Barnacles @ Rasa Sentosa – In the Running for Best Sunday Lunch Buffet

9 02 2013

Short of doing a staycation to enjoy beach resort treatment, Barnacles @ Rasa Sentosa has come up with a fantastic idea. Diners at Barnacles’ Sunday Garden Party Lunch buffet will be allowed access to the pool facilities at Rasa Sentosa, where one can just relax and enjoy the end of the week after the meal. It’s a day to be enjoyed by the whole family as activities are also organized for kids just outside the restaurant where a performer does stuff like balloon sculpting, juggling and a magic show to entertain the children, while the adults can continue indulging in the buffet spread and immerse into their conversations without any distractions.

Priced at $138++ per pax, diners get to indulge in an array of seafood (hence the name Barnacles), charcoal grilled meats, cooked dishes, an impressive French cheese platter and desserts. The buffet is made more affordable for diners who come with their kids, as one child under the age of 12 gets to dine for free with each paying adult (subsequent children will be charged $38++).

It might be a little warm in the afternoon but if it’s a cloudy day, you should definitely try sitting outdoors, which boasts a tranquil waterfront view.

The assortment of food here isn’t varied as some other buffets but they make up for it with quality.

Singapore lacks an oyster culture. Most of us harbour myopic views on what raw oysters should taste and look like, derived from our multiple experiences at the various International buffets we have been to. So when we stumble across an oyster that tastes unfamiliar, we tend to think that something is wrong with that oyster. That was my view not long ago too but it all changed after I visited Blue Water Café & Raw Bar, one of the best seafood restaurants in Vancouver. There was a selection of about 20 different species of oysters to choose from, leaving me totally lost. From the province of British Columbia alone, there were already more than 12 types of oysters on the menu, and the oyster descriptions on the menu (eg “small cup, firm flesh, light brine, lettuce-like finish”) sounded like wine notes more than anything else.

For Barnacles’ Sunday buffet, French Fine de Claire Oysters are served, which will appeal to folks who love briny, less fleshy oysters. It was fresh but I’m definitely one who prefers my oysters sweet and creamy.

Apart from oysters, there’s also Lobsters, Alaskan King Crab, poached Prawns, Periwinkle (a type of small sea snail) & Bulot (large sea snail) for seafood lovers.

Most of the cooked food are placed outdoors. Apart from the cooked lamp chops, grilled chicken and roast beef, there’s also a live BBQ station which grills your Chicken Steak, Sausages, Salmon, Prawns, Beef and Lamb ala minute.

I piled up my plate full of grilled meats and seafood, of which the ready cooked lamb was frigging awesome. Possibly one of the most tender lamb chops I have had to date, unexpected that I would experience it at a buffet. The salmon and sausage were good too, whose meat was moist. Different sauces such as the Mushroom Sauce, Brown Sauce of caramelized onions, Mint Sauce, Mustard was also provided to complement the meats.

Most buffets leave their cooked food out in the open for hours on end but Barnacles employs a different strategy. A tray might hold as little food as 6 scallops but refilled with fresh ones often, ensuring that diners always get food that is fresh and just out of the kitchen. The gesture is much appreciated and the Seared Hokkaido Scallops wrapped in Bacon was certainly one of the highlights for this buffet, worth having seconds for which I did.

The Crab cooked in Chinese Herbs was great as well and the crab meat was really sweet and delicate.

Instead of the ready cooked Bee Hoon, I would recommend going for the Risotto (choice of mushroom, shrimp or salmon but as kiasu Singaporeans, an “everything” risotto seems more likely) instead, which is made to order. I found it more delicious than most of the risottos I have had in ala carte restaurants.

The quality of the desserts on the dessert line was the most impressive one I have encountered so far at a buffet. Special mention has to go to the Apple Pie, Pavlova and Macarons. I’m sure there are other noteworthy desserts as well but I was far too stuffed by this juncture to try everything.

Warm Chocolate Cakes (no lava included)

The Pavlova (bottom of pic) is a meringue-based dessert that has a marshmellow-like core

What we see here are Macarons and not macaroons. I used to think that it was just a UK vs US spelling difference but they actually refer to different types of pastries.

The spread of 8 different types of French Cheese was simply amazing. I’m no cheese connoisseur (most of my cheese knowledge comes from Mousehunt, a Facebook game I used to play) but I guess my favourites were the milder tasting ones and one that was rum & raisin flavoured, which had a subtle saccharine flavor that goes well with the crackers.

Kids being entertained while parents go wild at the buffet line

Parents need entertainment too

For a buffet, one usually finds one or two dishes that are worth going for seconds. At Barnacles, every other item was deserving of such honour, especially the lamb chops, seared scallops, chilled seafood, dessert & cheese line.

I dislike buffets in general because I tend to overeat, crappy food at that. This time, I was glad to have overeaten yet disappointed that there wasn’t any room in me for more. It’s one of the few times I have felt this way about a buffet, so Barnacles definitely has my stamp of approval. The premium paid for this buffet…justified.

Special thanks to Rasa Sentosa and Barnacles for hosting the tasting.

Barnacles

101 Siloso Road, Rasa Sentosa

Tel: +65 6371 1966

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Latteria Mozzarella Bar – For Cheese Lovers

19 12 2012

Compared to the Chinese, the Italians sure love to complicate things. When ordering bak chor mee (minced meat noodles), we state whether we want mee pok or mee kia, but when an Italian guy orders pasta, he will state whether he wants linguine, spaghetti, tagliatelle, penne or fettuccine and so on. Growing up, I have encountered so many instances where I have felt lost and bewildered staring at the menu of an Italian restaurant, wondering what the words meant.

Pompous as many Singaporeans are, I strutted in confidently to Latteria Mozzarella Bar, smirking that the days of being an “unseasoned” diner was now long behind me. However, a glance at the menu knocked me off my high horse immediately. To think there are over 10 different variants of mozzarella coming in differing shapes, size and density, each with a unique name! Lucky for me, a glossary was provided on the menu to explain each one.

Latteria Mozzarella Bar is a relatively new place just over a year old if I’m not mistaken but the local food scene is evolving so fast  that one can hardly distinguish the definition of new anymore.

Choice of indoor and outdoor seating is available and my party chose the rustic indoor seats given our affinity with air conditioning. Based on observation though, outdoor seats tend to be more popular, especially with the expat crowd, which forms a major clientele for Latteria.

The good thing about Latteria is that food portions are ideal for sharing.

We started off with a Fresh Burrata ($30++). Burrata means “Buttered” in Italian, and is one of my favourite appetizers for Italian meals. It’s made such that a shell of mozzarella encases a rich core of mozzarella and cream. The one here was very decent with a density that was just right, complementing the sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes and rocket leaves well.

The Nodini Pugliesi, Parma Prosciutto ($22++) is also worth trying. Nodini Pugliesi (hiding under the parma ham) are little marshmallow-sized balls of mozzarella that are more dense that Burrata and given the mild-tasting nature of mozzarella, it helps to buffer against the saltiness of parma ham well.

Despite being an Italian joint, I actually found most the meat mains a lot more stellar than the risottos and pastas, the Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks, Chickpeas & Red Wine Casserole ($30++) being such an example. Devoid of gaminess and a fork tender texture sealed the deal. Portions were super generous as we got 2 shanks.

The Linguine Vongole ($25++) was the best pasta dish of our meal. The white wine sauce is a little different here from the usual renditions as some cheese had been added to the white wine base, giving an extra dimension of creamy flavours in addition to the bittersweet flavours of clams.

I would recommend avoiding the Oregano Risotto ($25++), which I think is really yellow due to the use of pumpkin squash. It was really bland, not sweet nor cheesy and if not for the gravy from the lamb shank which I paired the risotto with, it would have been highly unpalatable.

What surprised me most was the Tagliata-style Sirloin ($35++). Done perfectly to medium rare, the quality of the sirloin far exceeded what I had expected given the price range, with visible light marbling and tasty oils oozing with each bite.

The Truffle and Smoked Mozzarella Risotto ($25++) was another let down, as it lacked cheesiness and was bland as well.

When the Porcini and burrata pasta bake ($25++) arrived, my friends jested that it looked like baked pasta from pasta mania. They weren’t that far off though, as the quality of the cheese was probably the main distinguishing factor.

Similar to the Pasta Bake, but way most aesthetically pleasing was the Mac & Cheese ($25++), which was served in a hollowed out pumpkin.

The Tiramisu ($15++) is definitely meant to be shared. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it can easily satisfy dessert cravings for 3-4 pax easily. Taste-wise, it’s rather run of the mill, but with brownie points awarded for the very smooth mascarpone.

As many hits as there were misses, Latteria failed to leave much of an impression apart from the laudable meat dishes.

Latteria Mozzarella Bar

40 Duxton Hill

Tel: +65 6866 1988








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