Antoinette (Mandarin Gallery) – Of Surprises and Letdowns

1 02 2012

Despite being open for business for less than a year, Antoinette has already proven its mettle. Its marketing strategy has worked in its favour, having a classy name and luxurious store layout with a moderated price tag on its food has definitely drawn in the crowd. It does help that the man behind this venture is none other than award-winning ex-Canele pastry chef Chef Pang Kok Keong.

I popped by Antoinette about a week back for a meetup between my clique of Secondary 1-2 friends, as D was flying off to Spain for his exchange program the next week and its been really almost a year since our last gathering. As it was an early Saturday afternoon, no surprise that we had to wait about 45 minutes before we could snag a table, especially since Antoinette functions primarily as a tea lounge rather than restaurant, where customers come in to have their nice little tete a tete sessions over an all day breakfast and dessert. Something interesting we noticed was the severe disproportion of guys to girls ratio here. There were only 2 other guys in the entire filled restaurant! So we might have seemed a little out of place coming as a group of 5 guys (we came from an all-boys secondary school booyah!).

Anyways, with no complaints about the gender distribution of clientele,  we proceeded to order our mains. My personal favourite was the Gnocchi Carbonara ($18.50++), “Parisan Gnocchi sauteed with Caramelized Bacon, White Wine Cream Sauce, served with Poached Egg and Aged Parmesan Cheese”. Gnocchi is typically a small dumpling shaped pasta made with flour and potatoes, but from what I have read online, the ones served here does away with the potatoes but includes gruyere cheese to get that awesome taste and texture. A light pan frying after blanching secures its crisp outer layer and mildly chewy interior. The cream sauce resembles that of Canele’s Carbonara to me, which I find quite delightful because it doesn’t coagulate quickly but still manages to retain its flavourfulness. Something I also like about this carbonara is that the bacon is not the least bit salty to me, so you get to savour the meaty juicy goodness without overwhelming the mild cream base.

If cream is just not your thing, you can try the Gnocchi Forestiere ($18.50++), “Parisan Gnocchi sauteed with onions and an assortment of Field Mushrooms in a Pink Tomato Sauce with Italian Parsley and Aged Parmesan Cheese” instead. The tomato base doesn’t complement the gnocchi as well though and it’s a little too overpowering as well, blocking off the delectable morsels of gnocchi.

The crepes are done decently here, which I find it better than what is available at Canele. There’s 5 savoury crepes to choose from here, of which we tried the Nordic Crepe ($16.50++), made with Smoked Salmon, Capers, Red Onion and Dill Cream Cheese.

It definitely wasn’t my idea to order the Burger Royale ($18++), “Pan Fried Beef Patty on Brioche Bread, Mayonnaise, Home-made Tomato Relish, Lettuce, Red Onions, Mustard, Aged Cheddar Cheese, Chips and Petit Salad with House Dressing”. After all, who orders a burger in a french tea lounge?! That said, this Beef Burger exceeded expectations with a nice juicy and flavourful patty though I would have preferred the usual burger buns to the brioche used.

We had very mixed reviews on the Wild Mushroom Risotto ($24++), “Creamy Arborio Rice simmered with exotic Field Mushrooms & White Wine, garnished with crispy Serrano Ham”. For myself and H, it was probably our least favourite main of the meal, but to my other friends S, D and YQ, it was their favourite. The reasons why it didn’t suit me was because the risotto was rather one-dimensional and too mild in taste for my liking. I’d prefer a cheesier oomph!

We love to pamper ourselves once in a while, and there’s no better way than to have feast on dainty little desserts.

The issue with cakes coated fully in a chocolate mousse is that they are an enigma, you never know what you are going to find as you dig your fork deeper into its core. The signature Antoinette ($9++) is one such cake. Having not researched on Antoinette prior to this meal, I was going in blind on this one. I grazed my fork against the velvety milk chocolate lining the cake for a taste test. Nothing unusual, I thought to myself, the chocolate’s texture is just a little too thin. A deeper prodding of my fork this time, where is that bitter taste coming from? My doubts were confirmed when YQ mentioned it was earl grey. The ball-shaped protrusion is actually raspberry coulis (a thick french sauce made from fruits). I find too many things going on in this cake which leaves me slightly confused. Somehow the mix of sweet chocolate mousse, bitter earl grey and sour raspberry doesn’t work for me.

I’m more a fan of the Strawberry Shortcake ($8++). The sponge is light and the use of strawberries generous. However, still not as good as the orgasmic one from One Caramel.

There have been some mixed reviews about the Macaroons here. I managed to try 5 different types (Antoinette, Chloe, Passionfruit, Pistachio and one more I can’t recall), of which the Antoinette (tastes of white chocolate) is my favourite.

 

Mont Blanc is a common French Dessert made using pureed chestnuts and cream. I’m not sure if its the case of the Mont Blanc ($8.50++) here being too average, or the one at Flor Patisserie by Chef Yamashita being too good. Might be a little of both or the fact that I might seriously be pampered too much.

Overall, I like Antoinette. The gnocchi carbonara is reason enough to come back, not to mention the nice semi-atas vibes you get here. Sadly, I expected more from their desserts which failed to shine through today.

Bon Appetit!

Antoinette

333A Orchard Road, #02-33/34 Mandarin Gallery

Tel: +65 6836 9527

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3 responses

3 05 2012
adel

Since the opening last year, at least for Gnocchi Carbonara the price went up from S$16.50++ to S$18.50 within the span of 2-3 mths…i guess this dish is really getting a lot of demand 🙂

3 05 2012
drpiggy

no thanks to the online food blogging community generating all the hype haha.

9 04 2013
DRT Goodman

Not French & Not Good!
As a general rule I can find something positive to say about every dining experience in Singapore, ANTOINETTE (Mandarin Gallery) is the exception. A recent visit to this eatery was a true disappointment. Our meal began with luke warm cups of watered down “hot” chocolate that resembled the real thing in color only. Further, while our orders–French Onion soup, Nordic Crepe with Smoked salmon, and French Toast– arrived promptly, we quickly wished they had not come at all. The French Onion soup, with strange cheese hat and vinegary broth, could not have tasted worse had it come from a can. Three spoons was more then enough of this soggy bread ladened mess. The Nordic crepe, which we returned to kitchen after one bite, contained salmon which tasted as though it had gone off earlier in the week. The crepe was as crispy as a taco shell, and bore no similarity to a real crepe. Interestingly, the staff charged us full price, over our objections, for this item because we had tasted it, as if there was some other way to know that it was bad. The French Toast, while eatable at least, was only passable. Needless to say, we left our food largely untouched, and went in search of good food elsewhere. Luckily, in Singapore you don’t have to go far.

Bottom line: Whether you are looking for French food or just food in general ANTOINETTE is NOT the place to go.

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