Friday, February 28, 2014

The Naked Finn, Gillman Barracks

This was another place (Gillman Barracks, 41 Malan Road, tel : +65 6694 0807) that had been on my radar for a while and it's finally happened. The options they serve up here are focused, but was by no means limited. I certainly didn't remember the last place that offered nine options for crustaceans. In summary, the seafood was really well done with minimal seasoning that the quality spoke for itself.

We got a table by the bar. The reservations process is a little spotty. It took a while before my calls got through and they never pick up the phone if you call beyond their stipulated hours.

Sitting at the bar here simply means that you get to see the drinks being made. There is no open concept kitchen.

Watching them make drinks was however a rather pleasant distraction while waiting for orders to arrive. I saw my drink made at least.

I liked their Kyoho grape cocktail. Very unsophisticated and comes with chew from the bits of grape skin.

It all starts with a salad. It was okay, nothing very much to get excited about.

We were never really explained how the condiments were to be used, but the belachan and the Thai tasting sauce on the top left worked, and worked very well, with their chilled bee hoon.

First up was razor clams with hot shallot oil and fried shallots. As mentioned earlier, little in the way of condiments to distract. It was perfumed with the shallot oil and salt on the side was optional. This was actually very nice. The textures were good and the mild sweetness came through.

Then came the bee hoon which the server advised on going easy on. There's been some talk about this particular item. It's as good as those talks described. As easy going as we tried to be, it was addictive. Especially when one had to wait between courses. We had seconds eventually.

Then came the New Zealand littleneck clams. I think these were okay, nothing very much I could describe except that they tasted fresh. 

What was outstanding was their Indian baby squids. The aroma from the grill hit us as it was served. The char was present without being excessive.

Grilled Alantic scallops were chunky and again, had nothing but fried shallot and their oils. These, the squid and the bee hoon so far are good for returns.

The largest portioned items were some locally farmed barramundi that came with olive oil and salt. I don't generally order fish very often, so take this opinion with a pinch of salt (lol, pun intended!). Best damned barramundi I've had. The skin was pan fried to a light crisp and the flesh tasted tender and juicy like steamed fish. Very nice.

I think these were the Mozambique lobsters. These were also very nice. The flesh was so sweet and the heads, flavorful.

If anyone is wondering, I was forced to use my fingers.

A decent if not so remarkable crème brûlée to wrap up.

I like this place. The staff is friendly plus the seafood's was really pretty damned good. It's not too cheap, but I guess that's the way these things go for in this country. Would love to come back again, but the location's a pain to reach.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lunch at Au Jardin

I'm gonna keep this short. In truth, I thought that the brunch was better bang for the buck even if it costed more. But what I liked about the lunch at Au Jardin were their seafood options for the starters and mains. The mud crab and the scallops namely, which were excellent and very nicely flavored with truffle mayo or reduction. I know that truffle has gotten old of recent years and the market is filled with the alchemied cheap stuff, but these aren't that.

The foie gras and striploin was really just passable. Those, I had expected better.

pan fried foie gras, petite salad, caramelized apple, verjus sauce

mud crab with Ratte potato salad, Avruga caviar, black radish and truffle mayonnaise

roasted black Angus striploin (200 days grain fed), caramelized root vegetables, sweet corn puree and shallot sauce 

Hokkaido scallops a la plancha with “sunny-side up” egg, seasonal mushrooms and truffle reduction

this was so good

“Matcha” with citrus mousse and ice cream 
“Chocolate Fondant” 

un café

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Brunch at Au Jardin

We've been wanting to come to Au Jardin (EJH Corner House, Singapore Botanic Garden Visitors Centre, Cluny Rd, tel : +65 6466 8812) for a while. A really long while. This was a first visit and also a brunch which they serve only on Sundays. Everything before the soup was pretty much a la carte buffet styled which was prepared in curated batches for freshness.

duck rillette

We liked the duck rillette here. Enough duck fat to grease the shredded meat, sufficient salt to enhance the mildly gamey flavour and little else to distract. We had seconds with extra orders of bread.

Tempura of fish and prawn beignet

The tempura and beignet were fried very shortly before service. Both were served hot and fresh tasting with a crisp skin and tender meat. Each of the latter was also wrapped in a shiso leaf. We had thirds since each portion was really small. 

vine cherry tomato with mozzarella 

This was one of my favourites from the brunch.  Chilled and luscious sweet tomatoes (all skinned, no less) with EVOO, a pinch of course salt scattered and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. And little sliced balls of mozzarella. This was good in a refreshing manner. We had thirds. Uhm.....I had thirds.

foie gras terrine, rock melon with Serrano ham, smoked salmon

No complains on the foie gras, ham & melon and the salmon. The food was not super fancy, but it was all very decently done with quality ingredients. Strangely, we didn't have seconds for this.

mesclun salad with honey mustard dressing

Unfortunately for the boring old salad, everything else that came with was better. This was pretty much left untouched except for a leave or two.

cream of mushroom soup with truffles 

A finely blended rendition of a luxuriant mushroom soup with accents of truffle. Again nothing very fancy, just nicely done.

scrambled egg, smoked salmon, truffle reduction

I would love to have this scrambled eggs for breakfast often. 

roasted rabbit saddle, seasonal mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, truffle reduction 

One of my favourites of the brunch as well. The rabbit was well flavoured and highlighted with an excellent black truffle reduction. The Brussels sprouts tasted fresh and the assorted mushrooms were exceptional. One could certainly sense the care in the preparation of each component.

lobster pasta with sweet basil 

The pasta was unfortunately not impressive. Noodles could have done better with a shorter blanch and the meat wasn't as sweet nor firm as I was hoping for. This was probably just the only dark spot here.

apple tart with vanilla sauce and ice cream 

This was not bad at all. I couldn't figure out what the ice cream was. Refreshingly tart it was.

Manjari 64% chocolate Ganache tart with chocolate “soil”, milk pudding, crème de cacao jelly and burnt butter ice cream 

Hmmm...not big on this but it was really an okay ganache.

I think one's salted caramel saffron and the other is some berry......? I'm just guessing

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The case with Eggs Blumenthal

oven grilled cheddar on sourdough toast  

pan fried cheddar on sourdough toast

 yum yum...something wicked this way comes

leftover sausages from Le Bistrot du Sommelier 

what I just labelled as 'eggs Blumenthal'

It's just breakfast porn over the weekend again. With a misleading and intriguing title to it. We tried the "perfect" scrambled eggs, as taught by Heston Blumenthal over YouTube. The double boiled stirring method if you would. It didn't quite turn out the way his did, but it was still buttery good. I liked too, how the residual whites are still present.

Steamed bread with butter and kaya from Ya Kun

Ya Kun, steamed bread kaya butter

This picture doesn't really show very much but I thought this new item from Ya Kun was quite nice. It's basically quartered bread with spread steamed in a bamboo basket. The result was piping hot airy bread with a slightly chewy texture. In between, melted butter soaked in the thick fluffy slices and a smudge of kaya. Local comfort food.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Extra Virgin Pizza, United Square

Extra Virgin Pizza, mushroom bianco
mushroom bianco

Extra Virgin Pizza, spotted pig
spotted pig

Extra Virgin Pizza, grilled skirt steak salad
grilled skirt steak salad

Extra Virgin Pizza, cauliflower romesco
cauliflower romesco

United Square is starting too look like a place where I can find myself heading for food. Ramen Bari Uma and Tamoya Udon have opened up lately. The old yakiniku place at the corner has been taken over by Extra Virgin Pizza (#01-14, United Square Shopping Mall, 101 Thomson Road tel : +65 6247 5757).

The food wasn't shabby. I don't think I would mind coming back for the pizza again. Their crust was a little thin, chewy and generally doesn't hold the weight of the toppings very well. And the spotted pig was generally a tad salty, even for me. Still, the things we had ordered were quite tasty. Special mentions to the cauliflower that had a nutty almond capsicum sauce. Don't expect precision from the doneness of meat here. They generally just do pizzas.