Stellar @ 1-Altitude – A New Star?

29 08 2011

*This dinner was sponsored by Stellar @ 1-Altitude

I was pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation to a tasting session to Stellar @ 1-Altitude last week. This was my first time dining there and I was glad that several other food bloggers were invited as well. It’s always interesting to find out what makes food bloggers tick and their impetus for starting their food blogs in the first place.

1-Altitude is the latest venture by the One Rochester Group, which also operates its flagship gastrobar One Rochester, Coast @ 1-TwentySix and patisserie 1 Caramel (if you haven’t already found out, I hate to break the sad news to you but the outlet between Cathay and Plaza Singapura has relocated to One Rochester quite recently). Perched on level 62 of OUB Centre, be astounded by the panoramic and breathtaking 360 degree view of the Singapore CBD/Marina Bay skyline.

1-Altitude actually manages levels 61 to 63 of OUB centre, with each level catering for different functions and crowds. On level 61, 1-Altitude runs 282 and Citygolf, a sports bar and indoor golf simulator. On level 62 is the fine dining restaurant arm of 1-Altitude, Stellar. Lastly located on the top level is 1-Altitude Gallery and Bar, which is the World’s highest rooftop bar at 282m.

Stellar is helmed by Group Executive Chef Christopher Miller, who in addition to being Stellar’s head chef, also runs his own Thai eatery Sweet Salty Spicy around the Bukit Timah area. He tells us that while Stellar’s modern cuisine carries with it a high level of sophistication, Stellar aims at providing diners with a fun dining experience rather than evoking stifling and rigid fine dining rules.

While Chef Miller specializes in Modern European cuisine, Stellar’s menu isn’t limited as such. There’s food here that caters to most palates, from Japanese, fresh seafood like Sashimi and Oysters, Grilled meats, and even a Charcuterie section (cured meats) but Chef Miller made it clear that Stellar doesn’t serve fusion food.

Our tasting session started off with Stellar’s Twice Baked Gruyere Souffle. For traditionalists who believe that souffles should only be left for dessert, I bid them to try this rendition. The gruyere souffle is served alongside additional servings of 2 different melted cheese sauces (gruyere and blue cheese), meant for those who want an extra cheesy kick. The cheese sauces complemented the souffle as much, if not more, than the typical vanilla sauce to a chocolate souffle. I believe that I would have no qualms eating this for breakfast, brunch, lunch, high tea, dinner or supper 😀

The Seared Hokkaido Scallops and Octopus was a pretty sight. The octopus is cooked in a sous vide style, adding a softer texture to the normally elastic rubbery bite.

The Sashimi: Omakase Taster is an assorted tray of fresh Tuna Belly, Salmon, Tai, Hamachi, Swordfish, Scallops, Ikura, Caviar, and Surf Clams. Typically, “omakase” means entrusting your meal in the chef’s hands such that he would normally bring out the freshest or seasonal ingredients to whip up your meal. Therefore, its probable that one might not get the same types of sashimi everytime, but that’s just my guess. I found the quality and freshness of the seafood laudable given that Stellar isn’t a full fledged Japanese restaurant. After all, who can complain about Tuna Belly?

The Sushi(Spicy Tuna, Swordfish, Lobster and Salmon) was done delightfully well too. I especially liked the Swordfish Sushi (2nd row from top). In addition to the inner sushi fillings of diced swordfish, the sushi was also topped with a slice of creamy swordfish smeared with a rich mayo sauce which was subsequently seared. Really yummy.

There was a small side of lightly seared Ocean Trout and Swordfish Tataki which I found so-so.

There’s so much variety within the Charcuterie Taster that it’s hard to keep track. Apart from the 2 different types of Jamon hams (can’t remember their exact names though), there’s also a fowl terrine which I found too bitter and strong-tasting for my liking, cured sausages of duck and pork which were so-so, and a creamy foie gras parfait which was my favourite mini-item of this Charcuterie Taster.

Transiting to Mains, I harboured ambivalent feelings towards the Truffled Risotto with Poached Maine Lobster. While I liked the texture of the risotto and fresh sweetness of the lobster, I found the use of Truffle oil excessive which threatened to overwhelm the dish’s naturally mild flavours.

The Slow Roasted Suckling Pig with Iberico jamon and Fig Stuffing was pretty decent but objectively speaking, I’m just too much a fan of fat meats to be that reliable.

The Grain Fed ‘Tomahawk’ Rib Eye served with Bone Marrow is sourced from Australian cattle, which according to Chef Miller is what Australian cattle are good for (US cattle are better for their sirloin according to him). If I recall correctly, this Rib Eye was dry aged for 120 days, which is quite long. Just to recap on the similarities and differences between wet aging and dry aging, both types of aging carries with it the same purpose; to allow the beef to become more tender by allowing its natural enzymes to break down the proteins within the beef. The main difference is that for dry aging, the beef (usually of higher quality) is hung and allowed to air while for wet aging, the beef is sealed in a vacuumed plastic bag (hence retaining more water and tasting a bit more bloody). Another tidbit of info regarding food aging that I found out from Chef Miller is that aging of egg whites (for 2 weeks!) is crucial in making a light and airy souffle!

Utterly seduced by the Chocoloate Seduction, I loved every aspect of this creation, from the velvety chocolate ganache to the crunchy praline base, not to mention the Moist Chocolate Cake (much like a chocolate lava cake) at the background. I just think that while 1 chocolate cake is good, 2 is always better.

Topped with Coconut Ice Cream, I’m not an ardent fan of the Tropical Vodka Trifle, which while still passable by usual standards, was dwarfed by the other desserts.

Whenever I used to visit 1-Caramel, I never fail to order the Strawberry Shortcake which is airy and not too cloying. I was simply beaming when I saw it present among the Trio Fraise, which also comprised of Champagne Jelly and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

The Tropical Teaser comprised of a citrus cheesecake and Lemon Sorbet, effective as a last dessert for cleansing the palate after such a heavy meal.

While there was a mix of hits and misses, I generally enjoyed my dining experience at Stellar. After our dinner, we took a short stroll up to the rooftop bar and gallery. Having been to a few rooftop bars in Singapore like Helipad, Orgo and New Asia Bar, I believe that 1-Altitude’s ambience and view is the best of these few. Of course, I won’t be as hasty to say that it’s the best rooftop bar in Singapore, as I haven’t been to LeVel 33 or Ku De Ta etc yet.

Many thanks to the One-Rochester Group and Stellar @ 1-Altitude for their kind and gracious invitation.

Bon Appetit!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude

1 Raffles Place, Level 62 OUB Centre

Tel: +65 6438 0410

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Time Out’s Dine Out Tasting Event @ Fullerton Hotel

28 02 2011

I have always aspired to attend a fancy dinner party, the type where everyone comes in their prom-like dresses and tuxedos, walking gracefully down a flight of white marble steps donned with a red carpet into a grand ballroom, where waiters go around with silver platters of petite-sized nibbles and glasses of champagne. No doubt this imagery stems from watching too many glamorous Hollywood events on television, but still, a boy can dream…

Though Time Out’s Dine Out Tasting Event was located in Fullerton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, it was far from the fancy dinner party I had in mind. No tuxedos or prom dresses, I even spotted a guy in shorts! Still, with 14 eateries (actually 13 because Zento was a no-show) showcasing their unique culinary styles, I knew that I was in for a treat. Just think about it, as every eatery prepared roughly 3-4 dishes, we had over 40 dishes to choose from, talk about a spread! And what’s more, it’s a buffet with free flow wine (more than 10 types to choose from by Baws Winery and Magma), Margaritas (by Cafe Iguana) and whiskey (by Baws Winery)!

Starting off with Fullerton Hotel’s own Town Restaurant & Bar, I had their Laksa which I thought was very well done, very thick and rich broth. They also served Bak Ku Teh and Chicken Rice which I didn’t try (who eats such stuff at a standing buffet anyway?).

Jim Thomson evokes an imagery of perhaps a whiskey or bourbon label, but definitely not a Thai restaurant! Located near Dempsey, it is one of the more expensive Thai eateries in Singapore. An ala carte meal would probably set you back by $60 per pax. That night, they had something like a kueh pie tee, some mince meat over a fried shell. I also tried their Rice Crackers with Spicy Meat. I felt that these dishes were somewhat forgettable. Didn’t manage to make a round back for desserts so I didn’t try the Mango with Sticky Rice.

One of the most highly raved about Italian joints in Singapore, Ristorante Da Valentino whipped up 2 simple Italian dishes, Beef Lasagna and Chicken Pasta in a tangy tomato base. The Lasagna was pretty good, but the chicken pasta had a zing which was a tad too sourish for my liking.

My favourite dish that night had to be from Magma. In France, they call it Tarte Flambee, but in Germany, it’s known as Flammkuchen. Cooked ala minute, these thin crust “pizzas” came out piping hot topped with sour cream, lardons and onions. I couldn’t get enough of it and this was probably why I didn’t manage to try more of the offerings from the other restaurants. Very savoury and palatable, I thought the Flammkuchen went well with one of the sparkling red wines from Magma (can’t remember the name but will definitely find out soon. I can only recall it costs $29, really affordable!). That same sparkling red happened to be my favourite wine of the day!

Another eatery worth mentioning is Vanilla Bar & Cafe. I really enjoyed their mini Vanilla Dirt Cakes. Cream Cheese layered with Orea Crumbs, high on taste and aesthetic appeal!

As for the rest of the restaurants, namely Krish, Al Qasr, Perla’s, Moghul Mahal, Cafe Iguana, Nazt and Marble Slab, I shall I let the pictures do the talking…

Had a wonderful time at this tasting event and will am already looking forward to next year’s.

Bon Appetit!





The Dining Room @ Sheraton Hotel – Good Dessert Section

23 01 2011

Ever since joining SMU Gourmet Club, I have always desired to attend their heavily subsidized makan sessions to restaurants such as Shin Yuu, Gattopardo, Paulaner Brauhaus and Royal China etc and mingle with fellow like-minded foodies, but somehow my schedule clashed every time single time for the past 6 months, till now…

Today’s dinner at The Dining Room at Sheraton Hotel marks my first actual involvement in the SMU Gourmet Club. Coincidentally, I also had the honour of meeting a fellow ex-food blogger, Zaylene of This Is Yummy, who has been on my blogroll all this while! Interestingly, she came across my blog before too and thought it belonged to some old guy because Peter is such an old-school classic name…

The Dining Room does away with appetizers that simply clutter up the buffet line and focuses mainly on the Raw and chilled Seafood. Can’t say that most Singaporeans would be happy with this allocation of resources. My first plate of sashimi was a little fishy but on seeing the old tray being replaced, I scrambled to the buffet line once more and found the sashimi much better this time. My first time having seen shrimp sashimi at a local buffet and I thought it was pretty decent, relatively better than Sushi Tei’s.

Wasn’t terribly impressed by the variety of the heated food section, thought I thought the Roast Duck was not bad as the skin was still slightly crispy.

There’s live cooking stations for pasta, and a carving station as well.

My favourite part of this buffet was the Desserts! Awesome Chocolate Praline with Crunchy Layer and other assorted cakes, not so commonly seen tray of Chocolate Praline (white, dark and orange chocs), Durian Pengat (raved by my friends though I didn’t try), Ice Cream Station and a live Waffle Station with over 10 types of toppings ranging from the usual Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Sauce, Maple Syrup to the unusual Aloe Vera and Sea Coconut.

Overall, service was very attentive and my plates were swiftly cleared as soon as I put down my cutlery. Buffet items were refilled frequently as well for which I’m very grateful, especially since sashimi turns stale rather quickly. While the range of the buffet items was not as extensive as The Line or Triple Three, I felt that the dishes were above average for a buffet, especially the Shrimp Sashimi which is rarely seen in buffets, the Chocolate Praline with Crunchy Layer, Walnut Cheesecake and the Waffles which were prepared ala minute.

Towards the end of the meal, we also participated in some games organised by the SMU Gourmet Club which added spice to an already fun-filled night.

It’s a pity that we weren’t able to have a glimpse of the lush outdoor greenery and waterfall, which is a salient feature of The Dining Room in the day but I guess I’m more than content with the good food and company.

Bon Appetit!

THE DINING ROOM

39 SCOTTS ROAD, SHERATON TOWERS

TEL: +65 6839 5621





Triple 3 – $88 Weekday Buffet Dinner, Auspicious or just plain Ostentatious?

20 12 2010

I usually get comments from friends that SMU girls are hotter and prettier than girls from NUS and NTU, and on hearing this I always give them the same reply, “With quantity comes quality”. With only around 900 female students per cohort in SMU in contrast to the respective 3500 and 4000 female students per cohort in NTU and NUS, I believe that by the sheer overwhelming absolute numbers, there definitely has to be more chio bus in NUS and NTU, albeit much spread out over the large campus so you don’t get to see them as much as in SMU.

Well does this analogy of “with quantity comes quality” apply to buffets as well?

Personally, I don’t think so. I’m no fan of buffets and I’m perplexed as to why it has grown so popular in Singapore. Perhaps it’s due to our multi-racial and multi-cultural society where we like to pinch a bit of Indian here and there, nibble on some Chinese and move on to sample Japanese and European cuisines. After all, we Singaporeans pride ourselves as a global people, don’t we?

Still, I don’t see how buffet quality food justifies the hefty pricetag that comes along with it. That’s where Triple’s 3’s 1-for-1 buffet deal comes in (for DBS Cardholders which lasts till 28 Feb 2011). (Citibank has a separate promotion where 1 dines for free for every 3 paying adults for Sunday Brunch).

Triple 3 has been touted as one of Singapore’s more extensive and pricy buffets, going for $88++/pax for weekday dinners.

The buffet starts with the usual Salad and Seafood Bar. Not a bad selection of seafood, ranging from raw oysters, scallops, clams, mussels, hokkaido crab legs and chilled prawns, all of which were adequately fresh.

Next up, the Sashimi Bar. More than usual buffet variety with Salmon, Salmon Belly, Tuna, Swordfish, Octopus and a type of Clam.

There’s also a section for nibblers. Japanese Fried Chicken and Chilean Seabass are just such crowd pleasers.

There’s also a station for Roast Duck and Soba, as well as a Grill station. I really loved the beef, probably the most enjoyable roast beef I have had in a buffet.

For the pasta station, the Tomato-based pasta is worth mention while the cream Cream-based pastas were lackluster and bland.

Decent Chawanmushi and an overly salted Black Chicken Soup.

Most of the heated dishes were Indian Cuisine so I decided to give most of them a miss as spice doesn’t do you any favours in a buffet setting, especially when there’s sashimi and other raw seafoods involved.

Hokkien Mee was pretty good.

A queue would form at the teppanyaki station whenever the prawns, beef or salmon was about to be done. I didn’t think much of these assorted teppanyaki though.

Finally it was time for desserts. Delightful cakes here and there but nothing good enough to leave a deep impression.

I would say Triple 3 offers a pretty good spread and while there’s nothing awesome enough to rave about, most of the food was above average.

So, if you are a buffet fan, I think Triple 3 deserves a visit, especially with the ongoing 1-for-1 promotion.

Bon Appetit!

Triple 3

333 Orchard Road, Level 5 Meritus Mandarin

Tel: +65 6831 6271





Wild Honey – Look out for the honeys!

5 05 2010

Brunch was invented a long long time ago for many reasons. The first that comes to mind is the story where Adam(the first human who ate brunch), after a night of partying, woke up in the region between 10am-2pm feeling rather guilty he hadn’t done anything for the whole morning. So instead of having lunch(where he would have inevitably admitted to wasting the whole morning), he invented brunch to refute others when they accused him of bumming around. He would then reply, “Nope. I took brunch and did some work after that, thus not wasting the whole morning.”

I believe myself to be a direct descendant of Adam, finding myself on many an occasion having brunch. For me, Wild Honey is a Godsend with a whole day brunch menu! Yes, attempts to guilt trip me if I wake up at 4pm are now futile. “Yes. I took brunch and did some work after that.”

Being a whole day brunch place, the demographic of Wild Honey is skewed heavily towards the fairer sex, whom are better known at enjoying brunch. Hence, when 7 testosterone laden males decided to dine here, unsurprisingly interesting silly ideas such as “Why don’t you start reviewing restaurant waitresses along with the food?” came up. Typical immature guys…was I going to get taken in? NOOOOO!!!

So I decided to snap some pics of the chio patrons surroundings instead.

Amuse Bouche for the day: Eye Candy! But B’s sweet tooth was not so easily satisfied. Therefore, he ordered a Banoffee Brulee($9++) which was this Banana Mocha(or Chocolate) Drink. I took a sip and it was not bad though I don’t see how it warrants such a hefty pricetag.

Wild Honey specialises in the signature breakfast/brunch items from various countries, hmm do you spot the slight oxymoron here? Anyways, I shall start with the Scandinavian($24++). Grilled Norwegian salmon fillet and green asparagus, potato rosti in Hollandaise sauce. My Salmon Fillet was overcooked such that the skin was burnt and gave off a sooty bitter taste. The Rosti(it’s a swiss german invention says wikipedia) was acceptable, just some edible fried potato strips… 

The European($18++) smacked my sweet spot with the Eggs Benedict with Field Mushrooms & Sausage. I love the Eggs Ben here for some reason, as well as the sauteed mushrooms but the sausage didn’t really taste all that good though I could tell it was packed with relatively high quality meat.

New York($24++) comprised of Scrambled eggs with caramelized onions & smoked sturgeon, bagel & cream cheese. The portion was really pathetic. B was really sad and had a tough time locating the smoked sturgeon within the omelette. Initially he thought the sturgeon would come as a large piece or at least in strips. Sobz…

 
I guess the most value for money would be the English($22++) since it had Eggs(any way), Sausage, Tomato, Mushrooms, Baked beans, Potato & Bacon with Thick Toast. It made for quite the hearty meal.

My favourite though was the Tunisian($18++) with it’s Sizzling pan of Tomato Stew, Fried Eggs & Chorizo Sausage. The spicy sausage went well with the tomato tang and the myriad of colours was so psychedelic.

Belgian Waffles with Mango($18++)! Freakishly Bo Hua and doesn’t even match up to Gelare…And Waffle Dinner? LOLzzz…

Canadian Pancakes($18++) for dinner ain’t exactly any better than waffles. No wonder the Americans keep laughing at the Canadians but there’s bacon! Niceeee…

Generally mediocre and overpriced, I guess the most awesome dish here is the Eye Candy after all!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

WILD HONEY

333A ORCHARD ROAD, #03-02 MANDARIN GALLERY

TEL: +65 6235 3900





Cafe 2000 @ M Hotel

19 03 2010

It confounds me as to why there are 2 international buffet outlets located within M Hotel. Having had an unpleasant experience at The Buffet on the 2nd Level of M Hotel, I was slightly apprehensive about what Cafe 2000 could bring to the table.

Cafe 2000’s Weekday Semi-Buffet Dinners are priced at $40++ which is rather reasonable considering you get access to the buffet line as well as a separate choice of main.

It isn’t chichi and doesn’t pretend to be. Functioning on an open kitchen concept, the ambience exudes mellow vibes and the restarant is not cluttered with unnecessary props. Casual leisurely dining is the name of the game here. 

The bread bar was ok, with a fair variety of breadsticks and bread but leaving bread out in the open to weather the harsh humidity is a definite no no for me since I disdain cold stale bread. The salad bar is surprisingly decent. However, it was separated into 2 different sections and I only discovered the 2nd one only after my meal. sighz…

What’s a buffet without fresh seafood and sashimi? The oysters were pretty fresh for a buffet and the prawns managed to retain it’s natural sweetness. The sashimi was alright too but the shoyu tasted a bit strange(immensely salty compared to what I am used to).

 

For cooked dishes, there was Sweet Corn and Pork Rib Soup, Potato and Leek Soup, Thin Crusted Pizza, Chicken Satay, Buttered Fish, Roast Beef and a Pasta Station where they cook your pasta on request. Though there was a limited choice of cooked dishes, they were all well executed except for the Tomato Based Pasta which I found too tangy and the Potato Soup which I found too starchy.

Choice of main course is cooked and served separately from the rest of the buffet food. I chose the Lamb Shank Braised in Red Wine Gravy, served with Greenpea Mash and Vegetable & Mushroom Ragout as my main. The meat though not tough, didn’t fall under the tender category either and it was slightly bland, reminding me of the one I had at Borshch Steakhouse last year. For some reason, the mass cooked dishes in the buffet was better.

 Desserts, glorious desserts! Shelves and shelves of petite tartlets, kuehs, cakes, purees and fondue…all vying for my undivided attention in unison! I had to make my choices wisely, with my tummy quickly running out of room. Sticking to mainly chocolate and coffee based cakes, I fancied the Cappuccino Cake and especially the Durian Puree which was fresh, thick and bittersweet, one serving was not nearly enough.

   

I found the service near impeccable and my dad mentioned that the last time he was there, his napkin was always neatly folded back on the table whenever he returned from the buffet line. This my dears is what I call service.

Buffet aside, Cafe 2000 is actually more famous for it’s Chicken Pies and Curry Puffs. It’s supposed to be $4/piece but I ordered it after 8pm so it came to $2.80/piece. The Chicken Pie is touted as one of the best in Singapore and I agree. Unlike the conventional ones, no potatoes are used, only generous amounts of carrot, mushroom and chicken and it’s x-factor lies in it’s gravy(can I call it that?), creamy and tantalizing. SHIOK!

Yummy food, unpretentious ambience and service, will I come again? If not for the buffet then definitely for the Chicken Pies.

Bon Appetit!

 

CAFE 2000

81 ANSON ROAD, LOBBY LEVEL M HOTEL

TEL: +65 6500 6112








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