It’s been a 3 week hiatus from blogging, as I became a social recluse to prep for my SMU finals. Finally emerging from my cave, my first stop was at The Big Sheila, a new restaurant just slightly over a month old located in the vicinity of Siglap.
I was first introduced to The Big Sheila by Janice, a food PR consultant, and one thing I have learnt over the years is to trust their judgments when it comes to food. After all, who else would be more in the know about local F&B happenings? A week after Janice’s recommendation, Tan Hsueh Yun published an article about The Big Sheila on The Sunday Times. “Drat, it was going to be more difficult to secure a seat now”, I thought to myself.
The Big Sheila is the brainchild of Fleur Glover, an Aussie who courageously set aside her career in IT to pursue what she was truly passionate about – food no less. Her establishment houses 3 tables outdoors and 2 indoors (not including the large indoor communal table), with a capacity of about 30 people based on my estimates. Hence, reservations are recommended should you want to dine in. Of course, there’s the option of ordering online and getting the food delivered conveniently to your doorstep as well.
There are 2 seatings for dinner and even as my party arrived at 830pm for the 2nd seating, the place was still packing a full house (on a weekday night). Impressive.
I liked the vibes here. It felt less of a restaurant and more like a friend’s place, very much like the feel I got from Bistro Soori and it does help that the staff are passionate about what they do, hyping up each dish with a detailed explanation of where the ingredients are sourced from and how each dish is prepared.
The food menu takes the form of a conspicuously displayed blackboard, allowing for flexibility and evolving nature of Fleur’s craft.
To complement our meal, we got a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from Tinpot Hut, New Zealand ($39 + $15 corkage), which came as a recommendation by the staff. It’s a light bodied white wine with quite a long finish (aka aftertaste) and a crisp texture, going pretty well with the light, natural tasting dishes here.
The Chicken Caciatore ($20++) consists of chicken pieces slow cooked with olives, orange, lemon, bay leaf, white wine & button mushrooms. Some might find the flavour a little on the bland side but personally, I believe that this was tastefully done, adhering to their concept of home-cooked western fare, where the emphasis lies in natural flavours and healthy living.
The Beef Bourguignon ($20++) is a typical French dish made by slow braising beef, bacon, shallots, mushrooms, carrots & celery in a red wine sauce. The staff asserted that the accompanying baguettes were brought in from France, though I wonder how that was done given that they tasted fresh, perhaps she meant the ingredients for the baguettes helm from France. It is rare for me to finish up a whole roll of bread but this was so crisp and toasty that I found no trouble at all, not when there’s a hearty tangy stew to dip the bread in as well. My only gripe was that the cut of beef was slightly too lean for my liking.
I have never been a fan of chicken schnitzel and have never come across one that has made me sit up and take extra notice. The Chicken Schnitzel ($16++) here, a Deep Fried herbed crumbed Chicken Breast with Apple Mint & Baby Caper Slaw & Aioli, didn’t change my beliefs.
I loved the Beef in a box ($14++), which is a dish of Aussie ribeye, Caramelized Onions & Mustard. Although the beef is prepared beforehand if I’m not mistaken, it still remained tender and moist. Plus, who doesn’t love caramelized onions right?
Desserts were fairly decent too. The Tim Tam Cheesecake with Caramel Ganache (can’t remember what the actual names for the desserts but this should be fairly close) found favour with all my friends. The mild-tasting cheesecake is sandwiched between a biscuit base that is reminiscent of tim tams and the glaze on top tastes of lightly salted caramel, with the combination working surprisingly well.
However, I was the sole person who preferred the Chocolate Truffle with Almonds and Whiskey Soaked Prunes, which is made using rich Valrhona chocolate. It’s a bit heavier and drier than the cheesecake but it tastes great, ending off a memorable experience at The Big Sheila.
Before leaving, K ordered an additional cake to go. I’m not sure how it tasted but I was definitely impressed with the take-away packaging. Very glam indeed.
In a nutshell, what one can expect at The Big Sheila is food that is hearty, ambience that is chic yet homely, service that is friendly and attentive, and prices that are extremely reasonable.
The Big Sheila
15 Swan Lake Avenue
Tel: +65 6645 4422