Monday, July 30, 2007

Swensens

Had a department lunch at Swensens. As Swensens is rather commonplace nowadays, I shall just do a brief writeup and let the photos do the talking.



Menu and a pseudo artistic shot



Cream of Mushroom Soup and Deep Fried Mushrooms

The soup could do with a little less starch while the mushrooms were a little bland. Couldn't quite taste the mushrooms as the oil taste from the batter was rather overwhelming.



Rodeo wings and Ribeye Steak

The wings were a little too heavy on the sauce which pretty much masked the flavour from the chicken. A pity if you ask me. The ribeye steak was done as per my request - medium rare but came across as a little too chewy for me. I ended up with an aching jaw after that. The accompanying mushroom sauce was just too diluted and sweet to be of any good.



Banana Fudge Ice Cream and White Chocolate Blondie

The banana fudge ice cream was rather smooth and pleasing but the star of the desserts has to be the White Chocolate Blondie. Swensens serves a rather good version of this sizzling pan dessert. But its best eaten sizzling hot and shared amongst a few as it gets you sick really fast. People on a diet or who need to cut down on their sugar intake should stay away from this!

Rating: 6.5/10

Here's some shots of my dinner at Jurong Hilltop Restaurant on the same day.



Cheers!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Western Chow



In recent years, many food outlets claiming to sell restaurant quality western food at coffeeshop prices have sprung up in the heartlands across Singapore. Think Aston's and Botak Jones. Western Chow is the latest contender to have jumped on the bandwagon.



Opened just barely two weeks ago, Western Chow is hidden at the corner of a secluded coffeeshop just off Lorong Ah Soo. The system of ordering is simple. You make your order at the counter, pay up and you will receive an order number (as shown in the picture above). Take the number and sit anywhere you want and you will be served shortly.



Ribeye Steak ($14)

I had my ribeye medium rare and it came looking a shade of red, indicating its over doneness. That aside, the beef was way too soft, hinting of a possible use of tenderizer or "Peng Seh" as my parents term it. The beef had no bite whatsoever and no natural beef taste, masked by the overpowering black pepper sauce. Its really a sheer waste of such a good cut of beef.



Chicken Chop ($5.80)

As with the ribeye steak, the chicken chop was soft and a didn't really hold up to much chewing. I liked the sauce though, BBQ square with a dash of pepper. Having said that, the sauce alone wasn't enough to salvage the chicken chop. A pity really.



Namecard

The 3 of us spent $33.80 in total, which was relatively expensive given the below average quality of food. To give them credit, all of the staff were very friendly. I certainly hope they will do something about it before they start losing customers. Oh and if you do ever patronise, please sit along the fringes of the coffeeshop or risk smelling like cooked food when you are done due to the fumes from the Char Kway Teow stall.

Rating: 6/10

Address: Blk 134 Lorong Ah Soo #01-454

Website: http://www.westernchow.com/

Empire Cafe



Dropped by Empire Cafe with my gf for dinner since we were in the vicinity, didn't fancy spending much on food and Empire Cafe looked pretty crowd free at that time.



Interior

Sitting right at the corner of Raffles Hotel, Empire Cafe plays home to a nostalgic interior styled to mimic a typical 1920s Singapore coffee house, with air conditioning of course. There's the booth seats, marble floors, granite table tops and wooden chairs, all reminiscent of an era long past and forgotten.



Menu



Crab Meat Fried Rice

For $18, the crab meat fried rice was terribly expensive considering its quality and portion size. True, the rice was throughly fried with a noticeable Wok Hei taste but it just wasn't tasty enough, coming across as a little on the bland side. The not too generous ingredients didn't help either. Portion size was just a little bigger than your $3/plate fried rice at the coffeeshop. The only consolation was probably the not too sizeable crab claw that came with the rice.



Bak Kut Teh

I really didn't know whether to cry or to laugh when I had a sip of the Bak Kut Teh soup. It was sweet from all the wolfberries that came with the soup. Maybe its just me, but I don't think Bak Kut Teh is supposed to be cooked with wolfberries, is it? At least the ones I've tried so far aren't. Soup aside, the meat was fibrous yet tender and quite a size to boot. All in all, I wouldn't say that this was a bad dish, just that it was different. For me, I didn't like it one bit.



Durian Chendol

What can I say? This dish was as common as it gets. Probably the only up side was the finely shaved ice, which then again can be found in many other places that sell this dish for half to a third of the price.


Bill

Can you fathom paying close to $63 for such a meal with 2 glasses of free flow lime juice? I honestly can't and the experience still seems rather surreal as I write this entry. So much for wanting to cut down on our expenditure for the evening. Strangely enough, the restaurant was almost full when we were done - a sign of growing affluence?



Likes: A step back in time decor
Dislikes: Average food, pricey

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:5.5/10

Overall:6.25/10

Address: Raffles Hotel Arcade first floor

Contact: 6412 1101

Opening Hours: 11:00 am to 11:00 pm daily

Website: http://singapore-raffles.raffles.com/z912/restaurant_05.html


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cafe Swiss



Cafe Swiss - a not too recent addition to the Swissotel family and specialising in traditional Swiss and European Cuisine. Honestly, I have but a vague idea of what constitutes Swiss cuisine. My idea of Swiss food goes as far as Cheese Fondue. Its shameful really, considering that I had a Swiss buddy in school while I was pursuing my college education.




Far from the maddening crowd, in a private space with a soaring ceiling on the second level of Raffles City, Cafe Swiss provides the perfect place to have that idyllic dinner as crowds are scarce and the ambience is one of contemporary elegance infused with soothing comfort.



Complimentary Bread

The de facto opening dish - complimentary bread. Although Cafe Swiss serves up various varieties of bread in a neat napkin wrapped basket, none of them impressed me at all. Not to mention they weren't the least bit warm as well. So much for the purposeful napkin.



Veal Emince Zurichoise - Sliced veal and button mushroom on morel cream sauce with roesti potato

Interestingly, I never had veal done this way thus this dish proved to be an eye opener for me. Not that it tasted out of this world though. The veal was done medium well with the button mushrooms wedged between the rolled up veal. All of which was served on a bed of rice (Risotto? Sure tasted like it) with the morel(type of mushroom) cream sauce. Honestly, the veal was a tad too salty for my liking but I do like the texture and the flavour of the veal and this dish as a whole especially with the infusion of the cream sauce. Look out for the small portions though.



Papet Vaudois - Smoked pork sausage on leek and potato stew

Firstly, the sausage didn't taste smoked to me. Second, it lacked the exploding juices effect when popped into the mouth. However, having said that, it was nice and flavourful but could have been better. A plus point was its huge size.



Carrot Cake

Ignorant me has never eaten carrot cake before (Not chye tao kway!) so we got this to try. First looks didn't impress me much as the cake looked unevenly sliced with carrots protruding out from the sides. Taste wise was decent, with the sugar top not too sweet and the cake tasty from the walnuts, almonds and carrots within. However, it was a little too dry, which is a bummer really. And in case you are wondering, the cute little carrot you see on top of the cake can be eaten. But be prepared for a sugar rush.



Bill (after $50 discount voucher)

I would like to think that through this meal, I have learnt what Swiss cuisine is all about. Unfortunately I'm none the wiser even after spending about $70 for 2 pax (before discount). Food quality is decent and I will probably be back to try other stuff especially since I renewed my Feed at Raffles card.



Likes: Above average comfort food, Nice place to have dinner
Dislikes: Small portions, a little pricey

Final Verdict:

Ambience:7.5/10
Service:7.5/10
Food:7/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:7/10

Address: Level 2, SwissĂ´tel The Stamford

Contact: 6431 6156

Opening Hours: 12:00 noon to 10:30 pm daily. Breakfast - 6:00 am to 11:00 am daily

Website: http://singapore-plaza.raffles.com/z882/restaurants_10.html


Monday, July 23, 2007

Le Cafe Confectionery & Pastry



Cafe Le Pastry has been in existence for over 50 years and my mum occasionally buys a box or two of its Pineapple tarts home because I'm quite crazy over it.



Located at a nondescript shophouse just next to a Chicken Rice stall, it lies near the junction of Middle Road and Selegie Road, along the outskirts of town. Newspaper cuttings and photographs of celebrities and its specialties adorn the stall front, making for a rather cluttered and comical looking shop. Step through the narrow space and be greeted by a friendly lady who promptly informs you that all of their specialties are sold out and they have to be booked a day in advance. Lucky for me, they were in the midst of making a fresh batch and I only had to wait an hour to get my hands on their famous pineapple tarts and beancurd tarts.



Golf Balls aka Pineapple Tarts ($7 for 10)

My all time favourite Chinese New Year goodie, pineapple tarts! (Ok I like Bak Kwa as well) The balls were quite a size and came stuffed with copious amounts of not too sweet pineapple filling. The pastry itself was fluffy and a little buttery, making for an excellent dessert. To be honest, my auntie makes better pineapple tarts but Le Cafe probably sells one of the best commercially made pineapple tarts in the market.



Bean Curd Tarts ($5.50 for 6)

First looks at the tarts and I was suitably impressed by the homogeneous texture of the filling and the crust as well the aroma emitted. I wasn't too impressed in the taste department though. True, it was smooth and lightly sweet but the pastry wasn't firm enough for one. Also, it didn't taste out of the ordinary. Pretty much like eating Tao Huey, albeit of a slightly denser form. Having said that (I'm rather contradictory am I not?), it is still something new to me and I do like it enough to want to buy it again.

Rating: 7.5/10 (Pineapple Tarts) & 7/10 (Beancurd Tarts)

Address: 264 Middle Road

Contact: 63372417

Opening Hours: Mon - Sat 10.30am to 7pm & Sundays 10.30am - 3pm

Website: http://www.lecafe.com.sg

Comments: They are supposedly well known for their Durian puffs as well. I'll have to try it out one day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Orient Ocean



Had dim sum buffet with my gf and her family members at Orient Ocean at Miramar Hotel. I'm honestly not a fan of buffets, especially dim sum buffets because the quality is rather mediocre.









What we ate

The food wasn't the least bit memorable save for probably the Char Siew slices and the Siew Mai, which were pretty decent. The rest of the stuff was platable, but barely. Worst still was the Xiao Long Bao, which came dry and hard without any juice within. I guess as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Don't expect quality dim sum for the price.



Bill

The dim sum lunch buffet for 9 pax came up to about $160, which isn't expensive, but I can eat better dim sum at Victor's Kitchen for that price. Add the fact that service was generally poor save for one lady who was quite nice and you get a clear no revisit policy, for me at least.



Likes: Its buffet. You eat all you want.
Dislikes: Average food at best, service can be improved.

Final Verdict:

Ambience:6/10
Service:6/10
Food:6/10
Value for money:6/10

Overall:6/10

Address: 3rd floor, Hotel Miramar

Contact: 6736 3677

Opening Hours: Buffet Lunch - 11.30am - 2.30pm, Buffet Dinner - 6.30pm - 10.30pm

Website: http://www.starling.com.sg