feedlot steakhouse bar & grill, tanglin

pretty meh food at this steakhouse – with only a couple of dishes moving past that meh – in the tanglin post office. this place certainly looks inviting, big patio and sophisticated dark interiors, but you’re probably better off food-wise with some brunch from the nassim hill bakery, or even cooking your own with goods from that delightful swiss butchery upstairs.

I don’t know what it is about this place – the food is pretty adequate, but it doesn’t seem anything special at all, and certainly options abound if you’re looking for something better. it’s good if you’re in the area, but otherwise not quite worth the effort.

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the missing pan, bukit timah

one of the better brunch places in the new morass of food establishments – how do they keep popping up?! – with generous portions, good cooking, and a beautiful space (and bad ventilation, though that depends on where you’re sitting). I’m very pleased with this place – I haven’t left so full and satisfied after brunch for a long time, service is mostly prompt and food comes quickly, and prices aren’t crazy.

very good, and well worth a visit.

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2am: dessertbar, holland village

’tis the start of the week, and no better way than with something sweet, eh? the 2am:dessertbar (ah, the days when punctuation oft made its way into titles and store names) has a marked place on the asian san pelligrino award list, and a blurb much lauding the skills of its head chef.

and was it good? I certainly thought it was on par with many of the innovative, deconstructed desserts I’ve had at good (and expensive) full-fledged restaurants (as opposed to this slip of a place serving up only drinks and sweet constructions) – which already puts it at an enviable standard. whether she’s the best pastry chef in asia – that’s certainly subjective. she’s certainly prolific, with a menu that runs long and a couple of cookbooks under her sleeve (one teaching you to make the very type of desserts she serves up), and the desserts are certainly creative – but I suppose I would have expected to be more impressed, given that award.

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bonappetour-ing, gopi’s khazana

no one quite does hospitality like an asian – though it’s a compliment oft repeated for italians, southern americans and whichever culture/ breed you belong to – and what better way that to experience it at (their) home, where food is piled high and ever-forthcoming for guests and family alike.

it’s not often we get the chance to peek into someone’s home, much less eat the food that defines their lives – but bonappetour is a new startup trying to blur that line between stranger and friend (or cook, depending on your perspective). run by a group of young people, the company tries to encourage kitchen-surfing – go to a host’s house, and sit down to a good meal. the premise is simple, the execution uncomplicated, and the food great (though that’s surely dependent on your hosts).

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les amis, shaw centre

before we start – les amis has long been the stronghold of bankers and businessmen, and all the suited-like. the place has a reputation for consistency and assured service – and rather surprisingly value-for-money lunch sets (with options to go much more expensive, of course). it’s an institution in this genre of fine cooking – and lord only knows why it took me so long to get here.

but now that I’ve been – it lives up to its reputation of pleasant fine dining without being particularly outstanding (I hear it’s pretty consistent in this regard) – and if you can look past the intimidatingly quiet space filled with suits and sparsely laid out tables, you’ll get a decent (and more, perhaps) meal at this bastion of the local fine-dining scene.

I have instituted a tradition of doing a big lunch on my birthday every year – and this meal celebrated my first quarter-century. I eat with higher expectations than normal – primarily because it’s a celebration – so everything matters: service, food, and ambiance (especially since I relax the usual additional clause of price).

and did les amis pass? pretty much – though it certainly didn’t beat my previous year at jaan. the food is decently – and might I say, perhaps technically – perfect, but there was nothing particularly surprisingly or wow-ing; service is efficient if a little intrusive, since they belong to that class where waiters are aloof and almost slightly standoff-ish (how they manouevre around my photo-shooting also tells me a little of their skill); and the restaurant is lovely, if a little too cold (feel rather than absolute temperature) to be celebratory.

I expect this plays up to their clientele – who might be there for their version of a quick lunch and want to be left alone, or are there to intimidate/ impress, and for whom food is rather a means than an end (even if their means garner a higher standard than most).

we took their lowest-priced lunch set to see what it brought us – with the supplement that came with our dish of scallops.

the bread basket arrives with an array of carbs that brought variety rather than any particularly impressive taste – the sugared orange brioche was best. this was followed by a foie gras mousse-type with mackerel and my garlic-spicy gazpacho – small portions but well judged so, for it tempered the strong flavours (and richness of the foie gras). oh, and our amuse bouche was a deviled egg livened up by plump ikura – perhaps the most surprising dish (though still a deviled egg).

two scallops in their shells made up the best part of the meal – seared lovely and topped with soft chopped mushrooms and a lovely jus – and were definitely worth the extra.

and our mains of a shrimp-topped pasta and seared beef continued the theme of good-but-not-special – it’s all decently done, as the photos show very well, but we still waiting for the oomph (so ephemerally delivered by the scallop course).

dessert was a play on mangos – a shortbread base topped with ripe cubes and puree, as well as a thick mango lassi topped with pistachios. pretty good – but there was such a savoriness about the tart that completely defied its status as dessert (and made me have an ice cream later for my sweet tooth).

and to finish it all, we were brought a complimentary dish of madeleines and lemon curd – utterly delicious. buttery, crusty, and soft with fine crumbs, these are spectacular specimens of the french confectionary.

this is a tempered review if nothing else – I would certainly return, though most likely only if I weren’t paying – because I like my food (especially when expensive) to be spectacularly good, or at least interesting. but it well deserves its status as bastion of fine-dining traditions in our tiny country – and would serve your purposes best (if you find them aligned to those of busy businessmen).

Les Amis
#02-16 Shaw Centre
1 Scotts Road
Singapore 228208
tel +65 6733 2225
$$$$: 100 (onward) per person

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kuro kin japanese dining, turf city

good japanese food at this hideaway in turf city, pretty much fine-dining but in a family-friendly environment. I was quite impressed with the food that arrived at our table – sashimi is cut thick and meaty, sushi is rolled to expert-looking balls of rice below torched toppings, and cooked food do decently too.

there’s been a spate of restaurants at this price point recently – and by that I mean middle and upper – and they all do pretty good food at prices more approachable than you’d get with the masters. If I had to pick the closest competitor to this place, it would be sushi goshin.

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maison kayser, wheelock place

cute, and surprisingly filling tea break at this casual cafe outpost in wheelock – I’ve never really thought this place lived up quite to the furor it raised when it first appeared, but this teatime really surprised me: it was a good selection of their goods, a more-than-satisfactory range between sweet and savory, and it came pretty quickly – and then they left us alone. all good things. and aren’t those eclairs cute?

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the fat cat bistro, holland village (take 2)

a couple shots from the fat cat in holland village, a surprisingly multi-talented casual restaurant serving three menus: thai, indian, and western/ italian. my favorite remains the indian – it’s solid, hearty cooking – but we order across the cuisines whenever we come.

full review here. it’s a good one to keep in mind if you’re feeling undecidable – and great for crowds, seeing as
there really ought to be something for someone here (if they can’t find something even here, rethink the relationship).

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da shi xi, kallang

supposedly famed cze char restaurant, with its very own celebrity chef, but with rather just-passable food in sims way. I went expecting a corner-of-the-coffeeshop type of cze char store, but it was instead an open-air casual family-style eatery with a small number of tables.

there must be something compelling about this place for some people – perhaps the chef (since I can’t see that it would necessarily be the food) – for they were entertaining a large group of important guests (not to me, but certainly to the restaurant) that rendered the necessity of bringing the dude out the kitchen. I wasn’t likewise impressed though – I could give them the benefit of the doubt: that they had put in so much effort on that table there was none left – but that’s pretty egregious in itself.

safer, and perhaps more tactful, to speculate that the cooking here is pretty average-going – and based on this meal, certainly not good enough to venture a revisit.

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canele patisserie chocolaterie, paragon orchard

great casual eating at the paragon. the last time I did a review of this place, I was pretty much fixated on their delicious chocolate cake – this time, I managed a more indicative meal, and it was pretty good too (even though the chocolate cake still makes the most compelling reason for a revisit).

(this chocolate confection makes for a pretty compelling argument, too).

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