Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bull & Butcher - An Invite

A new steakhouse, Bull & Butcher, recently opened up in town and I had the opportunity to drop by to sample a couple of its signature dishes, courtesy of the restaurant. The eatery attempts to differentiate itself from the other steakhouses by offering diners a view of the butchers in the kitchen (dressed in traditional chain mail aprons, no less) slicing up their choice of meat. And in case you are wondering if it is in the same league as the big boys (Morton's, Ruth Chris etc), no it definitely isn't. Price wise at least.

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Interior & Menu

Occupying a rather prominent unit just next to the main entrance of Plaza Singapura along Orchard Road, Bull & Butcher doesn't come across as very big but there is an outdoor alfresco area if you prefer Singapore's humidity and heat (not to mention cigarette smoke). Inside, tables are spaced decently apart which makes for relaxing conversation but the overall design isn't much to rave about - very much like your typical western restaurant.

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Prawn Cocktail ($14)

Dinner kick started with a prawn cocktail, which featured huge, crunchy prawns amidst an avalanche of thousand island sauce. Decent.

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Roast Whole Garlic ($8)

This was actually a side and although I do like garlic, I don't quite relish the experience of eating it whole with skin and all. But that's just a personal preference.

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Crab Cake, Sundried Tomato Sauce ($16)

The crab cake had a generous amount of crab meat but the breaded coating probably wasn't the best way to encapsulate the crab meat due to the absorption of oil. And the sundried tomato sauce failed to capture the intense burst of tangy, mildly sweet flavour that I had hoped for. Instead, it had a mild curry tinge to it for an Asian slant. Fusion maybe? Personally I still prefer the renditions from Morton's and Ruth's Chris.

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Australian Wagyu Bolognaise Pasta ($26)

I'm of the humble opinion that good beef should never be minced because it would affect the texture and taste of the beef. And this pasta dish wasn't about to change my mind. Minced beef coupled with a rather mild tomato based sauce and less than al dente tagliatelle made for an average, carbohydrate laden dish.

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Braised Australian Wagyu Beef Cheek ($38)

Melt in the mouth tender beef cheek sitting on a bed of charmingly smooth mashed potato and a stock that's not overwhelmingly sweet - what's not to like? Well maybe the price to portion ratio. But that aside, this was easily one of the best dishes of the evening in my humble opinion.

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Petit Tender

The petit tender or "beef shoulder tender" is a small centre cut beef tenderloin which lies below the flat iron steak and is known to be of similar quality to the filet mignon. This cut isn't used much as it apparently requires a certain level of skill to extract. And it is currently exclusive to Bull & Butcher (off the menu though!).

First looks, the medallion shaped piece of meat was of reasonable thickness and done up medium rare. Natural flavours were drool worthy and accentuated through the use of a little salt seasoning. The only gripe I had was that the meat came across as a tad too dry for my liking.

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Pear and Chocolate Crumble, Vanilla Ice Cream ($12)

And for desserts, pear and chocolate crumble served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The crust lacked the oven baked taste whilst the chocolate came across as a little underwhelming. But on the bright side, I loved the little wayward chunks of crumble.

Thanks to Bull & Butcher for the invite!


Final Verdict:
Ambience: 7/10
Service: NA
Food: 6.5/10 (7/10 for the beef cheek & petit tender)
Value for money: NA
Overall: 6.75/10

Address: #01-33/35 Plaza Singapura

Contact: 6338 3820

Opening Hours:

1130am - 10pm (Sun to Thurs)

1130am - 11pm (Fri, Sat & PH eve)

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Li Bai Part III - An Invite

Recently attended an invite hosted by the charming PR folks of Sheraton Towers Singapore @ Li Bai, the well regarded Chinese restaurant of the hotel.

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The Table Setting

The idea behind this invite was to showcase their mooncakes for the upcoming Mid Autumn Festival (中秋节) on September 19, 2013. And in case you have the same reservations as me about solely eating mooncakes for dinner, no, dinner was an exorbitant 6 course meal ending off with the delectable, lunar inspired dessert. 

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Deluxe Combination

We started off with the deluxe combination, a platter comprising a lone scallop topped with a black truffle mixture as well as a crab claw coated in batter and deep fried. The scallop was quite a size but a little too soft for my liking. Flavours were wonderful though, especially with the fragrance and earthy taste of the truffle. I couldn't quite say the same for the crab claw though, which came across as mildly spicy but overly salty. Waste of good crab if you ask me as the natural crab flavours were totally overwhelmed.

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Braised Thick Soup of Bird's Nest with Homemade "Pi Pa" Beancurd

I seldom see bird's nest being used in soups and honestly, it wasn't a game changer for me. The soup was of the right consistency and flavourful with plentiful crab meat and bird's nest, with the latter providing a unique gelatin spin. Pretty good! However, I did find the soup a tad too salty though.

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Baked Fillet of "Kurobuta" in Capsicum

Sitting atop a bundle of crunchy and delicious leek, the kurobuta pork was tender and savoury with a mild hint of capsicum towards the end. Nice!

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Braised Assorted Vegetables with Bird's Nest

For the obligatory greens dish, the braised assorted vegetables with bird's nest was nicely presented with the likes of luffa, broccoli etc but I didn't quite make out the bird's nest, which was a pity, really. I am of the humble opinion that bird's nest should remain as dessert instead of trying to infuse them into savoury dishes.

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Crispy Noodles Rolled with Lobster

I do like crispy noodles (生面) but in moderate quantities. And the noodles in this case were rather excessive to the point of almost overwhelming the taste of the lobster. But all in all still a great dish with fantastic presentation. Just be careful not to get your eyes poked by the feelers whilst attempting to savour this dish.

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Snow Skin Mooncake

And of course, rounding up the meal were bite sized snow skin mooncakes. I am definitely not a mooncake person but I did find myself enjoying them as the flavours were surprisingly light on the palate without being too overladen with sugar. Definitely another option for me to mull over as a gift to family and friends this Mid Autumn Festival.

Thanks to Sheraton Towers Singapore for the invite!


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

Address: B1 Sheraton Towers Hotel

Contact: 6839 5623

Opening Hours:

Monday to Saturday: Lunch, 11.30am to 2.30pm

Monday to Sunday: Dinner, 6.30pm to 10.30pm

Sunday: Yum Cha, 10.30am to 2.30pm

Website: http://www.sheratonsingapore.com/li-bai

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bistro Du Vin


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Popped by Bistro Du Vin's original outlet one sunny weekday afternoon for lunch with a couple of my colleagues. Promising to serve up honest to goodness classical French food, the restaurant is one of the many brand names under the Les Amis umbrella.

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Located on the 2nd floor of Shaw Centre, Bistro Du Vin plays neighbour to a Vietnamese Restaurant and of course it's upmarket sibling, Les Amis. The interior is reminiscent of a typical French brasserie, from the red walls right down to the tiled floor. However, tables are spaced a little too close for comfort which makes normal conversations a tad difficult. Proper sound proofing is also lacking and the entire place sounds like a market when running at full capacity.

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Complimentary Bread

The bread was a simple and simple crusty baguette served with orange butter. Pretty nice and a great way to stave off the hunger pangs.

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White Asparagus Velouté

I honestly didn't quite take to the white asparagus veloute, which was a little too runny for my liking. There was also a bitter aftertaste to it - something which I certainly didn't appreciate.

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Char Grilled Australian Angus Ribeye

This required a top up of $10++ to the price of the set lunch but it was well worth it in my humble opinion. Done up medium as per my request, the meat was flavourful and juicy with hints of smokiness from the char grilling. The accompanying truffle mash (+ $3++) was smooth and fragrant as well and the truffle honestly helped elevate what would have been a boring, bland side of mash. 

However, in a subsequent visit, I had the exact same thing and it was still good, just that the salt content was a little too high for my liking.

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Walnut Tart

And for desserts I had a pretty good walnut tart - solid tart base with walnuts set amidst rich chocolate and caramel filling. Between this and the Pink Tiramisu which I had on my subsequent visit, I honestly preferred this (though the pink tiramisu was something different). Served up with a scoop of real vanilla bean ice cream.  

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Bill

The standard lunch set is a reasonable $30++ but it is the top ups that really "upsize" the bill. Still, food quality is pretty decent and I especially like their steaks. Service is rather clinical and lacks warmth though - an area that the restaurant might want to look into.


Final Verdict:
Ambience: 6.5/10 (noisy!)
Service: 6.5/10 (efficient but lacks warmth)
Food: 7/10 (7.5/10 for the steak)
Value for money:7/10
Overall: 6.75/10

Address: 1 Scotts Road, #02-12, Shaw Centre

Contact: 6733 7763

Opening Hours: 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm, 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm daily

Website: www.lesamis.com.sg/‎

Sunday, July 07, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen V - An Invite

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It has been 3 years since my last visit to California Pizza Kitchen but the kind folks at CPK didn't forget about it and invited me over to try out a couple of their dishes as well as see the new premises.

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Interior & Menu

CPK no longer takes up a dual storey unit at Forum The Shopping Mall. Instead, it has shifted a couple of metres sideways to take up a single storey unit in the same building (It's old premises have apparently been taken up by a Japanese restaurant). The open concept kitchen still remains but seating capacity has been drastically reduced from about 400 pax to roughly 150 pax.

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Mediterranean Focaccia

A great way to start off our meal with the focaccia sporting a light and chewy texture with a faint cheesy aftertaste. Good enough to eat on its own but if you are the sort who needs olive oil to go with your bread, there is the Mediterranean dip (olive oil with herbs) provided.

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Roasted Duck Breast Salad

I'm not usually a salad person but this one did the trick for me. Tons of fresh greens and edamame beans served with crispy wanton skins in a sweet plum sauce dressing and topped with generous slices of roasted duck breast drizzled with hoisin sauce. Sweet, savoury with a tinge of vegetable rawness all at once. Very nice!  Do note that the half portion is big enough for 2 people to share, especially if you are intending to share a main as well. 

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The Original BBQ Chicken

The classic pizza from CPK, on a new improved dough base which apparently is hand stretched every time a pizza order is made aka stretched to order. And personally, I do like the new crust better. Light and airy whilst retaining its chewiness - good for people who love thicker crusts but loathe chomping down on hard, sometimes burnt crusts. Coupled with generous chicken chunks and BBQ sauce, it made for a pleasant pizza experience.

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Red Velvet Cake

I honestly don't see the big hooha behind red velvet cakes in general so while this was pretty decent, I failed to appreciate this red, sweet and moist cake layered with cream cheese.

All in all it was a nice dinner and many thanks to CPK for the invite! I will definitely drop by again!


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

Address: #01-23 Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road

Contact: 6836 0110

Opening Hours: 11:30 AM-11:30 PM daily

Website: http://www.cpkgps.com