Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Garibaldi



The name says it all. Garibaldi - a much revered Italian restaurant which purportedly serves one of the best Italian cuisine in town. Nows the time to find out if they really live up to their name. A few quick phone calls later and I had fixed up a lunch appointment with LSD to try out Garibaldi's set lunch.



Exterior



Interior



Menu


Located in the middle (almost) of Purvis Street which is teeming with eateries, you might just miss out on Garibaldi if you are unaware because the exterior is rather plain and discreet, save for the vertical signboard hanging by the side of the building. Now this is the first time that I've been to a restaurant which utilizes heavy sliding doors in favour of push/pull doors and that really says something about their target market - well heeled individuals/executives. The sliding doors act as a natural filter to "sieve" out your average Joe. Well lets just leave it at that. As you are being ushered into the small main dining area, which can probably seat about 30 people or so, the solemness of the interior weighs down on you. Decor is sombre and minimalistic, with racks of wine displayed prominently in the foreground. Seats are plush and comfortable, but can be taxing on your back if you don't lean backwards.



Freshly Baked Bread


I certainly feel that the complimentary servings of bread warrant a section all by itself. The bread was fragrant with a slightly crispy exterior that belied its soft and fluffy interior. However, what sets it apart from other breads is its taste. It had this slightly cheesy aftertaste which would melt the hearts of even the most ardent detractors. I attribute this great taste to the bits of Mozzarella cheese that I noticed on the bread crust. It would be a shame if you visit Garibaldi and not have second or third servings of this bread.



Roast Veal in Tuna Sauce


Compared to the veal I had at PaPi, which was laden with sauce, Garibaldi's rendition exercised more constrain and the tuna sauce was used sparingly. The result? A much better tasting veal with more bite which didn't look lost in a sea of sauce. However, having said that, I find it rather sad because tuna was the dominant flavour instead of veal.



Chicken Breast with Zucchini Smoked Cheese and Spicy Tomato


Its funny how you order chicken in an Italian restaurant and wonder how its going to turn out. Well, mine turned out just fine. The chicken breast was extremely tender and had some sort of buoyancy in it, which tasted a wee bit unnatural. Come to think of it, the chicken was so smooth and tender that I couldn't detect any fibrous shreds. Work of a master or something else? Taste wise, it was great, with the chicken absorbing the smoky flavours perfectly and with lots of succulent juices to boot. But it did tend towards the salty side. The zucchini with cheese was done right, as evidenced by the grill marks on the zucchini.



Dessert of Pistachio Ice Cream & Hazelnut Ice Cream


There wasn't a choice with the desserts, so everyone had the same thing, which was a scoop of Pistachio ice cream and one of Hazelnut. Personally I prefered the Hazelnut ice cream as it tasted familiarly like Ferraro Roche chocolates. The Pistachio ice cream, on the other hand, didn't taste quite like Pistachio and had a slightly creamy taste. Both ice creams were quite smooth, but I detected ice chips in them, which might have been due to poor handling.



The bill


Set lunch with a bottle of still water came up to about $38.50/pax, which is rather expensive for the quantity of food. Honestly, we wouldn't have been full if not for the multiple servings of the wonderful bread. Quality wise, it is commendable and I find it comparable to Senso. However there is a sense that Garibaldi's food offers more finesse, albeit in smaller portions. Service is very professional and attentive but lacks friendliness. Chances of returning? Quite high, especially since I have my eye set on their degustation menu @ $98+++/pax.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:6.5/10

Overall:7.25/10

Address: 36 Purvis Street, #01-02

Contact: 68371468

Comments: Valet parking is available during lunch and dinner. Visit their website @ www.garibaldi.com.sg

Hong Kong Kim Gary Restaurant



Popped by Vivocity to settle some stuff at Standard Chartered so decided to try my luck at Hong Kong Kim Gary, one of the places that I've been meaning to try, but never had the chance to because of the long queues. Well today I was in luck and I got a seat of my choice without any difficulty. Probably because its only 1215pm?



Interior



Menu


A friendly waitress showed me to my seat right at the end of the restaurant, which offered an unobstructed view of Sentosa through floor to ceiling windows (well there was this staircase...). As with many other Hong Kong Cafes, the ordering system is somewhat similar. You tick your order on an order menu and pass it to the waitress. I had the set menu B($7.50) of Fried Egg and Minced Beef Rice with a cream soup and Yuan Yang (coffee mixed with tea for an additional 30 cents) as well as an additional order of French Toast.



Cream Soup


The soup came served in a cup which I had some trouble adjusting to because I simply can't get used to drinking soup right out of a cup without a spoon. The soup was rather bland and diluted, which didn't really bode well for the upcoming dishes.



Fried Egg and Minced Beef Rice


I had a minor shock when I saw this dish. In my mind I was wondering if they had made a mistake because I couldn't see the beef. However, upon closer inspection, I realised that the beef was minced up and scattered together with the thin layer of tomato sauce, which looked rather pathetic. Imagine my surprise when it actually tasted quite good. The tomato sauce was quite thick and mildly sweet, with the minced beef adding a wee bit of bite to the sauce. The only bummer was that there was no evident beef taste and that portions could have been bigger. As for the fried egg, how bad can a sunny side up get?



French Toast



The oozing peanut butter


I like my French Toasts quite a bit and Kim Gary's rendition was not too bad, but certainly not as good as the one at Hong Kong Cafe. The toast itself was a little on the wet side and the exterior wasn't as crispy as I would have liked it to be. However, the sticking point was the peanut butter filling which I felt was totally unnecessary given that French Toasts don't come with peanut butter. Granted, the peanut butter was smooth, but it masked the "eggy" taste of the French Toast.



The bill


Lunch cost $11.30, which is comparatively cheaper and more value for money than the other Hong Kong Cafes that I've tried. The Yuan Yang was decent and the service was not too shabby. Overall, an above average dining experience and I personally feel that the dishes do show more promise than the other Hong Kong Cafes around. I will probably be back again, but not with the long queues.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:6.5/10
Food:6.5/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall: 6.75/10

Address: #02-128 Vivocity

Contact: 63768183

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Atrium

After dinner at Summer Pavilion, we proceeded to The Atrium at Pan Pacific Hotel to have some finger food and drinks.



View of the top



Interior



Menu


Located on the ground floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel, The Atrium offers a nice open concept chill out venue in the company of a live singer as well as great Tapas to go along. Sofas are soft and plush while the lights are dimmed to give that really relaxed mood (Don't fall asleep though).



Snacks for the hungry



Caffe Latte



Selection of fresh daily Tapas


The complimentary snacks included a bowl of Deep Fried Anchovies, another of Freeze Dried Mushrooms and one of assorted nuts. Of all three, I found the Freeze Dried Mushrooms the most intriguing. First of all, the texture was almost biscuit like, with a little salt thrown into the mix. It certainly reminded me of eating banana chips, just that this tasted sweet yet salty. No discernible mushroom taste though.

My order of Tapas was equally exciting and one variety stood out. It had seared tuna atop a slightly salty and patty like base, which I have absolutely no idea what it is (I don't know the names of the Tapas as well because it wasn't on the menu). The Cafe Latte was very fragrant and they even gave us sticks of crystallized sugar to stir in our coffee instead of the usual packets of sugar.



The bill


Total bill after discount was about $27/- ($47 before discount), which is pretty pricey if you ask me. But I guess you pay for the ambience and the service. Worth it? It depends on the individual.

Summer Pavilion Part II

I was so impressed with my previous visit to Summer Pavilion that I made plans to return. This time round, it was with my gf and a few members of her family in tow. Now that makes two visits in the same number of days. Since I've already touched on the interior and other stuff before, I shall go straight to the food. We ordered a set menu for 6 pax ($128+++) and a dessert.



Braised Shark's Fin Soup with Crab Meat and Fish Maw


This dish was disappointing. The serving of shark's fin was meagre and the slightly starchy soup was dominated mainly by the fish maw and crab meat. Taste wise was still not too bad, but totally off tangent from the one I had the night before. Then again, you can't really expect much from a comparatively cheap set menu can you?



Barbecued Peking Duck


We had expected one whole Peking Duck for 6 pax. Instead, we got half a duck and it wasn't even big to begin with. 2 slices of skin wrapped in a crepe was what each of us got. Its not hard to imagine how small the duck is isn't it? Kudos to the duck skin though, which was quite well done. Crispy and not too fatty skin enveloped in a soft and warm egg crepe with a drizzle of the mildy sweet sauce hits all the right notes. However, having said that, I still prefer the one at Min Jiang @ One North, which is in a league of its own.



Baked Fresh Prawns with Chinese Wine in Claypot


The prawns were undisputedly very fresh and crunchy with a slight tinge of Chinese wine aftertaste. However, they were of average size and didn't offer much bite. Portions are also rather pathetic as each of us only managed to get 3 pieces.



Steam Chicken and Mushroom


The chicken was very tender and juicy with the slighty starchy and salty gravy adding a very smooth texture to the overall dish. The mushrooms tasted normal though. A nice dish, but nothing to crow about.



Steamed Sliced Garoupa with Dry Water Lily and Black Fungus


Fresh fish. Its what this dish is all about. The crunchy flesh, together with the water lily and black fungus, provided lots of bite. A pity I couldn't really taste the sweetness of the flesh though, because of the heavy masking from the garnishes. A could have been great dish but let down by poor execution.



Fried Special Fish Noodles with Shredded Duck Meat and Bean Sprouts


As mentioned in my earlier entry, the fish noodles are a reason to come to Summer Pavilion and this one is no exception. Though fried, the noodles retain their springy texture and offers a lot of bite. The duck was well done as well, with the meat being chewy yet not too heavy on the fowl taste. The gravy was forgettable though.



Two servings of Red Bean Paste Pancake


This came as an additional order as the set menu didn't include any dessert. For a review on it, read up my previous entry here. Do try it!



The bill


An unfilling dinner for 5 pax set me back by almost $200, which is comparatively cheaper than other restaurants of similar standing. Though the quality of food is above average, portions are small and I shudder to think what might have been the scenario if 6 of us had ordered the same set menu instead. Service is still excellent and I'll definitely be back again. Ala carte of course.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:8/10
Service:8.5/10
Food:7/10 (A little lacklustre as compared to the ala carte items)
Value for money:6.5/10 (Applicable only for set menu)

Overall:7.5/10

Address: Ritz Carlton Hotel, 7 Raffles Avenue

Contact: 64345286

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Summer Pavilion



Summer Pavilion, or Xia Yuan in Chinese, is the flagship Cantonese restaurant of Ritz Carlton Hotel in the Marina Bay area. Unfortunately, it is a restaurant that is hardly synonymous with good Cantonese food as it is relatively unknown. My gf and I decided to take our chances and have dinner there (It was actually between Summer Pavilion and Snappers).



Pathway leading into the restaurant



Interior Part I



Interior Part II



Menu


As you stroll through Ritz Carlton's grand lobby, hotel staff greet you affably and even offer to show you to the door of the restaurant. Once inside, a moderate sized room with floor to ceiling windows greet you, with a view of a typical ancient Chinese garden complete with walls and bamboo shoots on one side and the magnificent lobby entrance on the other. And let me assure you that it is nothing short of breathtaking, especially when you get a table thats flanked by both the lobby and the garden. Well we were lucky enough to get such a table.



Appetiser of Deep Fried Yam Slices


The only other place that I had this delectable appetiser was Li Bai. Crisp yet fragrant, a great way to start off any meal.



Double Boiled Shark's Fin Soup with Chicken, Ham and Chinese Cabbage


Now when I ordered this soup, I was expecting it to be full of anything but Shark's Fin for its price ($16). Boy, was I wrong. It had enough Shark's Fin in it to put other restaurants $30 rendition to shame. And mind you, the fins were of very decent quality. The soup was light, not too starchy and flavourful due to the addition of chicken, ham and Chinese cabbage which also gave it that extra chew. But I did find the ham a little weird tasting though.



Double Boiled Shark's Cartilage Soup with Fish Maw


Shark cartilage soup is supposed to be good for the bones and old people like me need quite a bit of it. The soup looked and tasted milky with a slightly salty aftertaste. But somehow I found it a wee bit too heavy on the taste. Certainly not the best shark's cartilage soup I've ever tried, but certainly a very commendable offering.



Wok-Fried stuffed King Prawn in Japanese Style


This came as the surprise of the night. When it was first served, both my gf and I thought that it was fish, but upon closer inspection, it was actually a gigantic prawn covered in thick gravy. For us to erroneously believe that it was a slice of fish, you can imagine how huge it was (its called king prawn for a reason). The prawn was covered in a garlic infused gravy and tasted very fresh and crunchy, with the garlicky taste complementing the natural sweetness of the prawn very well.



Poached Fish Noodle Soup with Lobster


For those who have never tried fish noodles, Summer Pavilion gives you a reason to try. The fish noodles have a very springy and chewy texture, allowing for more sensation as you chomp through it. The soup tastes suspiciously like that of prawn noodles, albeit a much lighter and soothing version, with little chunks of lobster meat swimming around in it. Best of all, it doesn't cost you an arm or a leg for a bowl ($8).



Steamed Zucchini Flower stuffed with Prawn, Chicken and Mushroom



The stuffing


You might be wondering, whats zucchini doing in a Chinese restaurant? Well, as the name suggests, its a whole zucchini flower stuffed with prawn, chicken and mushroom and then steamed. The result? A nice crunchy stem and a rather delightful paste of prawn, chicken and mushroom with a slight zucchini taste. Interesting dish to say the least and I fancy it quite a bit. Pity about the single flower serving though.



Baked Marinated Silver Cod Fish with Champagne Sauce


This dish was excellently executed. The cod fish was very fresh, soft and tender, with the Champagne sauce being a little strong and sweet. Certainly not strong enough to knock your socks off, but strong enough for you to appreciate its presence. Savour the richness of the champagne and the delicate flesh of the fish with every mouthful. Certainly a dish to tantalise your tastebuds.



Red Bean Paste Pancake


This dish came slightly different from the usual ones that I've tried. The crust wasn't flaky and looked like it had been deep fried instead of pan fried. The difference is obvious from the first bite. The deep fried crust is very thin and crispy and certainly ups the enjoyment factor (for me at least). The red bean paste isn't too sweet, but other than that, comes across as normal. I personally find this one of the best, if not the best Red Bean Paste Pancake that I've ever tried. If you are a fan of this dish, be sure not to miss it.



The bill


Dinner for 2 pax came up to $134.05, inclusive of Long Jing Tea for 2 pax @$5+++ each. However, do not be mislead by the price. For the quality of food, it is merely pushing the limits of reasonable. Add in a terrific ambience and excellent service and you have a sure winner.

ps: Its funny that they don't have a proper signboard, so I had to resort to taking their logo off the menu.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:8/10
Service:8.5/10
Food:8/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7.875/10

Address: Ritz Carlton Hotel, 7 Raffles Avenue

Contact: 64345286

Magma German Wine Bistro



Had dinner with LSD and a few other makan khakis at Magma German Wine Bistro. As the name suggests, it serves German food. Heard about this place quite some time back through some TV Chinese variety show so after much postponement, we finally got down to it on a wet Friday evening.



Exterior



Chef's area



Interior



Menu


Magma occupies 2 units right at the start of Bukit Pasoh Road. Locating it proved to be a problem as it was discreetly hidden from view with no outstanding features or signs. But find it and you will be welcomed into a cosy and homely dining area with an open kitchen concept and racks of wine bottles. Though sparsely finished, the restaurant exudes warmth (literally as well. It was a little warm that day) and makes you feel right at home. They could do with bigger tables though. It was honestly a little cramp, which hampered eating and relaxed conversation quite a bit.



Wurstplatte mit 5 oder Wursten - Sausage Platter with 5 Sausages


We started off with the sausage platter consisting of 5 different types of sausages. Frankly, I probably have only eaten 2 or 3 of the varieties that were served, so I pretty much can't identify any of them except for one which was Cheese Sausage. Overall a rather pleasing dish with the sausages being crunchy and not too pressing.



Kasseler, Knoblauch und Sauerkraut - Smoked Pork Loin, Garlic and Sauerkraut Pizza


Interestingly, the German's do their pizza differently. Sour cream is added in place of cheese or tomato sauce. Our Kasseler, Knoblauch und Sauerkraut came with generous toppings of Sauerkraut and had this garlicky taste although I couldn't detect any visible signs of garlic. The crust was amazingly thin (I certainly didn't expect such a thin crust from a German restaurant) and the pork loin was relatively well smoked, trapping in the smoky flavours. A unique dish, but I personally found the Sauerkraut topping a little too overwhelming.



Gemischte Schlachtplatte fur 3 Personen - Mixed Butcher's Platter of all our Pork Specialities for 3 Persons


Words escape me when I try to describe the platter that was set before us. Humongous would probably come close. Just staring at the all pork dish sent shivers down my spine. I really couldn't imagine eating that. Well, we did anyway. I would very much like to go into details about the various cuts and items in the platter, but that would take too much time (there are about 8 different items?) and I honestly can't remember whats what. Only thing I can remember is the Pork Knuckle, which did seem a little too soft with the skin not being as crispy as I would have liked it (read my entry on ABOF for good pork with crackling skin). Overall, the whole dish tended towards the salty side. Actually, all the dishes were a little too heavy on the salt, not just this one.



Gebackene Apfelscheiben mit Zimthonig - Baked Apple Slices in Puff Pastry with Honey and Cinnamon.


Ever wondered how Goreng Pisang with apple instead of banana would taste like? Well, this is your answer. A very interesting rendition of the conventional Apple Pie. The honey added a sweet twist to the dish but I couldn't quite make out the taste from the cinnamon powder. Also, the apple slices had their citrus flavour removed which was probably for the better.



Baked Cheese stuffed with Gooseberries


I'm just guessing the name of this dish because its a daily special and not anywhere in the menu, so please forgive me if I get it wrong. Another very interesting dish. The whole thing actually tastes like pudding with a slight cheesy aftertaste, very much like the cheesecake kind of cheesy and not the right in your face kind. But I didn't think too much of it as it got quite sick after too much, probably due to the soft and wet cake like pastry.



Chocolate Mousse


Interestingly, the Chocolate Mousse had but a faint resemblance to the normal ones you can get outside. There were 2 scoops(or is it moulds?) of Chocolate Mousse, one White Chocolate and one Dark Chocolate, sitting on a bed of Marzipan sauce. In all honesty, the White Chocolate Mousse didn't quite taste like White Chocolate. Instead it tasted creamy and had this mild spicy aftertaste. But as with the Chocolate Mousse, the texture was smooth and thick. From our conversation with the waiter later, the spiciness behind the White Chocolate Mousse was attributed to the type of Chocolate used (see picture below).



The culprits


And just for the record, the Marzipan sauce didn't taste like Marzipan. Instead, it had an almond taste to it.



The bill


We chalked up a bill of $173.66 for a filling dinner for 6 pax. The general consensus is that its genuinely value for money. The food is of above average quality and service is great and the waiters actually know what they are talking about with regard to the food. The place could do with bigger tables(mentioned earlier) and a slightly better ventilation system because the open concept kitchen isn't seperated by a glass panel. Also, it would be nice if the food adopted a lower salt policy. That aside, a revisit is on the cards.



Final Verdict:
Ambience:7/10
Service:8/10
Food:7.5/10
Value for money:7/10

Overall:7.375/10

Address: 2-4 Bukit Pasoh Road

Contact: 62210634

Comments: Their menu can be downloaded off their website @ www.magmatc.com