Spent my afternoon watching this – very inspired to make one now.
Ironically, a meal here yesterday did not leave me disgruntled. More photos to come soon- suffice to say that the food was excellent, and very similar in concept to Artichoke tapas style menu. I have to say though that surprisingly, I may prefer it even to Artichoke. The food was delish, and as I remarked, showed a remarkable amount of restraint – just the right pairing and seasoning, and alot of maturity by the chef (Daniel Sia, formerly of the White Rabbit).
Cedele is better known for its sandwiches, soups and salads. For a period of time however I decided not to patronize the stalls after the bad service at a number of its branches, made worse by the fact that after writing into management to give feedback I did not hear from them at all. This sentiment of poor, brusque service is lamentable given that the quality of its breads and expanding selection of sandwich fillings is a step in the right direction. They have also had Cloud 9 ice cream but it wasn’t until today that I managed to sample. Each cup is $3(4 cups for $12)and $2.80 if you add it to a meal. There’s quite a selection of ice cream n sorbets – mango tango, blueberry cheesecake, cappuccino almond, vanilla bean, mango sorbet, sea salt caramel, lychee.
I had the vanilla bean- the texture of the ice cream is smooth and creamy with the scent of vanilla coming through. It was however in my opinion a tad sweet and strangely chalky. Apparently the ice cream is eggless without trans fats as with the advertising for the sandwiches. Half decent if you want something cold to round up your meal, aside from the cakes.
I know that I really love a place when I find myself thinking of the food there, and visiting the same place twice within a week. It of course, doesn’t hurt that the place is a small, independently run place that serves up food with soul and heart. So you’re probably wondering – where is this place? Well, it’s a small joint called Artichoke, nestled in a corner at Sculpture Square (near NAFA, off Middle Road). The food is unique and one of a kind – a mix of Morrocan / Middle Eastern / Mediterranean morsels are served, and the two meals I’ve had there have left me wanting for MORE MORE MORE. (In fact, I almost selfishly wanted to keep this a secret so fewer people would crowd the place – but hey, good food should be shared right?)
The concept behind Artichoke is all about sharing – they serve a mix of big and small plates that are perfect for sampling their wonderful food amongst friends. On the 2 occasions I’ve been there, I’ve had (yes, both times) the Moorish Dips with Toasted Bread and the Marrakesh Chicken Wings. Of the dips, my favourite has got to be the roasted carrot, which marries the sweetness of the carrot with some interesting spices (i believe there is some cumin, but my taste buds could be off). The avocado tahini hummus was an interesting take on the traditional chickpea dip, while the yogurt and feta dip was the only one that didn’t quite blow my tastebuds away. One drawback, though, is that we would have liked if the bread was more of a pita texture (and if they gave a little bit more bread). The turkish bread that was served together with the dips was like a crispy ciabatta – while nice, it seemed – dare i say it – a little too fancy for the dips. We had to order more bread to mop up the dips, but at S$4 for 2 slices, this was a little steep. The Marrakesh Chicken Wings just exploded in juice and flavour once I bit into it – I will declare that I have not had a juicier, yummier chicken wing in a VERY long time. The harissa paste brought some nice heat and a little smokey flavour into the yummy wings, and I would not hesitate to order this EVERY time I visit. It is, however, S$15 for 6 pieces (really 3 full wings), so it’s not exactly terribly cheap, BUT, they were huge wings I would add.
People who know me, also know that I’m a huge eggplant / brinjal fan. Like HUGE. So when I saw the description of the Iman Bayidi on the menu, I knew that this was something we HAD to order. We were not let down. The eggplant was soft and mushy just as expected, and the smoky flavour suggested that it had been grilled over an open fire for a while. The walnuts added a nice crunchy texture to an otherwise soft dish (both the tomatoes and onions were also roasted and meltingly soft), and as a whole, the dish came together perfectly. It was almost like a reinterpretation of a “bhaigan bharta” (an Indian eggplant dish), and was just gobsmackingly addictive. Only one drawback to this dish – it was slightly on the oily side of things, which I attribute to eggplant, which usually needs plenty of oil to get it to that texture, but that could be just me.
For a big main to share, we picked the Lamb Kleftiko (Stolen Lamb). The only real reason why we ordered this the second time around, was because the table next to us on our first visit had ordered this and it looked and smelled terrific (i’m not much of lamb-eater myself). This particular dish had a nice stewey texture below that super crunchy cheesey crust, and we used that crust to soak in to the lamb gravy. It was like comfort food (x a million if you are a lamb-lover), and I could totally envisage myself digging into it in a cold winter evening. But alas, I am not a lamb lover, and anything I say about it perhaps will just not justify how good it tasted. I will say this – I liked the use of celeriac in the dish (at least I think it was celeriac), it gave the dish a little depth and plenty of oomph and sweetness, with a slight hint of parsley / celery.
Overall, I cannot emphasize how great a place like Artichoke is, and how fantabulous the food chef/owner Bjorn is churning out. I do wish he could train the servers a tad better. Save for the “manager” / front of the house, the other wait staff were slightly clueless and inflexible. A request as to whether they sold the dips for takeaway went unanswered, and a request to swop seats (just to be under the lighting) was also denied (they apparently pre-set their tables and one is only allowed to sit at the table at which they are seated). Other than these slight service glitches (nothing some good training can’t remedy), I wholeheartedly recommend this place to anyone and everyone. There’s so much they have to offer, and I do sincerely hope they continue to serve up the delish soulful food!
161 Middle Road
Tel: 63366949 (Reservations on fri / sat recommended – it’s not a big place)
|Tues – Thurs:||3:00 pm||-||10:00 pm|
|Fri:||3:00 pm||-||12:00 am|
|Sat:||11:00 am||-||12:00 am|
|Sun:||11:00 am||-||4:00 pm|
With the new restaurants / celebrity chefs that have zoomed in on Singapore, Singapore’s a great place to be right now for food lovers like me (and hopefully you, that’s why you’re reading this). The (long awaited) opening of the remaining outlets down at Marina Bay Sands (there may be some more, I’m not entirely sure), drew foodsmithone and myself to DB Bistro Moderne one lazy Saturday afternoon.
Born in France, chef Daniel Boulud is probably most famous for his Michelin / NYT starred restaurant Daniel. He’s also put up a few more casual dining concepts around the world, and DB Bistro Moderne is one of such ideas that have come to fruition. Modelled after a French bistro, DB Bistro Moderne has a sleek interior (sleeker than most French bistros I’ve been to), with comfortable sofa seats providing a nice cosy feel.
Neither of us are huge brunch fans – eggs and pancakes are not really our kind of tea, so we were quite happy when we saw that they were serving a mix of the a la carte dishes as well as some brunch items.
We zoomed in first on the Original db Burger, described on the menu as a Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short Ribs & Foie Gras Served on a Parmesan Bun. They have a number of other burgers on the menu, but we thought we would try the “Original”. We were not disappointed. The burger was moist, and the braised short ribs stuffed inside the burger gave the patty a hearty, meaty flavour. It brought out the best in the sirloin mince, although I would also attribute the juiciness of the burger to the slab of foie gras which was stuffed inside the layer of short rib. I know of people who would probably say that the use of foie gras in the burger might have been a little wasteful (you really do lose that crunchy layer that one usually gets with pan fried foie gras), but hey, i’m not complaining about a little extravagance to keep the patty juicy (and not when it’s going at S$35 a burger).
At the recommendation of our server, we also ordered the Barramundi Grenobloise, which was accompanied by cauliflower, turnips, radish and topped with a brown butter sauce (I know the photo below suggests a sauce that is not browned butter – but it was. The dark purple sauce around the fish was a tart-ish sauce that went well with the vegetables). As barramundi always is, the fish was perfectly cooked and had a meaty flavour to it. While the dish on the whole was very well executed (and definitely not pedestrian in any regard), we were probably more enamoured by the juiciness of the beef patty in the burger that this did not leave as lasting an impression. The nutty flavour of the brown butter sauce however, was something that pulled the dish together for me.
The dessert course was, however, our let down of the meal. Being a little greedy that day, we ordered the classic Ile Flottante (which is a meringue floating in a creme anglaise base), the Clafoutis Tout Chocolate (which was really like a molten chocolate lava cake), and some warm Madelines. The texture of the meringue in the Ile Flottante was as it should be, and the apple confit was also pretty complementary. However, it looked (unfortunately) more like an iceberg had broken off and was floating in the sauce. The sauce had a strong armagnac flavour to it, which is probably something that could make or break the dish for each individual (in my case, I did not enjoy the heavy lacing of the alcohol in the dessert, but I’m sure there are others out there who would beg to differ). The chocolate cake was nothing spectacular – perhaps I’m getting a little tired of soft centre chocolate cakes – somehow I’d hoped for alot more. The madelines were a good rendition of the traditional french cake, and I can imagine that a basket of those warm madelines would be quite popular amongst a group of friends.
In all, it was a pretty enjoyable experience at db Bistro Moderne. I’d say that the price point of the restaurant is about right for a nice meal out (but definitely not for a everyday meal), and you can count on them to provide well executed dishes that won’t disappoint. While desserts did not seem to be quite their forte, it could well be that we’d ordered the wrong desserts. Given the good quality savoury items, I think I’ll be back there to give them a second chance on the desserts, and at the same time, perhaps slip in another Original db Burger?
DB Bistro Moderne
Address: 10 Bayfront Ave, #B1-48 Marina Bay Sands
Tel: +65 6688 8525
Noon to 2:30 pm
Monday through Friday
5:30PM – 10:30PM
Saturday & Sunday
11:00AM – 3PM
Daily 11:00AM – Midnight
The first rule I learnt in economics is that businesses are profit-driven.
I thought of that while stepping into Food for Thought’s new pad at the Singapore Art Museum on Queen Street. The place prides itself on supporting charitable causes which by itself, is a novel concept for a cafe. Judging from the crowds, it is also a concept that works. The menu covers fairly standard fare for a cafe, but has some interesting finds. For instance, sandwiches come with pickles on the side, that taste more like achar and is quite a treat.
The fries are also to die for- I’ve been secretly nursing an urge to return just to feast on the fries. Huge potato cuts, not miserable shrivelled potato ones. I also loved the butterscotch berry apple crumble topped with vanilla ice-cream. The crumble’s texture in a baked dish oozes out nicely, with a delish serving of apples and mixed berries. We also had the Ferrero Rocher cake, but felt that the cake portion could be more moist as it was a tad dry.
At the end of the meal, besides walking away satisfied (the price point is decent), it also doesn’t hurt that you feel you did your wallet(and charity) a service. Now, what was that about the profit motive again?
As a reflection of how Singaporeans’ tastebuds are getting more international and adventurous, new lifestyle shops have dotted our island – some have closed(Anthropology at Raffles City) while others are shouldering on, and yet new ones continue to open. I’m not complaining as I love lifestyle shops- they sell kooky, odd items from abroad, and are often arranged such that you feel you are stepping into someone’s living room, or museum. An intimate space where there is an imaginary dialogue of sorts between you, the consumer, and him, the ‘curator’. A Curious Teepee at Cineleisure’s Escape is one such curious creature. There are lovely things to buy- necklaces by By Invite only, swimming costumes that are quite beautiful and limited edition, a Longchamp collective bag that can be collapsed into a donut.
But this is a food blog after all – A Curious Teepee also plays host to a cafe, managed under the auspices of the Lo & Behold Group (Overeasy, White Rabbit…) The menu has not been finalised and will only be out later this year. Serving a mix of cocktails, coffee,tea, sandwiches, waffles and desserts, the current menu is a little underwhelming. That said, there should be plenty of reasons to rejoice once the menu is finalised. Papa Palheta coffee is strong and potent, a really good cuppa if you are a coffee addict like myself. While we were there, we had just come from dinner so we couldn’t order the Apple Drummer with vanilla ice-cream but that looked potentially interesting. They also had tiramisu and usual suspects like Valrhona chocolate cake. Give it some time and this will be a nice spot to meet friends. I just wish they had more food on their menu. Apparently, they do a savoury waffle but you need to ask for it.
After all, who doesn’t like a place that serves cocktails & home made desserts?
There’s been a proliferation of salad shops of late- and this hasn’t been restricted to the Raffles place area. An outfit of the Salad STOP has opened at Novena Square, and having walked past the relatively empty shops a few months back, I thought I’ll have a salad for Sunday lunch and pop by this place.
I regretted it after eating the salad.
First, I ordered a Caesar Salad which as we all know, is probably one of the simplest salads to make- the guy I ordered from was hapless, and had to read the ingredients off the board, and even after doing so, couldn’t locate the ingredients in the tins in front of him – he didn’t bother about the proportions either, just dumped spoonful of chicken, spoonful of cheese etc, with the assistance of his presumably more senior assistant. Then he tossed all the leaves into the salad spinning bowl, then realising he was supposed to chop the lettuce, proceeded to scrape it out of the bowl and poured onto the chopping board. After dicing it, he then threw it back again into the spinning bowl, all the while the salad looked very unappetizing.
Second, the salads are much more expensive- add chicken and it becomes $12.50 for a small bowl of Caesar Salad. As to be expected, when i settled down to eat the salad, i had big chunks of cheese to chew and the mix of ingredients was all disproportionate. Third, it came with just a single breadstick, and was definitely not filling. My main problem with the salad was that you could tell the staff couldn’t be bothered about how the salad would turn out, a couple of times, the woman spinning the salad(midway while the guy was doing it, she took over) stopped a few times to talk to another customer and wasn’t even looking at whether the salad dressing was properly mixed. They also didn’t ask if I wanted free additional toppings or alternative dressings!
STOP when you see Salad Stop- judging from the crowd, it seems we’re not the only ones.
Salad junkies based in Raffles Place can rejoice – there’s another salad place in town! You might have seen the advertisements around the area, especially at Hitachi Tower. Drawn in by the advertisements, we finally headed down today to check the place out.
I had the Smoked Duck Surprise while foodsmithone had the Tandoor Tandoor. The Smoked Duck Surprise came with flavourful slices of smoked duck, nestled on a nice heap of frisee / curly endive / rocket, with sliced onion, roasted potatoes and pumpkin, topped with a very light layer of parmesan cheese. The salad dressing was a nice tart balsamic vinagerette (although they claimed to be serving truffled infused one, I couldn’t quite taste the truffle infusion), and they provided a nice coating of dressing for the salad (unlike the Salad Shop which can be inconsistent at times). Overall, the salad came together perfectly, and the ingredients, I have to admit were much tastier than that at Salad Shop (sorry this is turning out to be a Green Bar v Salad Shop post).
The Tandoor Tandoor had a nice bed of greens topped with tasty chicken tikka (sorry, again this one trumped the one at Salad Shop slightly), and was accompanied with chickpeas, roasted potatoes, onions and cucumber, smothered in a yogurt dressing. This was another winner in my books, with the yogurt complementing the chicken tikka nicely. It was slightly on the heavy side with the dressing (seeing the liberal yogurt dressing scared us away a tad), but when tossed, the leaves were only just slightly over-coated. Otherwise, a nice salad with a strong Asian touch.
If you’re a salad person, you’ll probably be welcoming this new addition to the salad scene in Singapore. You might feel slightly constrained by the pre-set salad mixes, so if you fancy salad shop because they allow you to mix and match your favourite ingredients, then this place isn’t for you. For me, however, I don’t mind trying flavours put together by others, so this place worked fine for me. Prices of the salads range from S$7.90 to S$12.90 and is roughly within the same range offered by other salad shops in the vicinity. Seating is tight, but I’m heading back soon to try the Real Chilli Crab Salad – that sounds like a real winner! Update again soon!
- The Green Bar
- 16 Collyer Quay Hitachi Towers #01-16/17
- Singapore, 049318
- Open Mon – Fri 11:00 am – 7:30 pm
While there are many cake shops in Singapore, many of these tend to be chain shops, neighbourhood bakeries or hotel bakeries. It’s not often we come across the odd independent cake shop with a niche interest. We’ve featured K Ki twice, today we thought we’ll write about FLOR, which specialises in Japanese cakes as well. While K Ki is entirely run by Singaporeans, FLOR features Chef Yamashita, who was formerly with GLACE Singapore. The shop is owned by a Singaporean, as I understand it, and is situated in Duxton Hill, in a lovely tiny outfit.
The focus of the shop are Japanese cakes- and for this, they do not disappoint. Most of the cakes have lovely fresh cream, cheese, fresh fruits, and delish amounts of cream at that. It’s a nice alternative to K Ki but I have to say both are very different- K Ki’s cakes are Japanese-influenced as well, but with a slight Western twist. Flor’s cakes are similar to what you might find at a local Japanese bakery in Tokyo – lovely fresh fruits, great selections, and well made cakes.
On leaving the shop, I noticed K Ki sent Congratulations over to the owner of Flor – how nice that the owners of both cake shops(being located quite close) are friends. Support the independent cake shops!
Jut to inform those peeps who frequent The Salad Shop at Raffles Place:
They have increased their prices:
For a Rabbit feed, instead of $6, it’s now $8.
For a Zebra feed, instead of $8, it’s now $10.
For an Elephant feed, instead of $10, it’s now $12.
What’s the difference you may ask?
1) Takeaway boxes are now different – it seems smaller to me
2) Additional 2 feeds
3) Dressings – you can ask for 50% more, or 50% less, or even separate(this is great!)
4) Dressings- An employee told one of us that they “advise you against taking more than two dressings” – well seeing how my dressings were predominantly lemon-based to make it sour, I don’t see why not.
Overall, slightly disappointing that they have increased their prices and made it compulsory to take 2 more feeds… $12 plus a drink will push it beyond $15 for a fast lunch.
To make things even more strange, if you use the old forms, you’ll still be charged the old prices up til 31 August 2010. Price differentiation for essentially the same thing, seems unfair to me.
As though we hadn’t had enough from the land of fish and chips, foodsmithone and myself headed over to Barossa at the Esplanade a few days ago and sampled some of their signature fish and chips. I’ll be real honest here, and say up front that we had gone there enticed by the 1-for-1 specials that some of the food outlets there offer during lunch hour, and in all honesty, Barossa wasn’t our first choice. But a “fully-redeemed” 1-for-1 special at Mirchi Kebab Factory and an empty looking Harry’s sent us to Barossa. Well, we were not disappointed.
Advertising itself as an Australian wine bar (hence the name), Barossa serves up a varied menu, with grilled beef (they have an all-you-can-eat Australian beef night) and seafood their main focus. Since we were on a hunt for a good deal, we zoomed in on the Traditional Fish and Chips that Barossa is offering (until 31 July) on a 1-for-1 offer.
The batter of the fish was light and crisp, and enveloped the fish perfectly. It was just slightly oily thus avoiding the “jelat” feeling one usually gets after finishing an entire plate of fried items. I should also add that the fish used was fresh and flaked lightly, just as it should be. The fries were also tasty and did not taste like it came out of a frozen store-bought packet of fries. I loved the fact that they gave us a side salad (dressed in balsamic vinegar) AND creamy coleslaw (which added to the calorie count here), both of which were excellent renditions. The dish was accompanied by a slightly pedestrian tartare sauce and a ketchup – chilli sauce mix (which I did not quite appreciate as much as I would have had it been pure ketchup).
Overall, a very good rendition of fish and chips (better than some that I’ve had in the Land of Fish and Chips in fact) that is worth a try. Do try it before the 1-for-1 offer ends (the regular price is S$24, but on offer, it’s S$18.80 for 2 persons!), but if you don’t have the time before then, then it’s still a good place for you to have a good fish and chips. If any of you guys have had other dishes here at the Barossa, do let us know, as we’re thinking of heading back there in the future!
Esplanade Mall, #01-11,
Monday to Sunday
12 noon to 230pm
Monday to Sunday
6pm to 1030pm
After watching The Prince of Persia yesterday(quick review: lots of blood and gore and violence, but Jake looks far too contemporary to be in this drama. Still, decent CGI effects, with a few laugh-out-loud moments), we ventured to the first floor at VivoCity in search of ice-cream and desserts in general. VivoCity appears to have changed quite a bit, there’s now Fruit Paradise on the Queen and Mangosteen section, and where Godiva used to stand, another chocolate miracle in the form of Max Brenner Chocolate Bar. Excited by the sight of another Max Brenner(the other branch being at Esplanade), we settled down comfortably and ordered chocolate sauce coated waffles, with chocolate sauce, two scoops of ice-cream; vanilla and chocolate. The actual name of the waffles now escapes me, but there’s a more healthy version called Tutti Frutti waffles, which come with blueberries and bananas(and might make you feel slightly more healthy with the amount of fruits ). I also ordered a Mocha Frappe, that comes served in their signature Alice cup – a ceramic cup with a long slender metal straw.
The Mocha Frappe was delish – not too sweet, with the right proportions of espresso and chocolate. The waffles however, though it looked delish, wasn’t quite as tasty. For one, the waffles seemed a little too dry for our liking- and lacked that buttery flavour that tasty waffles usually have. I found myself coating the waffle with more chocolate sauce in an attempt to make it more tasty. The other thing I wasn’t wild about was the caramelised hazelnuts- they tasted like popcorn on top of the waffles. Imagine popcorn coated in chocolate sauce on top of waffles!
Still, a good place to sit around and chat- it’s quiet and laid back and perfect for a weekend night out on the town (unless you’re like me, and prefer the Orchard stretch as truly Town.)
I don’t have any photos showcasing the Moomba Tuckshop sandwiches – but it’s one place I happily head back to for delicious sandwiches for lunch.
My favourite sandwich has got to be the seafood sandwich on spinach bread- the bread is different from that of Joe and Dough, but there is really no basis for comparison as the bread is done differently at both places.The seafood sandwich has generous portions and recently, it seems the portions have gone up. Desserts have also expanded – so if you’re in the area and want something quite light, Moomba Tuckshop is a good place to visit.
4 Battery Road
#B1-01 Bank of China Building
Restaurants in the Les Amis group never disappoint me, and Casa Verde (a joint venture between the good people at Les Amis and Buko Nero’s Oscar Pasinato) is just another great restaurant in their stable. Settled in the lush greenery of the Botanic Gardens, Casa Verde (meaning Green House in Italian) is a casual, laid back eatery serving a variety of pizzas, pastas and a handful of main courses. On a weekend, reservations are very much necessary as many families finishing up their day out in the sun stop by the restaurant to have dinner. The outdoor seating area is also pet friendly (although I most certainly am not), so it is not uncommon to find some expatriate families filling their tummies with their family pets sitting on the floor by their side.
Quite often when we visit Casa Verde we generally end up ordering the same dishes, including the Tagliatelle con Ragu alla Bolognese e Funghi Porcini and the Pizza Quattro Stagioni. The Tagliatelle is a simple, hearty pasta, with a meat sauce that is coarsely minced (almost as though by hand) in a simple tomato sauce. The pasta is always al dente, and the sauce, while simple, is always smokey and full of flavour.
On this trip, we decided to be a little bit more “adventurous” and stray a little from the tried and tested. First up, we had the Calamari Fritti, a staple starter on Italian menus. This was slightly above average, as the calamari was not particularly well seasoned and slightly bland on its own. What we did like was the tomato salsa that was fresh and accented with Italian parsley. The tomato dip that was provided to accompany the bread basket (complimentary, and a welcome addition) was also very much similar to the calamari sauce, and provided a nice clean taste on the palette.
As a change from our usual regime, we chose this time to have the Taglioni al nero de Seppia con Vongole Fresche, which was a fresh squid ink pasta in an olive oil / white wine sauce accompanied by clams. As always, the pasta was al dente and was delectable and soaked up the sauce that was delicately perfumed by the wine and the fresh clams. While some might say that this is not a difficult dish to put together (save for the making of the pasta), I think this was a very well-executed rendition of a classic vongole.
Because we had a birds’ eye view of the pizza chef on this occasion, we had the opportunity to observe him in action, and order our choice of pizza based on what looked good as we watched him prepare the pizzas. After about 10 minutes, we settled for the Pizza Frutti di Mare, or Seafood Pizza as the toppings of scallops, prawns and squid just looked too good to resist. This proved to be a good choice and was chockful of ingredients with virtually every mouthful filled with seafood of some kind (I kid you not)! The crust was slightly thicker than that available at Peperoni (also a Les Amis restaurant which will be reviewed soon-ish), but I liked that they used a very very generous helping of mozarella and tomato on the base. Because of the heavier use of cheese and tomato sauce, the base of the pizza was a touch wet, and while I did think it was perfect, I could perfectly understand why people might fancy it too wet.
Overall, I think the food at Casa Verde is very much worth the visit (and repeat visits). While I’ve read in the past that the service is something that ought to be improved, I must say that on my visits there, Peter and his team have been immaculate in their service, polite to a T, and attentive to our needs. This adds on to the good food that Casa Verde serves, and I would not hesitate to recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good pizza. One note of caution though, I understand that Casa Verde is run more like a self-service joint before 6 in the evening where one has to queue to order the food (although the food is delivered to your seat). This will probably put some people off, given the high(er) prices that they charge. I’ve never gone before 6pm, so have not had the opportunity to experience this myself, but for a trattoria style dinner, I think the prices at Casa Verde make the meal value for money when one takes into account the quality of the food. Do give this a visit if you’re craving for a good, thin-nish crust pizza!
1 Cluny Road
Visitor’s Centre, Botanic Gardens
Tel: +65 6467 7326
Every so often, I get into a health food phase. By health food, I generally mean salads (for lunch only). Luckily for me, there are quite a few salad joints (I am generally partial to Juiced Rawbars at Republic Plaza) around the area where I work, so I get a nice set of options. Since I’ve had some fairly generous (read: calorie laden) meals during the Lunar New Year festive season, I resolved to start on the health food phase again and headed out to check out a new salad shop that I’d heard about recently. The Salad Shop round at UOB Plaza 2 is a recent addition to the food scene at Raffles Place, taking the place of O’Briens the Sandwich Shop (which I’d not fancied in any case).
At the Salad Shop, the salads are customisable (for want of a better word). In other words, for a fixed price, you get to choose from a certain set of ingredients. As a base, they offer a choice of lettuce, deli leaves, cous cous, potatoes (warm) and baby spinach. For whichever salad size you pick, you get a free rein over these base items. In other words, you could pick all of the 5 bases offered at no extra cost, although as you might expect, they do temper the amount given to you based on the number of choices you make. I personally like the combination of baby spinach and the warm potato – the potato is particularly sweet, and it being warm, brings a nice contrast to the otherwise cold-based salad.
On my visit today, I went for the zebra sized feed (i.e. medium sized salad) for which I had a choice of 4 “main feeds” and 2 “supplementary feeds”. I had a tough time choosing just four of forty “main feeds”, and with options such as roasted pumpkin, mushrooms, almond flakes, pine nuts and various types of beans, you can just imagine the conundrum. I chose to go with the roasted pumpkin, almond flakes, threebean mix and sweetcorn today. The pumpkin was sweet as one would expect, and the three-bean mix was made up of chickpeas, cannellini beans and kidney beans, which saved me 2 choices since I could have picked each of these beans individually (bean lovers, take note!) Somehow, I wish I didn’t order the almond flakes today as they conflicted with the Parmesan cheese which I’d chosen as one of my supplementary feeds. All the flakey bits of almond just tasted like the Parmesan cheese – this was a disaster for me (my bad though, and not the fault of the Salad Shop). The other supplementary feed I chose was the roasted eggplant (which I’m told, runs out pretty fast so do get there early), and being an eggplant lover, there was simply nothing I could fault with the eggplant.
The Salad Shop also offers about 15 kinds of dressing to accompany their salads, from the usual vinagarettes to a rather special avocado dressing, which I chose today. I love avocado, and the use of the avocado in the dressing brought a nice creamy texture without (one hopes) the same number of calories as a cream based dressing would inflict. They also serve up a number of soups (liquid feeds, they call these) and sandwiches, which perhaps one day I shall try if I get bored of the salads. The thing is, there are just so many options to go through, and different salad pairings to try out I’m not sure that I would even get the chance to try the sandwiches.
As you can imagine from the review, I’m definitely heading back to the Salad Shop sometime soon to try out more salad combinations. If you happen to get into a salad mood and you’re working in the area, do give the Salad Shop a try, I promise you that you’ll have no regrets!
The Salad Shop
1 Bonham Street
#01-20 UOB Plaza 2
Tel: +65 6536 3686
Of late, gourmet hamburgers seem to be the rage in Singapore. The fad that was started off by Willin Low’s Relish (down at Cluny Court) appears to have caught on rather rapidly and there are now many alternatives to the ubiquitous McDonald’s or Burger King. At Far East Square, there’s Berg’s Burgers. At Thomson Road, there’s FatBoy’s Burger Bar. At Bt Timah, you have Burger Shack. And at Raffles City and Somerset, there’s the Handburger. I’m not exactly a big burger fan, but I do enjoy a good burger. To set the record straight, I generally like mine crisp and burnt on the outside, but juicy and medium on the inside. With the hype building up over the Handburger at Raffles City, I headed over there to try the burgers with a colleague.
The Handburger, if you haven’t already seen the place, looks much like a tuck shop / canteen. The outlet at Raffles City is made up of rows of wooden tables with square (slightly uncomfortable) chairs. This is a little bit of a minus point if you’re paying 15-18 dollars for a burger, but I digress. What’s interesting at the Handburger is the variety of the burgers they offer. From the Salmon Confit Burger to the Pulled Pork Burger, the range on offer is admittedly wide. Whether or not these burgers hold their water, is another question altogether.
On this particular visit, I tried the Works Burger, which was really a combination of a sirloin beef patty, cheddar cheese, sunny side up egg, beer battered onion rings, garlic mayo and sweet onion jam served on a caramelised onion bun.
The bun was soft and fluffy and a far sight yummier than what you would get at a regular fast food outlet. While the caramelised onion flavour didn’t feature strongly throughout the bun, I still liked eating it on it’s own as it was toasted to near perfection and the natural sweetness of the bread kept drawing me to the bun. The patty, on the other hand, was very very disappointing. Touted to be 180g of chopped sirloin, this tasted more like overcooked mystery meat, and while you could taste that it was in fact beef in the patty, the patty itself was tough, sinewy and dry. Each of the other components of the burger tried its best to push the patty along, and the bacon in particular was crisp while the sweet onion jam lent itself well to the burger. Luckily for the sirloin patty, the runny egg yolk helped to provide some “juice” to the otherwise tough patty and salvaged the dish as a whole.
Accompanying the burger was a bowl of handcut fries, served with a tomato based sauce. The tomato based sauce was decent and tasted closer to a barbeque sauce, while the fries were for me, a touch too underfried and slightly on the soggy side, especially after about 5-10 minutes on your plate. Still, I would not say that the fries were all THAT bad, but they were merely pedestrian in this meal.
My colleague had the Sirloin Tataki Burger – this was just lightly seared on the outside as tatakis are meant to be, but otherwise did not appear or taste to be particularly outstanding.
In all, I would have to say that my visit to the Handburger was slightly disappointing as the most important part of the burger was ultimately the most disappointing part as well. I guess having a tough, dry patty in the middle of a hamburger in a shop that specialises in selling hamburgers is like serving not-so-flavourful sashimi at a sashimi bar in Tsukiji market. Sadly this was the case at the Handburger and I would probably hesitate in ordering the hamburgers if and when I next visit. Perhaps I should try the pulled pork or the portobello burger next? I’ll post on this again if I do head back there.
252 North Bridge Road
Tel: +65 6334 4577
Mention a sandwich lunch and one is often likely to get a lukewarm response – the thought of cold, clammy, premade sandwiches is often not greatly appetising. In the UK, however, the sandwich is probably the number 1 choice for grab-n-go lunches. For me, I remember the days I spent chomping down “gourmet” Pret-A-Manger sandwiches (complete with crisp bacon and which, to this day, I still love and adore) in freezing cold London weather, and thinking to myself, how nice it would be, if we had a similar outlet in Singapore. Well, Pret-A-Manger came and went, and still, sandwiches aren’t that popular in Singapore. Some time back (before FoodsmithOne and I started this blog), we chanced upon a sandwich shop at Hitachi Tower down in Raffles Place called Joe and Dough. Sandwich-phobes need not worry – their sandwiches aren’t the cold, pre-wrapped sandwiches, but rather, are hot and toasted, and made with artisan bread.
My favourite at Joe and Dough is the Teriyaki Chicken, which is essentially a ciabatta filled with teriyaki chicken, pineapple slices (from the tin), and roasted zucchini slices. Topped with a thin slathering of mayonnaise, the combination of the sweet / savoury teriyaki sauce and the slightly tart pineapple slices sends me straight to sandwich heaven. The crisp toasted ciabatta bread is so well-baked that I’m often tempted to just buy the ciabatta on its own.
I’ve also tried the Bacon Mushroom Melt which is served on homemade Swiss zorf bread (pretty close to brioche in texture). Other offerings also include a Cajun Chicken (served on a fougasse) and the English Bratwurst and Onions (served on a wholemeal panini). But being the boring old person I am, I still often find myself ordering the Teriyaki Chicken over and over again. The ciabatta is just so yummy (and yes, I know I am repeating myself but I really can’t help harping on it), you really must try it to test for yourself.
Joe and Dough
16 Collyer Quay
Hitachi Tower #02-05
Tel: +65 6438 2115
Mietta’s, down on Arab Street, is where the “Angelo” in Michelangelo’s at Chip Bee Gardens has now moved. While I’d only been to Michelangelo’s once (on a one for one deal, no less), I was interested to try the food at Mietta’s to see if Angelo Sanelli’s cooking really held its water. Of course, while Chef Angelo is the face of the restaurant, the kitchen is really not helmed by him on a day-to-day basis and he really is in charge of the culinary direction of the restaurant. So I guess one might argue that it would not be fair to pin the success (or failure) of the restaurant on him. Or would it?
Taking advantage of Citibank’s 1 for 1 set lunch offer (till 28 February 2010), we headed down to Mietta’s for a taste test. Mietta’s set lunch is regularly priced at S$45++, so at 1 for 1, a 3 course set lunch is an affordable S$22.50++ per person. All of the dishes on offer on the set lunch menu are pulled off the regular a la carte menu, so the set lunch is a good way of trying the most popular dishes on Mietta’s menu.
As starters, we sampled the Calamari Fritti and the Symphony of Mushrooms.
The mushrooms were well seasoned and the morels provided a nice depth to the dish. The arugula was a touch “old” and I didn’t quite agree with the use of the arugula in garnishing the mushrooms. Otherwise this was well executed and delicious. As for the calamari fritti, I felt this was a disappointment as the batter slid off the calamari and didn’t hold well. The tartare sauce on the other hand, was a nice mix of gherkins and capers. A pity it made little difference as the fritti was underpar.
For mains, we sampled the Magret de Canard – Pan fried French duck breast on raisin and puy lentil with seared baby vegetables drapped in port wine jus, Roasted Barramundi – Pan roasted barramundi with slow simmered fennel and turnip in orange saffron broth with citrus salad and Baby Lamb Shank – Braised lamb shank with white asparagus, artichoke and truffle puree, roasted vine ripened tomato and mint coated asparagus spears.
The lamb shank had an interesting plating design involving the asparagus spears with the tomatoes (bordering on R rated), and was braised to tenderness. While the lamb was tender, it seemed to lack an oomph in the braising liquid – there just wasn’t that much depth to the flavour. The duck breast was my pick, and had crisp skin with the meat just nicely done. I would caution, however, that I do like my meat slightly rare, and some people may find the meat a touch too rare for duck meat. As for the barramundi, I liked the use of the fennel complemented the freshness of the fish. (As an aside, I always find dill and fennel to be good complements to fish dishes – let me know if you disagree!)
We were rather stuffed when it came to the desserts, but since we were on the set lunch, we just had to try the offerings on the menu. We tried the Chocolate Delice, Cinnamon Panna Cotta and the Tiramisu (not pictured). The Chocolate Delice was a cold set chocolate ganache which was smooth on the palate although it was a heavy end to the meal. This chocolate ganache was accompanied by a wild berry sorbet which wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked it to be. I’m not a fan of cinnamon, so my sampling of the panna cotta was brief and I would hesitate to comment except that it was not overly sweet which I liked. Those who had the panna cotta, though, complemented it’s smoothness. The tiramisu was well executed and the saviordi fingers were deliciously soaked in the coffee marsala. Together with an airy light mascarpone cheese mixture, the tiramisu was a good execution of the classic Italian dessert.
On balance, I would say that the food at Mietta’s was decent though unexeceptional. Without the one for one deal offered on the set lunch, I’m not sure I would visit Mietta’s as there are better value set lunches (without the promotion) available. S$45 ++ is still a little steep when places like Saint Pierre are offering set lunches at S$48++ (and that comes with a choice of coffee / tea) and the food at Mietta’s is unfortunately nowhere near the standards offered by Saint Pierre. Still, that’s not to say that the food at Mietta’s is bad. It serves up decent fare which is worthwhile while 1 for 1 offer is available. So do give Mietta’s a try during this offer period and let us know if you enjoyed the food.
126 Arab Street
Tel: +65 6396 5493
After a week of not quite so healthy food(fried pork chop, assam fish, cabbages, fried egg, fried beancurd x 2.Lard Lard Lard), I adjourned to Cedele Wheelock in a bit to restore some harmony to my digestive system. I quite like Cedele salads, but the appalling service in most of their branches often leaves me dissatisfied and reluctant to return. Cedele shops come in two varieties- the cafes selling sandwiches, and the restaurants, selling a wider range of all day breakfast items, as well as main courses such as risotto, pasta and desserts.
The branch at Wheelock has been around for sometime – I tried it once a few years ago but never returned. Two days ago, however, I was quite surprised at the service in the branch. While the waitstaff were all young, they were extremely prompt and came by to refill our cups of water every 10 minutes. They were also pleasant and attentive. It might have been the extremely quiet crowd – but I’ve never experienced such service in Cedele. In fact, the waitstaff at the branch at Great World City seem determined to overlook you, even when you wave with both arms flailing or in the case of one table last week, a guy who stood up for 5 whole minutes without anyone batting so much as an eyelid.
But less on this, and more on the food:-
We began with the not so healthy Cedele Fiery Chicken Wings with Lime Thai Sauce – the batter of the chicken wings was delicious and crispy to a fault. The accompanying sauce was also delicious and not all that spicy. What was a let-down however was the size of the chicken wings – they were too insubstantial to be tasty enough.
One of my friends decided to have the Red Chilli Crab pasta-a risky choice in my opinion. It was really just soft shell crab pasta, with a choice of spaghetti, linguine or penne. The sauce was thick and dense, with generous pieces of crabmeat, although the centrepiece of the dish was a small lone soft shell crab. Still, my friend requested for a version without chilli and declared that it was tasty enough.
I had the Sea Bass Masak Merah while my other friend had the Chicken Masak Merah - sea bass on a bed of salad greens with vinegar and olive oil dressing and lemongrass sambal on the sea bass. I asked for the chilli to be placed at the side. The sea bass was soft and well seasoned, but too much vinegar was doused on the salad greens, such that the salad became quite sour. I loved the lemongrass sambal though – the sambal was not overpowering, and had a lovely smell of lemongrass.
Cedele may be a jack of all trades when it comes to their restaurants- but it’s truly a master where it comes to key favourites such as salads. Not having tried many of their main courses, I can’t say that they are just as good but you know you’re guaranteed a decent salad and sandwich when you walk into the place. Much less can be said about their service – the uncertainty of their brusque service always leaves me feeling more than a little cold. Worse, writing in to give feedback about their service, and not getting any reply, is certainly a tragedy.