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European Eats

European Eats

Featuring Firebake - Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant, Spago by Wolfgang Puck, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, Iggy's, CURATE, Saint Pierre, OLA Cocina del Mar, Chef's Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl, Tablescape, FiSK Seafoodbar & Market
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua
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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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Sending a shiver of pleasure through me was this triumvirate of aburi Toriyama Wagyu, Kaluga Queen caviar and an ultra-light rice cracker.
Individually, the beef and caviar were formidable: the former was all melt-in-the-mouth outright sexiness while the latter pulled unsuspecting victims into the depths of creamy oceanic sensuousness. Placed together on the pristine white stage of crunch, I felt their duet drown out my surroundings with one bite. For that brief moment in time, reality fell away as my senses got pulled in. I was so very joyfully lost.
And now you know why it’s my favourite of the three marvelous snacks that preceded our Basque-inspired gastronomic menu proper.

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Slippery and springy, these thick noodles are of a different species altogether. And I mean that quite literally as they are made from the skin of swine. Thus explaining the firm gelatinous texture and porky flavour. Chef Aitor serves his “pork noodles” with a juicy chunk of abalone and kabura (a type of Japanese turnip) in a light but richly flavoured broth of Jamon bone and pepper, poured on only in front of you. Once you give things a stir, a vibrant purple rushes up, colouring the contents of the small bowl. That’s from the dried beetroot lying in wait at the bottom.
I adored this dish. It’s easily one of my top three picks from the Gastronomic Menu at Iggy’s. My only complaint would be there was not enough (but I’m greedy like that 😂😂).
Anyway, if you are keen to try, please note this menu requires a group of at least 6 pax, and a few days’ advance notice as several of its dishes need a lot of preparation time.

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This is Wagyu beef rice elevated to epic status with foie gras and a flurry of green pea snow.
I loved how rich the grains of rice tasted and although I’m not too fond of peas generally, this was an exception as the preparation style was unique, and it complemented the meatiness in the dish.
At the end of the night, quite a number in our group of diners chose this as their favourite from the multi-course Gastronomic Menu Chef Aitor had prepared for us.

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I N V I T E D T A S T I N G
When I walked into the restaurant, I was wondering why was there a patch of grass on every table. The moment Resident Head Chef Benjamin Halat appeared with a picnic basket and started unpacking, it all became clear. I was about to have a picnic! 😄 What a creative and playful way to launch a Spring/Summer menu.
After the picnic mat was spread, he and his team proceeded to bring over numerous snacks and drinks to lay over it. These were all very refined interpretations of his German heritage. That’s how with this opening course he’s named “Brotzeit” (literally it means “bread time” but figuratively, it is where one mixes and matches breads, cheese and cold cuts for a light evening meal), I got to try the following:
1) Sourdough with “obatzda” (cheese spread), “schmaltz” (a bacon fats spread) and butter.
2) “Krabben Broetchen” - the classic North German comfort food of shrimp sandwich was reborn here as a thin pastry shell filled with amaebi prawns and shrimp remoulade.
3) “Leberwurst Brot” - this single bite was composed of foie gras, house-pickled cucumber, dark beer bread chips, cucumber and cucumber flower.
4) “Radi & Rauch” - inspired by summer BBQs, this featured smoked trout with daikon.
5) “Schweinshaxe & Sauerkraut” - a little ball of collagen-rich pork knuckle with sauerkraut.
6) “Almdudler” - based on a famous lemonade made with 52 herbs that many would drink while hiking the alps, the mini bottle of liquid was concocted from scratch in-house.
7) “Radler” - Chef’s take on the popular shandy involved lemon espuma squirted onto a tiny mug of German beer. Very cute and super refreshing.
Besides the obvious photogenic qualities of this first course, I found it really interesting to experience classic German dishes redefined into elegant fine dining bites. It definitely set the tone for the rest of the meal.

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Obviously, the thought of consuming cute, twitchy-nosed fur balls isn’t an issue for me because this plate of rillettes is made with rabbit.
The meat is similar to chicken as it’s pretty fine in texture, and I didn’t encounter any strong smell or gamey taste either.
Based on what I had, it also seems like Atout prefers a light seasoning in their rillettes. So this classic French delicacy is really easy to enjoy. Unless of course, the thought of eating a rabbit is too much for you.
Oh, and do note they charge for bread (it starts at $3++ for a small basket) and butter (50 cents for 2 small swirls) here. So please proceed with caution when asking for those in case you get shocked at the end of your meal.

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
Classics held court at Friday’s hosted dinner at Tablescape, a Modern European restaurant that had its soft opening in the Grand Park Coleman late last year.
What is distinctive about dining here is that your meal is bookended by two trolleys. The first brings you a heavenly assortment of freshly-baked breads and butter. And let me just say, I love that when I chose to have salted butter, the waiter sprinkled salt flakes on the little quenelle of butter they had prepared for me. At the end of a meal, the other trolley is wheeled over. This comes laden with divine temptations in many guises. If you prefer something savoury, a platter of cheeses will be presented instead.
Regardless of your pick of the a la carte or set menus, the two trolleys are packaged within. It goes without saying the latter offers better value with a set lunch going at $32++ and $42++ for two and three courses respectively, and a set dinner at $48++ for three courses and $58++ for four.
Considering Head Chef Robert Chan’s extensive experience, and that dinner options include gems such as a Proscuitto Ham-wrapped Monkfish with Maine Lobster (I enjoyed this the most), a Beef Tartare with Tempura Poached Egg, a Veal Sweetbread in 2-minute Pea Soup with Ceps Mushroom Ragu and Milk-fed Veal stuffed with Foie Gras, Duxelles and Sage, it is apparent this restaurant understands what customers want.

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The first of my four course-lunch last Friday was this gorgeous arrangement of large, thick slices of raw hamachi (yellowtail), artichoke in both cream and chip forms, red radish and a sauce of Italian parsley with olive oil.
Flavours were light yet fulfilling. In every mouthful - crunch, oiliness, crisp freshness and creaminess co-existed.
Starting with such a lovely dish had me full of anticipation for the rest of my meal.

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Here is a European-owned restaurant that does things very differently. There aren’t any signature dishes and they try their utmost to not repeat any dish for returning guests.
The menus only list ingredients that Chef-owner Stephan Zoisl and his lean kitchen team of Chef Lorenz and Pastry Chef Damon be using that day, with the focus on the freshest seasonal produce and ingredients available.
When I had asked Chef Stephan, “Why this approach?”, I was told it’s because he enjoys cooking and finds it exciting to be able to continuously create.
It was cool to watch him and his team in action, and to taste the fruit of their creativity and labour. I noticed my meal commenced with gentler flavours, and with each course, became increasingly stronger - I liked that. Texturally, it was consistent all the way, with plenty of attention paid to ensure a lot happened in that department. A thoroughly enjoyable dining experience for sure.
lf you are at the restaurant for lunch and relish some sun, ask to be seated under the skylight. At the moment though, do note they only serve the midday meal on Fridays (4-course: $58++, Austrian wine by the glass: $12++).
Dinner is available from Tuesdays to Saturdays (4-course: $98++, 6-course: $128++, 8-course: $150++)

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M E D I A T A S T I N G
These pretty pastel pink shrimps from the cold seas around Northern Europe may be petite compared to the ones found in our tropical waters but they sure know how to charm. The chilly temperature of the sea in that region means they grow slower, which supposedly leads to more complexity in flavour.
Served chilled, the shells peel off easily to reveal firm, bouncy flesh within. Because the prawns are cooked then flash frozen in the area where they’re caught, their inherent pristine taste and sweetness are captured and preserved till they’re ready to be eaten.
One of the highlights about dining at FISK is that right after your meal at the Seafood Bar, you can stroll to the Market area to pick up these prawns ($2.80 for 100gms) to take home.

M E D I A T A S T I N G
This is something I would order for myself at FISK. Like a lobster bisque but lighter, it’s one of the standouts for me at yesterday’s tasting.
Due to the foamy texture (which I love by the way), I couldn’t tell there were pieces of boneless fish and small whole prawns in it till I scooped up my first spoon to sip (swipe for video). Now that was a really pleasant surprise. And because of the way it’s prepared, there’s no “fishy” smell whatsoever. Instead, it’s all about gentle sweetness. Very slender vegetable strips gave this soup a nice crunch too.

H O S T E D T A S T I N G
German cuisine prepared in innovative ways? That got me very curious. So, off to dinner at “Art At Curate” I went.
Things began with a really cool immersive experience, and I literally mean “really cool” because upon arrival, I was led by my hostess into the “Petite Chalet”. It’s the chiller room for spirits but has been done up for guests to sit and enjoy a warm cup of mulled wine. Head Chef Benjamin Halat then appeared, bearing a trio of finger food, each representing the Alps countries of Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Of these, I favoured the German one. Chef’s take on the traditional Mettbrötchen, a beef tartare with a white onion sauce was a flavour bomb.
After this novel start, I was ushered to my seat whereupon an “Edible Forest” with delicately crisp “leaves” of Beetroot, Onion and Celeriac was brought out. Next came the umami amuse bouche - a refined version of the German “Krabbensalat” featuring Amaebi and Sakura Ebi.
Hand on my heart, I was squealing like a schoolgirl when I spotted the “Mini Oktoberfest”. Shatteringly crisp baked salty chicken skin with a tiny mug of beer? Yes please!
It was at this point that the 8-course meal commenced with the first course of Poached Foie Gras with Gluhwein and Walnut Brioche.
The crowd-pleasing Soufflated Farm Egg on Potato Cream was second, blanketed in decadent Beluga Caviar and Ikura.
The next two dishes were my personal favorites. Its dazzling contrast of the rich and the sour made the Pig’s Trotter with Sauerkraut Jelly and Dark Beer Reduction a party on the palate. On the other hand, the Lobster with Chestnut Tortellini, Mandarin and Roasted Chicory was lusciously comforting.
For my main course (if you can call it that), I chose the Barbary Duck with Brioche Dumpling and Braised Red Cabbage. Aged for 4 weeks, the meat was tender and smooth with no gaminess. Loved the browned, crisped fatty skin on it too.
Dinner drew closer to a close with a unique “cheese course” of savoury Vacherin Mont D’or, Bratkartoffeln Mache Salad. Then the Pear Hélène, a pear-centric dessert by the famous Auguste Escoffier for the famous operetta by Jacques Offenbach, was served.
The “Kaiserschmarren”, deconstructed and morphed into an ice-cream, was the final course. A glass of housemade Rumtopf was served alongside.
I was close to bursting point when the trio of Petit Fours were set in front of me. Inspired by Chef’s childhood Christmas memories in Germany, they were so scrumptious I still managed to polish them off.

(Terms & conditions apply to the dishes in the 4 and 5-course options)

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