L’Entrecote – You don’t need Wagyu for good Steak

22 12 2011

One problem I find when dining out is that sometimes there are just too many choices available on the menu that I’m left overly spoilt for choice, not knowing what exactly does the restaurant specialize in. Often, I resort to simply asking the restaurant staff for their personal recommendations to facilitate my decision making process. If this is what frustrates you often, L’Entrecote might just be the place for you!

The dining concept at L’Entrecote is simple. They offer you the best of what they do – the Entrecote Steak ($29++), drizzled in a fiercely guarded secret butter-based sauce with a free-flow of Crisp Golden Shoestring Fries & Salad and complemented with a complimentary glass of their hand picked red wine. The only decision left to the diner is whether or not to order any appetizers and/or desserts.

We ordered our steaks medium rare and it was done as such. While the steak wasn’t marbled, it is cooked in a fashion that enables you to enjoy it lean, with a texture resembling that of a slab of lightly seared tuna. The steak is served as 2 portions, possibly to allow the 2nd portion to be kept warmed before it is finally served, so what is seen below is just the 1st portion (about 60% of the actual amount of steak)

So for that affordable steak meal, do try out L’Entrecote. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Bon Appetit!

L’Entrecote

36 Duxton Hill

Tel: +65 6238 5700

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Pasta Brava – Hearty Italian at Mass Market Prices

13 12 2011

Sherwin’s, Sophie’s and Annie’s birthdays were long overdue and due to the 101 reasons that kept everyone busy over the past month, we didn’t get a chance to celebrate during the school term. And since school’s finally out, I had tasked myself with finding an appropriate place for a casual birthday lunch.

You know for large group gatherings, an appropriate lunch venue requires affordability, accessibility and of course, a minimum standard of quality, and finding such an ideal lunch spot is indeed a tall task. Faced with such a situation, I humbly suggested Pasta Brava, a restaurant on my to-go list which I had yet to try.

Located within walking distance from Tanjong Pagar Mrt, Pasta Brava serves hearty authentic Italian fare at very very reasonable prices about $25ish to $35ish a person for a generously portioned main. It has cemented its position and credibility in the Singapore food scene after garnering numerous accolades and awards over the past decade which are conspicuously framed up on the wall of the reception area.

The pastas here are pretty heavy so while I’m an advocate of having a complete meal consisting appetizer, main and dessert, you you might want to consider skipping the appetizers unless you are planning on sharing the mains. And instead of having desserts here, you can also consider strolling around the Ann Siang or Duxton area to try the various highly acclaimed patisseries such as k ki, Bonheur Patisserie and Flor Patisserie.

In descending order starting from my favourite pasta, I enjoyed the Spaghetti Della Pescatrice, “Spaghetti with Seafood in Squid Ink Sauce” ($23++) the most. Some of my friends found the briny squid ink sauce a little too salty but I thought it was awesome with the subtle bittersweet clam juices infused into the pasta.

One of the better risottos I have had, the Risotto Al Funghi Porcini, “Arborio Rice cooked with Porcini Mushrooms, White Wine & Parmesan Cheese” ($23++) is something I would recommend ordering here. Don’t attempt to finish this alone though as the cheesiness gets to you after awhile. The Porcini Mushrooms adds a texture akin to smooth fresh scallops to the dish which I find extra inviting,

I have a particular fondness of clams. I think it’s because of the fond memories I have about my trip to Gold Coast when I was younger where I picked up live clams off the beach and boiled them back in the hotel to eat. Subjectivity aside, there was consensus that the Spaghetti Alle Vongole In Bianco, “Spaghetti with Fresh Clams, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, White Wine and Parsley” ($19++) was one of the favourites of the meal.

Spaghetti Anacapri Al Cartoccio, “Spaghetti with Crayfish, Garlic, Herbs & Tomato Sauce served in Parchment Paper” ($23++). I’m not sure if it’s because of the effect of sealing it in parchment paper that stops the white wine from vapourizing but I detected a stronger than usual wine taste which I quite enjoyed (then again, no description of wine is mentioned for this dish so I might just have imagined things).

Agnolotti Farciti Al Salmone, “Round-shaped Pasta filled with Fresh Salmon, served with Tomato and Cream Sauce” ($22.50++). Agnolotti is a type of ravioli, and the difference in naming convention arises mainly from the initial place of origin, with Agnolotti originating from Northern Italy and Ravioli from the Coastal South. The difference in locale also results in a difference in terms of stuffing used, where fish, vegetables and cheese was commonly used for Ravioli while meat was used as a stuffing for Agnolotti.

The Fettuccine Alla Carbonara, “Fettuccine with Bacon, Onion, Egg Yolk, White Wine & Cream Sauce” ($20++) is decent but too heavy for my liking. The pasta was also a little on the soft side.

While the Linguini Regina Del Mare, “Linguini with Clams, Prawns, Scallops, Squid, Crayfish, Garlic & Tomato Sauce” ($23++) looks like the Spaghetti Cartoccio (above), the tomato sauce comes across as less flavourful.

There’s no end to good food around the Tanjong Pagar and Outram area but Pasta Brava has left a deep enough impression to warrant future revisits.

Bon Appetit!

Pasta Brava

11 Craig Road

Tel: +65 6227 7550





Table 66 – Sous Vide Love

14 06 2010

Love is patient, love is kind.

Love is not jealous, it does not brag and it is not proud.

Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not become angry easily.

Love does not remember the wrongs done against it.

Love is not happy with evil, but happy with truth.

Love bears all things, belives all things,

hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. 

Love is Table 66.

 

Helming Table 66 is Chef Vincent, the former executive chef of Desire @ The Scarlet Hotel. Having heard great things about Desire but haven’t had the opportunity to try it out, I was expectant that this would turn out to be a nice prelude to a meal there. On the other hand, given the raving reviews from the online foodie community, the tables might have turned with Table 66 giving Desire a run for their money. 

I like what is quoted from their website, “An Epicurean Experience without the Extravagence”. I’m so glad that Table 66 doesn’t disguise itself as just another fine dining outlet but choosing instead to focus on serving up delectable yumyums without the hefty pricetag.

Set lunches start from an affordable $22++ for a 2-course and $26++ for a 3-course. An additional $3++ is charged should one opt for a meat dish instead of a pasta as the main.  

One of the best complementary breads I have had, this Onion bread came straight out of the oven still piping hot and crisp with a wafting discernable oniony frangrance. If something free tasted so good, I knew that I was in for a treat for items that I was actually paying for.

The actual meal started off with a stellar Sous Vide Egg & Asparagus with Hollandaise & Parmesan Biscuit. From what I have read online, Sous Vide involves cooking foods(primarily meats) under low temperatures of around 60 degrees celsius in a vacuum pack to ensure that the juices remain sealed within the meat, leaving the meat tender. I loved the Sous Vide egg. The whites were semi-solid and yolk runny, somewhat like a quarter boiled egg except that the whites were more evenly cooked. My ravings for egg stops here because what really entralled me was the appetizingly creamy Hollandaise. Without a doubt, best Hollandaise ever! The Asparagus was a nice pairing for the runny egg but I felt that the Parmesan Biscuit was there more for decorative purposes.

I couldn’t get the hang of the overly tangy and acidic Spicy Lemon Dressing in my Salmon Sashimi & Avacado Salad. Definitely sticking to the Sous Vide Egg next time!

A deceptively simple dish was the Salmon Fillet. While it looks ordinary, I was deeply impressed by the mastery of heat control which resulted in a thicker than normal crisp browning surface without any hint of overcooking. Lesson learnt, do not judge a fish by it’s colour. Is that a Portobello mushroom I spy lurking at a corner? 

Chef Vincent has made a Sous Vide fan out of me. His rendition of the Sous Vide Lamb Shank on Garlic Pomme Puree & in its own Jus was my most incredible brush with Lamb Shank. I kid you not when I say that my knife cut through the meat as though it was butter. Void of any gamey taste, and with the fats and meat still left wholely intact by extended periods of cooking under low temperatures, scrumptious! And did I mention the to-die-for buttery Pomme Puree aka Potato Mash on the side? This was truly heaven on a plate.

Dessert of the Day happened to be Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream. It turned out more like a brownie but who’s complaining? And see the yummy specks of vanilla beans? A boost to my already sky-rocketing endorphin and serotonin levels.

Though not as good as the Chocolate cake, I would still have polished off this enticing Cheesecake with Berry Compote any other day but as fate might have it, portions in Table 66 are so absolutely generous that I was stuffed to the brim. I hate wasting food, and isn’t there an old chinese saying that if you waste food, your future girlfriend will have many pimples?

I’m glad that my virgin acquaintance with Sous Vide came from Table 66. I’m sure it sets a high enough benchmark to compare Sous Vide cooking from other restaurants in the future.

That said, I had a blast and plans for a Table 66 Part II is definitely in the works!

Bon Appetit!

 

 

TABLE 66

66 TRAS STREET

TEL: +65 6225 6690





Otto Ristorante

10 04 2010

We all deserve that occasional pampering once in a while. For that pupose, there are spas, medicure & pedicures, massages, facials and there is Otto

Otto’s lunch set menu($35++) varies weekly, which is great because it not only shows off the full extent of the chef’s abilities but at the same time gives him flexibility in cooking as well. One will never bore at what Otto has to offer.

Though touted as Italian Fine Dining, I felt that the low ceilings and confined space allowed for too many decibels which made my dining experience there a little less than private. Then again, the service mannerisms, furnishings and food were able to hit the mark of a fine dining venue.

Amuse Bouche came in the form of a Gratinated Cauliflower. A palate teaser to whet the appetite…

Choice of Appetizer (Roast Beef with Tuna Sauce “tannata” or Classic Caeser Salad with Garlic Croutons and shaved Parmesan Cheese or Cauliflower Soup

The Roast Beef with Tuna Sauce could hardly be called an appetizer. The portion was huge! Not that I’m complaining. Easily my favourite dish from the meal, I was entralled by the hedonistic pleasures derived from popping these streaks of thinly sliced beef in my mouth. The capers also gave the beef a savoury kick.

Despite throwing in strips of fried egg, it proved to be nothing more than an accessory for aesthetic appeal and I found the Caeser Salad boring, unable to detect the presence of Parmesan. The only thing worth mention was the crispy and flavourful Garlic Croutons.

Choice of Main (Potato Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cheese & Walnut Sauce or Pork Loin Scaloppini with Marsala Wine Sauce and Vegetable Ratatouille or Confit Grouper Fillet with Cauliflower Veloute)

I am used to the chinese style of steaming or frying grouper till its flesh is tender so eating grouper cooked in this style was a first for me. The thick slab of Grouper confit was surprisingly firm and I thought the Cauliflower Veloute(similar to a soft mash) paired nicely and did well to make this dish a little more exciting. Still, Grouper won’t be replacing Cod as my perennial choice of fish anytime soon.

You can give it a long and fancy name but at the end of the day, it’s just a Pork Chop and it didn’t wow me.

Choice of Dessert (Pear & Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce or Otto’s Ice Cream or Sherbet)

I thought this was going to be a typical chocolate fondant. Instead, what arrived was a warm and crisp Pear Cake whose texture and taste reminded me of a Carrot Cake with a mild Vanilla Sauce drizzled at it’s base. It didn’t matter at all that I couldn’t really taste the chocolate. This was oomphalicous regardless!

Otto’s Ice Cream on the other hand was just erm ice cream…good old comfort food.

I like pampering and I like Otto, do you?

Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

OTTO RISTORANTE

28 MAXWELL ROAD, #01-02 RED DOT TRAFFIC BUILDING

TEL: +65 6227 6819





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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