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European Eats

European Eats

Featuring Firebake - Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant, Spago by Wolfgang Puck, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, Iggy's, CURATE, LeVeL 33, Maggie Joan's, SKIRT, Saint Pierre, House of MU
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua
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H O S T E D
All the desserts at the spanking new @restaurant.table65 seem to have a certain wow factor.
Led by Pastry Chef Jurgis (Instagram: @herbs.n.spices) who has worked with owner-chef Richard (@rvanoostenbrugge) for years in Amsterdam, the team dazzled us during the media tasting with not one but three desserts. One of them is this “Chocolate Balloon” which opens up neatly like a flower blooming, once the hot chocolate is poured over it.
Lest you think it is purely eye candy (pun intended), let me assure you the beauty here is more than skin deep. The dark chocolate which forms the balloon, is elegance on the palate, and happens to pair exceedingly well with the savoury elements of miso and ice-cream hidden inside.

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This grows on you. What started out in my mind as a straightforward duck dish developed into something I actually slowed down my eating to better appreciate its complex nuances.
Head Chef Jeremy Gillon has an obsession with herbs, something I’ve known since meeting him at the now-defunct restaurant Audace, and that is what elevates the flavours here. He presents the duck—juicy and flavourful in itself—with crumble made from framboise leaf, roasted hazelnuts, French chard and dots of a sweetish sauce. When you get all of that in a single bite, the blended taste is pretty marvellous. More so when a bit of the crispy, fatty duck skin joins in.
Easily the course I liked best from lunch yesterday.

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H O S T E D
It may not be as pretty as the “picnic” of CURATE’s Spring Summer Menu but in terms of taste, I must say I enjoyed this Winter spread even more.
Both the German pretzel rolls and sourdough were made in-house with the latter using a starter derived from the cabbage fermented for sauerkraut. These were accompanied by three spreads: an excellent sunflower butter (it’s got a nuttiness that I love), a “Schmaltz” (bacon) spread and a slightly pungent butter that’s been cream-cultured for three years.
There was also a board arranged with pink slices of homemade Black Forest ham and some sticks of chewy jerky that came all the way from Germany (“only for very special friends” said Chef). We were honoured.

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H O S T E D
With each new seasonal menu at CURATE, Chef Benjamin Halat incorporates an element of his memories of his younger life in Germany, and it tends to be presented in the most enthralling way at the beginning of the meal. I especially like how he ensures it is an immersive and fun experience for diners.
The Winter Menu I had the pleasure of indulging in recently with my fellow diners Tim and Kenneth, saw us ushered into the restaurant’s wine cellar. While we were seated in the chilly space surrounded by a very impressive wine collection, Chef Benjamin prepared a traditional warm German mulled wine right in front of us. Flavoured with fruit juices, he infused the red wine with spices such as star anise, cinnamon, orange peel and lemon zest. When I cradled the glass to sip, the aroma of the mulled wine immediately made me think of Christmas. It felt really nice to feel its warmth linger within as I walked back to our table after.
Naturally, something like this required a worthy nibble and I was not disappointed. The mini quiche of “Blutwurst” (German for “blood sausage”) and Mimolette (a French orange-coloured cheese) was fantastic. Served warm, it had a very thin buttery crust and was filled with a scrumptiously rich, savoury creaminess. The tiny cubes of “Blutwurst” were a little chewy while bits of pickled white grape and leek gave a hint of sweet. One was definitely not enough! But then again, we still had many courses to come.

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My friend and I had a very enjoyable dinner here two nights ago. We had walked in not knowing what we‘d be eating but had walked out completely satisfied.
The concept by Austrian Chef and Owner Stephan Zoisl is essentially degustation or as the Japanese call it: omakase, but with a bit of a tease because we got to see the list of 28 ingredients (a curation of the best of the season for that day) he, Chef Lorenz Raich and team would draw from to create our meal.
We picked the 6-course option and every time a dish was served by one of the chefs, that beautifully-plated item was carefully explained to us in great detail. I was too busy chatting with my friend so I didn’t take notes, but one thing’s for sure - all the food was executed impeccably in the restaurant’s distinctive modern European style.
Our first three courses featured seafood starting with a cured mackerel accessorised by tiny chanterelle mushrooms and burrata, followed by a sweet prawn with butternut pumpkin and crispy rice crackers, then finally, the last Alaskan halibut of the season appeared in a milky foamy sauce. This third course triggered instant exclamations of delight as we both found its flavours sumptuous yet superbly comforting. The next dish to arrive was another winner - Duroc pork done in three ways. We were impressed by the amazingly delicious results from the different preparation styles. Wagyu beef starred in our fifth course, and again, the richness of the flavour knew no bounds thanks to the skillful cooking of the chefs. The sauces in all of these were also perfect complements.
For pre-dessert, we were given a refreshing popsicle of mango sorbet coated in white chocolate and dehydrated raspberries to nibble on. The sixth and last course was a rum and raisin ice-cream coated in sabayon (if I recall correctly) accompanied by cubes of almond cake and crisp tuille - a lovely and not-too-heavy finale.

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H O S T E D
Taking the cue from their high-in-the-sky location, “elevation" is the name of the game at Level 33. And elevated quality is what they strive to deliver in terms of the craft beers they produce using state-of-the art equipment designed and made by a Viennese family-run company, as well as the food they serve. Quite the ideal pairing with spectacular views, don’t you agree?
Developed by Executive Chef ArChan Chan (she joined the company in May this year) and Chef de Cuisine Maksym Chukanov, the almost completely new food menu offers diverse options to cater to all sorts of dietary preferences. Many of these incorporate ingredients taken from the different stages of the beer-making process, thereby creating cuisine that is unique to the “World’s Highest Urban Microbrewery”.
Although I’m not a beer-drinker per se, I couldn’t resist Level33’s Beer Tasting Paddle ($23.33++) that allowed me to savour 100ml each of their six different craft beers. My faves were the Blonde Lager and the Stout that, funnily enough, sat at opposite ends of the spectrum in flavour profiles. Coincidently, the Stout resurfaced as a glaze for the Quail ($27++), one of the dishes most pleasing to my palate, while the Blonde Lager was used in an appetiser - to cure the Kingfish Sashimi ($26++) and pickle the accompanying cucumber as well.
The other courses I enjoyed were the tender, flavourful Indian Pale Ale-marinated Iberico pork intercostal, presented in a shredded and pressed form with clams and apple ($37++), and the vegetarian Truffle Ravioli with Gruyere, Walnut that had a surprising lovely sweetness from Nashi Pear ($32++).
Naturally both desserts showcased craft beer elements too. The Layered Honey Cake ($15++), an inspired take by Chef Maksym on a Russian classic, was extra scrumptious eaten with the beer-aerated honeycomb candy, sour cream ice-cream and kumquats. What looked like chocolate profiteroles was actually housemade Malt & Stout Parfait sandwiched between choux puffs coated in oat and coffee crumble. Unexpected and adventurous.

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I have been very much into Chef Aitor’s food ever since I encountered it at the one Michelin starred restaurant he previously headed. So it was with great excitement that I made a reservation at “Basque Kitchen by Aitor” the moment I read @bibikgourmand‘s post about this opening.
It was great to have my foodie friend @szeliang888 join me for lunch and without hesitation, we zeroed in on the Tasting Menu.
What ensued was a series of soulful Basque dishes reinterpreted by Chef Aitor’s modern vision that appeared simple but were clearly, sophisticated. Here is what we had...
Two snacks to warm us up - cured anchovies from the Bay of Biscay with tomato and olive oil “caviar”, plus crunchy croquette with Jambon de Bayon.
Then came housemade sourdough with espelette pepper butter.
This was followed by a gorgeous ruby-coloured cherry and watermelon gazpacho which Chef proceeded to shower with a flurry of cottage cheese snow.
Next, his innovative take on the classic Basque dish of “Marmitako”, a stew made with fish and potatoes. Tradition took a back seat with brined bonito replacing the cooked fish, giving extra definition to an otherwise “comfort food” profile.
I wasn’t wrong when I felt there was something familiar about the oxtail risotto with truffle and foie gras that came after. Chef confirmed it’s basically the same pasta he use to serve but done with rice here. Topped with a confit egg yolk, it’s as delicious as ever.
Course number five was a large, fresh piece of wild-caught Black Grouper plated with tiny, ridiculously sweet peas and a piquilla pepper sauce. I loved this.
Szeliang had to literally, take a moment for himself when the leek broth was brought forth. Its basic looks belied the astonishing complexity from a dashi of smoked leeks. Hence his reaction.
The final savoury item was a perfectly done, juicy piece of Australian 200days grain-fed prime rib. There’s no need for much else with a meat like that, so a silky-smooth mash sufficed.
Our lunch ended with a delectable dessert of sweet strawberries accompanied by a creamy milk and vanilla ice-cream.
At $115++, I think this is really worth it. And if you can secure a booking before 24th October 2018, the ongoing 50% discount they have till then, elevates it to a steal. A $45++ Set Menu++ is also available if something lighter is preferred.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
This month (September) is the restaurant’s 3rd anniversary and I am embarrassed to admit today’s visit was a first for me. But I now see why it’s beloved by many.
Group Executive Chef Seumas Smith who is below thirty years of age, has an impressive resume from having started work in kitchens at the age of sixteen. He hails from Scotland’s Isle of Mey, and has cleverly tapped into his roots, working with small producers there to incorporate unique elements in his food.
Speaking of which, for me, the show-stealers at the tasting I attended, were the vegetable-centred dishes. They‘re part of “Maggie Joan’s” new menu and were all gorgeous to behold and fabulously delicious.
Even if you’re not by nature a greens-lover, you ought not to skip the following:
1) The beetroot done two ways - barbecued in the INKA charcoal oven and pickled in a mix of red wine, red wine vinegar, sugar for 2 days. They were plated with smoked creme fraiche over hickory wood chips, candied walnuts and upland cress.
2) The refreshing gazpacho of green French tomatoes finished with deep-fried artichokes and goat’s curd from Neal’s Yard Dairy in London.
3) The unbelievably beautiful carrots that were first confit in butter before being grilled in the INKA charcoal oven then tossed in brown butter, black sesame seeds, parsley and honey.
4) The salad of Japanese cucumber and English sugar snap peas dressed in a white miso sesame.

With such strong non-meat dishes, it’s great to see “Maggie Joan’s” offers a vegetarian Chef’s Selection Menu. It can also be tweaked to suit vegans.

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H O S T E D
I am always filled with immense joy when a restaurant I introduce to friends and family is extremely well received. Even more so when these folks happen to be genuine foodies whose taste I trust. Thus, when I heard Burpplers @JuliusLim @JonathanWong, @KennethLee @MurielA-vDH @DexNeo, my god-daughter and her boyfriend marvel and praise each dish presented by Chef Benjamin Halat and his team at our dinner last Saturday, it made me beam with pleasure.
And I have to say, even though I’ve enjoyed several memorable meals at CURATE over the past year (thanks to Burpple Tastemaker @blueskiescottonclouds who took me there for the first time on my birthday in 2017), this latest 8-course seasonal menu was on a completely different level.
Every creation placed in front of us was stunning in appearance and spectacular in taste. All, irrevocable proof of the remarkable evolution of Chef Benjamin’s talent and skills. There’s a finesse that has fruited since I was last there, and a sleek sophistication that wasn’t present at the beginning. They are evident in the facets of his innovative cuisine inspired by his German heritage and personal stories.
If you wish to try the dishes shown in my video, you will have to make your reservation soon as the season is changing. Very soon, it will have to make way for the Autumn/Winter menu.

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H O S T E D
This dish was truly take-me-to-heaven magnificent because rarely do you come across sweetbread in Singapore and there it was, prepared to swoon-worthy tastiness.
I love how the bodacious creaminess of the glands was held in check with a crisp finish. And providing a clever counterpoint to all that cholesterol-laden richness, a mildly acidic red wine jus.
So damn good. A must-order if you like the less conventional parts of an animal.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
Got to be honest, based on appearance and concept alone - it is a lifestyle furniture store selling wooden timber furniture made in Myanmar, and a restaurant, as well as a bar that also retails alcohol (am I the only one who feels slightly apprehensive about multi-concept places?), I wasn’t expecting the food here to taste as good as it did.
Although “House of MU” has been operating since April, they have only done their soft launch about a month ago. This was because they wanted to perfect the menu. Designed by Chef Tyrell Joon who used to work at Michelin starred restaurants such as Iggy’s and Le Amis, it is not a complicated one. In fact, it looks quite basic but when you taste the food, the fine dining quality is ever present, both in technique and taste. So everything we were served, tasted very good. Shown above are four of the six items we ate during the hosted lunch.
In a sea of ubiquitous soups out there, the butternut squash cream, the soup of the day ($9++), was outstanding. I was told Chef insists on using only the best ingredients and it was obvious from my first sip. He even chooses to serve it with imported Spanish crystal bread.
The French scallops that followed, were pan-seared and plated with a creamy cauliflower purée and strips of refreshing green apple ($19++). I think it was another well-received dish by our whole table.
For the carbs, I found it smart that they offer a format that allows customers to mix and match to their own preference.
It begins with picking either risotto, spagetti or linguini ($14++ inclusive of garden greens). Next, the base sauce (add $6++ for this) of which the choices available are tomato, aglio olio, black ink or truffle cream. The last (optional) step is to top on ingredients that include either mixed vegetables, chicken breast or clams/vongole for an extra $5++. There’s crayfish or bacon too and these cost $6++ more.
Based on the above price structure, the linguine aglio olio with clams we tried (I loved it for the rich umami taste of clams) was $25++. And the risotto cooked in truffle cream with two pieces of crayfish cost $26++. It was just as delicious.

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That’s cocktail hour right there, condensed into a quivering sphere.
With careful lifting, the caipirinha encased in the thinnest transparent skin and the slightly bitter, peppery shiso leaf upon which it rested, made it to my mouth safely (I am quite the klutz so it’s no mean feat). When the lightest pressure was applied, an explosion took place, flooding my mouth instantly in the cool, refreshing alcoholic liquid. I love how chewing the shiso leaf at the same time made this familiar drink so much more interesting.

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Can't cook to save my life but boy, can I eat! 😄 (I pay for all my meals unless otherwise stated)

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