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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Magma German Wine Bistro – My Favourite Watering Hole

27 05 2012

I first came to know about Magma 2 years ago when I participated in one of Time Out’s Dine Out Tasting Events, in which it was one of the 10 odd participating restaurants. Each of the participating restaurants featured some of their signatures and Magma left the deepest impression, with their freshly baked German Pizza and free-flow of German wines. My friend D and myself were so intrigued by the wine we tried that soon after the event, we paid a visit to Magma. That was the start of my Magma adventures and whenever any friends needed a suggestion for a watering hole, it would always be the first on my list.

As a regular here, I have to say I’m a little apprehensive blogging about this as one of the main reasons why I love the place is because the crowd is thin on weekday nights and is a perfect place to catch up with friends over affordable wines that ranges as low as $25 per bottle. In my mind, having too many people know of Magma will simply spoil the exclusivity and charm of the place. But I guess good food and drink is meant to be shared and Magma should be rewarded for hosting the good times I have had over the past 2 years.

As Magma operates a wine shop within the restaurant premises as well, the wine menu here is really extensive. I estimate that the restaurant carries around 250-300 different wine labels from Germany, a number you are unlikely to find in many other restaurants locally. I have only tried about 5 or 6 though, sticking to the ones that are generally sweeter and not too dry, suitable for unsophisticated drinkers. My favourite one here is the GEWUERZTRAMINER & SCHOENBURGER & RIESLING (Blend) ($37++), a still White wine which has been recommended by “The Local Nose” and attained a “SILVER” in Wine & Spirits Asia 2012. Although Gewuerztraminer (pronounced goose-ter-min-er) is a red grape, the wines gained from it are white, though the colour tone is slightly more golden compared to most white wines. Texture wise, it’s very smooth and easy to drink with floral undertones as it shares similar aromatic compounds to lychees, pairing well with cheese, roasted poultry, roasted fish as well as Flammkuchen (German pizza which will be covered below).

Another wine that provides great value is the ROTKAEPPCHEN Rubin red ($29++), a sparkling red wine which has attained a “Bronze” in “WineStyleAsiaAward 2011”. ROTKAEPPCHEN literally means Little Red Riding Hood in German, named as such because the top of the wine bottle is sealed in a ruby red foil. Again, its on the semi-sweet side and personally, I think it pairs well the Roasted Pork Knuckle here.

For food, I’d highly recommend trying out the Flammkuchen (sometimes referred to as a Tarte Flambee). It is a thin Crispy German Pizza with Sour Cream, Bacon & Onions ($16/$24 for Small/Regular) and is a great accompaniment for a bottle of white wine. Apart from Bacon & Onions, diners can also choose to have other topping mixes such as “Spinach & Cheese”, “Smoked Salmon & Leek”, “Chicken Breast with Tomato, Onions, Apple & Cheese”.

Something you can give a miss is the Beef Goulash with Capsicum, Onion & Spaetzle ($26++). In essence, it is simply an unexciting beef stew with egg noodle or pasta. The beef is the chunky type, not the fatty marbled ones that I like.

The Wildschweinbraten or Pan Fried Female Wild Boar with Forest Mushrooms & Potato Croquettes ($38++) is good too. The meat is utterly tender with a good fat-meat ratio but I wasn’t too excited about the cream sauce though as it didn’t add much value to the dish.

A must-try at Magma is their signature Pork Knuckle with Sauerkraut, Mashed Potatoes, German Mustard & Beer Gravy ($29++ for Roasted Bavarian-style as per picture below). However, the lack of consistency can be an issue as the Pork Knuckle is freaking awesome only two-thirds of the time. On off-days the meat can be a tad too sinewy, and the crackling soggy but I believe it’s still worth taking my chances whenever I’m here. Another good point is that the portions are huge so I usually find trouble finishing it all by myself when I order this for dinner. Apart from the Roasted Bavarian-style, there are other styles available as well for how you want your Pork Knuckle to be done. This includes Boiled Berlin-style ($28++), Roasted Honey Glazed ($34++), Roasted Garlic Flavour ($34++), Roasted Chili Flavoured ($34++).

For amateur drinkers, I think Magma is definitely a great place to start out. The staff are friendly and the owners (a German couple) run the restaurant themselves, so any queries on wine selection or appreciation can be directed straight at them or the staff. And from my interactions with them, I believe it is fair to say they are always happy to educate new drinkers.

Magma German Wine Bistro

2 Bukit Pasoh Rd

Tel: +65 6221 0634








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