level33, marina bay financial centre

nice, chill place to hang out with a glass of wine – and have a dessert (or two). this local microbrewery is pretty top-of-its-class, with a view up on its place on the thirty-third floor (the name’s a no-brainer, really), with a good selection of food and drinks, a good mix of standing and sit-down space – and it feels pretty cozy, even with the throngs of people that come here post-work.

I’ve recently taken to a glass of muscato a week (hey, it’s sort of like wine, which is sort of good for you, right?) – and this place serves up a sweet, honeyed glass of loveliness. it’s smooth and mellow, and quite a nice glass to start with – and of course you could go for one of their beers, brewed not a couple steps from you.

but I’d like to talk about their desserts too (a proper meal here is still a pending to-do) – and in particular, this interpretation of a sticky date pudding with triangular block of cake topped with a fig compote and goat’s cheese caramel. it’s a subtly sweet cake that plays up to the sharp savoriness of the goat’s cheese (which isn’t something I usually eat, but this was properly moderated), and the soft vanilla ice cream on the side.

very pretty, very modern, and a well-portioned plate of enough sweet to sate without cloying.

I’ve also tried their fondant previously, and it’s pretty good too – but I’m working my way up to the assiette, which is a two-person platter of dessert. I could really do with one right now.

Continue reading

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

instagrammin’ at _andmorefood!

the white rabbit, dempsey hill

hello from lijiang! I’m totally posting from afar, but regular programming goes on!

possibly the most beautifully gorgeous place to brunch, lunch, or wine and dine in singapore. this is my first return to the white rabbit after a visit years ago, though not from lack of want. it’s as lovely as ever, with decent food and a wonderful ambience.

prices aren’t cheap, but the cooking is acceptable – and really, you’re here for the overall experience, which they excel at.

Continue reading

the little fish shop, serangoon nex

an offspin of the greenwood fish market, this place serves good seafood and fish dishes – it’s fancy and yet not: the dishes are properly and beautifully plated, but preparation of the white meat is usually simple and served with condiments that let it shine.

I used to think it was a little strange setting up in the heartlands – prices are a little more associated with town dining than simple suburbia – but they do fantastic business day after day, so they definitely know what they’re about.

and I can’t complain – for it’s good food, and great lighting for photos. really the wet dream of a food photographer.

Continue reading

bistro du vin, zion road

oh my, can someone say dessert please? it’s finally friday – days since I thought I’d be posting, and I’m in the mood for something sweet and chocolatey to end things. this one’s a good choice, the first time I’ve made it to the lauded bistro du vin – and only for dessert (after dinner at indochilli, just a few doors down).

peek in, peek in! there’s a flowing chocolate lava cake after the jump :D

Continue reading

the pantry at shop wonderland, haji lane

this cafe is beautiful. it’s almost perfect in my estimation – large window with lovely decals, a quaint almost britishy sort of interior complete with cake display (AND OH MY GOD, THOSE CLEAR GLASS DOMES) and baristarinas, and an upstairs parlor all laid out in houseware and decor for the buying. a parlor for shopping, and a downstairs for cake-ing, and a window for the looking – such a balm to (my/) the soul.

so it’s very lucky that the single slice of cake we had was acceptable for the eating. we had the gula melaka cake (upon recommendation from one of the ladies behind the counter) – a dense, moist sponge layered with buttercream and that dark palm sugar and dusted with coconut – it would be good with a cup of tea; while not revelatory, it was certainly enough for enjoying the afternoon and the space.

these photos were hidden in my archive for quite a while – but they’re too beautiful not to share. I love places that have great light, and its especially lovely when it’s natural light streaming in from a large window, and I have cake to go with.

I’m not sure about the other cakes, and I’ve certainly had better (the sponge could have afforded quite a bit less heft and more fluffiness), but the place is worth coming to.

p.s. I accept gifts from the upstairs, if anyone’s offering :p

Shop Wonderland
37 Haji Lane
Singapore 189230
tel +65 6299 5848
$.5: six-sevenish for a slice of cake

now instagrammin’ at _andmorefood!

chihuly lounge, ritz carlton singapore

le massive sigh. chihuly was supposed to be the stuff of high tea dreams, what with the amazing superbrunch done here every year, and come on – it’s the ritz right? the damn ritz. the very name evokes connotations of luxury and all sorts of poshness, beautiful furnishings, great food and even better service.

and well, they got all but those last two right.

Continue reading

the disgruntled chef, dempsey hill

hello, all! so I was missing for the greater part of this week on a gallivant through hong kong (so much good food I can’t wait to share) and did you miss me?

it’s now sunday, so it’s just about appropriate to do another brunch one – though it’s a shame that this ain’t going to be a pretty one (metaphorically – the photos might mislead in their aesthetic pleasantness).

I was rather disappointed by this place. I went with high hopes, bolstered by a slew of wonderful praises about the ingenuity of the food here, and the suspense was ever-more built by the fact that I had tried to brunch here more than a couple times (and something always happened to stop it*).

*maybe it was the gourmand gods/ fate.

Continue reading

canele patisserie chocolaterie, paragon orchard

a gorgeous chocolate cake, and one of the best I’ve had in singapore. it’s a hemisphere of rather deep, chocolatey goodness, and I forget what the components were – except that there was a dense not-too-sweet mousse and lots of chocolate flavor that made it all too easy to eat.

immense gorgeousness on a plate, both aesthetically and gastronomically.

(if you want something a little more varied, the opera slice at becasse has the same dense dessert goodness.)

((why not have both? it’s the weekend!))

Continue reading

etna italian restaurant, chinatown

fantastic italian execution (not the head sort) at this packed restaurant in chinatown. reservations much required – tables run out quickly, and the place is well popular even on weekdays. it’s been lauded as a great place to grab some italian and lives up to that reputation (living up to reputation seems to be a problem these days), with good service and reasonably prices.

it spans that rather comfortable spectrum of cosy enough for date night but bright enough for family night, and the good food helps conversations flow.

Continue reading