin just 3 days prior to this meal, I found the beef cheeks at Au Petit Salut more suitable for my palate as it hosted a milder flavour with a less pronounced hint of red wine, in addition to being more tender.

For Dessert, we had the Choux Bun filled with Vanilla Ice Cream, in warm Chocolate Sauce and Sliced Almonds. Just a heads up to the pronunciation of Choux, it should be pronounced as Chou rather than Chox. I made that mistake when ordering and felt a bit sua-gu after hearing the waitress repeat back my order with the correct enunciation.

Now for the Executive Set Lunch($48++), for Starters we had the Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras, Baby Spinach and Onion with Xeres Sauce($5++ Supplement). For the foie gras, I found it a bit overcooked and somehow not as fatty as most foie gras I have eaten, lacking the “oomph” factor. That said, I liked the complementary nature of the sweet Xeres Sauce(aka Sherry Sauce) which formed a nice pairing for the rich liver.

For Main, we had the Crispy French Duck Leg Confit with Sauteed Potatoes, Bacon, Mixed Green Salad & Walnut Dressing. Well executed crisp duck skin and moist succulent meat, the only downside was the excessive saltiness that accompanied it though I quickly got used to it. The bacon came as chunks of pan-fried belly pork which I felt was a little bit out of place.

For Dessert, The Warm Melted 70% Chocolate Cake served with 64% Dark Chocolate Sorbet and Red Current Jam and Pistachio Nuts, in short Chocolate Lava Cake. This Chocolate Lava Cake is definitely one of the better ones around but I would have preferred a non-chocolate Sorbet since I couldn’t really taste the dark chocolate sorbet over the sweeter decadent Warm Melted Chocolate Cake.

In conclusion, I reiterate my Buy Call on Au Petit Salut for 3 reasons; it’s uncompromising quality in French Cuisine which allows it to entrench its foothold as a key player in Singapore’s French Cuisine market segment; it’s classy yet back-to-nature ambience and fine service standards; and lastly the fact that most of the items on the menu are undervalued and being sold at  a discount compared to it’s peers (Gunther’s, Saint Pierre etc).

Bon Appetit!



TEL: +65 6475 1976

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