Monthly Archives: April 2014

Entre nous

Another recommendation by L… a French creperie… a melodious name like Entre-nous (but not like I knew how to pronounce it exactly)… and I was envisioning a giggly girly lunch with MissY and S over crepes and tea in a lavish and extravagant French boudoir setting. But I came crashing (albeit gently) down to earth when we arrived at this little simple space along Seah Street.

20140430-181226.jpg For first timers, the menu was quite hard to navigate as it is not one of those things where you instinctively know what you want (and the squiggly font didn’t help – maybe it is a sign of age). After some squinting and spying on other diners, we made our choices.

Gavrinis ($20.80) – avocado mashed with garlic and cream, roasted chicken

20140430-181335.jpg Cheese and avocado rank high on my list of loves, so it was a toss-up between the 2 ie. Gavrinis or La ouessant (see below). I chose this cos’ it sounded more unique and didn’t regret it one bit (or bite, hurhur)! The creamy garlicky avocado mash went well with the crispy crepe and the roasted chicken bits broke the monotony and gave more textural bite.

La ouessant ($21.10) egg, ham, emmental cheese and mushrooms with cream sauce

20140430-181520.jpg This was MissY’s crepe; she had her eggs scrambled instead of sunny side up. Pity – it would have been a cuter photo with the sunny side up peeking out. They sure didn’t stinge on the emmental cheese and it was cheesy. But overall, with the ham, the dish was too salty for me.

Stephan’s favourite ($20.20) – roasted chicken, wholegrain mustard and caramelised onions

20140430-181713.jpg Some of the dishes on the menu go by first names and we were guessing that they are names of the family of the owners, sharing their favourites. MissY had the brilliant idea of yelling out all the names to suss them out and had a giggling fit whilst I was more concerned with potential chaos as some fellas has more than one favourite and different dishes have the same name!

Back to this dish – the bite of the mustard with the sweet caramelized onions made this dish interesting. But the flavours didn’t all quite come together; I think I’m not with Stephan on this and would still pick the Gavrinis on my next visit.

Geraldine’s favourite ($14.90) – salted butter caramel, cooked apple and vanilla ice cream

20140430-181811.jpg Definitely a great dessert choice! Both MissY and I were initially wary of the thick goo coating the crepe fearing that it would be sickeningly sweet. But it wasn’t! It was more salty than sweet on the first bite and then the caramel-y sweetness came through later. The cooked apples in the folds provided further warmth and tartness and the ice cream gave it a icy cold and sweet contrast. I would recommend this!

Overall, a great place for crepes – huge variety, innovative ideas and some gems on the menu; but be warned that the prices are a little higher than other crepe places.

27 Seah Street
Open Tue-Fri 12nn-3pm/6-10pm, Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-6pm
http://www.entrenous.sg/

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Concetto

I heard good things about Concetto, so when both S and I were “abandoned” by our hubbies for dinner, I dragged her, and subsequently L, to check it out.

It was really crowded for a Tuesday night; thank goodness they have 90 seats over 2 levels. The set-up is industrial-chic, with cement floors and long stone benches, and to add some quirkiness, there is a herb garden in the midst.

20140423-173712.jpg Their menu is divided into Earth (appetizers), Land (vegetables and meat), Seas (fish and shellfish) and Light (desserts).

We shared 2 appetizers – S said one looks better than it taste and the other taste better than it looks (can you figure which is which?).

Grilled Octopus ($10.90++)

20140423-173203.jpg Cold and rather bland, unless you pick a piece which caught the sea salt. Better if you eat the octopus together with the fennel salad and anchovy sauce.

Buffalo mozzarella ($8.90++)

20140423-173307.jpg Couldn’t quite tell that the buffalo mozzarella was supposed to be the star; it was more like a tomato bruschetta. I didn’t like that the bread was soaked through and soggy with the balsamic vinegar. The various bits also kept falling off the bread and the various tastes didn’t come together.

For the mains, presenting S’ “mee pok tah”, L’s “chee cheong fun” and my “porridge”! :-

Prawn Aglio (with tiger prawn and sakura ebi) ($10.90++)

20140423-173417.jpg Flavourful but super super spicy!

Pumpkin Fattottini ($7.90++)

20140423-173522.jpg This, to me, was the stand-out of the evening – innovative and unique. It was a huge stuffed pasta with pumpkin marmalade and brown butter filling. As you bite into it, the warm, sweet and buttery mixture bursts into your mouth. I will recommend trying this unless you are adverse to butter and/or pumpkin.

Crab Risotto ($12.90++)

20140423-173620.jpg The risotto was quite gooey, and I appreciate the thought to break the monotony with tiny bits of capsicum, crispy rice crackers, small pieces of baby kalian (disguising as cabbage) and crab meat. I enjoyed it but creaminess can get a bit “jelat” towards the end though. On hindsight, maybe we should have pooled our mains together to share out the richness.

Overall, a place with some interesting dishes. Worth a try!

The Cathay #01-11
Open 12nn-9:30pm
http://www.concetto.sg/

Keisuke Gyoza King

I had an impromptu dinner date with L and with S’ recommendation in mind, we headed to Gyoza King.

We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of a queue when we arrived. The restaurant is a tight space with only 16 counter seats and we hear that the queues can get quite long.

It is a great value-for-money meal! For $13.80++, you get rice, soup (vegetable/miso), 5 gyozas (pork/chicken/prawn) and 2 side dishes (from a choice of 8). In line with the Keisuke name, you order by ticking your choices on a chit; very efficient.

Whilst waiting for your orders, you can help yourself to the pickled cabbage and marinated beansprouts. (For protein buffs, sorry, no free flow eggs here). We were also kept entertained by the cute Japanese manager who was trying her best (with her limited English vocab) to teach us to mix our own gyoza sauce – soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil in the ratio 3:2:1. Chilli-crazy L obviously inverted the ratio.

20140422-120027.jpg L and I shared our meals so we could try more stuff. We had the pork and prawn gyozas – served hot; slightly crispy skin with juicy meats within – thumbs up. For sides, we chose (i) deep fried chicken with spicy sauce and mixed sesame, (ii) chicken nanban with tartar sauce, (iii) stir fried egg with chinese chives and (iv) deep fried tofu with minced pork gravy. Frankly, these are not very complex dishes and it’s probably something you can whip up at home; but it is great to have someone do it for you and have the variety for an eat-out dinner at an affordable price.

20140422-120121.jpg Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Street #01-15
Open 11:30am-2:30pm/6-10:30pm

Luke’s

B and I were discussing steaks, and it somehow ended with a plan to go to Luke’s with him and S. It was a superb meal!

Prime ribeye “naked” style (400g) with confit garlic ($88++)

20140421-114508.jpg (1/3 of the 400g portion which they divided in the kitchen for us)

Ooooh, the steak… it was “melt-in-your-mouth” tender! It was perfectly done, seared on the outside and pink inside, with sweet iron juices oozing with every bite. I am salivating just thinking back about it. The side of confit garlic gave the dish a rustic and earthy flavour.

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes ($47++)

20140421-114707.jpg This was S’ mains which she shared with us. (For those wondering, the steak was split 1/3-2/3 and non-meat-lover-S had the crab cakes to herself.) Another excellent dish, packed full of sweet crab meat.

Old Style Hash Browns ($20++)

20140421-114838.jpg We ordered this without knowing what exactly “old style” was – Macs’ style? Small round potato balls? It turned out to be rosti! Rosti is usually my “vehicle” for sour cream but in this case, it was good even without! Crisp on the outside, warm and creamy potato on the inside. Definitely a star dish.

Lobster Mac & Cheese ($26++)

20140421-115008.jpg The M&C paled next to the other dishes. It sounded like something I would love – pasta with cheese and cream, textured with ritz cracker crumbs. But somehow, the flavours were not intense enough and despite the crumbs, it was a tad mushy overall.

Double Fudge Chocolate Brownie ($16++)

20140421-115102.jpg Together with the peanut butter ice cream, this dish was power-packed with chocolate, nuts and overwhelming sweetness; a little too overwhelming for me.

Grandma’s Apple Pie ($16++)

20140421-115309.jpg I enjoyed this dessert better than the brownie – warm baked apple bits topped with maple pecan ice cream, and accompanied by freshly cut apple shreds.

Overall, an excellent place for steak but be prepared to spend.

20 Gemmil Lane
Open Mon-Sat 12nn-12midnight
http://www.lukes.com.sg

Haveli

We had a family dinner at Haveli and ordered quite a bit of Indian food, although their menu also features fusion western dishes.

Amongst 6 persons, we had 6 garlic naans ($3 each), 1 white rice (also $3) and 5 dishes to share. It took a little shoving towards the end but we managed to finish most of the food. The garlic naans were so-so, not quite garlicky enough and I think we would get basmati rice next time for more fragrance.

Mushroom Tikka ($12)

20140418-104729.jpg I never had this anywhere before. It’s nice! Button mushrooms with a salty chargrilled taste. I would order this again.

Bhindi Masala ($15)

20140418-104857.jpg I liked the ladies fingers as well; slightly crunchy and spicy. But check out the amount of ginger! Actually, ginger featured plentifully in many of the dishes which can be a little overpowering, leaving all the dishes with a similar lingering taste.

Kadai Prawns ($18)

20140418-105325.jpg I actually don’t remember much of this dish. It’s either I didn’t get to it or it didn’t stand out either way. R says the prawns were fresh but the gravy was not as intense as other dishes. But see what I mean about the ginger!

Butter Chicken ($15)

20140418-105426.jpg I would have preferred this slightly spicier; it was a tad too sweet. Even this had ginger hidden in the gravy!

Aloo Mattar ($12)

20140418-105957.jpg The Yeos were very excited about ordering this potatoes & green peas mix, sautéed with onion, tomato, garlic and spices. It was not too bad except I am not a fan of green peas.

Oh yes, we also had the cucumber raita ($6). It was more dilute than others I have had and also more expensive. I may skip this next time.

Overall, an ok Indian place that we would go back only because it is a stone’s throw away. It would also be interesting to try their western food.

384 East Coast Road
Open Mon-Fri 4-11:45pm / Sat-Sun 11:45am-11:45pm
http://www.haveli.sg/

Salta

For one of our monthly girly night outs, C had a list of steak places and J found a superb deal on http://www.deal.com for Salta, an Argentine grill, and off we went for a 3-course $35++ meal.

Appetizer

“24 months” aged Jamon Iberico Ham Salad with Holland Vine Tomato, Mesclun Salad & Green Olives

20140417-144129.jpg The salad came together very well – chewy and salty ham with sweet tomatoes and crunchy greens, laced with balsamic vinegar.

Beef Empanadas with Lentil Portage, Sun Dried Tomato & Arugula Leaves

20140417-144808.jpg In short: beef curry pok.

Side Order
20140417-145237.jpg We shared a side order of the sweet corn cake ($14++). I was expecting something similar to the Kenny Rogers’ corn muffin but it was more interesting than that! It was served warm; crumbly (like a cake), sweetish (from the corn) but slightly cheesy/creamy at parts. The parmesan custard served on the side was like a panna cotta, but in cheese form. Worth a try!

Mains

280G Charcoal Grilled Grass Fed Rib-eye Steak with Grilled Vegetables, Pink Chat Potatoes & Salsa Verde

20140417-145416.jpg It was a thick chunk of meat, very generous given the price; and it was meaty and juicy, though not super tender. I found my steak to be underdone for a medium order and it was only when A commented on a bloody piece I couldn’t bring myself to finish did we realize that they got our orders mixed up! So there was C struggling with my order whilst I was avoiding the pools of blood in hers. Not too impressed with the service at this point – the servers really ought to have checked but I guessed we could each have spoken up sooner as well.

Desserts

Minty Cantaloupe Gazpacho with wild berries & raspberry sorbet

20140417-145837.jpg This was an interesting dessert with the little bits of fruits in the sweet cantaloupe puree contrasting with the sour raspberry sorbet. I didn’t finish it cos’ it was too sour for me but nonetheless, quite a refreshing dessert after a hearty meaty meal.

Overall, an average steakhouse.

12 Gopeng Road, Icon Village #01-56
Open Mon-Sat 12nn-2:30pm/6-10:30pm
http://www.saltaparrilla.com.sg/

Sprigs

I have a backlog of posts but I am skipping ahead with excitement to write about the fabulous food at Sprigs!

My ex-colleagues, (and N) and I have a fixed date every month to indulge in what we call a “Spiffy Lunch”. The term was never defined but it is our once-a-month splurge on a fancy meal at a new-ish restaurant where budget is not discussed. When our original choice was fully booked, we looked to Sprigs, a new restaurant at Purvis Street which most of us in the group haven’t even heard of.

S and N separately questioned jokingly if Sprigs fell within the parameters of a “Spiffy Lunch” given its reasonable pricing. But we (and I’m sure we speak for our wallets) concluded that price is not the determinant and I would say that the food at Sprigs surpassed some at fancier places. Service was also very prompt and the food was served quickly. The server was attentive and constantly topped up our water, which was flavoured with cucumber and (I think) mint (a thoughtful touch in itself).

For starters, I had pan-seared foie gras ($9.90) which was superb. It was a huge piece for the price. If I had to pick on something, it was just slightly over-seared at some bits.

20140414-181051.jpg L had the pumpkin carrot soup ($5.90) which was served with a wooden spoon and he insisted that the spoon should feature in the photo. Definitely a photogenic dish which was sweet and creamy.

20140414-181157.jpg N had the duck confit salad ($6.90) which he described as “nice, crunchy and not too salty”.

20140414-181301.jpg We also shared the truffle nori fries ($6.90) which wasn’t great compared to the other appetizers. I couldn’t really taste the truffle (although K did) and only tasted the seaweed from the fries which caught the seasoning. There were mixed reviews around the table but we think there were cheese flakes.

20140414-181354.jpg The mains was a no-brainer for me and I zoomed straight in for the beef oxtail stew ($16.90). A lot of time must have gone into the stew – the meat was super tender and the tendons reduced to gelatinous goodness. The base was not a thickened gravy more common with stews; but a more liquidy texture full of flavour from the meat juices. I would highly recommend this dish.

20140414-181454.jpg N and K both had the Confit Scandinavian Salmon ($16.90) served with cous cous and grilled zuchinni. The colours are very Scandi indeed. For those who do not or cannot take raw food, do note that this comes undercooked. The staff was very accommodating in re-cooking it well done for a very pregnant K though; no fuss at all.

20140414-181542.jpg S and L had the Thyme Roasted Boneless Chicken Thigh ($14.90) which smelt really fragrant and which I am sure tasted great cos’ both of them wiped their plates clean.

20140414-181644.jpg After our mains, N told the server that we will have 1 each of their desserts (there were 3 on their menu – $12 each) to share. We kept our fingers crossed that they didn’t have another 8 off-menu desserts and thankfully, only 3 came.

The chocolate slice and the crispy chocolate and caramel crumble tasted like variants of each other. Both with chocolate mousse with crunchy bits and some strawberries; except that the chocolate cake had an accompanying raspberry sorbet to add some tartiness.

20140414-181741.jpg20140414-181750.jpg The mango & passionfruit panna cotta was the only disappointment of the meal. It came with a coconut/almond-tasting biscuit base and the centre block of panna cotta was too dense. I ended up picking the aloe vera and mango bits on the top.

20140414-181852.jpg Overall, a great experience at reasonable prices and I will be back for sure! As N said, it would be a convenient place to dine before watching a show at the nearby drama centre – great idea!

20140414-181957.jpg 12 Purvis Street
Open 12-230pm, 6-10pm
http://www.sprigs-sg.com/