Jones The Grocer

31 05 2010

You know what’s better than dining at Jones The Grocer @ Dempsey? It’s dining at the original flagship Jones the Grocer @ Woollahra, Sydney! And fyi, I’m travelling down to Australia(Sydney & Adelaide) in the later part of next month and that will definitely be one of my stops, along with Pancakes On the Rocks which I heard serves the most awesome pancakes.

Anyway, T, R, S and myself(all going for the Australia trip) were having our routine Saturday cohesion activities which led to brunch here. Functioning both as a grocer(albeit atas one) and an eatery, Jones boasts a spacious interior, high ceilings and diverse clientele.

Hungry people should get The Jones English Breakfast($20++). T opted for his eggs scrambled(other choices include fried or poached) which turned out slightly runny and creamy(just how I like it). I also liked the toast which was very light and crisp. Apart from that, the bacon & sausages, sauteed mushrooms and grillled tomato was rather run of the mill, but still delightful. 

The Leg Ham Sandwich($13.50++) was served with a bed of salad with balsamic vinegrette dressing. I really don’t recommend getting this here since it’s so easily replicable at home and I’m not a fan of leg ham anyways.  

For myself, the Smoked Salmon on Sourdough Toast with Asparagus & Poached Eggs aka Salmon Benedict($17++ I think). Not very well executed as the eggs were overcooked. The limited amounts of Hollandaise provided was easily overpowered by the smoked salmon and the petite portion was hardly filling in any case.

Imo, Jones the Grocer is one of the more affordable eateries in Dempsey and serves up a decent but unspectacular brunch menu. I’m not complaining about the small portions though, it just left more space in my tumtum to go over to House for dessert!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

JONES THE GROCER (DEMPSEY)

9 DEMPSEY ROAD, #01-12 DEMPSEY HILL

TEL: +65 6476 1512





Marmalade Pantry – We love our dates hot and sticky

25 05 2010

I’m very Sua Gu ok? I’m ashamed to admit that despite being a self-proclaimed foodie, I have yet to visit PS Cafe nor Marmalade Pantry. Hence, I strongly requested that we have our desserts at Marmalade Pantry @ Ion after our brunch at Spruce. Anyways, Sticky Date Pudding is my favourite dessert and SW did mention that her favourite rendition was from Marmalade Pantry so I had to try it, especially since its a treat from JH.

After all, who among us doesn’t like our dates sticky?

As I mentioned, I didn’t visit the Marmalade Pantry @ Palais Renaissance before but I have heard that the ambience there was much less intrusive. The current one at Ion boasts a great view, you get to enjoy a visual feast of the well-heeled thronging the upper levels of ION but unfortunately they get to see you too and this definitely gets in the way of you enjoying your nosh without interuption.

Have I ever not enjoyed a Sticky Date and Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream($12++)? NO a thousand times NO! Marmalade’s Pantry’s version was warm and moist throughout with just a gentle hint of date. This was JH’s and EE’s virgin try and this made them really sticky, though I’m not sure if it’s because of the orgasm derived from eating the Pudding or simply the sticky Toffee residue on their lips. Either way, we all had soaring endorphin levels straight after. However if memory serves me well, I still think that Chalk Restaurant @ Mount Sophia Old School still serves the best Sticky Date Pudding I have had to date.

The Marmalade Carrot Cake($7.80++) didn’t fare as well, in fact it was so awfully disappointing that 3 of us couldn’t even stomach all of it. The waitress assured us it would be served warmed but it came chilled. The cloyingly thick cream cheese came as a thin layer(JH reckons it should be a very thick layer of thin cream cheese instead and I concur). The cake batter was heavy, bland and dry with a strong floury aftertaste. Heating it up would probably have added some moisture to the batter making it more palatable but that would have probably been a feeble and unsuccessful attempt to lift it out of mediocrity either way.

I feel so much less sua gu now after dining at Marmalade Pantry and having found an awesome Sticky Date Pudding in the process. My next stop for Sticky Date Pudding will probably be Boomerang Bistro & Bar @ Robertson Quay(after reading dotinabox’s recommendations on it)!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

MARMALADE PANTRY(ION BRANCH)

2 ORCHARD TURN, #03-22 ION ORCHARD

TEL: +65 6734 2700





Spruce – Best Eggs Ben (on Crabcake)

24 05 2010

Many of my friends have been complaining I take more pictures of food than I do of them. So here goes, the first picture on the blog with actual people intentionally inside!

We should have listened to the rumours. Making reservations for Sunday brunch is a must unless you don’t mind the 30min(or more) wait. The wait didn’t bother us much though, the staff directed us to comfy sofas and give us ice water to quench our thirst without us asking. I was surprised by this gesture because customers on the waiting list are normally a forgotten bunch and usually left to atrophy somewhere.

Both indoor(air conditioned) and al fresco dining are available and we were lucky to get indoor seats.

   

Spinach and Bacon Salad($15++) arrived adorned with Roasted Chicken, Egg, Apples, Manchego Cheese & Walnuts. It was aesthetically pleasing and appetizing(for a salad) as well with the spectrum of colours, array of flavours and textures. EE and JH loved it.  

Spruce Signature Ahi Tuna Tartar with Toast Ciabatta and Avocado($21++) reminded me of a Negitoro, especially with the cubes of Tuna Sashimi. JH and EE thought it was nice. I would describe it as light, refreshing with a sour zest accenting from the tuna marinate. It’s more of a ladies dish I would say, the guys(or at least me) would prefer something…let’s say tastier and processed.

LL had the Signature Spruce Burger with Hand Cut Chips($17++). My high hopes were dampened when I tasted it. The patty was way too salty and lean but the Chips were crisply freshly fried with a peppery zing. For the same buck, I’d be better off ordering 3 meals from MOS Burger anyday so I’m officially crossing Spruce’s Burger off my list of potential Best Burger in Singapore.

Taste-wise, I had the best deal for today. The Crabcake Benny($25++) was delish! Actually I ordered it because I was hungry and thought the eggs ben would come in addition with hot crispy crabcakes so when it arrived with the crabcake replacing my english muffin instead, I was deeply disappointed and really doubtful on whether it would pass the taste test, come on eggs ben on crabcake? I was highly mistaken that the matrimony of these 2 individuals wouldn’t last, they went so well together precisely because their textures and tastes were so different individually, complementing each other’s flaws(if any) perfectly. Hands down best crabcake ever! The rockets were also essential in toning down the savoury Bacon and rich Hollandaise which threatened to get a little overpowering at times. I was ever so sad when I gobbled everything up in a flash, but the promise of a dessert treat at Marmalade Pantry by JH kept my spirits up.

 

Spruce is definitely a brunch spot worth visiting. It’s seclusion from the main Orchard area does little to hamper the bustling human traffic and despite the hype, service is still commendable and not snotty and even if it were, I would still return for my Eggs Ben on Crabcake. It’s indeed the best rendition of Eggs Ben I have had!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

SPRUCE

320 TANGLIN ROAD, PHOENIX PARK

TEL: +65 6836 5528





Langkawi – A Pictorial

23 05 2010

I love the chill, laid-back lifestyle of Langkawians. I love the way they just sit by the benches overlooking the beach, taking a drag and just feeling the wind in their hair and sand at their feet. I love that unlike Bali and Phuket, there is little touting here, money and business seem to take a backseat. I love it that the people are unpretentiously friendly and helpful.

I love Langkawi…

And now, a pictorial of the local chicken rice, sole Langkawi Bak Ku Teh store, incredible zi char and night market.





Orgo – Orgasmic Cocktails

19 05 2010

At this point of the year, University Application results come across to many as a looming albatross and while most contend with worries whether they manage to make it to the university of their choice, S was instead bothered by her choice of scholarship, freting on which one to take up; a bond-free local one or an overseas one which comes with a bond. For me, it would have been a easy choice…I cried in the shower when my best friend in Pri Sch missed going to the same Sec school as me by 1 point in the PSLE aggregate, (not to mention the 6-year slavery to a statutory board). Yes, my self-proclaimed new-age manliness(the epitome of sensitivity and sophistication) is way more attractive than the typical buff and masculine jockey types, right?…At least in my view(but who says I’m not buff and masculine too!).

Anyways, S finally reached a decision today and has decided to say too-da-loo to our fair island city. More often than not, these scenarios(which thx to our rigid education system has become all so commonplace) have always evoked the same ambivalent feelings within me, for while I’m happy that they(friends and family) get to slack for their university life(and still return with 1st class honours thx to UK’s education system which awards honours almost as generously as they do admissions) and travel around the world to expand their horizons, a tinge of sadness envelops me whenever I think of the possibility that our deep-rooted friendships might erode over time.

Parting is such Sweet Sorrow…though only in the best-case scenario. In most scenarios, parting is simply parting…

Replete with overwhelming latent emotions, what better cure was there than to drown my emo feelings with intoxication by what I would think of as gourmet Cocktails @ Orgo.

Actually what intially drew me to Orgo was their concept of Organic Chemistry whereby for some items on the menu, only organic produce is used. This novelty coupled with the presence of the celebrity mixologist Tomoyuki Kitazoe and the stunning Esplanade rooftop ambience was more than enough reason to justify the visit. The glass walls separating the al fresco and indoor areas enable those who shun the local humidity and heat to enjoy the paranomic view of the Singapore skyline and Marina Bay resort in the luxury of indoor aircon comfort too! 

This being my virgin visit, most of the food and drink orders were recommendations by the staff. 

Described as “Kurobuta & Chicken Parcel gratinated in melted Foie Gras”, the Foie Gras Siew Mai($12++) sounded too good to be true. Kurobuta and Foie Gras together? What have I done to deserve such luxury? Swoons…That said, Orgo probably mixed up the Foie Gras Siew Mai recipe with the recipe for utter disappointment, whipping up the latter instead. There was a strong gamey and porky flavour and the rough texture was atypical of what I’d normally expect from Kurobuta. Usually the saving grace, I have always thought that it would be impossible to screw up a Foie Gras but for Orgo, impossible is nothing. I assumed that melting the Foie Gras was mainly used to bring out the intense flavour but instead, the Foie Gras ended up tasting like a bitter moose that lacked it’s all so enjoyable fatty consistency. Yes, I don’t like it when Foie Gras goes to waste and so I rant…

“Skewer of Beef Tenderloin accompanied by Cabbage Salad served with Chili & Lime Dressing”, the Pinchitos Morunos($10++) was too my horror, served to us at room temperature though I’m not sure if that was intentional. The dressing was a nice fit for the Beef but I really wouldn’t order this again as pre-cooked beef left at room temperature is really just an unsavoury cesspool for bacterial growth.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, the Grilled Chicken Breast accompanied by Fricassee of Mushrooms gratinated with Cheese($25++) arrived. It sets the record for the most rubber-like chicken I have ever eaten although at least the cream sauce helped to lift this dish from downright disgusting to just plain distasteful, ok I exaggerate but seriously, the calories I lost chewing the rubbery meat > than the calories I gained digesting it. I’m going to call this yumyumformytumtum’s 1 step diet programme for healthy weight loss.

I probably shouldn’t have been that shocked at how the food turned out though since no one else there apart from S and I seemed to have ordered any food. However, I’m pleased to say that the cocktails are a different story altogether. Orgo prides itself on mixing cocktails made from fresh fuits(only sliced on ordering), which evidently results in cocktails with a much more refreshing fruity taste. This concept is not a new one, Klee @ Portsdown Road has been using it long before Orgo came into the picture and it works. Most people only perceive drinking as an avenue to get high and totally miss out on the fine art of liquor appreciation which I feel is a pity. For me at least, the friendly banter with the mixologists and other friendly patrons whilst soaking up the ambience with a freshly mixed martini in hand makes for the perfect symphony for cocktail appreciation and with respect to this, I’d still prefer Klee slightly over Orgo due to the former’s concept of a no-menu cocktail concoction bar with personalised service and friendly regulars.

Passionfruit with Coffee Salt Margarita($18++) came reminiscent of a towering ice kachang. It tasted best when it was melted halfway, when I felt that the alcohol(tequila right?) to mixer ratio was just right for my liking.

Mango & Marjoram Martini($18++) is for those who prefer something a little sweeter. Personally, I don’t really like mango but the subtle sweetness from both the mango and marjoram(a herb or undershrub with sweet pine & citrus flavour says wikipedia) definitely had some chemistry going on.

At the end of the day though, I have to admit I had a good time at Orgo and it will definitely be a spot for potential dates. It’s a nice place to chill and talk about life or our(Singaporeans) lack of it.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

ORGO

8 RAFFLES AVENUE, #04-01 ESPLANADE-THEATRES ON THE BAY ROOF TERRACE

TEL: +65 6336 9366





My Secret Garden – The Birthday Surprise

19 05 2010

R, JW, A and myself were planning a large scale surprise Birthday Dinner for T. We needed to keep it a hush affair so what better place to hold it than at the hidden gem known as My Secret Garden(MSG), hence the purpose of this recce/dinner. This post is 1 month late to avert any suspicions should T had accidentally come across it.

Having dined at several eateries around the area such as Basil Alcove and Victor’s Kitchen, I was astounded that I had entirely missed out on MSG. Even with address in hand, it was by no  mean feat that we managed to navigate our way there. Later on, I found out from Paul, the proprietor of MSG, that the compound which now houses MSG and an art gallery used to be a small chapel, which adds on to the surreal tranquility and serenity echoing within the premises.

The quiet interior is great for nice little conversations with your dinner date or for housing private functions should anyone decide to book it in it’s entirety.

I didn’t really like the Cream of Mushroom Soup. Too lumpy…

The Lobster Bisque here wasn’t that bad, just unlucky that I ate the one at The French Kitchen for lunch earlier that day.

The Squid Inked Ravioli Stuffed with Mushrooms($20++) was hearty though the presence of squid ink was miniscule. The Creamy Mushroom Sauce was a treat in itself. We requested for additional bread to wipe the plate clean of it. It’s just a pity that even for an entree portion, there was only 5 pieces of Ravioli(3 pieces/$12++ if you order it as an appetizer).

I was pretty much the only one in the table of 4 who took a deep liking to the Carbonara($20++). The rest seemed to think it was only so so and didn’t like the fact that the bacon was more chewy than crisp. To each his own I guess.

Australian Lamb Rack($36++) has to be the most awesome dish here. “Roasted, coated in a light mustard sauce, encrusted in macademia and pistachio nuts, served with sauteed garlic, capcicum and red wine sauce”, the tantalizing amalgam of contrasting flavours that flooded my palate was unimaginable. The lamb itself was cooked to a nice tender medium rare, devoid of any gaminess. This has to be the best Lamb Rack I have eaten! I was secretly happy that R doesn’t eat lamb and I was in no hurry to persuade her to try the one here, she didn’t know what she was missing out on and that just left more for the rest of us. Shoot, good food just brings out the worst in me…  

I’m a sucker for all Sitcky Date Puddings with Vanilla Ice Cream($12++). JW was concerned that it would taste like the army red date meusli bars but decided to try some upon my reassurance. Actually, I didn’t really enjoy the Date Pudding here too much. The taste of red date was a little too overkill to what I’m comfortable with.

“Highly recommended by Wong Ah Loke himself” came the description of the Triple Choc($12++). If you don’t know who that is, shoot yourself first then pick up The Sunday Times and flip to the Lifestyle section on food, then shoot yourself again. If you are still alive by then, head down to try out the Triple Choc. In a nutshell, it’s a warm chocolate brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream but that’s pretty much an understatement. Orgasm-inducing aphrodiaisiac would be more like it!

Some like it with lots of rum and brandy, others prefer the teetotaller version. Some adore the creamy layers, others for the biscuit. For me, the Tiramisu($8++) here was enjoyable with thick creamy Marcapone layers and robust espresso.

I’m not sure why MSG has such mixed reviews in the online community. I had a great time here and can’t wait to go back for my next indulgence.

As for the T’s surprise birthday party, it went off without a hitch except the fact that the birthday boy himself and his gf R arrived 1.5 hours late which incidentally resulted in me having a serious talk with S and getting attached to my her as my first gf thereafter during the arduous waiting meaningful anticipation…but being T’s birthday, I kept this news from him since it was his big day. It was our secret in My Secret Garden.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

MY SECRET GARDEN

161 MIDDLE ROAD, SCULPTURE SQUARE

TEL: +65 6337 5338





Al Forno – Pastas, Pizzas and Procrastination

10 05 2010

“Procrastination is like masturbation.  At first it feels good, but in the end you realise you are only screwing yourself.”. One of my friends used this as her Facebook status update recently and I thought it was hilarious. Anyway, the point I want to make here is that I have been procrastinating my visit to Al Forno for the past couple of years. So, I was elated when E invited me for dinner @ Al Forno with her cousin C. I readily agreed, especially since there’s a 1-for-1 pasta/pizza on weeknights!

A very family friendly restaurant, I wouldn’t have felt out of place even in a T-shirt, berms and slippers. 

Al Forno literally means “from the oven”, so I was envisioning authentic Italian Fare, a juxtaposition to food from Pasta Mania which means “from the microwave oven” 🙂 Fyi, I have stayed Pasta Mania free for the past 2 years! 

E why oh why do you love Mushroom Soup($12++) so much? It really doesn’t make for nice pictures. Anyway, I really feel that creamy mushroom soups only taste good in fine dining restaurants. It might be due to the infusion of truffles or probably more so from the placebo effect, a direct result from paying through your nose where the more you pay, the greater the sense of perceived satisfaction. Hence, I safely arrived at the conclusion that since Al Forno is no fine dining restaurant, the Mushroom Soup was just average which it was.

Being the stingy practical Singaporeans that we are, we skipped any other appetizers and went on to order the 1-for-1 pastas to get the most bang for our buck. The Spaghetti with Squid Ink & Seafood($23++) had a distinct charred taste and the staff obligingly replaced it with a Carbonara($21++) upon our request though not before commenting that it was supposed to taste like that(says the chef). Despite my tender years, I’m sure that I’m a chao tar food expert after eating my own cooking a few times. Anyway, the customer is always right,  right? But I do keep a lookout for dribbles of any bodily fluids when I request for an item change nowadays(after my bartender friend G had admitted to spitting, and his collegue peeing into troublesome customer’s drinks at a reputable bar). 

Actually by the time the Carbonara($21++) arrived(nearing the end of the meal), we were more or less pretty full already so we decided to doggy bag it after picking at it for a bit. It wasn’t fantastic, to me it wasn’t even good. I found it bland, but perhaps I’m just more into tomato based pastas.

The Spaghetti Vongole($23++) however, I liked. It reminded me of the time spent at Gold Coast where I picked up live clams along the beach and brought it back to the hotel room to boil and eat when I was still in Pri Sch. The taste of fresh clams ever so subtly bittersweet yet awfully refreshing at the same time.

The Spaghetti Cicale aka Crayfish Pasta($23++) wasn’t too shoddy either though I feel that in general, Al Forno’s pastas tend to be a little bit too overcooked and thus on the soft side. I did like how the crayfish was meaty, fresh and nicely cooked.

  

The Risotto Pescatore aka Seafood Risotto($25++) was meh. The cheesiness wasn’t overpowering, pretty much drowned out by the tomato base. The medley of seafood(Mussels, Prawns, Clams, Squid) was fairly fresh. 

Surprisingly, there was no dessert section in the menu. You probably have to ask the staff what fresh desserts they have prepared for the day. However, we really weren’t too excited about the desserts here after the mediocre meal. So, we all went to Ice Cream Chefs instead!

Imo, Al Forno strives to serve affordably priced authentic Italian fare and relies a lot on natural flavouring which I find is a little too mild for me. E, along with other food blogs I have read did mention that Al Forno serves a decent Spaghetti Cartoccio(in serving sizes of 2 pax) so if I do return, it would probably be to try that.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

AL FORNO

400 EAST COAST ROAD

TEL: +65 6348 8781








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