Bedrock Bar & Grill – Best Way to use the Entertainer App

28 06 2015

Whenever someone talks to me about the Entertainer App (a subscription-based food app that offers 1-for-1 main course deals), somehow or another the conversation usually steers toward how using the app for a single meal at Fat Cow (a participating restaurant) will already cover the annual subscription cost of the app. While I’m a fan of their set lunch wagyu donburi and fatty foie gras don, the ala carte steaks/sukiyaki there were quite a disappointment. In its place, I feel that Bedrock Bar & Grill ought to be conferred the title for “best use of the Entertainer App”.

Frankly from the outside, Bedrock looks pretty uninviting, especially with the outdoor seats usually devoid of diners given the ample space indoors. Most people just walk past without so much of a second glance. In my humble opinion, it’s really one of the most underrated steakhouses around.

Complimentary bread here comes in the form of a warmed naan, served with butter and roasted garlic. The roasted garlic is insanely addictive and is semi-soft enough to act as a spread for the bread. I would totally buy it if it didn’t already come free.

Dining here this occasion as a party of 4, our initial inclination was to get 2 set lunches (priced between $38-$58++ and available on weekends) and 2 ala carte mains to get a better sense of what the restaurant had to offer. However, the wait staff advised us against it as the portions here were too large and insurmountable for the likes of us. Upon finding out that we were intending to use the Entertainer app, he recommended just getting 2 ala carte mains (a massive half kilogram porterhouse and a 400g ribeye), while complementing the meal with additional sides and dessert. That, he said, would provide the best deal and it definitely was on hindsight. We were truly appreciative of his sincerity, at the expense of the restaurant earning a smaller bill.

We started with the 500g Australian Grass-fed Porterhouse ($96++). The Porterhouse is a cut similar to a T-Bone Steak and you can think of both of them as a 2-for-1 cut, where you get a segment of tenderloin and striploin separated by a middle bone. The main difference between the Porterhouse and T-Bone is the location of the cut, with the Porterhouse having a larger tenderloin section.

Cooking a Porterhouse is less straightforward as the tenderloin segment tends to be smaller than the striploin, so heat control and timing becomes really important to ensure that the entire steak is evenly cooked. Some segments of the one we had felt slightly over but overall still well executed.

If you prefer a more marbled cut, the ribeye is the way to go. We shared the 400g USDA Prime Ribeye ($96++) and it really stood out for me.

Served with 5 accompany sauces; Red wine sauce, Bearnaise, Chimichurri (wikipedia: green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina made of finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar), Whiskey with Mustard Seeds and Chili Oil, my favourites were the Chimichurri since I’m a garlic fan and the Whiskey with Mustard Seeds which had a nice smokey BBQ-sauce feel to it.

While I’m not a Mac & Cheese fan, the one here ($20++) was really satisfying and I can’t recall if I have ever had one that I enjoyed more. The macaroni was al dente, the Gorgonzola sauce had the right consistency and not overly soggy, the layer of Parmesan was crisp and contrasted well with the chewy macaroni and the infusion of truffle oil was icing on the cake, making the dish more aromatic and savoury.

Later that night, I headed to The Disgruntled Chef at Dempsey for dinner and had their highly acclaimed Mac & Cheese as well, but Bedrock still does it better in my book.

The Creamed Spinach ($18++) however, was less memorable.

Portions here are massive. We shared the Apple Crumble for 2 ($26++) between the 4 of us and it was more than sufficient. M loved the streusel but felt that the apples were too tart. Maybe I’m less picky but I thought it was well-executed and the sweetness of the apples was balanced.

For participating restaurants under the Entertainer app, the yardstick of a good restaurant is whether I would return even without a discount. To which I would gladly say yes to Bedrock Bar & Grill.

Bedrock Bar & Grill

Address: 96 Somerset Road, #01-05 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard, Singapore 238163

Tel: +65 6238 0054





Operation Dagger – Experimental Cocktails Gone Right

11 03 2015

Food enthusiasts will be spoilt for choice this month. From 7th to 14th March, we have Singapore Cocktail Week, with a host of activities lined up ranging from cocktail workshops, pop up bars and cocktail bar crawls happening throughout the week.

Then, from 14th to 22nd March comes the 10th edition of Singapore Restaurant Week, where diners get the opportunity to try out special set menus at a special fixed price from some of the finest restaurants in town.

To end off the month, from 26th to 29th March, we have Savour 2015, a food festival for gourmands. Its not merely a gourmet food fair, as attendees also get the chance to participate in interesting workshops such as Sake & Beer Masterclasses and partake in hands-on cooking classes with the guidance of industry professionals. There’s even a Gourmet Market, where you can get your hands on white strawberries, cheeses, oysters, wines, sakes etc. It’s definitely going to be a whole day affair for me.

Given that we are in the midst of Cocktail Week, I thought it would be apt to blog about one of the participating bars – Operation Dagger, where I was at during the first day of the two weekend long event.

Some of my friends had previously raved to me about this joint and after today, I can see why. The spirits used for the cocktails have all undergone some form of modification or redistillation processes to infuse certain flavors into the spirits and are subsequently all rebottled into generic brown bottles, giving the effect of a chemistry lab or fragrance lab. That is also the reason why you won’t ever see spirits in their original bottles here. Very hipster indeed.

I managed to try 2 of the cocktails from the concise menu, both of which I found refreshingly creative. The Egg ($25) comprised of salted egg yolk, vanilla, caramel and had been smoked, which is why it is served in a jar, probably to preserve its smoky aroma. I have come across smoked beers in Bamberg, Germany but never smoked cocktails, so this was a first for me. The cocktail carried with it an incense-like scent that was stronger to the smell than to the taste. I thought that the smokiness accentuated the saltiness of the salted egg yolk, adding greater depth and the cocktail’s flavour sort of reminded me of a mild but smoother Bailey’s.

The tiny glass to the right of The Egg is the Hot + Cold ($25), a cocktail flavoured with lavander, coconut and pineapple. The Hot + Cold literally describes the cocktail, where the top foamy layer is warm and smells like freshly baked buttery new year pastries, while the bottom layer is somewhat reminiscent of a pineapple-infused pina colada. My friend G commented it was too weak for her liking (she’s hardcore and loves stiff drinks) but I actually liked the flavours a lot.

No night is complete with just one cocktail so we headed down to Jigger and Pony for their Punch Bowl and man, it definitely packed a punch despite such an innocent look and unassuming name. I suppose that’s just what happens when 600ml of spirits and a whole bottle of prosecco is poured in a bowl.

Happy drinking!

Operation Dagger

7 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069791





Mikuni – A Tough to Beat Set Lunch

25 01 2015

Located on the 3rd floor of Raffles City / Fairmont Hotel, Mikuni brings together Teppanyaki, Robatayaki and Sushi, enthralling diners and leading them on a gastronomic adventure across the best of what Japan has to offer. Diners may choose to sit at the general dining area or on any one of the three counters; sushi, teppanyaki or robatayaki to watch the master chefs in action. On this occasion, I chose the sushi counter.

General dining area

Set lunches (11 choices in total) are available daily, with prices starting from $65++ onwards, providing diners with options spanning teppanyaki, robatayaki, tempura and sushi main courses. Spoilt for choice, I chose the Premium Bento Miyabi ($120++), which offered a good mix of the options mentioned. 

Sushi Counter

Starters were simple yet effective and we particularly liked the salad dressing. The thin sheets of seasoned crackers tasted somewhat like Chinese New Year Prawn Rolls.

Next up was three kinds of sashimi; Salmon, Chutoro and Scallops. Not often does one find Chutoro in a set lunch so I was pleasantly surprised.

When the mains arrived, I was totally blown away by the extensive variety and hearty portions afforded onto us.

From top-left clockwise: Kyoto Onion Soup, BBQ Eel on rice, Teppanyaki Prawns with a Golden Cheesy Sauce, a skewer of Grilled Kagoshima Beef, Mixed Tempura.

I was at a loss as to what I liked best amongst the mains, since all were top-class in execution. The draw was really the variety, where I could go back and forth between the different items without ever feeling cloyed or bored with any particular item.

Friend CW seemed to like the Teppanyaki Prawns best, which were garnished with ebiko, slices of asparagus and slathered in a golden buttery sauce.

For dessert, we were given a dense Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Crumble. 

Complimentary Matcha White Chocolate and Red Bean “Kueh” were also served as the bill was presented. A nice touch to end off a perfect weekend lunch.

What we liked about Mikuni was the consistent high quality present in every course. While meals here don’t come cheap, I found it fully justified by its value and utility. It will be tough to find a set lunch as awesome as this one.

Dining discounts are applicable to holders of the FAR card and Amex Platinum card.

Mikuni

80 Bras Basah Road, Fairmont Hotel 3F, Raffles City, Singapore 189560

Tel: +65 6431 6156





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





[Brussels, Belgium] Le Zinneke – Mind-blowing Mussels

20 12 2014

I used to be satisfied with the mussels from Brussel Sprouts back in Singapore but how my eyes have been opened in Belgium at Le Zinneke, one of the most highly rated mussels specialists in Brussels.

The restaurant is a bit further out from the city centre with no nearby subway stops but a tram line does run just outside the restaurant. The restaurant is really cosy, with most of the clientele made up of locals, already a good sign.

I opted for the 3-course set menu that goes for 36.50, where diners can choose a starter, 1kg of mussels in any sauce and a dessert from the ala carte menu. Personally I thought this was a great deal given that the cost of the sum of parts was significantly in excess of the set menu price.

I have been spamming myself with everything authentically Belgian and that includes the shrimp croquettes. Of the numerous ones I have tried this trip, the Homemade Grey Shrimp Croquettes (14.95/ala carte price) here made the most lasting impression, cheesy without being overly heavy.

The Madagascar Shrimps Red Devil Spicy (18.75/ala carte price) had a surprising Asian feel to it, especially since there was sufficient spice for our liking. My American Indian friend whom I was dining with wiped the plate clean, subsequently apologizing that he didn’t leave more sauce for me. Do you remember the last time someone apologized for taking all the sauce? Well I don’t. It was that good…

For the mains, we had 1kg of mussels each, done in two different styles to diversify the risk. Honestly, I can’t remember which styles we got exactly, it’s difficult to given that there are 69 different styles available on the menu. I only remembered that we had one with onions, herbs in a cream base and one that had curry and ginger in a cream base and boy were they good, especially the curry and ginger variant.

The mussels were unexpectedly plump and tender, with a firmness somewhere closer to oyster. Limited chewing required and you can expect a burst of flavor juices on your first bite. I never understood why my friends would say mussels in Belgium is on a whole new level till this meal. Accompany the mussels was a side of fries, twice-cooked as how it is usually done in Belgium.

I was already ready to call it a night and end it off on a high note. I wasn’t expecting dessert to fare nearly as good as the appetizers and mains anyway but was proved wrong. The Tiramisu was awesome, slightly more dense than average, veering somewhere between a cheesecake and a regular tiramisu. I also liked the crumble that topped the dessert, tasted much like digestive biscuits that went really well with the cream cheese. I couldn’t help but finish it in its entirety.

I was less enchanted by the Chocolate Mousse, since I’m not a big fan of dark chocolate. That said, it was smooth and definitely above average in quality.

Ending off my trip to Belgium and Paris, I undoubtedly had my most memorable meal at Le Zinneke among the meals I had there. Definitely a worthwhile trip for both locals and tourists alike.

Le Zinneke

Place de la Patrie 26, 1030 Schaerbeek, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 245 03 22

Website: www.lezinneke.be/





Suprette – An American-inspired Cafe with a Kickass Burger

26 11 2014

Nothing has been said about Suprette for a while now and it only resurfaced recently when a friend mentioned that her brother owns a stake in the joint and it was her favourite go-to place for weekend brunch. While I did take her comments with a pinch of salt given the potential conflict of interest, she was also someone whom I could reasonably trust with food recommendations. Hence, I made it a point to schedule a weekend brunch here to catch up with some buddies from back in university.

Housed in a Kam Leng Hotel, a boutique hotel that preserves the nostalgic setting of old school Singapore, Suprette couldn’t have been more different, exuding very young friendly hip vibes. The staff were also extremely approachable and motivated.

If you are in the mood for a hearty breakfast, try out the Shakshuka ($19++) of middle eastern origin, where you get a dish of poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce, feta cheese, lamb sausage and crusty bread. Personally, I would think that it’s hard to go wrong with this dish, given that the execution seems pretty straightforward. Oddly enough, what I really liked from this dish was the bread. They didn’t lie about it being crusty and you will surely need it to tone down the tangy tomato-based stew. The cafe is pretty flexible, so there’s pretty much free reign to swap the lamb sausage to chicken or pork sausage instead.

The Suprette Burger ($20++) comes highly recommended by many local food bloggers and it’s easy to see why. First, the doneness of the beef patty is cooked to your liking. Opting for medium rare, you can see based on the pictures that they got that right, with the patty retaining a healthy pink hue. Second, the patty is juicy and doesn’t fall apart easily when prodded. Most importantly, the burger fares well on the taste-test, with extra flavor from the visible green herbs in the patty. The fries are also executed well, with a nice garlicky aroma. Add-ons are available to make the burger less humble. For us, we got the Mushrooms and Bacon ($3++ each). Was eyeing the Foie Gras add-on ($12++) but guess that’s for another day.

The Chicken Pot Pie ($15++) wasn’t bad but didn’t receive as much praise as the other dishes, since it wasn’t very much differentiated from a generic Chicken Pie. Still, it deserves a premium for being freshly baked, so do expect a 20 minutes wait.

The coffee here are good as well, in the $4-$5++ range.

Overall, Suprette definitely gets my stamp of approval. The cafe see constant turnover but was never packed, service was great and portions are extremely generous, which was why the staff advised us to just get three items to share between the four of us.

Suprette

383 Jalan Besar, Singapore 209001

Tel: +65 6298 8962

Website: http://www.suprette.com





Bespoke Cocktail Bar Hopping – A 6-pub guide around CBD

2 11 2014

With the cocktail scene alive and kicking in Singapore, Amex has recently launched #ChillaxSG, a one year promotion for Amex Platinum and Amex Platinum Reserve card holders, offering various privileges such as 1-for-1, complimentary welcome cocktails with any order etc, at 16 different cocktail bars from 15 Oct 2014 to 14 Oct 2015.

In anticipation of this promotion, I had the opportunity to hang out with the folks from Amex, as they took two mini-bus loads of lifestyle and food bloggers on a pub hop event to 6 of the participating bars to showcase what was on offer.

1st Stop: The Men’s Room (13 North Canal Rd, #01-02)

Best for: The Laid-back Working Crowd who wants a drink neat, rather than fancy

Unlike some of the other places we visited later in the night, The Men’s Room seemed more like a place to get down with unadulterated liquors, especially whisky and gin. Instead of going hard on the first bar, I had their signature Chrysanthemum Cocktail instead, which would have been pretty nice for a tame night out and much reminiscent of Winebar/Zouk’s Chrysanthemum shots.

Source: Google Maps

Chrysanthemum Cocktails

2nd Stop: Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall (60A Boat Quay)

Best for: The Discerning Hipster

Like a scene out of the 1980s, I truly enjoyed the hipster vibes I got from this place. Like many other bars that concoct bespoke cocktails, you won’t find a drinks menu here and the mixologists get to work by asking about your alcohol and taste preferences.

I had their version of the Old Fashioned which I enjoyed. Typically, an Old Fashioned is a bourbon based drink but Ah Sam gave it a local twist in line with the shop’s theme by infusing the bourbon with Milo. What resulted was an Old Fashioned that had the rich creamy texture of milk. I’m the type of person who needs food to go along with my drinks so I was super pleased to find out that in addition to the well thought out ambience and creative drinks, Ah Sam serves up a mindblowing Hokkien Mee as well, which if served in a hawker centre, would no doubt be drawing crowds. Other food items on the menu include local delights such as Prawn Paste Chicken, Ngoh Hiang and Fried Kuay Teow.

Ah Sam in the flesh

Food Menu

Half-eaten Hokkien Mee and Milo-infused Old Fashioned (with a proper ice cube)

3rd Stop: Spiffy Dapper (61 Boat Quay)

Best for: The Cool Emo Kids

For a slightly more grungy environment with an amazing view of the Singapore river, pop by next door from Ah Sam’s to Spiffy Dapper. When we were there, we were served some decent tandoori and grilled items, possibly from the Indian Restaurant downstairs. If so, I think that’s a plus for allowing outside food, while the mixologists focus on doing what they do best. They did a marvelous job with my Gin shaken with Mint, simple but effective. Like Ah Sam’s next door, there’s no drinks menu here so sit back and let the bartenders get creative and concoct something to your mood and likings.

For a better idea of what you can expect in this unpretentious hole in the wall speakeasy bar, the below is an excerpt from Spiffy Dapper’s blog website which I think describes it perfectly:

“In the middle of Boat Quay, the last remaining bastion of the seedy port town that was Singapore, and hidden away on the second floor is The Spiffy Dapper.

Born out of a need to be real and imperfect, we aim to channel the creative audacity and sense of adventure of the 1920’s.

We make some damn good drinks, but what this place is really about is chilling the fuck out and having a good time.”

Gin Shaken with Mint (left)

4th Stop: The Secret Mermaid (10 Collyer Quay, B1-08 Ocean Financial Centre)

Best for: The True Blue Pro-American Craft Spirit Connoisseur

The Secret Mermaid is the latest brainchild of restaurateur Howard Lo, the owner of Tanuki Raw and Standing Sushi Bar. In the day, the shop space operates under the name of Shinkansen, a Japanese Salad Bar but once dusk falls, The Secret Mermaid emerges. 

Specializing in American spirits, The Secret Mermaid offers a range of craft spirits never seen before in Singapore. For the uninitiated, their tasting flights (starting at $15) comprising of 3 half shots of different types of spirits is an affordable way to get educated without breaking the bank. I was also rather intrigued with the novelty Smoked Salmon Vodka and Bacon Vodka that are available in tasting portions.

5th Stop: Maison Ikkoku (20 Kandahar Street)

Best for: Date nights, for couples who love pyrotechnic displays in a posh setting

Among the 6 cocktail bars we patronized that night, Maison Ikkoku had the most razzle dazzle and pomp. The setting is elegant, with the mixologists friendly and accommodative. The music is not too loud and allows for a decent conversation. Hence, it’s somewhere I would potentially bring a date, to impress her with the well-executed cocktails, liberal use of pyrotechnics for the cocktail preparation and classy bar grub.

For specific cocktails, I would highly recommend the Pina Colada which is served in a seared coconut, the Banana Daiquiri which I found astoundingly refreshing and smooth, and the Passionfruit Gin & Tonic.

Banana Daiquiri

Pina Colada (amazed that my iPhone did such a good job with this pic)

Parmesan Chawanmushi

Smoked Duck

6th Stop: Orgo (8 Raffles Avenue, #04-01 Esplanade)

Best for: Large group gatherings, where space is of the essence

I have been to Orgo before a couple years back and I wasn’t impressed. Fast forward the clock and I still get the same vibes now. Drinks were a pretty standard affair and the place exudes a more commercialized feel compared to the other 5 bars we had been to. What’s going for the place is the view, given its location on the Esplanade roof terrace.








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