Portico – Comparing the Signature Menu, SG50 Menu and Daily Set Lunch Menu

26 07 2015

It’s places like Portico that excite the food blogger in me. Rather than blogging about an establishment in town that is already well-covered, food bloggers’ value add to the general public in my view comes from highlighting restaurants that are a little less well known, possibly new establishments or restaurants that are further away from the city centre. Portico fits the bill perfectly…

Housed in the former premises of Hosted on the Patio inside an estate of low-rise commercial buildings, Portico isn’t the most conspicuous of places but is still accessible by public transport (10mins walk from  Labrador Park MRT station), a sufficiently long walk to whip up an appetite.

One of the things I like best about Portico is the laid-back casual ambience, complemented by a warm service staff. It really felt like I was dining at a friend’s place, where I was free to just walk about the spacious restaurant, snapping pictures without feeling like I was disrupting anyone’s meal. With a seating capacity of 100 pax, it’s a perfect venue for large gatherings and celebrating special occasions.

Apart from the daily set lunch ($38++ for 3-courses, also avail on Saturdays), there are two other sets available during lunch time as well; a 5-Course SG50 lunch set priced at $50++ and a 4-course Signature Set Menu priced at $58++.

Alternatively, the ala-carte menu is also reasonably priced with mains starting from $26++ and up. This is made more attractive with an ongoing promotion for diners with the American Express Platinum card , where each order of a main course comes with a complimentary dessert, subject to term and conditions.

As it was our first time here, our party of 4 decided to try the different lunch sets for comparison.

SG50 Set Menu ($50++ for 5 Courses)

While Portico primarily serves European cuisine, the SG50 set menu showcases a fusion of Western dishes with Singapore cuisine influences. For example, our first course comprised of Bak Kut Teh Terrine and Chili Crab Brioche. Was a bit let down by the gelatinous terrine as the Bak Kut Teh flavor was a bit too subtle, especially evident given that the terrine was served cold which masked the flavours even more. We did enjoy the Chili Crab Brioche however, which was reminiscent of a Chili Crab over a Fried Mantou.

The second course was an upscale “Rojak”. The vegetables and fruits came in a vacuum pack which we poured into the bowl of Shrimp Paste Espuma, Peanuts and Crispy Bean Puffs (tau pok). The tau pok was intentionally burnt to achieve a charred smokey flavor that complemented the shrimp paste well but feedback from around the table was mixed regarding the extent of the charring.

Next up was a Smoked Pork Wanton Soup, comprising a Tortellini of Smoke Pork, Konjac noodles and Pork Bone Broth. While many of us might not be familiar with Konjac noodles (one that currently comes to mind is the one used in the Spicy Salivating Chicken Dish at Xi Yan @ Shaw Lido / Craig Road), most should be familiar with Konnyaku Jelly that we would probably have had in our childhood. I like that the texture of Konjac noodles comes across as a little more springy relative to the usual flour-based noodles but taste-wise, this definitely wasn’t as inspiring as the previous two dishes.

For main, we were served a Laksa Risotto, which turned out to be one of my favourite dishes for this lunch. The Risotto was made using 3 different “grains”; Quinoa, Orzo (a short rice-shaped pasta) and Barley, which was served with a side of Laksa Leaf Pesto, Coconut Foam, a Pulau Ubin Sea Bass Fishcake and a perfectly grilled Tiger Prawn. When everything was mixed together, no doubt it reminded me of the rich laksa gravy from Katong. The bean puff (tau pok) was awesome too, much on the crispy side, providing nice juxtaposition texturally.

Last up was the Teh-ramisu. You heard that right, a tiramisu-inspired dish that uses Teh Terik infused Sponge and a Milk Tea Mascarpone Mousse, topped with caramel pearls. It scores well on the novelty factor and S mentioned it had a nice hint of earl grey or ginger as well.

Overall, two thumbs up for the SG50 Set Menu. Creative and very tasty.

Signature Set Menu ($58++ for 4-courses)

The signature menu as its name suggests, offers what’s best on the menu and a quick way for first-time diners to get introduced to Portico. A well-blended smooth mushroom soup was served first, together with a parmesan pastry tuile. I thought it was pleasant but not good enough to be listed as a signature item.

The second course was a Salad of Vine-ripened Tomatoes with Jamon Serrano, Organic Quinoa and Honey Melon Dressing. Again, I found it pleasant but nothing distinct enough to make it stand out from similar salads at other restaurants.

For main, we had the choice between the Chicken Confit and a Pan-seared Pulau Ubin Sea Bass. We opted for the latter and it was served with Roasted Potatoes and Herbed Beurre Blanc sauce (aka French White Butter Sauce). One of the betters ones I have had of late, the skin of the Sea Bass was seared to a nice crisp, the fish meat moist and not overcooked and the fish was really fresh. The Sea Bass used here is shipped daily from a fishery in Pulau Ubin and arrives within two hours of the fish being caught, hence the freshness. This we felt, definitely earned its spot in the signature menu.

Dessert came in the form of a Deconstructed Blackforest, using 70% Varlhona Dark Chocolate Mousse, Hazelnut Soil, Cherry Coulis and Caramel Ice Cream. For dramatic effect, some popping candy was also added which gave the popping echos to the surprise of diners. This was insanely good in my humble opinion, something worth popping by for even without the full meal.

Daily Set Lunch Menu ($38++ for 3-courses)

The daily set lunch menu changes frequently but during this occasion, paled in comparison to both the SG50 and Signature Menu Sets.

From a choice of 4 Salads, we chose one that had Berries, Quinoa and Avocado. A really refreshing starter with the tang form the Raspberries and Pomegranate doing a great job in stimulating our salivary glands.

For mains, we had a choice of the Roasted Duck Leg or the 3 Grain Laksa Risotto. We chose the former since the Laksa Risotto was a compulsory dish in the SG50 menu. As the duck was roasted rather than fried, the meat remained sufficiently moist at the expense of a more crispy duck skin one would normally find in a duck confit dish. However, a rather meh dish overall.

The Cake of the Day was a Blueberry Lavender Cake. This was pretty disappointing as the cake was rather dry and too dense for my liking.

As it was R’s belated birthday, we also ordered a slice of Rainbow Cake, which fared slightly better but honestly, just stick with the Deconstructed Blackforest…

Aesthetically-pleasing and creative dishes that taste good to boot, a laid-back charming setting while staying friendly on the pocket. That pretty much sums up our experience at Portico.

PS: There is an Ultimate Truffle Fries (800g of Truffle Fries with white truffle salt, truffle shavings, shaved aged gruyere and edible golf leaf) on the menu…I got my eye on you.

Portico

Address: 991B Alexandra Road, Singapore 119970

Tel: +65 6276 7337

Website: http://portico.sg/

 





Bedrock Bar & Grill – Best Way to use the Entertainer App

28 06 2015

Whenever someone talks to me about the Entertainer App (a subscription-based food app that offers 1-for-1 main course deals), somehow or another the conversation usually steers toward how using the app for a single meal at Fat Cow (a participating restaurant) will already cover the annual subscription cost of the app. While I’m a fan of their set lunch wagyu donburi and fatty foie gras don, the ala carte steaks/sukiyaki there were quite a disappointment. In its place, I feel that Bedrock Bar & Grill ought to be conferred the title for “best use of the Entertainer App”.

Frankly from the outside, Bedrock looks pretty uninviting, especially with the outdoor seats usually devoid of diners given the ample space indoors. Most people just walk past without so much of a second glance. In my humble opinion, it’s really one of the most underrated steakhouses around.

Complimentary bread here comes in the form of a warmed naan, served with butter and roasted garlic. The roasted garlic is insanely addictive and is semi-soft enough to act as a spread for the bread. I would totally buy it if it didn’t already come free.

Dining here this occasion as a party of 4, our initial inclination was to get 2 set lunches (priced between $38-$58++ and available on weekends) and 2 ala carte mains to get a better sense of what the restaurant had to offer. However, the wait staff advised us against it as the portions here were too large and insurmountable for the likes of us. Upon finding out that we were intending to use the Entertainer app, he recommended just getting 2 ala carte mains (a massive half kilogram porterhouse and a 400g ribeye), while complementing the meal with additional sides and dessert. That, he said, would provide the best deal and it definitely was on hindsight. We were truly appreciative of his sincerity, at the expense of the restaurant earning a smaller bill.

We started with the 500g Australian Grass-fed Porterhouse ($96++). The Porterhouse is a cut similar to a T-Bone Steak and you can think of both of them as a 2-for-1 cut, where you get a segment of tenderloin and striploin separated by a middle bone. The main difference between the Porterhouse and T-Bone is the location of the cut, with the Porterhouse having a larger tenderloin section.

Cooking a Porterhouse is less straightforward as the tenderloin segment tends to be smaller than the striploin, so heat control and timing becomes really important to ensure that the entire steak is evenly cooked. Some segments of the one we had felt slightly over but overall still well executed.

If you prefer a more marbled cut, the ribeye is the way to go. We shared the 400g USDA Prime Ribeye ($96++) and it really stood out for me.

Served with 5 accompany sauces; Red wine sauce, Bearnaise, Chimichurri (wikipedia: green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina made of finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white vinegar), Whiskey with Mustard Seeds and Chili Oil, my favourites were the Chimichurri since I’m a garlic fan and the Whiskey with Mustard Seeds which had a nice smokey BBQ-sauce feel to it.

While I’m not a Mac & Cheese fan, the one here ($20++) was really satisfying and I can’t recall if I have ever had one that I enjoyed more. The macaroni was al dente, the Gorgonzola sauce had the right consistency and not overly soggy, the layer of Parmesan was crisp and contrasted well with the chewy macaroni and the infusion of truffle oil was icing on the cake, making the dish more aromatic and savoury.

Later that night, I headed to The Disgruntled Chef at Dempsey for dinner and had their highly acclaimed Mac & Cheese as well, but Bedrock still does it better in my book.

The Creamed Spinach ($18++) however, was less memorable.

Portions here are massive. We shared the Apple Crumble for 2 ($26++) between the 4 of us and it was more than sufficient. M loved the streusel but felt that the apples were too tart. Maybe I’m less picky but I thought it was well-executed and the sweetness of the apples was balanced.

For participating restaurants under the Entertainer app, the yardstick of a good restaurant is whether I would return even without a discount. To which I would gladly say yes to Bedrock Bar & Grill.

Bedrock Bar & Grill

Address: 96 Somerset Road, #01-05 Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Orchard, Singapore 238163

Tel: +65 6238 0054





The White Rabbit – Church Altar to Bar Counter, where Wine still flows

4 01 2015

Much is to be expected at The White Rabbit, the dishes are competently executed and flavorful, the ambience classic yet not overly sombre despite being housed in a conserved military chapel. It’s also hard not to notice the establishment’s efforts to include whimsical minute details that play to the theme of Alice in Wonderland.

At night, the restaurant is relatively dim, providing an intimate setting and this strongly contrasts with how the restaurant looks in the daytime, where sunlight seeps through the stained glass windows, brightening the entire atmosphere.

The fresh and toasty complimentary bread served was swiftly decimated, a relatively rare occurrence since I usually try to save more stomach space. Instead of getting appetizers, we decided to get some sides to accompany our mains instead but really, the sides were nothing to shout about.

Truffled Mac and Cheese with Mushrooms ($16++)

When Iris mentioned she wanted to get the Grilled Asparagus with Truffled Hollandaise ($18++), groans echoed about the table. $20 for 6-7 strips of vegetables would surely tug at most guys’ heartstrings. Ironically enough, these same guys would probably not bat an eyelid forking out $200 for a bottle of Moet at a club in an attempt to look cool. The absurdity of guy and girl logic…

For mains, we started with the Dorper Lamb Rack ($48++), served with spiced cous-cous, ratatouille, lemongrass basil jus. The Dorper lamb is a common domestic South African breed, very resilient to arid climates. The lamb was executed to faultless perfection, moist and tender with a slight sear on the surface.

Another signature main worth getting is the 36-hour Brandt Short Ribs ($48++), more so if you are a fan of pork ribs and have not tried beef ribs before. You will surely be in for a treat. An interesting touch is the truffle miso glaze that adds a slight crisp to the surface of the rib, providing some texture to the dish. Instead of the usual heavy potato mash, a light smooth parsnip purée and a side of field mushrooms are served on the side instead, a much welcome change that provides some balance.

Prepare also to be mindblown by the 60-hour Braised Magalica Pork Belly ($42++), served with spiced purple cabbage, white beans and miso broth. Just the previous week, I had the 12-hour cooked Pork Belly at Restaurant Ember, which to me sets the yardstick for western-style 烧肉. I wouldn’t say that the White Rabbit does it better but it does come pretty close, in terms of gastronomic enjoyment.

Think of the Tagliatelle ($45++) as a Alaskan King Crab mee pok doused in pork broth and kombu. While it was good, it paled in comparison to the meat mains we had earlier and came across as slightly pricey for a relatively simple pasta dish. Perhaps I would think differently if we had it before the meats, given that the flavours of this dish was lighter and doubles up as a possible appetizer.

The Baked Alaska ($18++) seemed to be one of the signature dishes here, where flaming liqueur is poured over a meringue encased vanilla ice cream cake. My first encounter with it was during national service days, when one of my fellow air force cadets brought us to Xiyan Private Dining along Craig Road, where his parents are shareholders. It has never been one of my favourite desserts taste-wise but as you can imagine, a flaming dessert never fails to excite the crowd.

On a side note, Xiyan has now opened a casual dining outlet at Shaw Centre. Some dishes such as the Salivating Chicken (also available at the Private Dining outlet) were excellent but most of the other dishes came across as fairly mediocre, dashing my high hopes.

If you have preference for a lighter dessert, especially after waves of meat-based mains, do go for the the White Chocolate Mille-Feuille ($18++), a three layered filo-pastry with alternating layers of white chocolate cream. The side of rhubarb sorbet does well to cleanse the palate too!

For chocolate aficionados, you won’t go wrong with the Chocolate Fondant ($18++). I thought that the fondant was more buttery and savory than usual, which was a plus in my view, probably due to its caramel core. Without the menu, it would be almost impossible to guess the flavor of the accompanying ice cream; banana and rum, a splendid combination. In the dim lighting, some might miss out the cute intricacies of this dessert but try looking for the little bunnies made using gold foil, scampering about in the garden-themed plating.

Overall, two thumbs up for our experience at The White Rabbit. The food was near faultless during our visit but there were small hiccups in the service. Given that the restaurant was operating at full house, it took quite some time before anyone attended to me while I stood at the reception. Furthermore, the staff informed me that our reserved table was not ready yet and asked me to proceed to the waiting area, when the rest of my friends were already seated at that table. It’s not that I’m “niao” but these should not be happening in any restaurant that considers itself a fine-dining establishment.

On a side note, The White Rabbit is one of the participating restaurants for The Entertainer App Singapore, that gives 1-for-1 discounts off main courses here.

Last but not least, Happy New Year to all and have a blessed and peaceful 2015!

The White Rabbit

Address: 39C Harding Rd, Singapore 249541

Tel: +65 9721 0536





Suprette – An American-inspired Cafe with a Kickass Burger

26 11 2014

Nothing has been said about Suprette for a while now and it only resurfaced recently when a friend mentioned that her brother owns a stake in the joint and it was her favourite go-to place for weekend brunch. While I did take her comments with a pinch of salt given the potential conflict of interest, she was also someone whom I could reasonably trust with food recommendations. Hence, I made it a point to schedule a weekend brunch here to catch up with some buddies from back in university.

Housed in a Kam Leng Hotel, a boutique hotel that preserves the nostalgic setting of old school Singapore, Suprette couldn’t have been more different, exuding very young friendly hip vibes. The staff were also extremely approachable and motivated.

If you are in the mood for a hearty breakfast, try out the Shakshuka ($19++) of middle eastern origin, where you get a dish of poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce, feta cheese, lamb sausage and crusty bread. Personally, I would think that it’s hard to go wrong with this dish, given that the execution seems pretty straightforward. Oddly enough, what I really liked from this dish was the bread. They didn’t lie about it being crusty and you will surely need it to tone down the tangy tomato-based stew. The cafe is pretty flexible, so there’s pretty much free reign to swap the lamb sausage to chicken or pork sausage instead.

The Suprette Burger ($20++) comes highly recommended by many local food bloggers and it’s easy to see why. First, the doneness of the beef patty is cooked to your liking. Opting for medium rare, you can see based on the pictures that they got that right, with the patty retaining a healthy pink hue. Second, the patty is juicy and doesn’t fall apart easily when prodded. Most importantly, the burger fares well on the taste-test, with extra flavor from the visible green herbs in the patty. The fries are also executed well, with a nice garlicky aroma. Add-ons are available to make the burger less humble. For us, we got the Mushrooms and Bacon ($3++ each). Was eyeing the Foie Gras add-on ($12++) but guess that’s for another day.

The Chicken Pot Pie ($15++) wasn’t bad but didn’t receive as much praise as the other dishes, since it wasn’t very much differentiated from a generic Chicken Pie. Still, it deserves a premium for being freshly baked, so do expect a 20 minutes wait.

The coffee here are good as well, in the $4-$5++ range.

Overall, Suprette definitely gets my stamp of approval. The cafe see constant turnover but was never packed, service was great and portions are extremely generous, which was why the staff advised us to just get three items to share between the four of us.

Suprette

383 Jalan Besar, Singapore 209001

Tel: +65 6298 8962

Website: http://www.suprette.com





The Flying Squirrel – The Unlikely Chirashi

23 06 2014

He used to be known as Mr Siva, a well-liked PE teacher from Raffles Junior College. Now he is better known as Rai of the singer-songwriting duo Jack and Rai. Multi-talented and adventurous these two are, as they (together with Jack’s wife Angelina) took a leap into local F&B scene early last year by establishing  a modern Japanese restaurant named The Flying Squirrel.

On the menu, conventional Japanese options such as the Chirashi, Sushi and Curry Rice appear next to less traditional options such as the Foie Gras Aglio Olio and Seafood Eggplant Gratin, immediately triggering an alarm in my head. Could such a place really deliver on a decent Chirashi or Sushi?

The answer is a resounding yes. For $25+, the TFS Chirashi was of extremely good value, comprising of slices of Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish, Sweet Shrimp, Scallop, Ikura, Octopus, Tamago and an entire Anago (saltwater eel) over a bed of pearly rice.

Another alternative is the Salmon & Ikura Chirashi ($20+). Again, the eatery is rather generous with the salmon slices and roe.

The Miso Gindara or Grilled Black Cod ($26+) we had was delicious too as it wasn’t too salty and retained some smokiness, though the portion doesn’t fill you up as much as the chirashi.

Given that it was my first day at work in the Tanjong Pagar area today, I returned for a lunch visit. This time, I tried the Summer Chirashi Bento ($25+), only available during lunch time. The main difference between the lunch chirashi and the TFS Chirashi is that the lunch Summer Chirashi Bento uses diced sashimi instead of slices (think along the lines of bara chirashi) and does not include the higher value items of shrimp, scallops or anago to my dismay. However, the bento does make up for it with 3 pieces of fried chicken karaage, salad and fruits. In my humble opinion, ultimately I still derived greater satisfaction from the TFS Chirashi.

As the restaurant is rather small, seating no more than 20 people by my estimates, hence reservations are encouraged.

The Flying Squirrel

92 Amoy Street, #01-02

Tel: +65 6226 2203

Website: http://www.theflyingsquirrel.com.sg/





The Halia @ Raffles Hotel – Fun Communal Dining Concept

15 06 2014

You would think that for its location in the iconic Raffles Hotel, the Halia must certainly be a fine-dining western restaurant. This “mistaken” mindset has proven to be slightly burdensome for the eatery, which has continually strived to portray itself as a casual-chic restaurant that isn’t afraid to infuse an element of playfulness into its dishes.

Al fresco dining area & bar

The latest concept adopted by the restaurant, which was also the reason for my being there, is the introduction of a communal dining concept, with dishes being classified as “big plates” or “small plates” for sharing instead of the usual appetizers and mains. The general idea is to bring out the scene of a feast where the table is kept filled with a variety of dishes, rather than having the usual course by course meal sequence typical of western meals.

Apart from the ala carte menu (note: prices of the individual plates are listed below), a communal set dinner is also available daily from 6pm to 10.30pm, priced at $260++ for 4 pax. However given the generous servings, my take is that the set can comfortably feed a group of 5, especially if there are females present. What’s included within the set are a kettle of soup with assorted breads, 4 small plates, 4 big plates, 2 desserts and a jug of barley/lemongrass/ice tea.

Alternatively, for diners who might want to sample Halia’s offerings without the full-blown commitment of dinner, the restaurant also offers very affordable 3-course set lunches at $25++, and a lunch communal set for 4 pax at $160++ which includes soup, 4 small plates, 2 big plates, 1 dessert and a non-alcoholic jug of barley/lemongrass/ice tea.

Upon entering the restaurant, the first signs restaurant’s casual-chic nature presented itself with the interesting old school designs on the communal menu and paper sheets covering the tables. Then came the barley water and utensils in old school tin cans.

Cream of Mushroom Soup, Bread Selection

Goats’ cheese mousse, heirloom tomato, olive, wild honey, dried brioche ($18++)

I didn’t quite take to the Oriental Pulled Duck with Soba Noodle ($18++). The meat was seasoned to be sweet, which isn’t something I’m used to.

On the other hand, the House smoked salmon pate ($23++) is a small plate that I would recommend ordering. Compared to the overwhelmingly salty smoked salmon commonly found in supermarkets (possibly to extend shelf life), the smoked salmon here was significantly less so such that you get a better sense of the smokiness and the natural taste of salmon.

The Chilli crab dip with toasted baguette ($14++) makes for a great starter. It stands out from the chili crab sauce from chinese restaurants since it was slightly more sourish, which whetted my appetite for the feast ahead.

For a secondary cut, I was surprised at how much I liked the Baked Kingfish Collar ($28++). The flesh was remarkably tender and I managed to debone it with ease. The light miso marinade also allowed me to appreciate the Kingfish, without overpowering its natural flavour.

While the Wagyu Beef “Zhajiangmian” ($30++) was visually appealing and conceptually interesting, with the “noodles” being replaced by long thin vegetable strips, it didn’t leave much of an impression tastewise. I thought of it as a fancy salad dish.

While the Twice-cooked Spatchcock of Spring Chicken ($35++) might look uninteresting, its execution was flawless and it turned out to be my favourite dish of the meal. The secret lay in it being twice cooked, first in a sous-vide style (slow cooked under low temperatures) to derive that tender juicy consistency, and followed up with some light roasting to attain the crispy skin and smoky char. What was most surprising was how moist the breast meat was.

In the old wild west, gunpowder containing traces of magnesium, potassium, sulphur and charcoal was sometimes used as a seasoning for meats. Inspired with this, the ‘Gunpowder’ Wagyu Topside Mayura Station ($46++) here was seasoned with charcoal. The beef was first cooked in a water bath at 59 degrees celsius before being grilled, resulting in a nice pink hue to the beef. However, for a indicated marbling score of 8-9, I was slightly let down that the beef still retained some bite to it rather than having the melt in your mouth sensation. The seasoning and accompanying sauce was also a little too savory in general.

Coconut parfait, pineapple, gingerflower, chocolate

Of the two desserts I tried, I preferred the Sticky toffee pudding, date, butterscotch sauce, sea salt, vanilla ice cream ($10++). Simple touches like the light sprinkling of sea salt on the toffee pudding did help to distinguish this rendition as an above average one. After all, who doesn’t like salted caramel?

On the whole, the meal was really enjoyable and the huge selection of dishes present in the communal set menu left me with positive feelings. Many of the dishes were rather creative with influences from various cuisines styles. What I enjoyed most however, were the relatively more straightforward dishes like the Roast Chicken, Baked Kingfish, Smoke Salmon Pate and Sticky Toffee Pudding. Regarding the communal dining concept, you can think of it as a scaled up tapas meal, or a chinese restaurant meal utilizing western dishes. Either way, it is a fun concept for group dining.

This meal was sponsored by Halia. Special thanks to Halia for hosting the invitation.

Halia

1 Beach Road, #01-22/23 Raffles Hotel, Singapore 189673

Tel: +65 9639 1148

Website: http://thehalia.com/raffles/raffles/about-the-halia/





Cotton Restaurant @ ECP – Grilled items done right

1 04 2014

A new restaurant called Cotton has recently taken root in East Coast Park, taking over the premises from 1-TwentySix. Interestingly, the name Cotton was given because of the resident cotton tree that grows at the entrance of the restaurant. The facade of the new establishment looks similar to 1-TwentySix and boosts a similar laidback vibe as well, with an al fresco dining area, a stage for the live band and an outdoor bar area but one of the key changes is that the indoor dining area will be converted into a cocktail bar after the ongoing renovations is completed.

Cotton serves European cuisine with a hint of Asian influence, with its char grilled items being a distinctive strength. While it is known more as a dinner and post-dinner drinks place, the restaurant has also started offering a weekend brunch menu as well.

Al fresco dining area

Outdoor bar area

I was here on invitation with XL from the4moose and WS from cafehoppingSG. We kicked off the tasting with some of the restaurant’s signature cocktails and mocktails.

XL had a cocktail named Jar of Heart ($18++), made from a combination of Whisky Sour (Whisky, Lemon juice and Sugar and Egg white), Amaretto (a type of Almond-based Italian liqueur) and Mixed Berries. Suffering from a bad ulcer, I opted for a mocktail instead. This uncharacteristic move was a blessing in disguise as I managed to sample the Superstar ($16++), made from a mix of Watermelon, Apple, Cranberry Juices with a dash of Melon syrup. It’s an awesome drink for a warm summer evening, especially with the refreshing taste of watermelon juice. If you have a preference for mango, try the Anita ($16++), a mocktail made from fruit punch, mango juice, grenadine (a pomegranate flavored syrup) and lychee.

Jar of Heart

While I’m not a fan of tuna in general, the Maguro Tuna Nicoise ($22++), which is a mix of French Beans, Cherry Tomatoes, Quail Eggs, Potatoes & seared Tuna, left XL with a positive impression. It did however, come across as slightly pricey compared to the other items on the menu.

Taste-wise and value-wise, I much preferred the Vongole ($20++), a hearty bowl of clams with a dash of white wine and basil served with  a Toasted Baguette & Tomato Salsa. Definitely one of the better renditions around, the bittersweet gravy was rich and robust with the clams not overcooked, retaining a nice gelatinous texture.

For mains, the New Zealand Rack of Lamb ($38++) was strongly recommended by the staff and it wasn’t difficult to see why. It was one of the most succulent lamb racks I have had and I was surprised to find no areas being dried out from the grilling. Diners can choose from 4 different sauces (Wild Mushroom, Bordelaise, Lemon Garlic Butter or Pink Peppercorn) to accompany the grilled meats and I would highly suggest the Pink Peppercorn, which is milder than the usual Black Pepper Sauce and allows for greater appreciation of the natural flavours from the lamb. Incidentally, pink peppercorn is not technically a peppercorn but dried berries that come from a different plant.

What I really liked about the Whole Market Fresh Red Snapper ($32++) was that despite being served whole, the meat peeled off the bone easily and cleanly. We were told that the fish is sourced daily from the markets, providing greater assurance of its freshness, which came evident with the taste and texture. At this price point for a roughly 600g fish by my estimates, this is really quite a steal.

The Angel Hair Pasta with King Tiger Prawns, Smoked Sea Urchin Butter, Ebi Sakura & Vine Tomatoes ($38++) on the other hand, was less impressive. The pasta was a tad dry and lacking any hints of Sea Urchin. On the bright side, the king tiger prawns were quite sizable with a nice char.

For desserts, we had the Mango Panna Cotta, the Warm Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Ice Cream and the Profiteroles ($14++ each). They weren’t bad but neither were they great, each falling short in a certain aspect. For example, I liked the ice cream in the profiterole but the choux pastry wasn’t airy and crisp enough, I liked the balanced sweet and tangy flavours from the mango panna cotta but the biscuit base lacked butteriness, while the chocolate fondant was spongy throughout instead of having a crisp outer layer.

Overall, I found the experience at Cotton to be a step up from its predecessor 1-TwentySix, mainly due to the adept execution of the char grilled dishes. The restaurant is still in the midst of fine-tuning their menu offerings and I’m looking forward to drop by again once the dust has settled.

Special thanks to Cotton for the invitation.

Cotton Restaurant

902 East Coast Parkway, #01-26 Big Splash

Tel: +65 6348 2126

Website: http://www.cottonsg.com/








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