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

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Swensen’s – A Weekend Breakfast Alternative

8 09 2012

I haven’t been back to Swensen’s since my Junior College days more than half a decade ago. I guess just like with all the cafe cartels, seoul gardens and sakae sushis that we students used to frequent, these joints no longer seem as cool as compared to chilling out at those hipster standalone cafes that serve gourmet coffees. However believe it or not, on my recent trip to Swensen’s, I actually found the new breakfast menu promising enough to warrant future return visits, especially when the breakfast sets are priced so reasonably. Their breakfast menu is only available during weekends and public holidays between 8am to 11am for all outlets except the outlet at Changi Airport Terminal 2, where the breakfast menu is available everyday from 3am to 11am to cater to travelers.

One of my favourite breakfast sets is the All American Buttermilk Pancakes ($9.90++), which comprises of pancakes served with a side of maple syrup, honey butter cream, chicken sausages, hash brown and sauteed mushrooms. Every aspect was done competently and the pancakes were thick but light. Mushrooms were delicious as well as I suspect it was sauteed in butter. In addition, all breakfast sets come with a cup of coffee and tea to wash down the hearty fare.

You can opt to do away with the peripherals and just get the Simply Pancakes ($6.90++).

The Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich ($9.90++) is essentially a ham and egg sandwich. What I love most about this sandwich is that a sweet airy Japanese Bread is used, whose texture is in between that of bread and spongecake. The set also comes with a side of BBQ Baked Beans, similar to what you can get at Astons. My only gripe was that the egg was slightly bland and dry.

The same Japanese bread is also used to make the Classic French Toast with Honey Butter Cream ($10.90++), so the toast turns out really fluffy as well.

As with most of the breakfast sets here, you can opt to have the Simply French Toast ($7.50++) without the accompanying hash brown, sausages and sauteed mushroom.

What I find spectacular from the Swensen’s Sunrise Omelette ($10.90++) is not the omelette per se but the Ciabatta rolls. They are included in some of the breakfast sets and they are awesome! Not only were they served crisp and piping hot, but honey butter is also pumped into them for a sweet finish. Instead of having the eggs in an omelette style, you can also opt to have your eggs scrambled or sunny side up. My advice is to go for the scrambled.

Good Morning Sunnies ($11.90++)

Ciabatta Rolls pumped with Honey Butter

For those on a heavy protein diet, there’s also the Hearty Steak & Eggs ($14.90++). You get what you pay for so don’t go expecting top quality beef but I would say its good enough for a casual meal. Plus you get yummy caramelized onions…

No western breakfast place is complete without the ubiquitous Eggs Ben and the ones here are served with Smoked Salmon ($12.90++). While a little too sour for my liking, the density of the Hollandaise was about right and my eggs weren’t overpoached.

There’s also the Eggy Delight ($6.90++) for the kids, where you get sunny side ups, grilled chicken sausages and potato smiles. All the kids breakfast sets come with a glass of fruit juice too!

Apart from the western breakfast sets, there’s also 2 sets that cater to local palates; the Fish & Century Egg Congee ($9.90++) and Prawn Bee Hoon Soup ($11.90++). The congee wasn’t available so I only had the Bee Hoon Soup which I found very forgettable as the bee hoon hadn’t infused the flavours from the soup and hence tasted bland. Anyhow, the chicken soup base wasn’t fantastic to start with.

Overall, I would say that Swensen’s really exceeded my expectations this time. The food is in general above average for cafe breakfast standards, prices are really competitive and the seating capacity is ample to avoid the long weekend queues. If only the breakfast menu hours are extended past 11am on lazy weekends…

Special thanks to Swensen’s for hosting this tasting!








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