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





Penny University

7 09 2014

Quoting from Wikipedia: 

Penny University is a term originating from the 18th-century coffeehouses in London, England. Instead of paying for drinks, people were charged a penny to enter a coffeehouse. Once inside, the patron had access to coffee, the company of others, various discussions, pamphlets, bulletins, newspapers, and the latest news and gossip.

This environment attracted an eclectic group of people who met and mingled with each other at these coffeehouses and through these interactions, one could ensue in wide-ranging conversations ranging from the commercial, to the political, and the purely intellectual; the idea that one could acquire an education for the price of a cup of coffee, that is, a penny, took hold of the poetic imagination…

Situated along East Coast Road, Penny University isn’t the most accessible of cafes, with no MRT stations within walkable distance. What this does is to help regulate diner traffic, which is especially vital given that the cafe isn’t large to start with. Still, one can expect a waiting list to form on weekends. Alongside a minor revamp of the menu recently, prices have also undergone a slight increase but are still kept at fairly reasonable levels, in the low-$20 range for a Full English Breakfast with Juice or Coffee.

MZ had the Honey-infused Greek Yoghurt with Granola ($6.50+) and the Scrambled Eggs on Toast ($5.90). The thing I like about the scrambled eggs here lies mainly in its texture and consistency but tastewise, I would have liked a richer creamer flavor.

I had the Full English Breakfast ($16+) and it was one of the better ones I have had recently. From what I have read, the cafe does not have a halal certificate but runs a halal kitchen and only uses halal ingredients, so don’t be too surprised to find the texture of the bacon slightly different from usual. It still tasted awesome though. Loved the very flavorful sausages and the garlicky sauteed mushrooms too.

Wanted to have desserts but was too stuffed from the generous brunch portions.

Cakes, glorious cakes…

Overall, I had a pretty positive experience having Saturday brunch here and would recommend it to Easties. The service staff was friendly, the meal was unrushed and despite sitting at a long communal table, it wasn’t too cramped so I could actually get a conversation going without the heightened perceived risk of having other diners around me listening in.

Penny University

402 East Coast Road, Singapore 428997

Tel: +65 9008 9314

Opening hours: Mon: CLOSED / Tue – Thu, Sun: 8:30am – 6:00pm / Fri – Sat: 8:30am – 12:00am





Artichoke Cafe & Bar – Moorish Weekend Brunch

24 08 2014

With cafe culture quickly catching on in Singapore, it’s getting real difficult to find a decent weekend brunch spot that doesn’t have a constant horde of diners waiting in line and breathing down your neck. In fact, I’m literally scratching my head on where to go for Sunday brunch tomorrow with no reservations. It’s times like this when one returns to spots that are tried and tested, where hype has gradually died down through the years.

I have been to Artichoke on 2 or 3 other occasions for dinner and have not been disappointed yet. It’s one of the few cafes in Singapore that dish out Moorish cuisine, which share some similarities and elements from dishes in North Africa, Middle East and the Mediterranean.

I’m a sucker for any brunch item on the menu that has stewed or baked eggs, so I ordered the Lamb Shakshouka ($26++) that was a lovely mess of stewed Eggs, tomato sauce, roast lamb, kashkaval cheese (a type of sheep cheese), pistachio dukka (a powdery mix of nuts and spices), eaten with pita. I swore I tasted hints of curry inside as well and it worked out to be an amazingly hearty dish.  The only downside (if at all), is the fact that it was too heavy a brunch dish and I left about 1/4 of it unfinished.

My dining counterpart R had the Cauliflower Sabbich ($22++), a cute construction of fried cauliflower, smoked egg, hummus, labneh (yoghurt), israeli salad, truffled tahini (sesame dip), zhoug (a spicy relish made from herbs, parsley and chili), over a serving of pita. The flavor packs a punch and for a moment, made me forget that this was almost an entirely vegetarian dish, which I would have normally steered clear from.

Grilled Haloumi Cheese ($10++)

Of course, no meal here is complete without the Date Pudding ($14++), served with burnt milk custard, coffee jelly, peanut caramel and smoked salt. It’s one of the signature dishes here and has been on the menu for as long as I can remember. Definitely something that I always look forward to when visiting Artichoke and one of my recommendations to anyone asking for where to get a memorable date pudding experience.

Artichoke Cafe & Bar

161 Middle Road, Sculpture Square, Singapore 188978 

Tel: +65 6336 6949





Stellar @ 1-Altitude – Wine Lust Sunday Brunches

19 03 2014

Following its popularity since its debut in December 2013, Stellar @ 1-Altitude has decided to continue hosting its Wine Lust Sunday Brunches into 2014. This is pleasant news because from what I have seen so far, they seem to be doing it right. The brunch buffet features a good mix of International cuisines, ranging from Japanese Sushi, a meat carving station, cold cuts, western brunch items and most importantly, a free flow of red/white/sparking wine. Adding to that, wine aficionados will also be glad to know that a tasting table of up to 10 wines (different from those on free-flow) will also be set up by a different wine supplier each week, allowing for wine tastings and bottle sales during the course of the brunch. And if you didn’t already know, at 62 floors above ground level, the view from Stellar is simply breathtaking too. How many restaurants can actually boost looking down towards Ku De Ta @ Marina Bay Sands?

At $110++ per pax, Wine Lust is competitively priced against other Sunday alcoholic brunch buffets such as The Line @ Shangri-La Hotel ($138++), Equinox @ Swissotel ($148++) and Clifford @ Fullerton Bay Hotel ($148++). Two reasons might explain this price discount. Firstly, Wine Lust does not offer Champagne but personally, a good non-Champagne sparkling wine offers equal, if not higher utility. Secondly, Wine Lust offers less variety in menu options, doing away with the ubiquitous raw seafood lineup. What Wine Lust offers however, is something unique and what I find to be the key differentiating factor going for it; a larger proportion of live cooking stations and made to order items.

Do not make the fatal mistake of underestimating the menu. While the entire list of food items is categorically displayed on a single page, by the end of the meal, it is likely that you will still end up having trouble standing up, as the individual items listed can become pretty substantial when summed and secondly, since many of the items are made to order, the quality and taste follows that of ala carte and you will likely finish up the entire serving because wasting good food is a sin.

Wine Tasting Table

According to the retailer, the wines were “boutique” Western Australian wines, with prices in the general range of $30-$40

One of the items I found particularly good was the made to order Salmon Benedict. The saltiness of the smoked salmon was controlled and perfect for my tastes. The poached yolk was flowy and the hollandaise as rich and creamy as it gets.

Salami & Salad Bar

Another brunch item worth getting is the French Toast with Caramelized Bananas. It might potentially be one of the best renditions you ever laid your taste buds on with its crisp exterior and airy interior that doesn’t fill you up too badly.

Omelette & French Toast cooking station

I had no complaints with the Sushi section either and found it quite a few notches higher than the usual hotel buffet, possibly because the sushi is made in small batches to ensure that the stock of sushi displayed is always fresh.

One of the highlights of the buffet was the Claypot Chicken Rice. Just like how they do it in traditional dim sum restaurants where you see the staff pushing a cart of fresh dim sum up and down the restaurant for diners to order, the same thing is done with the Claypot Chicken Rice here, where it is pushed around on a trolley whenever a fresh batch is made. To give it a little twist, the rice is served in a piece of lettuce with Tomato Belacan and Cucumber Relish on the side. I was advised to pair it with the Sauvignon Blanc and man did it make a difference. The Claypot Rice tasted a whole lot more fragrant with a hint of sweetness that I did not get in the absence of the white wine.

The mini tacos were also made to order, so they arrived crisp but both CJ and myself found it a little too sourish from the sauce used.

The biggest disappointment for the brunch was the carving station. While the meats (Spatchcock Chicken aka Roast Chicken, Roasted Pork Belly, Rosemary Roast Lamb Leg, Roast Duck) scored high aesthetically with the meats and duck skin glistening from the lighting, they were awfully dry and lacked flavor.

Hopes that the made to order Wagyu Rump would redeem the meat section were quickly dashed as I found the beef extremely sinewy and difficult to cut. Of the two options of sauces (mushroom or red wine), I much preferred the red wine sauce since it complemented the beef way better than the bland mushroom sauce.

Pastas are also made to order, with the option of Carbonara and Aglio Olio. We chose to share the latter since we were pretty stuffed and found it pretty mediocre. Would have loved a stronger garlic flavor and more olive oil, since it came across as a little dry. That said, I was pretty surprised when the chef came over and asked if we would like to have truffle shavings with our pasta, which may cost in the range of $10-$20 per gram in local restaurants. No points for guessing our answer nor our enthusiasm.

The dessert lineup was decent as well, featuring Lamingtons Drive (a type of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and rolled over coconut), Lemon Coconut Cake, Orange Carrot Cake, Chocolate Tartlets, Hazelnut Praline Cake, White Chocolate Raspberry Cake, Strawberry Crumble and Anzac Cookies (an oat cookie). My favourites were the Strawberry Crumble, which is served warm and the Hazelnut Praline Cake (which looks like a chocolate cake in the middle of the dish).

No wine brunch is complete without a cheese platter.

With more hits than misses, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with the entire brunch experience. Service was great and so was the food and ambience. Unbuckling my belt upon reaching home never felt better…

Special thanks to Shasi and Stellar @ 1-Altitude for the invitation.

Stellar @ 1-Altitude

1 Raffles Place, Level 62, Singapore 048616

Tel: +65 6438 0410

Website: www.1-altitude.com





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/





[Amsterdam, Holland] – Of Pancakes, English Breakfasts and Chinese Roast Meats

20 11 2013

While there are many coffeeshops in Amsterdam, not many actually sell coffee so it was great that we managed to find a decent cafe called Greenwoods that served a proper English Breakfast. I’d imagine it would be a great way to perk yourself up after a visit to the coffeeshop that does not sell coffee.

Ground Floor of Greenwoods

I had the Full English Breakfast (9.95 Euros), comprising two eggs with bacon, sausages, grilled mushrooms & tomato, baked beans and toast while friend JS had the Eggs Royale (8.95 Euros), comprising two poached eggs with smoked salmon on toasted English muffins topped with Hollandaise.

My toast was crisp but at the same time rather airy, the grilled mushrooms were flavourful, the eggs poached to perfection and the Hollandaise sauce rich and smooth. Nothing short of excellent.

Full English Breakfast

Eggs Royale

Another plus point was that while the cafe was pretty popular, the staff were uber friendly and I never once felt rushed during the meal.

Another cafe that’s hugely popular and also worth visiting is The Pancake Bakery, which has the widest selection of pancakes I have ever seen. Initially I was a little bummed, mainly because I perceive a restaurant with a wide menu selection as a jack of all trades but master of none. Thankfully, I was painfully mistaken this time around.

Question marks all around whenever someone asks about what foods are authentically Dutch. Well, something I learnt from this trip is that the Dutch invented a type of mini-pancake called Poffertjes. We had the Poffertjes with Honey, Nuts, Mandarins and Whipped Cream (7.10 Euros) and it was wonderful. Compared to the other pancakes we had here, this one was more on the fluffy side, with the texture of hotcakes but with a lighter body and less floury taste.

If you like Hawaiian Pizza, then you will surely love the Pineapple and Bacon Pancake (9.95 Euros). It was my favourite of the 3 pancakes we ordered. The bacon wasn’t overly salty and there was a pleasant smoky tinge (from the bacon) lingering within the batter.

Pancake with Apples, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Cinnamon Liquor and Whipped Cream (12.15 Euros)

Having had to skip lunch to make it for a bicycle tour of the city, we were pretty famished when it was over and couldn’t wait for our pancakes to arrive. So while waiting, we had some Taco Chips with Melted Cheese and Chili Sauce (4.65 Euros) to nibble on. Was appreciative that the cafe took the effort to toast the chips before serving.

For tourists, do remember to flash your Holland Pass to enjoy a drink on the house.

Zaanse Schans Windmill Village

PS: This advice is mainly for Asians in Europe hankering after a decent Roast Meat and Roast Duck Rice. Say goodbye to 4 Seasons in London, Amsterdam’s Nam Kee is the place to be for Roast Meats. It might just run some stalls out of business if it ever opened shop in Singapore.

Nam Kee

Zeedijk 113, 1012 AV Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tel: +31 20 624 3470

The Pancake Bakery

Prinsengracht 191, 1015 DS Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tel: +31 20 625 1333

Greenwoods English Tea Room & Restaurant

Keizersgracht 465, Amsterdam 1017 DK, Netherlands

Tel: +31 20 420 4330








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