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!

henri charpentier singapore, dempsey road

it’s nearly the weekend!

a (well, no longer) recent addition to our shores from tokyo, charpentier serves up fancy, expensive desserts in this french-styled japanese-feeling cafe in dempsey. a small space filled with curtains for partitioning, booth and sofa seats, it’s the sort of place you expect a japanese housewife to sit with friends for tea.

it’s rather unique in a time where most places are styled casual or hipster (or both), with a fully suited up japanese man serving as maître d’ to the noisy boisterous group of us here for a part 2 after brunch. but the desserts are lovely, theatrical in a very impressionable sort of way, and tasty for all the fanfare.

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project açaí, holland village

I’ve just had a pigfest over the weekend – ribs (barbecued and in soup), pork knuckles (broiled and braised) – and it feels like time for some sort of detoxification.

and this place would do me just great right now, except for the fact that it’s just as wallet-detoxifying as it is body-detoxifying. the acai is a superberry made famous years ago by oprah and only now on our shores, supposedly filled with so many nutrients it can make you fly (certainly because your wallet won’t be weighing you down no longer after a serving of this).

this place is what I would term teenage-hobo-expat-ish, which is to say it is high on aesthetics, high on branding and trendiness, and high on prices. the acai comes as a frozen slush under a prettily-arranged smattering of fruit, topped with honey and the like.

and while I may have gripes about the price – this is probably my newest favorite vice. the slush is cold and refreshing on a blistering day, the bare sweetness of the slush makes it feel positively healthful, and that array of fruit on the top sure makes one cheerful.

I like the original holland village outlet, which is a wood-filled space that fills with brilliant sunlight in the day – but you can get it more conveniently at the basement level of the ngee ann city shopping mall.

Project Açaí
27 Lorong Liput, Holland Village
Singapore 277738
tel +65 6463 1957
$$$: the largest size, which is perhaps just a little more than a greedy person might want, goes almost to a pretty twenty dollars

alkaff mansion, telok blangah

average-ly italiano at this quite gorgeous venue hidden up in telok blangah. it’s a surprising location, until you realize it’s situated in a quite beautiful park with great views over our tiny city.

the food itself is pretty average-to-decent. I can’t say that I would necessarily return, but it makes for a decent meal if you want to give it a go.

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dessert at, palais renaissance and tiong bahru

judging by the number of posts I have on this blog – four at last count – it’s pretty apparent that I have a soft spot for this chain.

I’m also going to summarise all the posts so far with this one – slightly pricey, big mains, hefty-and-satisfying-and-rich desserts, and beautiful, characterful restaurants. it’s an institution for brunch and lunch (not that dinner falters, by any means), and caters primarily to the yuppie, yummy mummy kind of crowd.

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mad about sucre, outram park

alright, slightly overhyped cake place with not very many cakes.

so this place opened recently in the sort of revitalised-retro part of the outram park area, and I’ve been hearing a slew of compliment-ary reviews across the board – but I’m not sure I was terribly impressed, even if the cakes were decent.

it’s a swanky place with a TINY door (like you-might-not-get-through-if-you-eat-far-too-much-cake kind of small), filled with kitschy, gilded items, (overpriced but very nice) merchandise, and wedding cakes.

note I said wedding cakes, and not wedding cake models – the waiters (is it fair to call them that, because they were rather theatrical, dramatic evangelists of the store) kept assuring us that the cakes were real.

not something I can understand – since the frosting dries up (yes, I know the sign said not to touch), and it seems a waste of food.

the dark chocolate dome was a moussey sort of confection with a square cube of liqueur-containing bonbon, sprinkled with gold dust. sat on a crisp biscuit and filled with banana creme, it was difficult to break the tempered chocolate neatly, and the biscuit also sort of shattered (unneatly, which is irritating to this OCD soul).

we also had a lemon-coconut tart, and I liked the tropical combination, with the barely discernible coconut flakes.

the pastries on offer were rather gorgeous and technically well-executed – I’m not quite sure why I wasn’t more impressed. perhaps you should give it a go, and let me know if you too feel like something’s missing from the experience?

Mad About Sucre
27 Teo Hong Road
Singapore 088334
tel +65 6221 3969
$$.5, also known as not-cheap

cake, to the rescue!

dessert is powerful. but even more so when you get it delivered.

I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only one that forgets an upcoming birthday-or-some-other and panics close to the date, searching for a nearby cakery that fits right into the schedule and sells something appropriate.

so I jumped on the chance to try out foodline, which is an online service that lets you order catering – and now moving into cake and dessert (that’s where all the good people are, seriously).

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plain vanilla bakery, tiong bahru

not-bad baked goods from this beautiful whitewashed bakery in tiong bahru. from a yuppie enclave (i.e. katong), to this hipster one (the bicycles say it all) – this popular cupcake place actually also serves up a range of other items (that provide more compelling reason for a visit).

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binomio spanish restaurant, craig road

very good spanish food at this well-known restaurant along craig road – it’s a cosy, intimate space that’s packed at night, with waiters that are just the right mix of personal and professional, and dishes that both taste good and feel authentic.

it’s more napkin-ed fine dining than small-plate tapas, with prices that tread the high side for dishes well-worth the expense.

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temper by anjali chocolate, loewen road

this is a tale of chocolate, and of chocolate-making in a kitchen that isn’t mine, but that I dearly wished was.

let’s start off with a confession: my favoritest, bestest, most comfortest chocolate to eat is the kit kat, original. now quiet down, you all – the story starts with an a love for dark chocolate, climaxes with an epiphanic (in a bad way) bar of 99%, and finishes with an ever-ongoing love for sugar milk chocolate and bonbons.

it’s weird that I’ve never thought of making chocolate now that I’ve done it – it’s almost as instant gratification as it gets, the flavor combinations are endless, and good chocolate gets expensive very quickly.

so it took an invite from anjali, a lovely, lovely second-careerist chocolatier to wipe these chocolatey finger smudges off my blinkered vision and show me the way of the chocolate.

set in a hard-to-find-but-totally-worth-it space in loewen road (if you thought dempsey was secluded, you don’t know this place), this beautiful black+white building has been refurbed to an air-conditioned chocolate-making palace complete with white walls and marble countertops (but of’cuz).

it was a brilliant time, but could it not be? the space is large enough for a dozen to putter about, sneaking bites of quality chocolate buttons and glasses of a decent chilean wine.

and anjali is like the cool aunt you’ve always wanted – she watches you to make sure you’re keeping safe and guides you along, but there’s no stressful mum-like hawk-eye-on-you.

the class was a truffle-making one, but anjali gave me the chance to make my dreamt-up bonbon – and so I set off to boil up a salted caramel (deliciously browned, even if u do say so myself) to fill a tempered, dark chocolate shell.

the three teams chocolate-ing that day came up with a delicious white-chocolate-and-coconut bonbon in a beautiful white shell, a mouth-cleaning oh-so-minty chocolate mint truffle, and our imperfect first batch of salted caramel treats.

honestly, it’s really difficult to go wrong with chocolate – it’s all about balance and quality, so the base of lovely belgian chocolate and the array of ingredients we had that day were just the icing on the cake.

plus, I loved the casual, homely vibe anjali had going (the wine helped, too) – and the education: she can go deep into the technicalities if you like, and keep it layman otherwise.

she’s marketing the place for events and bonding classes – and while they might cost a pretty penny (not unexpected, given the quality of chocolate and the beautiful space), I can see why she would. the place is intimate and cosy, a little sanctuary in the city full of chocolate and sweets, and wonderful for an adult day out.

Temper by Anjali Chocolate
73 Loewen Road #01-16
Singapore 248843
tel +65 9853 9663

p.s. Anjali makes her own chocolates too, and they are both tasty and gorgeous (and so perfect in their handmadeness) – you can totally skip the makin’ and go straight to the eatin’.

thanks, anjali, for the visit and the lovely lesson!