Sunday, January 25, 2015

Little Pancakes - Reasonably Priced Pancakes In Thomson

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We were on the lookout for pancake places in Singapore when we chanced upon Little Pancakes, a little shop on the ground level of an apartment along Upper Thomson Road. To be honest, it was the cute pancake pictures that attracted us.

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Interior

The interior isn't big, with capacity maxing out at about 10+ pax or so but it has this cosy cafeish vibe to it; Dark walls, wooden furniture and cute little signs like the one above. Ordering and payment is done at the counter and your food will be served to you. 

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Vanilla Latte

Not a fan of coffee and know next to nothing about it so no comments on this. 

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Big Fan Of All Day Breakfast

What a mouthful! The name of the dish, that is. And it came with ten mini pancakes (side of syrup), scrambled eggs, a couple of mini sausages, potato salad and greens. The pancakes were soft with a little fluffiness and mildly sweet. Being snack sized, there was no issue of the flour being undercooked in the middle but I would have liked the accompanying syrup to be a tad thicker (tasted very similar to the hotcake syrup from McD). As for the scrambled eggs, it also tasted similar to what the golden arches serve albeit a little more moist while the sausages were well, your off the rack sausages. If that's insufficient, the creamy potato salad will fill you up real fast! Pretty decent.

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Chick & Cheesy

This was essentially two layers of cheese sandwiched between two mini pancakes and topped off with mini sausage. Pretty decent and something that might appeal to your inner child. The only difference between this and the All Day Breakfast is the cheese, which comes in lieu of the scrambled eggs. Personal preference really but do note that this is slightly cheaper.

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Bill

Brunch for 3pax with drinks cost just over $41, which is relatively reasonable given that there is no service charge or GST. Food quality is decent (pancakes are above average) and miles better than Batter Fluffy Flaps in my humble opinion. Worth a stop if you are in the area but I wouldn't make a trip specially to eat here.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6.5/10
Service: NA
Food: 7/10
Value for money: 7/10

Overall: 6.83/10

Address: 200 Upper Thomson Road, #01-04, Thomson Imperial Court, Singapore

Contact: 6258 8515

Opening Hours:


Mon: 13:00 - 23:00
Wed - Fri: 13:00 - 23:00
Sat: 11:00 - 23:00
Sun: 11:00 - 21:00
Closed: Tue

Website: https://www.facebook.com/littlepancakess

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Dinner By Heston Blumenthal, London - Innovatively Delightful!

We were torn between The Fat Duck or Dinner, both Michelin starred restaurants by Chef Heston Blumenthal. The former has three stars whilst the latter, two stars. Since Dinner was just across the road from our hotel and we had quite a tight schedule given that we were catching "The Book of Mormon" matinée, we settled for Dinner.

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The Place & Menu

The interior was modernly classy yet down to earth with the stucco ceiling and different shades of wood. We were accorded a corner table overlooking Hyde Park through tall, floor to ceiling windows that allowed plenty of sunlight through. A perk of making reservations way in advance perhaps? There was no set lunch (£38 for 3 course) available on weekends which suited us just fine as the set choices were really limited.

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Complimentary Bread

Chewy with a hardened exterior, the sourdough bread proved quite a good start, especially with the butter. Just remember to save your stomach for the real food!

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Meat Fruit

A dish from the court of the Tudors and a signature of Dinner, the unassuming meat fruit. Dressed up innocuously as a mandarin orange complete with a "branch", the meat fruit features a creamily smooth chicken liver and foie gras parfait encapsulated in a thin, gelatin orange jelly that inbued the foie gras with a nice citrus flavour. Best eaten with the crisp, buttery toast served alongside. Don't eat the leaf though. It's merely for decoration purposes!

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Powdered Duck Breast

The powdered in this dish refers to the brining process that the duck goes through before being cooked sous vide at 63°C for 22 minutes. Sporting a nice pinkish hue, the duck came across as moistly tender with a touch of saltiness and chewiness sans the overwhelming fowl taste. Pretty good! The side of mashed potatoes (additional £4.75) was also excellent; Supremely smooth and creamy with a hint of buttery goodness.

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Roast Iberico Pork Chop

A thick but very well roasted piece of ibérico pork. Tender with a burst of flavourful juices in every bite and a nice layer of fat along the edges for that extra chewiness. Served with smoked cabbage (which provided the necessary greens) and awesomely crispy bits of deep fried dehydrated pork skin, drizzled with Robert (brown mustard) sauce.

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Brown Bread Ice Cream

This was interesting to say the least, with the brown bread ice cream tasting like wholemeal bread albeit of a different texture. Sitting on a base of crusty oatmeal biscuit walled up with crisp croutons, melon cubes and richly smooth salted caramel. I liked how all the flavours (sweet and salty) and texture (creamy and crispy) all came together to sing a joyously appetising melody. 

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Tipsy Cake

Another of Dinner's signature and a popular Victorian dessert, the tipsy cake. Pillowy brioche boasting a light crusty top brushed with a small amount of brandy and the core soaking in a rich sauternes and vanilla bean sauce. Served with grilled pineapples glazed with caramel and smoking syrup for a mildly tart yet smoky contrast to the sweetness of the brioche. I am seriously amazed at how such a seemingly simple brioche dessert can taste so good. Portion sizes aren't big though and I can easily polish off one pan by myself. Note to self to order two servings the next time round.

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Petit Fours

And petit fours to end off. A caraway biscuit paired with a smoothly rich chocolate ganache. The wife was full so I ended up polishing hers off as well.

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Bill

An appetiser, two mains, two desserts and two bottles of water cost us about £143 (≈ SGD 295) which was reasonable by London standards. Food was very good in general but what really stood out were the meat fruit and the tipsy toast. Service was very professional with a touch of warmth and I would rate it just a shade below that of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. We had intended to try out the famous theatrical ice cream cart but unfortunately time wasn't on our side (1.5 hours for lunch is definitely insufficient!). Yet another reason to return!


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 8/10
Food: 8/10 (9/10 for both the tipsy toast and meat fruit)
Value for money: 9/10
Overall: 8.375/10

Address: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA

Contact: +44(0)20 7201 3833

Opening Hours:

Monday - Sunday

Lunch
12:00pm - 2:30pm

Dinner
6:30pm - 10:30pm

Website: http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/

Friday, January 09, 2015

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London - A Much Anticipated Meal

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We were fans of Gordan Ramsay's television shows (Hell's Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares etc) and were bent on dining at his 3 Michelin starred eponymous restaurant (Restaurant Gordan Ramsay or RGR for short) in London.  Unlike Eleven Madison Park or Per Se (both 3 stars as well), reservations open up way in advance so no need for fastest fingers first.

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The Menu

Located along Royal Hospital Road in the leafy Chelsea borough, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay is helmed by Chef Clare Smyth, the only female chef in the UK to head a 3 Michelin starred restaurant. The dining area was small and cozy, with a maximum capacity of 40 diners (and according to the maître d, a staff strength of 43). Tables were spaced adequately far apart and the whole place had a nice hum to it; Sufficient personal space for a leisurely conversation and lunch yet never a dull moment.   

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Amuse Bouche

Starting us off was the amuse bouche of chilled tomato soup with olive oil. Lightly tart yet flavourful. Great start! Served alongside (sorry forgot to take a picture of it) was a complementary slice of onion and bacon bread; Softly delicious but a tad oily.

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Pressed Foie Gras with Green Apples, Turnips, Watercress & Smoked Duck

The pressed foie gras was smooth without coming across as too gamy. Diced green apples provided a nice sweet accompaniment whilst the bits of smoked duck layered on a pleasant tinge of smokiness. Good but not as good as Per Se's rendition in my humble opinion, with the latter's foie gras being smoother and silkier.  

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Ravioli of Lobster, Langoustine & Salmon

A signature of RGR, the ravioli boasted a thin yet firm skin deftly wrapped around a bulging filling of langoustine, salmon and lobster, lightly poached, topped with small spoonful of prized oscietra caviar and served with sorrel (a type of herb) velouté. The resulting concoction? A balanced combination of flavours (natural sweetness from the crustaceans, salty smokiness from the caviar and sharp earthiness from the sorrel velouté). Worthy of the signature tag I must say! 

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Pan Fried Sea Scallops From The Isle Of Skye

This was from the ala carte menu. Huge scallops from Scotland that were beautifully pan fried till golden brown along the edges with sweet apple cubes, cider and celery emulsion and smooth walnut cream. I love how the sweetness from the apples complement the natural sweetness of the scallops and how the walnut cream gives the whole dish a nutty finish. Delicious!

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Isle of Gigha Halibut

Another sourced from Scotland dish, the fresh piece of halibut came topped with finger lime and a piece of king crab, on a bed of cauliflower cous cous and pine nuts and drizzled with a ras el hanout (a middle eastern spice blend) infused broth. Nicely poached with a tinge of sharpness from the finger lime that helped to cut through the fishiness, the fish was unfortunately a tad too salty for my liking. The bed of cauliflower cous cous and pine nuts however, provided a nice crunchy base that helped to alleviate the saltiness issue. Although this was the first time I've encountered ras el hanout, it was honestly quite interesting; Strong floral notes on the onset but dissipated very quickly. A very good dish but a pity about the salt level.

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Suckling Pig

I didn't fancy any of the mains in the Prestige menu hence I swapped it for something on the ala carte menu (at no extra charge), the suckling pig (the wife had the same thing as well); Suckling pig, crispy belly, roasted loin, spiced shoulder sausage and chou farci (stuffed cabbage) with crushed potatoes and spring onions.

The pork belly boasted a crisp, chewy skin with a nice layer of fat beneath and a complementary slice of caramelised apple for a sweetness boost whilst the chou farci's pork cheek was melt in the mouth tender with a splash of alcohol, all wrapped up in a cabbage leaf. Less interesting but equally delightful was the roasted, lean and tender loin served on a bed of crushed potatoes and spring onions. The spiced shoulder sausage was very competent but in no way deftly exciting whilst the ham (gammon hock), cooked sous vide at 63°C for 36 hours, was beautifully glazed with apple juice and honey and remarkably tender. Topped with a mini pineapple ring. 

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Mango, Jasmine & Passion Fruit Soup

Nice and refreshing with the taste of passion fruit predominant and the sweetness of the mango lingering behind. Texture reminded me of a smoothie. Very good!

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Cucumber Sorbet, Salad Burnet, Lemon Verbena & Mint

First you pound the burnet, lemon verbena and mint leaves in a frosty granite bowl before adding the cucumber sorbet in and mixing to form a herbal slush. But it honestly tasted quite good; sweet with a light citrus taste and a mild minty finish. And I say this as someone who doesn't really like herbs.

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Caramalised Tart Tatin Of Apples With Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream (For Two)

I wasn't too enamoured by the dessert on the Prestige menu hence I requested to swap it for the apple tatin (a £10 top up required on my part) so that the missus and I could share this (since it was meant for 2). And it proved to be an excellent choice. Flaky, buttery tart shell finished with a beautiful glaze and topped with lightly tart, caramelised apple chunks. Accompanied by a scoop of not cloyingly sweet Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream that hit the spot.

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Petit Fours

Petit Fours to end off our meal; Strawberry white chocolate truffles, peanut butter chocolate brittle and Turkish delight. I particularly took to the truffles, which featured smooth strawberry sorbet encased in a crisp, white chocolate shell and presented in a metal container with dry ice to keep the truffles cold and for that theatrical effect. Thumbs up to the excellent peanut butter chocolate brittle as well - Savoury yet sweet with a dominant peanut butter taste. I didn't quite take to the quivery and mildly chewy Turkish delight with rose water though as it was a tad too floral for my liking. 

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Bill

I had the Menu Prestige (7 course) while the wife had a 3 course lunch from the ala carte menu. Together with 2 bottles of Evian and a top up of £10+ on my end for the apple tatin, it worked out to be just over £280 (≈ SGD 580). Which of course is a much more reasonable sum to pay as opposed to the likes of Per Se or Eleven Madison Park (although I would still recommend to try EMP once just for the experience). Aside from the small hiccup with the halibut, food was excellent and we really enjoyed our leisurely two hour lunch.

Service was notably polished and friendly, ranking a little below EMP but definitely a notch up from Per Se and narrowly edging out Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

You know what they say about a good meal being able to lift spirits? Well, we left the place with a bulge in our bellies and a spring in our steps that not even the impending downpour could dampen.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Food: 9/10
Value for money: 9/10
Overall: 8.75/10

Address: 68 Royal Hospital Road

Contact: 020 7352 4441

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday

Lunch 12pm – 2:30pm

Dinner 6:30pm – 11pm

Website: http://www.gordonramsay.com/royalhospitalroad/

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The Kitchen

We were invited to a tour of the kitchen after our meal and it was interesting to see the inner workings of a top notch restaurant. A very nice gesture on the part of the restaurant!

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Burger & Lobster, London - Finger Licking Good!

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We were in London for our final leg of our mini round the world tour. And we were tired from the flight in from New York (which ran almost an hour late). Our hotel (The Park Tower Knightsbridge) was full so we couldn't check in till the stipulated time and we were hungry/grumpy. Brussels Airline's food was decent but we were just too tired to really eat (for my case I blame it on the smallish cubby hole at the foot of my seat which deprived me of a good rest). There was a Burger & Lobster outlet just across the street from our hotel so we hastily made our way over for a much needed energy boost.

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The Place

The place is like your typical casual dining restaurant (think Denny's) but with a more industrial theme to it and there is no menu to speak of. As the name suggests, Burger & Lobster only sells burgers and lobsters. 3 varieties to be more specific; Beef burger, lobster (steamed or steamed and grilled) or lobster roll for a fixed £20 + 12.5% service. For more variety, go for the "half and half", where you get half a lobster and half a lobster roll (only applicable if you dine in multiples of two I believe).

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Half & Half

We both opted for our lobster to be steamed first and then grilled, giving rise to sweet and tender meat with a little charring at some spots for that smoky goodness. Best eaten with the deliciously creamy garlic butter sauce that came alongside.

However the undisputed star of the afternoon, the pièce de résistance, the prima donna, the humble lobster roll. Crunchy and sweet lobster meat (without the lobster wrestling) all squeezed onto a beautifully crusty and buttery brioche. Mildy tangy (from the seasoning), sweet and buttery all rolled into one, what's not to like? This edges out Luke's Lobster's lobster rolls by a slim margin in my humble opinion (due largely in part to the brioche).

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Bill

The food was good, the service was friendly and there was no sticker shock waiting for us at the end of our meal. £45 (SGD 92) for 2 pax (tap water is complimentary) is actually rather reasonable by London standards so do try it if you happen to be in London! I know I will return.


Final Verdict:

Ambience: 6.5/10 
Service: 7/10
Food: 7.5/10 (8/10 for the lobster roll)
Value for money: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Address: Fifth Floor Harvey Nichols (various other outlets across London)

Contact: 02072018676

Opening Hours:

Mon-Sat:12pm -10:30pm

Sun:12pm -10pm

Website: http://www.burgerandlobster.com/

ps: To be fair to Brussels Airlines, they provided a wonderful hard product in J (just that the cubby was too small for my liking) as well as decent food and great service. I liked the sleek controller as well though it did seem a little unresponsive at times.

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My Seat & Delicious Smoked Duck Starter

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Sunrise Over UK

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Flying Over Belgium