Thursday, February 28, 2013

De La Creme Patisserie

This place opened in 2011 and thus I was unaware of its existence until a friend highly recommended its macarons. Located in a quiet private estate area, it was a cafe with a black interior that serves all day brunch and pastas. Of course, my eyes were already set on the display of cakes.
 Having gone all the way to the East,  I had to try all the flavours, especially the Gula melaka since not many offer this as a regular item. But out of all , I like the Salted Caramel best because of the sharp specks of salts that jump at your tastebuds.
 

Other flavours include rose, earl grey, passionfruit, chocolate amer and red velvet  ($2.40/6 for $12.90) the shells are indeed not too dry, but so fragile that one has to handle them with care. The buttercream filling was generous but I wish they can be more consistent as some are smaller and flatter. Indeed,  they are truly one of the best in town though not all flavours (eg. salted yuzu/basil) listed on their site were spotted.

But apart from the macarons, the cakes were quite average. I like white chocolate but the layer in Genevieve($6.90) was too sweet even if 70%chocolate was sandwiched in the centre. Luckily, it was saved by the smooth texture of the mousse and the crunchy praline feuillettine base. 

 
The Red Velvet cheesecake($5.90 in this Valentine seasons /$7.50 for a regular larger slice) is petite but rich and heavy on the palate. Something like a Dense NY-style cheesecake but loaded on top a sticky chocolate brownie. You may want to just go for their Red Velvet Macaron and skip this.


The mango shortcake ($7.90) was a disappointment. I always believe a shortcake marks the basic skills of the chef but I think this did not pass. The sponge was not fragrant (perhaps due to the egg). and somehow not naturally moist because it has been soaked with liquor. I know some chefs like to brush the sponge with it but this...hmm.And the fresh cream was too thin to take notice.


Well, at least the classic opera ($6.90) was not bad. The quality is about the same as Delifrance. Even though I prefer the macarons to the cakes, I still recommend you to go there and have a try. After all there aren't many true standalone patisserie shops in Singapore. Most newly opened ones are cafes that specialize in coffee and the cakes......well become quite mediocre. Should I drop pass the East again, I would not mind returning for their new creations if they are available :)

For more information about the young chef and his partner, visit http://www.delacreme.com.sg/aboutus.html
 
De La Creme
42 Siglap Drive
Singapore 456167 
(Closed Mon)
Tues-Thurs : 3pm-10pm
Fri/Sat : 12pm-11pm
Sun: 10am-1pm
 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Le Cuisson : Affordable French Food III


The 3rd part of the affordable french food series is none other than Le Cuisson, a hawker stall in Holland Drive near Buona Vista MRT, selling French food at a really good deal. The chef used to be work under DB Bistro at MBS and you know that the quality of the food here will not go too wrong.

Even though I was aware of the limited menu, I forgot that many ingredients like fish were not available immediately after the CNY holiday. Hence the disappointment upon hearing that the Australian Barramundi Fillet was not available. Nonetheless, we started with a refreshing Smoked Duck Salad $5 that was simple but done well with the right amount of cheese.


I added $1 for the additional Truffled Oil for the $8 Mushroom Cream Pasta. It was one of the best pasta ever had in Singapore, no joke. The portion is generous and not too dry. We poked the runny egg and mixed everything up like Rojak. The taste was so good that it even convinced those who don't really like western food. Highly recommend this dish..plus the oil :)
 
The beef ragout with ravioli was not available and thus we went for the Angus Hampshire Beef with Crushed Potatoes, Confit Shallots and Garlic ($18) . The chef shared with us that it was medium rare but we felt that perhaps the fire was inconsistent as half was  overdoned and tough while the remaining meat was still pinkish. The mash potato was undeniably as good as DB bistro, Saveur and many other places:)




Meanwhile, the Sous Vide Pork Neck with crushed corn & mash $15 was lightly seasoned and slightly chewy. I appreciate that the Pork Neck was done Sous Vide because it is healthier and retains some juicyness.  That said, while the meat mains are fairly decent, as a "fishy" person, I will still pick fish if I return. There is also no chicken on the menu.
 
Although the main courses here around the same price as Saveur and cheaper than Poulet, it was a pity that there was no desserts were on the menu (guess it will add on to the preparation time) Nonetheless, I think this place is really ideal for the French fix and the chef here deserves our support. Do note that the menu changes.

This stall is part of the Youth Hawkerprise. Visit: http://youthhawkerprise.com/ for more.

Le Cuisson
Blk 40 Holland Drive
Hours: Tue - Sun: 11:30 am - 2:00 pm, 5:30 pm - 9:15 pm
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/LaCuisson





Thursday, February 21, 2013

Poulet : Affordable French Food II of III

 
The second half of last year seems like a crazy period as people swooned to try out casual French food which aims to change the equation of "French cuisine=fine dining=expensive" When we heard about Poulet at Bugis+, we were quite excited as it is quite rare for French restuarants to open in shopping malls. Hence the second post of the affordable french food series (read here for the first post) will be our Poulet visit last September......

The French Onion Soup ($5.80) might not be the cuppa soup for everyone as they replaced the melty cheese with cheese croutons. Personally, I am a traditionalist who would prefer the version from Taratata Bistrot.
 

 Their signature Poulet Roti ( Poulet : say poo-lay , means chicken in French) served with creamy fresh button mushroom Chardonnay Sauce truly lived up to its good reputation. (Half for $15.80 /Whole 28.80) Though the white wine was not strong, I always like the symphony of mushroom cream and chicken and thus more sauce would make it a perfect one.
 


But I have to admit that I was drawn towards the Iberico Pork Belly with French Mustard($15.80) that day. Even though it did not received much praises, I find it to be tastier than those served in other place like here. The tender pork was more flavorful than the chicken on its own but we did not forget the bed of mash that was so irresistibly smooth.
I love Tiramisu ($7.80) but tends to skip them in local restaurants. We nearly left without trying as it was out of stock until we were informed that a new batch was available. Chilled, rich creamy mascarpone cheese and the bitter coffee-soaked sponge makes it one of a more memorable tiramisu in Singapore. But still, a more intense alcoholic booze will be ideal.


As an excuse to spend more time chatting, we ordered another dessert that requires 20minutes to make! Tadaa....the golden apple tart with sweet almond fragipane topped with a large ball of vanilla ice cream. The version here is unique for its buttery crumbly base which I have not yet find in other places. Do not miss this if you love apple desserts.
Poulet's prices might be slightly more expensive than Saveur (here) but the ambience is more relaxed and you won't feel rushed to finish your food. Good news is that they have opened a 2nd outlet in Great World City with some new items. And I can't wait to visit that place for their escargots and other french delights!

Poulet 
201 Victoria Street
Level 4, Bugis+ (formerly known as Illuma)
Singapore 188067
10am to 10pm daily
http://www.facebook.com/PouletSG
 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ambush : the Local "European Union"

Can't decide between Spanish food, French food or Italian pasta? Or perhaps some Swedish cheeseballs? Ambush is the place for you with its comprehensive dishes from the European regions. 


The outlet at Plaza Singapura is one of the latest openings with an open space concept with large seatings suitable for gathering. 





 

From Belgium,




the Pot of Mussels $15.60(S) /$18.60(L) in White Wine, Sauteed Onions & Smoked Streaky Bacon impressed with generous dose of sweet alcohol tinged with garlicky flavour.
However, it was the Aglio Olio version$15.60(S) /$18.60(L) which appealed to me with a familiar mildly spiced Asian flavour. Replace it with fish and the fragrant spiced herbs get close to the Thai style Assam Steamed Fish.

The classic Pork Knuckle ($18 for half) was roasted moderately well, producing a crackly golden rind over some tender meat and fats. I like the juiciness which is not found in German restaurants like Brozeit or Paulaner Brahaus but traditionalists might beg to differ.

But the pillowy mashed potato seemed to steal the limelight while the saukeraut was dry and too little for the meat.

Meanwhile, the Swissgerman wurst will not disappoint sausage fans as these are what Ambush has served consistently well over the years. Pile them with carbohydrates like the Swiss Rosti (flat pan-fried potatoes shown in top picture) Or go the Italian way with some Tangy Tomato Pasta?
 
Perhaps the Sausages with Mash potatoes and German knuckles might be a wiser choice if you are not ordering the knuckles as your main. This allows you to have all 3 items in a plate
 

Hunting for some French cusine? The Duck Confit with Orange sauce ($18.50) is a clean-looking dish with just some simple seasonings to bring out the flavours. 

 
This Coq Au Vin ($17.80): Braised chicken leg  in red wine sauce was less attractive than the crispy duck. The chicken was sure fork tender with the booze of robust red wine. But some pearl onions and thin crispy bacon would power up this dish with more sweetness.
 
What won me was this humble plate of Aglio olio spaghetti with seaweed and fried chicken ($13.00).  With hints of spice and sourness, the pasta was a welcome change after having too much meat. definitely different from the seaweed fried chicken nuggets sold in sch canteens.





 My love for black food includes not only chocolate but also squid ink dishes. In fact, this Spanish paella ($14.50) was my favourite dish of that day as the rice was sticky and full of seafood flavour as compared to my previous try at Ochre. If you don't like rice, there is also the Baby Scallops with Squid Ink Pasta. But perhaps the name "Negro Paella" might call for a change.
Supporting Cast of Ice Vanilla Mocha (right) and Hot Honey Ginger Chai Latte (left)
In short, the European fare here is value for money as the hearty main courses do not exceed $20 while pastas at average $13. It can be comparable to other western food chains like TCC and Robert Timms, but what makes it different is its European food (not drinks) with some Asian twist. Should I return, I will not leave without the highly raved wild salmon Thai basil pasta and of course, the desserts.

Many thanks to OpenRice and Ambush for the invite to this food tasting session.


Ambush
Plaza Singapura 
 68 Orchard Road #04-64/66 (The Atrium)
Other outlets : Jurong Point, Takashimaya Shopping Ctr, Junction 8, Plaza Singapura and Jem (Opening in Apr 2013).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Saveur : Affordable French Food I of IV

Have you noticed a sprout in the number of casual French dining places here? This is certainly a good news especially for those who like to indulge without burning a hole in the pocket. I have visited three places and one of them is Saveur, a place which often attracts long queues before it is even opened for service. As this was a visit last year in September, the menu is likely to have changed slightly now.

As fish lovers, our main courses were of course, fish. The Pan-fried monk fish ($23.90) is quite a rare sight in French cuisine but this was executed well with interesting combination of cabbage, leek fondue and monk fish jus. It was chewy or slightly rubbery but it was the slabs of golden brown potato which left me with a deep impression till today.
The Barramundi with Crab Potato and French Beans($13.90) did not shine as much as the monkfish. The salted crust did not conceal the dry flesh and it was a relatively small portion. But one wonders why the cubed potatoes are called crab potatoes?
 
We could not miss this Sakura ebi angel hair pasta ($3.90) as it was one of their signature dishes. The verdict was that it tasted quite average as the pasta was not fully al dente. I guessed it was the aroma of the Sakura ebi and minced pork that rescued the dish.
 
Perhaps the strength of Saveur lies in their desserts than mains. This chocolate and hazelnut is a must order for chocolate fans. For $7.90,one receives a giant slab of sweet milky chocolate mousse topped with crunchy hazelnuts shavings and nutella swirls.
 The triangular shaped salted chocolate and pomegranate seeds inserted some alternative flavours to help us conquer the chocolate mountain.
 
The pistachio panna cotta($6.90) which wiggled like tofu pudding was one of the star that night. Simplicity is beauty.
 
But experimental ideas can go wild and crazy. The special dessert ($7.90) consists of :apple risotto/cinnamon puff pastry/ caramel biscuits soil/ cheese yoghurt foam/ toffee jelly /celery and apple ice
The ambitious plating style that resembled fine dining desserts was commendable but too many stuff on one plate confuses the diners.
 
If you were to dine here, do arrive slightly early than opening times to avoid waiting for hours since no reservations is taken. Do save space for their yummy desserts. While the monk fish was the most expensive just like the beef tenderloin, the price of other dishes including duck confit, braised pork belly, beef stew and chicken roulade fall between $9.90-$13.90.

Though the dining experience is similar to rush hours in school canteens,  who would mind if the food is delicious and reasonably priced? 
 
Saveur 
5 Purvis Street #01-04
Operating hour : daily 12-2.30 /6-9.30pm 
 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Caffe B : Japanese-Italian Cuisine

 
If you are thinking of pampering yourself this Valentine's day, Caffe B might be the place for you. This Japanese-Italian restaurant sits a distance away from most celebrity chef restaurants , providing a quiet ambience though one might take some time to be used to the dimly lit brown interior. 
bread with pumpkin butter that does not really taste like pumpkin
The set meal of five courses is based on the Groupon voucher and not all items are available on the ala carte menu. 
 
Amuse Bouche  :  Deep fried Myoga in Italian Butter (right)
Simply put, this is like a less crispy version of the gyoza or fried dumpling filled with the pink ginger  (myoga) which you normally have in Japanese sushi restaurants
Amuse Bouche :Truffle Potato and Asparagus Croquette (left) is a mini sized deep fried ball which tasted more grainy than the usual smooth creamy Croquette paired with a savoury Pamersan cheese crisp below.
 



But I appreciated this complimentary Amuse Bouche of mushroom mousse more than the two fried items. Looks avant-garde and it sure tasted that way too. Just imagine your Starbucks whipped cream unsweetened and infused with mushroom and taking a bite of mozzarella cheese later.
We loved the very nourishingly sweet Japanese pumpkin soup with tomato, with the nutty aroma from the roasted walnuts topped with a piece of fried basil
For the main, I believed our choice of the Argentinian Beef Tenderloin with Marsala (red wine) Reduction was a right one out of the three choices including salmon and risotto.
 The purple and white pom douchesse are the two spiral shaped things if you can spot them in the picture. They are seasoned mashed potato mixed with egg, squeezed out from a piping bag then baked till golden.
 
Just look at how pink the meat is and you can imagine the tender of the beef was.  The meat sat on top of spinach puree next to a sauteed radicchio trevigano, a vegetable which resembled purple cabbage to me. Click here for your daily dose of wiki knowledge.
 
Squid Ink Uni Pasta is a signature ala carte dish which truly stood out from the usual squid ink dishes as the tangy  tomato cream balanced the unique smell of the Uni which some people might be afraid of. The Japanese eggplant was sliced  into rounds was plain on its own naturally but a perfect match when eaten with the pasta.
 
 Pre dessert: refreshing sweet melon granite and basil with chantily cream. I just realised the chefs from Caffe B must have loved basil a lot.
 
Fortunately, the standard of the dessert was consistent with the earlier dishes. The chocolate semifredo with croccante is a frozen mousse coated with nuts. It had a sticky chewy texture when served in a semi defrosting stage.
 
One must be quick to snatch the chocolate triangular shaped flat biscuit if you are sharing this with someone. It was just the right Italian biscuit which I was looking for. Bitter with a tinge of earthy cocoa  fragrance:)
 
Service was courteous while not too friendly since a distance is kept to give some personal space to diners especially since most customers that night were couples. Anyway, there is still something that grapples me.

 In Japan, I've heard of B-class restaurants, whose names are relative to A-class Michelin restaurants but it does not mean that the food is not good. It just implies that such places are more down-to-earth eateries, serving delicious cuisine with inexpensive prices. Could that be why Caffe B is called Caffe B ? :)
Caffe B
Marina Bay Sands


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