I always tell people that a 21st birthday is the 3rd most important day of anyone’s life, the first 2 being the wedding and funeral. It’s a day where you allow yourself to splurge, not for the sake of showing off that your 21st is better than everyone elses, but for acknowledging the closest people in your life for being there. Mine was a rather humble affair 2 years back. I simply catered food at my place and invited my closest 30 odd friends and family down, the people who have have the greatest influence on what I have become today.
Whenever I get invited to a birthday party, I feel really honoured. It’s like an award that recognizes the value and contribution you have made to someone else’s life. So unless it’s a life or death situation I’m dealing with at that moment, I try never to miss such events. It was partially due to this reason that I decided to fly back from Seoul a week earlier than initially planned to attend Raina’s 21st, one of the best friends I have made during my university years.
Before deciding upon the venue of her 21st, Raina and her siblings had visited Alkaff to qc their menu and subsequently shortlisted their favourite items into a 4-course set dinner menu. Pretty much foodies themselves, I was pretty confident that the food was going to be great.
Arriving unfashionably on time, only a handful of the guests had arrived so I proceeded to the 2nd floor for aperitifs at the bar while waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive. After all, few can say no when there’s a lovely flow of prosecco on the birthday girl’s tab. Driving’s a pain sometimes, no one told me there was going to be booze. But apart from me ranting about the inability to sponge off to my heart’s content, I thought the bar lounge had classy vibes with soft music playing in the background, unhindering private conversations.
Crispy Duck Foie Gras with Caramelized Onions, Beer and Cherry Relish ($28++). Although there is supposedly a layer of polenta flour that is supposed to add a crisp exterior to the foie gras, the foie gras I got wasn’t much crispier than what I’d normally have in other french establishments. On the plus side, the liver sure was fatty and that’s where the tart cherry relish comes in, to tone down the oiliness. The brioche and caramelized onions were pretty standard but I felt the brioche could be better if it were a tad more buttery and airy but overall, a well-executed dish.
I felt that the Ravioli with Porcini Mushrooms Sauce scented with White Truffle ($26++) was nicely done and I especially adored the mushroom sauce. Fervent truffle fans might point out that the earthly truffle aroma was lacking but I was very content with what was served.
I was very utterly disappointed with the Braised Veal Shank Osso Buco in White Wine Served with Mash Potato Puree. The meat was rubbery while the tomato based sauce was too tangy and didn’t quite complement the veal. The only saving grace was the meat wasn’t gamey.
Though not mind-blowing, I preferred the Pan-seared Cod Fish with Rosemary Potato & Aged Balsamic over the Osso Buco. The fish was very fresh but the flavour came across as a little too nude and bland for my liking. Then again, it might appeal to people who love their fish unadulterated by overly flavourful marinades and gravies.
For dessert, we were served the Traditional Blackberry Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream. I thought the tart was decent and tasted better on its own than with the accompanying ice cream, which lacked richness and the delightful fragrance of vanilla (yup didn’t spot the black vanilla beans). Raina’s 2 tier birthday Chocolate Rum cake was from Perla. Not too shabby but the glaze was a little too sweet for me.
Overall, I believe Alkaff Mansion delivers something special. The ambience alone is worth the trip and as long as you stick to the tried and tested items, you will be in for a memorable meal. So do keep it at the back of your head if you are planning a meal to pop any important questions, or celebrate special occasions.
10 Telok Blangah Green
Tel: +65 6510 3068