Flutes at the Fort – Just another Western Brunch Place

23 09 2011

Flutes at the Fort is a hidden enclave located in the heart of town. Very much like Spruce, this green hideaway provides a brief respite for the busy white collared workers in the area from their harsh schedules. It’s definitely not as well known a brunch place compared to Rider’s Cafe or Cafe Epicurious and I would never have known of its existence if not for the SMU Gourmet Club’s decision to host a quiet saturday brunch event here. I was excited about the brunch, for gourmet club events have always been rather fun and provides a great setting to just talk to random strangers and meet new friends.

Flutes at the Fort is not solely a weekend brunch place but caters for lunch and dinner as well. Executive set lunches are available on weekdays at $32/$38++ for 2/3 Courses and going for a 3-course ala carte might set you back $100.

We had the 3-Course Set Brunch, priced at $35++ but with a school’s subsidy, we only had to fork out $20 nett per pax, quite a steal! Well, you must be thinking why would SMU subsidize gourmet meals right? While I don’t have a sure answer to that, I’m guessing that in developing a holistic education in the fields of business, fostering soft skills in students such as dining etiquette and networking skills might be possible reasons. But for whatever the reason, at least I’m making full use of my higher-than-other-local-university tuition fees.

For starters, I chose the US Asparagus with Poached Egg, Smoked Salmon and Hollandaise Sauce. The egg was slightly overdone so the yolk was not as runny as I would have liked it but the Hollandaise sauce was pretty competent. I have tried making it at home before so I know it’s really not that simple, despite being part of the 5 Mother Sauces in French Cuisine.

I felt that the Grilled Baby Octopus with Chili Jam, Cherry Tomato and Musclun was rather flavourful, especially with the chili jam which made the octopus slightly reminiscent of those sambal ikan bilis we get in nasi lemak.

I didn’t get to try the Sauteed Garlic Mushroom and Goat’s Cheese on Sourdough but feedback about it was positive.

For main, I choose the Seared Sirloin with Celeriac Remoulade, Spinach, Roasted Tomatoes and Red Wine Sauce. The roasted tomato was probably the best thing in this dish, as I felt the sirloin was way too tough, a portion of my steak was way too rare and the sauce wasn’t that impressive either. You’d probably find better steak at Bedrock Grill & Bar, which offers set lunches at $32-$38++, depending on which main is chosen.

CrunchyBottoms had positive reviews with regards to the Beer Battered Snapper with Fries, Mixed Leaf, Malt Vinegar or Tartare Sauce.

I was quite opposed to having the Eggs Benedict with English Muffin, Spinach, Ham, Roasted Tomato and Mixed Salad as a main, especially since the Poached Egg was also available as an appetizer.

Flutes at the Fort clearly falls flat when it comes to desserts.

The Crepe with Caramelized Banana and Butterscotch Sauce was pretty disastrous. The crepe skin was way too thick, and when I say thick, it means about thrice as thick as the skins used to eat peking duck. Perhaps a scoop of ice cream or two would have made this a little more palatable.

The Earl Grey Creme Brulee with Black Sesame Ice Cream and Strawberries fared slightly better, though I still wouldn’t rate it positively. It’s just not my cup of tea, get the pun?

I chose the Belgian Waffle with Vanilla and Strawberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce for my dessert and found it pretty dismal as the waffle was totally bland and the ice cream rather pedestrian. It didn’t help that I patronized Salted Caramel along Upper Thomson the night before and had their pretty awesome waffles there, alongside their very awesome chocolate sorbet and rum and raisin ice cream.

To play safe, stick to the aesthetically pleasing Trio of Ice Cream (Salted Caramel, Black Sesame, Vanilla) with Mixed Berries.

While I only forked out $20, we did still pay the full price of $42 a pax and I honestly believe that there are many places out there that give better value and quality for a weekend brunch. Still, I’m wondering if this was a one-off or I made the wrong choices for my orders because online reviews of Flutes at the Fort on Hungrygowhere seem really positive.

Bon Appetit!

Flutes at the Fort

21 Lewin Terrace, Fort Canning Park

Tel: +65 6338 8770





Soho7 Cafe & Bistro – SMU Students can finally say Nay to Koufu and Kopitiam

3 05 2011

SMU students are a really sad bunch when it comes to mealtimes. Normally, it’s a choice between the overpriced and crappy Koufu at the school basement, the Kopitiam opposite school or the student-run cafes. So when an affordable cafe serving more than decent food opens shop just opposite Timbre, it’s definitely a cause for celebration and joy for us deprived students.

With a seating capacity of around 20 pax, it’s not a big place and is rather hidden from public eye but when I was there on a Sunday afternoon, business was brisk and I have no doubt that once summer is over and term starts again, Soho7 will be swarmed with students.

Priced between $3 to $6 depending on the type and size of caffeine boosters chosen, it’s a cheaper alternative to the larger coffee chains. Yet quality is supposedly uncompromised, as Soho7 roasts their coffee beans every 2 or 3 days for a fresher and more fragrant brew.

On the left is their signature burger, the Soho7 Best Ever Burger ($9.70) is more or less their basic Delish Burger ($7) with additional toppings of Egg, Bacon and Swiss Cheese. Now that I mention it, I think they might have missed out on the egg for my burger! Nevertheless, I really enjoyed the burger, especially because of the bacon and BBQ sauce which tastes really home-made. And on the right is the PattyMelt Burger ($7.70) which is a Delish Burger with melted Swiss Cheese. I do recommend sticking to the Soho7 Best Ever Burger though, as the bacon is a crucial ingredient in elevating the taste factor.

Apart from the burger menu, Soho7 also offers an all-day breakfast menu. The Tassie Benedict ($14.70) consists of 2 poached eggs, smoked salmon, spinach, toast smothered by Hollandaise Sauce. For the eggs, it was ever so slightly overpoached with the yolk not as runny as it should be. I do love the toast, and the creamy Hollandaise though not very rich, made up for it with sheer volume. It’s a pretty decent Salmon Benedict, and I feel it’d be best shared with a friend to avoid the risk of any “gelat-ness”.

On a side note, there’s a cool camera shop a few shops away from Soho7. Do visit it too because it’s really quite interesting with many cool looking cameras.

Anyway, a mutual friend of mine and Soho7’s boss told me that Soho7 is planning to set up another outlet to replace the 7-11 shop in the basement of SMU / Bras Besar MRT. Let’s all wait in anticipation for that, shall we?

Bon Appetit!

SOHO7 CAFE & BISTRO

36 ARMENIAN STREET, #01-08

TEL: +65 6634 5779





Lei Garden – Dim Sum Delights

8 03 2011

A dim sum lunch is perfect for a birthday meal! After all, dim sum (点心) literally means “touching the heart”, which is what a birthday meal is all about…feeling the love, care and concern, if only for a day a year…

So my friends got this investment book called The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (Warren Buffett’s shifu), which might help in inculcating the skills required to sell risky structured products to unsavvy investors in the future…and with food, guess that makes 2 of my life’s passion.

Lei Garden is only a short walk over from SMU, and it’s really nice to be able to soak in Chijmes’s chill-out ambience during a school day.

We started the meal with some Rainbow Egg & Shredded Pork Congee ($5.80). It was very decent with a nice smooth texture.

I have had better so I didn’t really think too much of the Deep Fried Taro Dumpling with Minced Chicken ($4.30), nor the Pan Fried Carrot Cake.

The Steamed Cheong Fan with Char Siew was awesome! While thicker than most dim sum joints, the skin of the cheong fan was unbelievably smooth.

What I found most abysmal was the Xiao Long Pao. The skin was awfully dry, over steamed perhaps?

Had ambivalent feelings about the Steamed Custard Bun with Salted Egg Yolk ($3.80). On one hand, I liked the unique chocolate twirls on the bun, but the custard filling was a bit of a let down. Firstly, there wasn’t enough custard to have the oozing effect when I peeled it open, secondly there was a lack of the distinct taste of salted egg yolk.

As for the Har Kow ($4.80) and Siew Mai ($4.30), I thought they were just decent enough.

The Char Siew Pao ($4.80) was just average, much lacking in fillings.

For desserts, I ordered some Tang Yuan (Rice Dumpling), a Mango Pudding with Dragon Fruit and a Gui Ling Gao (Herbal Jelly) to share. Nothing particularly memorable though.

Food does taste better with good company. I truly enjoyed my delightful dim sum lunch there though next time, its probably going to be Wah Lok or Royal China. (Can’t believe I still haven’t got down to trying them yet!)

Bon Appetit!

 

LEI GARDEN RESTAURANT

30 VICTORIA STREET, #01-24 CHIJMES

TEL: +65 6339 3822





Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant – Light-hearted Turkish Cuisine

5 01 2011

Having walked around City Hall possibly thousands of times, you’d think you know all the eating places there but today, I would like to introduce to you one that you would probably not have heard of before – Sofra Turkish Cafe & Restaurant.

One reason why you would probably not have heard of it or seen it is because it is located in Shaw Towers, opposite Suntec City, with super low human traffic, apart from meal times of course where workers around the vicinity would throng down as there are really quite a few reasonably priced eateries here offering very decent food, one of which I would like to highlight would be Ah Loy Thai (my current favourite Thai eatery in Singapore) where u can pig out for much less than $15.

I’m no connoisseur of Turkish cuisine. I only recall having eaten at Sofra once previously and at some other Turkish restaurant in Haji Lane so to me, Turkish food is more or less just Hummus(Chickpea Puree) and Kebabs and that’s more or less what me and my friends ordered.

The Hummus($4.20) doesn’t come with bread so you have to purchase it separately. I would estimate that for every one serving of hummus, 1.5 to 2 servings of the Turkish Bread($2.70) would suffice. I like the Hummus here, it’s really pretty smooth and consistent, looking and even tasting somewhat like Tuna though somehow I prefer the former. The Turkish Bread is also freshly toasted upon ordering so you will never encounter it stale and rubbery.

I ordered the Sultan Kebap($12.50), which was “Mildly Spiced Lamb served with Baked Cheese & Mashed Potatoes”. I had this on my previous visit as well and I have grown quite fond of it. It’s reminiscent of a western lamb stew with very palatable soft and creamy mash.

Being spoilt for choice given the extensiveness of the Menu, KY and M each ordered the Sofra Kebap($15.50). After all, what could be better than ordering a dish with the Restaurant name on it right? I’m less of a bread person than a rice or mash person so I wouldn’t order this as it is actually “Freshly Baked Bread filled with Meat, Walnut, Eggplant, Tomato and Cheese” with a choice of either mixed Beef and Lamb or Chicken for the meat filling. On first bite, you might find this pretty awesome but given the serving size of this dish, it can get pretty dry and boring after a while so I would advise sharing this instead of fighting this battle alone.

T had the Adana Kebap($14.80), comprising of “Spiced Minced Meat over Fire”, with a choice of Mixed Beef & Lamb or Lamb or Chicken as the choice of Meat. Normally, you would find fire cooked meat dry but I felt quite differently about the Adana Kebap which was still pretty moist on cooking. Instead of using skewers, the meat is pierced using a dagger instead, adding dramatism to this dish.

Last but not least, I also had the humble pleasure of sampling the Iskender Kebap($12.80), consisting of “Fine Thin Slices of Doner Kebap with Homemade Crispy Bread in Sofra Special Sauce” with a choice of the Mixed Beef and Lamb or Chicken as the Kebap Meat. Also a decent dish, it’s what I would like to call the Turkish answer to the Chinese Sweet and Sour Meats.

Having a meal here is comparatively cheaper than dining over at most restaurants in Suntec, Marina Square etc, and having the privilege of living in a multicultural society, what’s the harm of stepping out of our comfort zones and trying something different once in a while?

Bon Appetit!

SOFRA TURKISH CAFE & RESTAURANT

100 BEACH ROAD, #02-42 SHAW TOWERS

TEL: +65 6291 1433





Prego – Citibank 1-for-1 Main Course (for Weekday Lunches)

11 10 2010

Warning: Ranting ahead!

The day hadn’t been going well for me. I slipped while rushing to catch an MRT earlier that day, dented my laptop (which now has an out of shape port) during the fall, had my fully filled water bottle screw open in my bag due to the impact of the fall and totally drenching the contents of my bag.

On a side note, I took the Brigg Myers personality test last week. No surprise…turns out that I’m an extroverted sensitive emo guy. And yes, I have been emoing much of late, mainly because:

1. Despite it being SMU’s recess week, I have been in school everyday without fail for project meetings, CCAs and such. (SMU really has a warped definition of recess…)

2. I feel sick over the week and just finished my dose of anti-biotics.

3. Due to (1) and (2), I didn’t manage to achieve my aim for having at least 2 “atas” meals in the recess week.

4. People around me have been unconsciously getting me down.

5. Social life has effectively been put on hold.

Hence, I desperately needed this Prego lunch to go well. Sadly there was 1 more bump on the road. When I took out my camera to snap some food pics, I realised that it had died (more specifically, drowned due to the earlier events). Fortunately, R was there with her trusty Olympus compact camera to save the day.

Call me o-biang but it was only 3 days ago did I find out that Prego is tucked away at some obscure corner of Raffles City, which is linked to Fairmount Singapore (I didn’t know that either!).

Prego’s set lunch is priced at $40++ but I felt that their current 1-for-1 Main Course Citibank promotion (only applicable during weekday lunch) was of more value. After all, it left me with a larger variety of choice for mains.

The Complimentary bread here comes with a lovely salsa dip which I found really appetizing.

One of Prego’s signature dishes, I found the Baked Eggplant light-heartedly pleasing with eggplant cooked till it’s fibers were soft and tender. It looks so much like a lasagna, and tastes like it too! The taste of eggplant isn’t very strong, but it isn’t overpowered by the tomato base nor cheese either. I would definitely order this again!

The Veal Shank was tasty and pretty decently executed, notwithstanding the slight gamey taste. The Risotto that came along with it was quite a bit too much on the cheesy side and reminded me of Mac & Cheese, lucky for them I’m a cheese lover.
Being an Italian restaurant, we anticipated a mind-blowing Squid Ink Pasta. We were left sadly disappointed. It turned out to be really average pasta with only prawns (that’s just too boring!). The tomato base was slightly spicy yet somehow, the spice didn’t lure me back for more or made me slurp up the pasta faster.
Though the food wasn’t really fantastic, I might just be tempted return to capitalize on the 1-for-1 one more time.
Bon Appetit!
PREGO
80 BRAS BESAR ROAD, 1F FAIRMOUNT SINGAPORE
TEL: +65 6431 6156




The Soup Spoon – A Pictorial

9 09 2010

Simon and Garfunkel Chicken and Mushroom Ragout

Chicken Tikka (Wrap)

Smoked Salmon Sandwich

THE SOUP SPOON

252 NORTH BRIDGE ROAD, #B1-61 RAFFLES CITY

TEL: +65 6334 3220





Olio Cafe – Ideal for Quickies

9 09 2010

Over the past week, I have been busy preparing for a presentation to gain entry into one of SMU’s supposedly elite CCAs and now that it’s finally over, I wanted to celebrate the end of this crazy week with a nice dinner. Olio Cafe wasn’t the place I had in mind to give myself a treat, but I guessed it had to do since I was in a rush for time for Fried Rice Paradise the Musical @ The Esplanade (all thanks to complimentary tickets from T).

One of the 2 cafes (the other being Dome Cafe) operated by Suntec F&B Holdings, I wasn’t particularly expectant of good food since my last meal at Dome wasn’t exactly memorable.

The Braised Cod Fish($15.90) came with a Japanese twist, served with cabbage mushroom roll, soba and topped with tobiko (or is it ebiko?). Light on the palate, the portion of cod was generous and most importantly, it sure was tasty!

AD ordered the Moroccan Mixed Lamb Grill($16.90) which consisted of lamb rack, lamb skewers and spicy lamb sausages, served with raisin couscous and topped with cumin sauce. While the variety and portion was impressive, there was a distinct gamey flavour from the lamb rack.

MZ didn’t want to eat too much so she decided to get the Bacon and Portobello Pizza($12.50) to share. Not to sound mean but this thick crust pizza tasted like the frozen supermarket variety though it did come topped with both mozzarella and gorgonzola cheese in an attempt to buff up the taste factor.

Overall, Olio Cafe is a decently priced cafe ideal for a quick bite. I have been hearing some good things about the salads and pastas so I might just drop by again sometime soon.

Bon Appetit!

OLIO CAFE

6 RAFFLES BOULEVARD, #02-100 MARINA SQUARE

TEL: +65 6336 5859








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