Au Petit Salut – An Initiation Coverage

30 10 2010

Life is all about work-play balance so while food gastronomy more or less depicts the play-side element of my life, I believe in a strong work-side element comprising of academics and understanding the workings of the financial industry(more specifically equities) so bringing both of my passions together, I shall initiate a coverage call on Au Petit Salut.

First step in analyzing a company would be to identify it’s core business segments. For Au Petit Salut, it is a semi fine-dining French Restaurant located in the heart of Dempsey, with its humbler sister restaurant Bistro Petit Salut located at Chip Bee Gardens.

To address consumer demands, there is the choice to dine indoors (with air-conditioned) or al fresco. And if any of you are thinking about the risk of excessive humidity and heat while dining al fresco, fret not as these risks have been mitigated by the installation of many cooling fans.

I’m not sure if the 2 for 1 promotion for their smoothies($9++ for 2) is only available on weekday lunches, but unlike a conventional 2-for-1 stock split, there wasn’t any dilution in smoothie value which makes this deal ever the more sweeter. I found my Peach Smoothie really refreshing but if you are more into sour than sweet smoothies, the Passionfruit Smoothie would be one to consider.

To capture a larger market share and target a wider consumer base, apart from the “normal” 3-Course Set Lunch($30++), there is also an “executive” 3-Course Set Lunch($48++), catering to the rising opulence of the premium diner. C and myself shared 1 set of each.

From what I have read on fellow food blogger HungryEpicurean’s review on Au Petit Salut, apparently the complimentary bread served there comes from Delifrance. Could this be a case of divesting or outsourcing non-core businesses to low cost providers? Still, I appreciated that at least the bread arrived warm and crusty.

For the “normal” Set Lunch($30++), we had the Half Dozen Baked Burgundy Snails with Tomato & Garlic Butter. If you like the texture of clams, you would definitely like this. I prefer well-executed escargots over clams because I find it less chewy and tender, probably because snails move around quite a lot compared to its water-dwelling cousins, albeit at a snail’s pace(pun intended) and this possibly makes its meat more tender. And seriously, what can ever go wrong with garlic butter?

For Main, we had the Red Wine Braised Beef Cheeks, Carrots, Mushrooms & Parsley Potatoes. To me, beef cheeks are an affordable alternative to the ostentatiously priced and highly revered Wagyu. Juxtaposed to the red wine braised beef cheeks I had over at Bistro Du Vin just 3 days prior to this meal, I found the beef cheeks at Au Petit Salut more suitable for my palate as it hosted a milder flavour with a less pronounced hint of red wine, in addition to being more tender.

For Dessert, we had the Choux Bun filled with Vanilla Ice Cream, in warm Chocolate Sauce and Sliced Almonds. Just a heads up to the pronunciation of Choux, it should be pronounced as Chou rather than Chox. I made that mistake when ordering and felt a bit sua-gu after hearing the waitress repeat back my order with the correct enunciation.

Now for the Executive Set Lunch($48++), for Starters we had the Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras, Baby Spinach and Onion with Xeres Sauce($5++ Supplement). For the foie gras, I found it a bit overcooked and somehow not as fatty as most foie gras I have eaten, lacking the “oomph” factor. That said, I liked the complementary nature of the sweet Xeres Sauce(aka Sherry Sauce) which formed a nice pairing for the rich liver.

For Main, we had the Crispy French Duck Leg Confit with Sauteed Potatoes, Bacon, Mixed Green Salad & Walnut Dressing. Well executed crisp duck skin and moist succulent meat, the only downside was the excessive saltiness that accompanied it though I quickly got used to it. The bacon came as chunks of pan-fried belly pork which I felt was a little bit out of place.

For Dessert, The Warm Melted 70% Chocolate Cake served with 64% Dark Chocolate Sorbet and Red Current Jam and Pistachio Nuts, in short Chocolate Lava Cake. This Chocolate Lava Cake is definitely one of the better ones around but I would have preferred a non-chocolate Sorbet since I couldn’t really taste the dark chocolate sorbet over the sweeter decadent Warm Melted Chocolate Cake.

In conclusion, I reiterate my Buy Call on Au Petit Salut for 3 reasons; it’s uncompromising quality in French Cuisine which allows it to entrench its foothold as a key player in Singapore’s French Cuisine market segment; it’s classy yet back-to-nature ambience and fine service standards; and lastly the fact that most of the items on the menu are undervalued and being sold at  a discount compared to it’s peers (Gunther’s, Saint Pierre etc).

Bon Appetit!

AU PETIT SALUT

40C HARDING ROAD

TEL: +65 6475 1976

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Bistro du Vin – $29++ 3-Course Set Lunch

26 10 2010

Our initial plan was for luncheon at Aoki. It was my reward for enduring a harsh and hectic week, a week where sleep was a privilege rather than an entitlement.

Alas, there wasn’t going to be an Aoki Chirashi in my tumtum today. Aoki was fully booked and we were turned away by their staff apologetically. So the choice was now between Tatsuya or Bistro Du Vin. We chose the latter after a quick bout of scissors-paper-stone, I was too lazy and famished to walk over to Goodwood Park Hotel anyways.

It’s my first time dining at a restaurant under the reputable Les Amis Group so expectations were running at an all time high. Being a bistro (cafe or small informal restaurant) rather than a restaurant, the setting is laid back and casual compared to neighbouring sister restaurants Les Amis or La Strada. As such, their 3-Course Set Lunch (inclusive of coffee/tea) is also priced more affordably at $28++.

For French Haute Cuisine or Nouvelle Cuisine, there is an emphasis on elaborate platings, involving small and numerous courses. This is not the case for Bistro du Vin where the food is presented simply and plainly, sticking to the use of  traditional crockery.

I think it was just the hunger pangs, that I found the warm complimentary bread so very addictive though it was slightly charred.

For Starters, the Smoked Salmon & Couscous was decent but unspectacular. I’m not a great fan of couscous anyway as I find these round gritty granules unalluring.

The most enjoyable dish today was the Pan-fried Foie Gras, Spanish Red Onion & Dates (supplement of $6). A light sprinkling of salt with the wobbly lipid-laced goose liver drenched in lots and lot of oil. Seriously yummy!

For Mains, we had the Braised Pork Knuckle with Choucroute & Garlic Pork Sausage. The Garlic Pork Sausage was savoury and tasted somewhat like ham and I quite enjoyed it. On the other hand, I found the pork knuckle slightly on the tough side, not the soft butter-like texture I fancy. Unlike German Sauerkraut, I preferred the Choucroute here as it wasn’t as sour and managed to capture much sweetness and unctuousness from the pork knuckle.

Our second Main was the Beef Cheek Braised in Red Wine, served with Mashed Potatoes (supplement of $4). While scoring well on the tenderness rating, I didn’t really like the idea of braising the beef cheeks in the red wine as it left an unpleasant aftertaste. I haven’t really encountered problems with red wine reductions in general but somehow I wasn’t so fond of the one here. I did enjoy the buttery mash potatoes as well as the assortment of carrots, mushrooms, shallots and pork belly though.

For Dessert, the Warm Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream was mediocre. It was a nice pairing no doubt but the tart wasn’t buttery or flaky enough to warrant my ravings.

I made a mistake in ordering the Creme Caramel. I found it too eggy and rather forgettable. Should have probably had the parfait or profiteroles instead.

Apart from the delectable Foie Gras, everything else fell short of expectations. Well, I guess a $25 set lunch over at Bistro Petit Salut would have been cheaper and more noteworthy.

Bon Appetit!

BISTRO DU VIN

1 SCOTTS ROAD, #02-12 SHAW CENTRE

TEL: +65 6733 7763





Tiffin Club – Fusion Foods with Finesse

18 10 2010

The Outram area is well known for its boutique hotels and up class restaurants. With the likes of Ember, Absinthe and Oso just around the corner, it’s no surprise few have heard of Tiffin Club, a small quaint 2 storey eatery that serves Western nosh with a Sri Lankan influence.

From what I know, the menu has been updated recently with a slight mark-up in prices. Desserts such as the Flourless Chocolate Cake (if memory serves me) which I had been eyeing ever since I stopped by their restaurant website some 1 year ago have now been removed, much to my disappointment.

Making reservations for 10 pax for a Friday night, I was apprehensive that there would be sufficient space to fit all of us together. However guess what? The 10 of us were the only customers for the entire night so it seemed like we had booked the entire restaurant (dining is mainly on the 2nd level) to ourselves for a private party!

Tiffin Club has this cool wine dispenser which allows wine bottles to be opened but kept drinkable for an extended period by introduction of an inert gas that doesn’t react with the wine. Unlike conventional restaurants that sells wine by the glass or bottle, Tiffin Club allow you to have a choice of taster (50ml), half glass (100ml) and full glass (200ml) portions, which are priced with respect to volume. Tasters typically cost around $3+, depending on the type of wine chosen. I think the dispenser (also known as an enomatic machine) is a really novel idea and allows an individual to sample a variety of wines without busting the wallet.

Being budget conscious students, we dived straight for the mains. Of course, not before our complimentary home-made bread. I loved the tomatoes, it was bursting with flavour!

MZ had the Duck Rendang($29++), “A fork tender Rendang Duck Confit served with Nasi Ulam and Petite Salad tossed in bright Orange Vinegrette”. I had mistaken it for the Lamb Shank(too be shown later below) which I had already tried so I missed out on sampling this! MZ did say it was pretty tasty though and it definitely looks that way.

Adwyn had the Pork Two Way($28++), “Orange-Tamarind glazed Barbecued Belly of Pork with Butternut Squash and a Roulade of Pork Loin with Spinach, finished with Chinese Scallop Sauce”. I sampled a bit of the Barbecued Belly Pork and found it was pretty ordinary despite the seemingly interesting description. On the other hand, Adwyn loved it, maybe that why he kept the Roulade of Pork Loin for himself, leaving me eyeing it surreptitiously from afar.

For myself, I had an order of the Beef Ribs($29++), “Boneless Beef Short Ribs slow braised until tender in Soy, Red Wine and SzeChuan Peppercorns served with Potato Puree, Carrots & Grilled Shallots”. The ribs were pretty decent with a discernible red wine reduction, but I found it slightly on the salty side and the mash came across as bland and I wouldn’t have finished it without the Soy & Red Wine Sauce to add some flavour.

As with the case of mistaken identity as mentioned earlier, the Sumatran Lamb Shank($29++), “Slow Braised Sumatran Gulai Lamb Shank served with Nasi Ulam and Tangy Archar Salad”, can be told apart from the Duck Rendang by presence of the Archar Salad. The lamb shank was reasonably tender but after the countless lamb shanks with red wine sauce or brown sauce which are more commonplace, the use of Malay spices to make the Gulai(something like curry) was rather foreign to me. On the other hand, the Nasi Ulam possessed a very Mediterranean zing but it was dry and not executed well to me. Give me a $5 Biryani anyday!

There was a general consensus for favourite main of the night, the Sea Bass($27++), “Lap Cheong Crusted Sea Bass Fillet on White Bean Mash with Coriander Butter Sauce, Spinach and Honey Pea. Choice of Steamed or Pan-seared”. I only took a small nibble so i guess I didn’t manage to get the full blown impact but the rest who tried it were singing nothing but praises.

One of the cheaper mains available, the Roasted Pepper Ravioli($20++), “Ravioli stuffed with Sweet Red Peppers and Mild Cheese Tossed with Roasted Garlic Pesto”, was undoubtedly my favourite main. Though some might cringe at the fact that they are paying over 20 bucks for 5 pieces of Chinese Wanton lookalikes, I assure you it’s totally different. I haven’t had many a Ravioli but if all raviolis tasted like this, I’m definitely a Ravioli fan in the making. The creamy pesto sauce really complements the cheesy ravioli well.

Last but not least, who can ever forget the Chili Crab Linguine($22++), “Linguine tossed in a spicy Singapore Chili Crab Ragu with White Wine, topped with a Poached Quail Egg & Tobiko Roe”. It’s a minor tweak from the ubiquitous Spicy Crab Linguine but I was pretty surprised how the pasta was accentuated with the familiarity flavour of the signature local Chili Crab. I liked it!

Tiffin’s Club signature Dessert is the Dark Chocolate & Pear Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream($9++). I shall sum this up with 2 words – Damn Shiok!

Another highly raved about Dessert would be the Lemongrass Panna Cotta with Blackberry Compote($8++) though some might not be used to the infusion of lemongrass into this sweet Italian pudding. For me, I found it an improvement from the same old boring version. I didn’t quite fancy the sourish draping of Berry Compote though.

After the insanely palatable Dark Choc Pear Tart, the Macadamia Chocolate Truffle Cake($10++) just didn’t pass muster. The chocolate was weak and the crushed macadamia nuts went down my throat like gravel which I found irksome.

 

Interesting fusion foods, skillful plating and private & classy ambience summarizes our dinner experience at Tiffin Club.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

TIFFIN CLUB

16 JIAK CHUAN ROAD

TEL: +65 6323 3189





Oriole Cafe & Bar – My New Favourite Hangout

15 10 2010

Oriole Cafe & Bar is no new find. Heck it’s not even hidden anymore, at least not with the recently built extension which links 313 Somerset with Pan Pacific Suites.

Opened by Keith Low, winner of the Singapore National Barista Championships 2010 and managed by John Ting, winner of the Singapore National Barista Championships 2008 & 2009, coffee is supposedly the highlight at Oriole with unique competition coffees such as Chili Chocolate Mocha and Citrus Sin.

Rustic furnishings, brick walls and chill settings, dining here is both comforting and casual.

I had a go at their Chili Chocolate Mocha($6). Interestingly, instead of a tea spoon, it came with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer for that extra fragrance. I’m no coffee connoisseur, I actually only started coffee drinking this year to get through 3 hour university seminars. So when I say that I wasn’t taken by Oriole’s Chili Chocolate Mocha, take it with a pinch of salt. I just didn’t like how there was this burning sensation as it trickled down my throat.

The Beef Cheek Tagliatelle($16) is one awesome main. It’s really tasty and generous with the tender beef cheeks. One of the better pastas I have had this year.

Unexpectedly, what blew me away was the humble Cod Fish Pie($28). It might be slightly on the pricey side compared to the other mains available but it’s so very worth it. When fresh Cod Fish prices are hovering around $40/kg (i think), I truly didn’t expect such a huge serving of cod hibernating within the buttery crisp crust. The creamy mushroom & cod ragout, asparagus and puff pastry is a serious recipe for success.

I like my ribs braised till tender and fall-off-the-bone rather than the grill or BBQ versions which leave the ribs dry and parched. Hence, the St Louis Pork Ribs($24) here (which was grilled) didn’t sit very well with me compared to the previous mains. The marinate used was quite unusual though, kicap manis-chili marinade(Indonesian Soy-chili marinade) and sambal matah(shallot & lemongrass sambal). It isn’t as spicy as it sounds and amazingly the marinade tastes just like a chinese herbal chicken soup(yes that’s quite unbelievable unless you try it yourself).

Close friends of mine will know that I can’t say no to a Sticky Pudding($9) aka Sticky Date Pudding as it is more commonly known in other eateries. I have tried Sticky Date Puddings with Chocolate Dip, Butterscotch Sauce and Caramel Sauce, but this is the first time I’m trying it with rum and raisins. I guess the rum and raisins does the job just as well and the Vanilla Ice Cream here passed the taste as well as visual test (where the black specks of Vanilla beans are visible to the naked eye). A pretty decent rendition.

For something more heavy, I would suggest the Chocolate Fudge Cake($6.50). The superficial layers of chocolate ganache is rich and thick but not yet an overkill, an attribute I which find plagues most chocolate fudge cakes.

Having this opportunity to dine at Oriole leaves me with ambivalent feelings. On one hand I’m happy that I have found a new favourite hangout, but sad that I didn’t find out sooner.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

ORIOLE CAFE & BAR

96 SOMERSET ROAD, #01-01

TEL: +65 6238 8348





Prego – Citibank 1-for-1 Main Course (for Weekday Lunches)

11 10 2010

Warning: Ranting ahead!

The day hadn’t been going well for me. I slipped while rushing to catch an MRT earlier that day, dented my laptop (which now has an out of shape port) during the fall, had my fully filled water bottle screw open in my bag due to the impact of the fall and totally drenching the contents of my bag.

On a side note, I took the Brigg Myers personality test last week. No surprise…turns out that I’m an extroverted sensitive emo guy. And yes, I have been emoing much of late, mainly because:

1. Despite it being SMU’s recess week, I have been in school everyday without fail for project meetings, CCAs and such. (SMU really has a warped definition of recess…)

2. I feel sick over the week and just finished my dose of anti-biotics.

3. Due to (1) and (2), I didn’t manage to achieve my aim for having at least 2 “atas” meals in the recess week.

4. People around me have been unconsciously getting me down.

5. Social life has effectively been put on hold.

Hence, I desperately needed this Prego lunch to go well. Sadly there was 1 more bump on the road. When I took out my camera to snap some food pics, I realised that it had died (more specifically, drowned due to the earlier events). Fortunately, R was there with her trusty Olympus compact camera to save the day.

Call me o-biang but it was only 3 days ago did I find out that Prego is tucked away at some obscure corner of Raffles City, which is linked to Fairmount Singapore (I didn’t know that either!).

Prego’s set lunch is priced at $40++ but I felt that their current 1-for-1 Main Course Citibank promotion (only applicable during weekday lunch) was of more value. After all, it left me with a larger variety of choice for mains.

The Complimentary bread here comes with a lovely salsa dip which I found really appetizing.

One of Prego’s signature dishes, I found the Baked Eggplant light-heartedly pleasing with eggplant cooked till it’s fibers were soft and tender. It looks so much like a lasagna, and tastes like it too! The taste of eggplant isn’t very strong, but it isn’t overpowered by the tomato base nor cheese either. I would definitely order this again!

The Veal Shank was tasty and pretty decently executed, notwithstanding the slight gamey taste. The Risotto that came along with it was quite a bit too much on the cheesy side and reminded me of Mac & Cheese, lucky for them I’m a cheese lover.
Being an Italian restaurant, we anticipated a mind-blowing Squid Ink Pasta. We were left sadly disappointed. It turned out to be really average pasta with only prawns (that’s just too boring!). The tomato base was slightly spicy yet somehow, the spice didn’t lure me back for more or made me slurp up the pasta faster.
Though the food wasn’t really fantastic, I might just be tempted return to capitalize on the 1-for-1 one more time.
Bon Appetit!
PREGO
80 BRAS BESAR ROAD, 1F FAIRMOUNT SINGAPORE
TEL: +65 6431 6156




Charly T’s – A Resounding Rotisserie Chicken

4 10 2010

Whenever someone mutters “Grilled Chicken”, somehow or another I’m just prone to conjure up an inkling of Nando’s rather than Charly T’s. It’s probably just how Nando’s sounds so much more catchy. Anyways, though I haven’t tried Nando’s in Singapore, I wasn’t impressed by my Nando’s meal in Adelaide. Hence, I’m quite surprised at how hot our local Nando’s is compared to Charly T’s, which in my opinion whips up Singapore’s best Rotisserie Chicken so far (I have yet to try new French entrant Cocotte’s Rotisserie Chicken!).

Being a fast casual diner, you have to place your order personally at the counter, pay first (much like a fast food joint) and they will serve the food to you afterwards.

Ordering food here is quite a no-brainer. What else than to have their signature Whole Rotisserie Chicken with 4 Sides and Sauces ($37) to share? I know most people simply can’t reconcile paying around $40 when you can probably get a whole Roast Chicken for 10 bucks at Cold Storage but I’m positive these same people haven’t tried Charly T’s. The meat is as tender and moist as it gets, even for the chicken breast which I normally shun away from. I was secretly happy one of my friends didn’t fancy chicken skin for it’s health detriments as I found it exceptionally delicious due to its long period of marination.

4 Sauces came with the chicken so I chose the (from top left clockwise): Sesame, BBQ, Hot Sauce and Chimichurri (our favourite based on general consensus. Made from parsley, red wine vinegar & red pepper). Actually, just do away with the sauces because the chicken tastes great on it’s own!

The 4 Sides I chose were the (from top left clockwise): Mac & Cheese, Roasted Potoatoes, German Potato Salad (I think) and German Salad (much like Sauerkraut). Nothing very memorable though J did enjoy the Mac & Cheese.

Having a bout of rashes, G’s doctor advised him against eating seafood and poultry. So he decided to order a beef burger instead. Can’t recall what it’s called exactly but it definitely tops any fast food burgers, Burger, Bench & Bar or even The Handburger in terms of it’s juicy beef patty.

Charly T’s is probably one of the most severely underrated restaurants in Singapore. I actually reviewed on it half a year ago on Hungrygowhere but business hasn’t seemed to have picked up much since despite its splendid Rotisserie Chicken.

Bon Appetit!

CHARLY T’S

20 HANDY ROAD, LEVEL 1 NOMU (BESIDE THE CATHAY)

TEL: +65 6336 7789








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