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European Eats

European Eats

Featuring Firebake - Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant, Spago by Wolfgang Puck, JAAN by Kirk Westaway, CURATE, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, Iggy's, LeVeL 33, SKIRT, Maggie Joan's, OLA Cocina del Mar
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

If you are a fan of anchovies, the Pissaladière or caramelised onions and anchovy tart is sure to please you like it pleased me. The crust of the one here is a little more cushiony than crisp and flaky, so it can be pretty substantial. I like that they have black olives strewn on as well. Their delicious saltiness is what I am always hoping to hit.

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Worth every cent this was. And at $17++, it’s not even pricey to begin with.
The Spanish Suckling Pig, a special item available on the Sunday we visited, was chockfull of chopped pistachios, Swiss chard, spinach, pork liver, cured pork fat, marjoram, parsley and chervil. As crisp and tender as the encircling skin and meat were respectively, it was the stuffing that I was more captivated by. Properly seasoned (unlike some places that are reticent about committing to such an important part of what makes or breaks a dish), it was moist and superbly flavourful.
If you like pork and happen to spot the Porchetta when you visit, I suggest giving it a try.

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It’s only been a couple of weeks since @bbrbyalainducasse officially opened at the iconic Raffles Hotel but based on our lunch there last Sunday, it feels like they have settled in very nicely.
I use to visit this venue in its previous incarnation of the “Bar & Billiard Room” quite often, mostly for their buffets. It certainly looks and feels like a different world now as the space is much brighter being predominantly white with accents of reds, copper and gold.
I like how the menu at BBR is designed to cater for whatever you are in the mood for, including a few of their signatures grouped into a Tasting Menu at $128++ per pax (ideal for those who want to try a bit of everything). All diners get served a little snack to start regardless - it was a tasty foie gras and vegetables pastry for us. The appetisers here can double up as small plates for sharing if you prefer a light meal - these are very affordably priced between $9++ and $28++. From this section, we ordered the salted cod fritters, mini sandwiches filled with pesto with parma and the caramelised onions and anchovy tart (to me, it’s more like a thin pizza as the light crust is a bit substantial). The two of us enjoyed them very much, along with the off-the-menu Barbajuan, pillows of pastry stuffed with spinach, swiss chard and ricotta that came compliments of Sous Chef Iswardy.
As the above was already really filling, T.H. and I opted for just one slice of the Porchetta. It’s a special of the day which Head Chef Louis Pacquelin had tempted us with when we were first seated. Served with some fresh salad, the Spanish suckling pig proved uber tasty. I found the generous stuffing of pistachios, Swiss chard, spinach, pork liver, cured pork fat, marjoram, parsley and chervil to be perfectly seasoned and so flavourful ($17++).
Throughout all this, the ever-cheerful Sommelier Justin Wee plied us with some great wine recommendations to accompany.
We had tummy space to split a single dessert and the housemade pistachio ice-cream with strawberries I picked was unbelievable. Highly recommended you order this if you are a fan of pistachio ice-creams because theirs is outstanding.
Service at BBR was good too - smart and friendly. We will definitely return.

Here’s a brand new creation by Chef de Cuisine Mirko, and it is an absolute winner in my book. Named “Autumn Harvest”, it showcases the vegetables of the season depending on what’s available on the day. The aromatic, luscious cream, composed of almond, quince and essentials oils, pairs very well with the inherent sweetness of the uber fresh produce.

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For my belated birthday treat from a friend, I chose One MICHELIN Starred Braci because the contemporary Italian restaurant has been on my list for ages.
We loved the housemade bread that was the first thing to arrive on our table. Named “Pane di Altamura”, it’s made using remilled durum wheat from Altamura in Italy’s Alpura region. It even has to pass the strict criteria of having a 3mm crust.
Following that, every one of the courses in the lunch set we had, was impeccable in presentation, freshness and flavours.
Both our appetisers, the raw Scallops dressed in rhubarb and fermented cherries, and the Baby Gem with white sesame and apple chutney, were superb. So too the mains of Veal Cappelletti (handmade pasta stuffed with truffle taleggio cooked in a sauce of 5 peppers jus) and the crisp-of-skin Italian Seabass (plated with pumpkin, radish and chard). Enormously gratifying in their own way they were.
Although the lunch set had only one dessert, it triggered wide-eyed wonder with its masterful combination of white chocolate, blood orange, pineapple and Yamazaki whisky.
Our wonderful meal came to a close with petit fours that were the embodiment of refinement and delectability.

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H O S T E D
What a difference time makes.
Right at the beginning, within the first couple of days of Chef-owner Richard Vvan Oostenbrugge’s restaurant opening, I had my first meal there, and had left feeling a tad perplexed by a couple of the courses. My second visit a few days ago, barely 48 hours after they got awarded One MICHELIN Star, fared much better. And not because it was a 4-hands with Chef-owner Thomas Van Santvoort of Restaurant Flicka in Netherlands either, although it was wonderful to have the opportunity to taste his cooking.
I personally feel the food by the Table65 team has improved a lot across the board. Every course was impeccable in terms of presentation, seasoning, balance in flavour, and hence, the much tastier results. The dishes I wasn’t sure about previously were almost unrecognisable to me which indicates the progression.
From the many courses that came my way at this 4-hands event, what I loved most were Table65‘s signature snack of pompano, coconut and combova, dill and calamansi (so vibrant an appetite-awakener), Flicka’s turbot with mace, shallot and smoked butter, and Table65’s beluga caviar-topped “bone marrow” with veal tartare (I was struck hard by how good it has become, to be frank).
The desserts by Pastry Chef Jurgis have always impressed, even from my first meal at this restaurant. This time, apart from the iconic “Apple”, he prepared for us a light-as-air marvelousness of yogurt calamansi ice-cream, salad of virgin olive oil-dressed blood orange, lemon and rose water crowned with a voluptuous bloom of blood orange foam and a sprinkle of crushed frozen rose petals. It was pure romance in dessert form and it tasted divine.
I highly recommend kicking off your evenings here with a concoction by Bar Manager Lilli If you like Pina Colada, do tell her because she makes a fabulous version.
And if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to speak to Kevin the Restaurant Manager or his team. They helped me obtain a portable charger when I needed one.

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H O S T E D
Since he joined at the end of April from La Brezza at the St. Regis Singapore, Executive Chef Armando Aristarco has been busy. Under his watch, the quietly elegant European restaurant at the Grand Park City Hall seems to have become imbued with some of his irrepressible verve. Or at least, that is what comes through for me in his food.
Every meal here is bookended by trolleys - of housemade breads (4 kinds are served at any one time with butter that’s also churned in-house) and desserts (Pastry Chef Ambu ensures it is a buffet on wheels) that you can choose to have as much of whatever you like from.
At our lunch, a delicious bite of lobster with burrata was served to tease our palates. From the appetisers that followed, I found the 62-degree egg with aged Parmesan-Reggiano fondue, asparagus and truffle, the loveliest ($28++). Tied in second place, the fresh Hokkaido Scallops with cucumber and juicy Beef Tataki with pumpkin ($20++ each).
Being Italian, Chef Armando’s carbs are, not surprisingly, a force to be reckoned with. His Carnaroli Risotto, a pot of flavourful chewy grains with duck, foie gras and cauliflower, was immensely rich and flavourful ($38++). I was so infatuated with his simple but fabulous Fresh Fettuccine I posted about it practically on-the-spot. Seriously, everyone at the table couldn’t get enough of that pasta dressed in sage butter and truffle either ($38++).
Chef’s proteins were enjoyable as well as evidenced by the short work we made of the crispy-skinned Organic Spring Chicken and the Josper-grilled Iberico Pork.
We grazed across a few desserts as lunch drew to a close. Although I could appreciate the charms of the Champagne Jelly with berries and Chocolate Soufflé, it was the Raspberry and Coconut Crumble that my spoon kept gravitating towards again and again.

Besides the a la carte menu, Chef Armando also offers a Business Set Lunch (3-course: $42++, 4-course: $49++) and a 5-course Degustation at $88++.

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H O S T E D
Think of this as a seafood version of the classic Shepherd’s Pie. Under all that prettily-piped potato and gruyere mash are big pieces of smoked haddock, salmon, cod, boiled eggs and prawns. It’s got a bit of broth at the bottom so it is not a dry.
One thing you should note, the serving size for this is really big. Honestly, I feel it can easily be shared by two or three people.

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H O S T E D
So good I feel compelled to get it out there ASAP.
Executive Chef Armando who joined the restaurant at the end of April, is Italian, so you know his pasta is bound to be of a high standard. True enough, this plate of fresh fettuccine he brought out as an additional item after serving the pre-arranged menu was a stealer of hearts.
Made in house but of course, the ribbons of egg pasta were perfectly al dente and coated with just the right amount of a luscious sage butter sauce. The dish had only one other ingredient - shaved black truffle. But it was enough for the table of us to sing its praises with our mouths full.

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H O S T E D
Believe it or not, this was my first time dining at One MICHELIN Starred “Jaan by Kirk”. My friend Annette and I were seated a corner table and had our eyes treated to jaw-dropping views from this up-in-the-sky restaurant as we partook of the new Summer Menu for lunch.
Solidified around the concept of #ReinventingBritish, Executive Chef Kirk’s food has a major case of acute tastiness which I should warn you, can trigger heart palpitations right off the bat. I felt it myself, particularly with the “fish and chips” and Devonshire cheddar buckwheat pancake, two of the four exquisite snacks that flagged off our meal.
Sourcing wherever possible from his place of birth - Devonshire, England, Chef Kirk’s culinary creations are as imaginative, beautifully articulated and satisfying as the best stories. Each course had an opening that drew me in and content that had me transfixed till the end. Which was what happened with the Roast Potato Soup served with a Mini Loaf, the Summer Beans Salad - a texturally-fun fest of different beans, English peas, Prosciutto ham, quinoa and parmesan cream prettied up by flowers from Jaan’s garden on level 5 of the Swissotel Stamford Hotel, and again, with the irrepressibly bouncy-of-flesh Scottish Langoustine tempered by a Baby Courgette.
Just as enthralling to me were the poached snapper in a English pea and mussel sauce, and the smoky Wagyu the team had substituted the original stated course of Salt Marsh Lamb Loin for. I did sneak a bite of the Shepherd’s Pie, the second half of that from Annette and thought it was really good, not at all gamey.
The picturesque palate cleanser with its mini bottle of cherry liqueur was inspired by picnics in the park. I loved how it dazzled with refreshing brightness from different sorbets and citrus-based elements.
As for the strawberry dessert, I was so well and truly charmed I plan to devote a post to it.

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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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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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