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European Eats

European Eats

Featuring Firebake - Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant, Spago by Wolfgang Puck, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, CURATE, Iggy's, LeVeL 33, Maggie Joan's, SKIRT, Saint Pierre, OLA Cocina del Mar
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua
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H O S T E D
I find the new menu at the elegant Preludio to bounce, propelled by sweetness surfacing in a few of the courses, starting with the snack of chicken liver macaron with wild cherries and black truffle.
From the world’s biggest lagoon comes the next delicacy, the Obsiblue prawn. Having been vacuumed and steamed for a “marbled” effect, it is almost unrecognisable as a crustacean but tastes really good with chorizo and hazelnuts.
Earning my vote for the most fun dishes are the “Deadliest Catch”, a crab salad decked out in grilled piquillo peppers, avocado mousse, coconut jelly and corn sorbet, and “Make It Pop”, the coffee-glazed foie gras terrine that dares to play dress-up with passionfruit spheres, smoked olive oil powder, popping candy and a splash of @rachelletherabbit mead.
Following that, a course I liked a lot, the lightly-cooked Nantucket scallop on velvety salted corn cream inked with black garlic sauce.
Two of the three savoury courses which arrive after this were familiar to me as they have been on the menu since Preludio opened. Executive Chef Fernando explained that the “La Cortina” - butternut squash and amaretto agnolotti topped with Parmesan sauce, almond snow and 25-year-aged balsamic vinegar, and “Pata Negra” - the glazed Iberico pork with apple and white carrot purée, datterini tomatoes and mizuna, have become so popular he has kept them on the menu. Daring but enjoyable is how I would describe “Aneo”, the course presented between those two. Served in a prawn broth with white chocolate drops, the Patagonian toothfish has “scales” of thinly shaved almonds and macadamia.
The menu ends off with two divine creations by Pastry Chef Elena. First, an exquisite take on the “Strawberry Milkshake”. I love the crisp white chocolate layered with strawberry and vanilla, accompanied by milk ice-cream. The second is “Alba” - a sublime combo of stout cake, cherries, hazelnut, plum, black winter truffle and hazelnut ice-cream.
As lovely as the alcohol-pairing is (expect the likes of natural wines, sake and Spanish port), teetotallers can have a field day too as the non-alcoholic pairing is fueled with marvelous concoctions such as sparkling yuzu with ginger, pineapple kombucha and an earl grey-coffee with muddled cherries, preserved lemon and pop rocks.

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H O S T E D
French Master Chef Roland Durand was in Singapore to share his style of classic French bistronomy for 3 nights - 18th to 20th June, at @ginettsingapore. At the dinner organised for the media, we had the opportunity to taste all of the courses he had created for the already-sold-out event (I’m pretty sure his fame as the chef-patron of Michelin-starred Le Passiflore in Paris may have something to do with that).
The dishes displayed above (swipe for the others) were the ones I liked most. The first two are his desserts, the “Sablé Aux Fraises Et À La Rhubarbe” – a crisp buttery biscuit base embellished with strawberry, rhubarb and orange coulis; the second, the “Le Merveilleux Riz Au Lait A L’angelique De Roland Durand” – Chef Durand’s signature rice pudding whipped up with angelica and dressed with almond milk and pumpkin marmalade. Although I was feeling full and sleepy by this point in the meal, I couldn’t help but scrape my plates clean.
What I enjoyed a lot as well was one of Chef Durand’s appetisers, the “Ravioles D’escargots” which featured #escargot wrapped in fine, handmade pasta and cooked in a delectable broth of sweet garlic and fresh herbs.

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H O S T E D
Housed in an old black and white bungalow amidst the lush greenery of Rochester Park is a microbrewery that has its roots in Thailand and Russia. This very spacious joint (according to owner Sergei, it is suitable for events as their venue can seat up to 500 people) serves a large variety of beer brewed right on their premises by Angelo. It was fascinating to hear him share so passionately about the science and the process when we visited last night.
To pair with the beer, the food items I enjoyed the most were the Chicken Wings (they‘re very crunchy and surprisingly spicy) and the Crispy German Pork Knuckle. Both, a match made in heaven with beer. Shown above is the latter, a massive serving suitable for 2 to 4 people depending on how hungry everyone is, was really very good. Having been brined for seven days, the meat tasted tender, moist and very flavourful through and through. But the extremely crunchy skin was what I loved most. It was addictively salty but stopped short of being too much. The sauerkraut and mashed potato served alongside were faultless too.

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H O S T E D
I was really happy to see @bibikgourmand include “Basque Kitchen by Aitor” in her “14 Hottest New Restaurants” article for Eater.com.
Having enjoyed Chef Aitor’s cooking since his days at one Michelin starred Iggy’s and subsequently, here at his own restaurant, I love how he has opened my eyes and appetite for Basque cuisine interpreted in his modern style. With the new year, he is really bringing it on by introducing a new menu.
I reckon the best way to experience his vision for 2019 is to order the tasting menu (5-course lunch: $98++, 8-course dinner: $135++). There will be a few lovingly prepared, exquisite snacks to kick off your meal after which a parade of more substantial, delectable courses will come your way, with fresh seafood, seasonal produce and Basque specialties, such as the Kokotxas or hake fish chins, the focus.
Our hosted lunch was curated by Chef Aitor. To say he fed us well would be quite an understatement because there was a Turbot and a Txuleta (T-bone steak), both huge, for the three of us to share as well. These were cooked on Chef’s new charcoal grill, then served in completely different ways. While the steak was lavished in a demi glace sauce then buried in very finely grated black truffle, the fish was served simply in a sauce made with garlic and its own collagen-rich skin. Both were outstanding. Do note the Turbot isn’t officially launched yet but should be available later this month. It will also require about a week’s advance notice due to the limited supply.
Pastry Chef Ange may have created a pretty and pleasantly enjoyable “Cherries and Chocolate” with pickled cherries, cherry coconut foam and chocolate mousse. But in all honesty, I was drawn more to the rustic Basque-inspired dessert of goat’s milk curd with Australian honeycomb and honey. Basic it may sound but incredibly delicious it certainly was.

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H O S T E D
What’s better than a big, juicy piece of charcoal-grilled steak?
One that has a demi-glacé poured over it followed by oodles and oodles of finely shaved black truffle.
Carnivores will find the sight of the medium-rare pink of this “Txuleta” (it is pronounced as “chu-let-ah” and means T-bone in the Basque language) contrasted with the dark glossy sauce and matte shagginess of the truffle, most bewitching.
Chef-owner Aitor reckons one serving of this bone-in beef can feed 3 to 4 people, depending on what else has been ordered and how hungry everyone is. So now you have another option for when the need for meat hits.

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H O S T E D
Chef-owner Aitor showed us what he can do with his new toy. The huge charcoal grill’s ferocious heat does wonders in bringing out the best in quality ingredients, like this massive turbot which was one of the courses served today. The first bits to crackle and pop were the fins but by the time the fish was deemed ready, its entire skin was really quite crisp.
After Chef removed it from the wire holder, he poured on a viscous sauce, made using the collagen-rich fish skin and garlic, then deftly sectioned the #turbot up for us to enjoy.
Sounds simple but with something so naturally flavourful, there‘s no need for anything else.

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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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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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