napoleon food & wine bar, telok ayer

cute little wine bar hidden away in telok ayer run by a legit frenchman, filled with an impressive number of wine bottles and plenty of artwork with (slightly lame-o) alcohol-derived puns.

they serve plenty of nibbles and mains here to go with your glass of wine – but beware: the sharing plates aren’t small, and the well-seasoned, rich flavors almost necessitate sharing.

take the home-made terrine of foie gras, for example, which had the goose liver mix served with fig chutney, a balsamic reduction and a small roll of bread. this is plenty rich, and slightly overwhelming in such a large portion (large for me at least, since I do not favor the liver), but that chutney was delicious and helped to keep the dish fresh.

the hand-cut angus beef tartare was perhaps my favorite starter: served with a raw yolk, capers, and crunchy diced white onions. stir in plenty of pepper, mustard and just a touch more salt, and it is delicious. crispy hand-cut wedges came on the side, flavored with parmesan and truffle. all in all, super moreish.

the angus beef tenderloin has that same meat seared pink and served with a creamy gratin dauphinois, ratoutouille and a red wine sauce. but the carrot puree that arrived bright orange was the star of the show: soft, silky, and very pure-tasting (though the texture is slightly reminiscent of baby food).

the shrimp truffle capellini felt particularly asian, especially with those bits of salted seaweed strewn throughout. the noodles were well-cooked, and there were plenty of shrimps to break up the texture – it’s a nice fusionesque dish, and a light-tasting option if you’re looking for some substance.

but if you’re in for something rich, the lobster risotto is definitely the way to go. it was a particularly creamy (and wet) rendition, with tender grains of acquarello rice and al dente asparagus dice to break up the texture. and I haven’t even mentioned the lobster, which comes in nice thick slices and as sweet as you’d want.

the last part was definitely the best – but how can you go wrong with chocolate? a mi-cuit (half-cooked) canelle – I have never had one like this before – that had an oozy, oozy, molten centre, next to good vanilla ice cream and coffee crumbs. not to forget the slab of chocolate ganache though, and my goodness was that fudgy and rich and good.

it’s a small piece of parisian bistro in sunny singapore, and a very nice one run by a friendly frenchman. they know their food here, and it’s a lovely place to grab some wine after work on the weekdays. definitely one to try.

Napoleon Food & Wine Bar
206 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068641
tel +65 6221 9282
$$.5: 35ish onward

thanks to the entertainer and napoleon for the lovely meal and wine!

char, guillemard street

good caramelisation, great flavours, but very fatty meat at this upmarket version of your typical roast-meat stall.

straight up, it’s pretty expensive – you could argue that a slab of pork in a restaurant would cost much, much more, and you would be right. but value is relative, and the comparison is more accurately made with singapore’s (gradually less) plentiful good-and-cheaper hawker stalls.

but the flavours are worth a visit – if only just to see the hype – and you’d be eating in a modern bistroesque environment with air-conditioning.

n.b. all Chinese and dialect spellings are mere illustrations and may not reflect their true pronunciations (though they certainly reflect my imperfect grasp of the language).

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restaurant ember, hotel 1929

to follow on the local-gem theme started with yesterday’s post – ember is a stalwart in the dining scene for good reason: great, comforting, well-executed food and always-pleasant-and-friendly service in a modern space that manages to be business-like in the daytime and romantic at night.

the size is a boon – it manages to keep buzzy with its constant stream of diners, but the smaller size mitigates any too-much-loudness that would come with larger crowds. this was my first visit since the new chef stepped up to the helm – to much initial trepidation, which later proved entirely unwarranted – and the place retains both character and quality.

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sprigs, purvis street

very, very good food at this small, modern restaurant in bugis – very earnest, and it succeeds both in service and space and food. it’s still relatively uncrowded, which is surprising for its quality, but unsurprising for its relative tucked-awayness. add the fact that prices are more than reasonable – especially with a set offered at dinner time – really, I’m not sure I could like it more.

it’s a little like that comforting corner diner we all want – except that it’s quite a bit away from my actual ‘hood.

and, I’m back!

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coq & balls, tiong bahru

so-so brunch at this small cafe-bar-bistro in tiong bahru. this place is kind of meh – the food is just about alright – in that I would visit if I were living just a block away – but otherwise, it’s not entirely worth the trip.

and, such a deliberately provocative, scandal-inciting sort of name. almost definitely thought up by men – if the joy had by my male dining companions were anything to go by.

n.b. that is a photo of literal twiddling thumbs because I had confiscated the coffee to photograph. the camera eats first!

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la maison fatien, chinatown

very unimpressive french food at this otherwise beautiful restaurant set in a old two-floor shophouse along duxton hill. I’m hoping my experience was a fluke – but I think it worth sharing anyway – for I came on the recommendation of another foodie who really likes this place.

this place is very likable, conceptually – it feels like a neighborhood bistro you might get in the parisian suburbs, the lighting is dim and cosy, and it has provenance in a wine-making holiday-making mansion in burgundy (we’re talking proper french roots, people). but the food is less sparkling than what you might expect it to be (though still decent), which is a waste – this would be a brilliant dateaway otherwise.

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cocotte, little india

good rustic french cooking at this lovely restaurant hidden away in little india. I’ve been here once before, nearly 5 years ago – and it was memorable for both the food and its decor: it’s done up all industrial-like in a boutique hotel, a far-cry from the more raucous atmosphere typical in this neighborhood.

this return was painstakingly arranged – it’s no easy thing to convince ol’-school parents that there is good fine-dining to be found in the slightly dodgy little india enclave – and I’m pretty darn glad the effort was worth it. the cooking is still expert, the place enduringly gorgeous – a good meal in all.

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zaffron kitchen, katong

standout indian food in the grastronomic wunderland that is katong – I don’t usually come to this area because it’s a little far out of my reach, but the many good reviews of this place were too great a draw to resist. and they live up to it – indian food made modern, really in the style of masala zone in london, which I haven’t yet seen in singapore – I would say this is food that admittedly might play more to the mainstream consumer’s idea of indian rather than traditional fare, but it doesn’t detract from the pleasure of eating here, and judging from the clientele in this place – it might not be wholly unauthentic either.

you do pay for the experience though – prices are much higher than what you’d see at other indian joints, though merely on par with other new cafés/bistros. service is a little absent-minded sometimes – though this only happened with one of their waitresses – but the food is well good, and well worth coming back for.

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the lawn grill & salad café, buona vista

great grill-and-salad in biopolis – at the nanos building, which really is respite from what has been a long drought of appetizing food options in the area. the denotation of salad café raises connotations of maniacally sparse eating – but I think it’s more accurate to say that this place does a mean grill, and serves up a great selection of salads on the side (or beneath, to be completely pedantic).

we were spoiled for choice by the many options – and then bowled over by the quality of the food, before leaving literally bursting at the bits. the portion sizes are large, the prices reasonable for what is really good cooking – which showcases the quality of produce used here – and that makes for good eating well worth visiting, especially in a gastronomically-barren area such as this one.

it’s a smallish cafe at the corner of the building, which initially raised apprehensions about the food – surely we are all too familiar with that breed of convenient-but-really-mediocre-cafe that somehow proliferate near workplaces. this place differs from that pre-prepared-cold-cuts sort of place though – the open kitchen shows you the chefs cooking up the meats from fresh, and the salad options are still crisp (I have a fear of wilted and browned salad leaves from being left out too long).

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east 8 – new york fusion tapas + bar, town

great fusion at the arcade of the hotel grand park city hall – one of the best meals I’ve had since coming back to singapore, both in terms of taste and innovation. it makes me very nostalgic for london, where there were great restaurants like this one popping up everywhere, and flavours were new and exciting. it’s meant to be new-york-inspired, but I think the casual-chill (and hipster in very much the right way) vibe is one that applies to most excitingly vibrant cities, and very welcome in the singapore foodscape. the food comes in tapas-like portions, which means your bill potentially runs high, but most of the flavours are bright and clean, and it makes for a great night out.

I was really hoping that this meal would shine – it is celebration weekend for my partner and I – and it didn’t disappoint. service was cheery and friendly, and this place has so much design quality – I said above that it was hipster in the right way, and you see it in their details: the wooden coasters, the grass in the al fresco area, the fancy-and-dim lighting, and the furniture. I’m a sucker for good design.

but let’s talk food – we started with a marinated hamachi and caviar, which was slices of raw fish in a rather japanese-chinese style dressing. this was unusual – it was reminiscent of fish I would marinate for cooking, without the cooking bit, and the dressing was tasty, but overwhelmed the caviar. the soy yuzu beef that came later was brilliant though – thin slices of ribeye in a tangy dressing alongside a nicely-bitter salad, this was tender and beefy in the best way.

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