Spathe Public House – Weekend Brunch at Robertson Quay

26 02 2014

Spathe Public House is best known for its communal dining concept, featuring items such as a metre long currywurst on their menu. On weekends however, the communal menu is replaced by a separate weekend brunch menu during the earlier part of the day (before 5pm).

While diners are left spoilt for choice in the number of brunch places around Robertson Quay, with the likes of Kith Cafe, Hummerstons, Toby’s Estate, Five & Dime and Epicurious all within walking distance, Spathe is my top pick. There just aren’t that many places that consistently serves up perfectly poached eggs with a decent Hollandaise sauce to boot. The spacious interior makes for perfect catch up sessions too!

Eggs Royale ($18++)

Eggs Mushroom ($16++)

Spathe Public House

8 Mohamed Sultan Road #01-01, Singapore 238958

Tel: +65 6735 1035 

Website: http://www.spathepublichouse.com/

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[Prague, Czech Republic] Alcron – Degustation Delight

22 02 2014

Its been about a month since I departed Europe for my sunny little island home (to finish up my last semester of SMU life) and I guess it’s about time I posted about Alcron, a 1-Star Michelin restaurant in Prague where I indulged for a final time as closure to my unforgettable exchange program.

The first week of term in SMU had already commenced then but as my schoolmates were hard at work, here I was dinnering at this chichi 24-seater restaurant, still living in my bubble I call “post-exchange”.

Just 6 tables (24 seats) for the entire restaurant

Located in the posh Radisson Blu Hotel, Alcron specializes in seafood, though there is a selection of meat dishes on the menu as well. Here, diners are invited to create their own degustation meals, ranging from 3-courses (CZK 1100 / c.40 Euros) to 7-courses (CZK 1900 / c.70 Euros) by selecting items from a short menu. This leaves lots of room for flexibility so if you are a dessert person, you may simply choose to spam dessert courses if that’s the way you like it.

As one of the most highly rated restaurants in Prague, you can expect service to be top-notch without being over-intrusive. During my meal, the staff left me to my own devices while I dined but kept an observant lookout from the entrance of the restaurant in case any diners required further assistance.

I was utterly smitten with the restaurant straight from the start, when I was presented with a complimentary Bread Basket that had about 6 types of breads to choose from. What’s best is that the breads are all freshly toasted before they are brought to each table, made possible because of the small capacity of 6 tables. I thoroughly enjoyed the round bread ball encrusted with Parmigiano Cheese and even opted for a second serving. That says a lot because I usually avoid overloading on bread, so as to better appreciate the higher-value courses served later. An interesting assortment of butter flavored with Seaweed, Chili and Lemon was also served alongside the bread.

The complimentary amuse bouche was Escargot with Garlic Chips. Was quite fond of the garlic chips which reminded me of the prawn crackers that my family fries at home for Chinese New Year.

I opted for a 5-Course dinner initially but was so taken by the initial 4 courses that I later decided to top-up with an additional course.

The dishes on the menu are categorized as either cold or hot dishes and are listed in the order of their suggested consumption. I much prefer warm dishes for dinner so I only chose a sole cold dish, which was the Ceviche of Scottish divers Scallops with cucumber, cucumber jelly, fried lotus root, chili and hazelnut dust. A dish with very light flavors to whet the appetite.

I liked the interplay of sweet vs savoury, crunchy vs crispy from the different elements in the Crayfish Bisque. It didn’t bore because every now and then, I would bite into pieces of sweet crunchy sweet corn, while at other times, I would scoop up pieces of crispy savory popcorn. Bursting the poached yolk also made the bisque considerable smoother and more palatable.

While I’m a die hard foie gras fan, I felt that the Pan-fried Duck Foie Gras Escalope with pumpkin chutney, marinated pumpkin and Tonka bean foam was underwhelming. The marinated pumpkin tasted somewhat like pickles and didn’t complement the foie gras well in my view, given that it was too sharp and acidic.

The Venison Loin Sous-vide with gingerbread ball, chestnuts truffle-puree, apple and celery ragout, chocolate and cranberry infusion brought the meal back on track. Special credit has to go to the chestnut truffle puree for its harmonious matrimony with the venison.

With just a dessert left to go, I thought that it would be a waste not to try the Anjou Pigeon breast, Confit and Liver with braised shallot and blackberries. Pigeon isn’t exactly easy to find in Singapore after all. Texture-wise, it was pretty similar to duck, albeit slightly leaner.

I ended the meal with the Buttermilk Panna Cotta with pear and walnuts. It was a pretty light dessert and not very sweet, much like a mild-tasting yoghurt. Perfect given that I was bursting from the insides.

As I called for the bill, a last complimentary dessert course showed up in the form of a Chocolate Praline that I popped into my mouth straight away, a Coconut Macaron and a home-made Chocolate-coated Vanilla Ice Cream (like a Magnum Mini). I actually liked these better than the Panna Cotta.

Personally, I would consider this the 2nd most enjoyable meal I had during the 5-month duration whilst on exchange. Prices weren’t terribly expensive compared to other Michelin Starred Restaurants since it was in Eastern Europe. Perfect ending to a perfect exchange.

Alcron

Štěpánská 624/40, 110 00 Praha 1-Nové Město, Czech Republic

Tel: +420 222 820 410

Website: www.alcron.cz





Ristorante Da Valentino – Italian at its Finest

13 02 2014

If you had asked what my view was on opening a 134-seater high-end Italian restaurant at Turf Club a couple years back, I would most likely have said that it would be an incredibly brave but foolish endeavor. After all, the location isn’t exactly in the most central of areas and with such a huge restaurant without any nearby offices, where would the demand be coming from?

Two years on and I would have eaten my words…

Given that it was my first ever visit to Valentino, I was immensely surprised that for a restaurant this size, I was unable to secure indoor seats for a mere 2 pax on a usually slow Tuesday night, even by calling in advance. My surprise was compounded by the fact that this wasn’t even a new joint and there didn’t seem to be much hype about it in online circles in recent months. It wasn’t long before I found out the reason behind this phenomenon…they served quality food.

Catering mainly to the white-collared working class, as evident in their menu pricing, a 4-course dinner bill easily runs up in excess of $100 (excluding drinks) as I found out on this occasion. Just like how off-balance sheet liabilities contributed to the global financial crisis, likewise, off-menu items contributed to the hefty bill, busting my initial planned expenditure for the meal.

The Garlic Bread ($8.80++) and Burrata Cheese ($45.90++) were the said off-menu items. They were both good, with extra points going to the amazingly sweet tomatoes.

If there’s one item to try out here, it would definitely be their signature Squid Ink Fettuccine with Crabmeat in Creamy Tomato Sauce ($29.90++). The well-balanced sauce complements and does not overwhelm the subtle sweetness from the generous chunks of crabmeat. Surely one of the best pastas I have had to date.

While I wasn’t particularly fond of the Osso Buco ($42.90++), I couldn’t deny that its execution was without a doubt, masterful. The meat was insanely tender to the point that a knife was rendered useless, since a sole fork was all that was needed to pick away at this splendid creation. The accompanying sauce tasted lighter than it looked, with a distinct taste of stewed carrots.

The sole disappointment that night was the Seafood Pizza ($26.90++), which was slightly soggy and lacked a distinguishable seafood flavor that one so often finds in other seafood pizzas such as at Pepperoni’s Pizzeria.

As I personally prefer my Tiramisu ($14.80++) not too soggy, this rendition suited me perfectly.

The Chocolate Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream ($18.80++) was awesome as well with ample lava flow.

While the meal wasn’t exactly cheap, I left feeling truly satisfied with the impeccable food, service standards and great company (was doing a catchup session with Ad, whom I hadn’t seen in more than half a year).

Ristorante Da Valentin0

200 Turf Club Road

Tel: +65 6462 0555

Website: www.ristorante-da-valentino.com/








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