The night at Fat Cat Bistro unfolded in usual fashion, starting with a pint of Stella Artois draft for me. The proceedings of the nights' food tasting bearing its optimistic light on my fairly empty stomach and growing hunger pangs.
throughout the night, drinks flowed freely as did the light-hearted conversations around the table. With settings similar to that of a coffee shop albeit with the mojitos, draft beers and other cocktails doing it's merry rounds, this encouraged a communal and very intimate setting. Very suitable for small group gatherings or even family meals. Just be mindful that the place is open-air meaning that things can get a little sticky around here so dress appropriately for the occasion, dress light. Guys, don't bring your dates here should she be decked out in a thick sheath of make-up unless you're hoping to end the night with a big fight of sorts. Don't say I didn't warn you.
From the start, service was efficient, friendly; and given that our food was coming from 3 separate kitchens, the dishes soon piled up at our table. No amount of speedy eating could have dealt with the problem. Starters consisted of Crispy Pork Ribs ($12 for 5 pieces) and Thai Mango Salad ($10) from the Thai kitchen; the former was very well received by the group of us, crispy yet deliciously juicy on the inside, this was a delight to eat even sans the chili dressing. The mango salad on the other hand was average, the balance of sour, sweet, salty and spicy could have been better fine tuned.
The Goat's Cheese Salad ($10), representative of the Western kitchen (The French Onion) was a surprising winner as well with it's generous serving of lightly grilled cheese with mixed leaves tossed in a light coating of french dressing.
But the clear winner in the starters category were the Mantra Wings ($8 for 6 pieces) from Masala Mantra. Fried to perfection, these golden wings were perfect snacks to go along with the multitude of drinks available at the bar. The light use of Indian spices in the marination adding a bit of kick to the overall addictive experience. Note, the many pairs of eyes around the table that trailed the disappearance of the wings at lightning speeds. *sweats*
Green Curry Chicken ($11)
With respect to mains, I honestly lost track at some point of time with the flurry of dishes greeting our tables. Gaping mouths and gregarious laughter filling the empty spaces between the endless feastings. A few of my personal favourites were the Saag Paneer ($12) and the Mutton Vindaloo Curry ($12), pity that the naans we used to mop up the curries lacked fluffiness and the authenticity of those that have come out straight from the tandoor. Constraints of a coffee shop kitchen.. Another would be the green curry (perhaps which was still passable), my take on the Thai food served from Thai Yai (the thai food stall) seemed to lean more on the sweet side, a strange trend that spreads across all its representative items for the night.
Sea Bass with bell pepper sauce
Offerings from the Western kitchen that night included the Australian Tenderloin and Seas Bass. Not too suitable for sharing, I was a tad biased against these dishes for that reason alone. That aside, flavors were faultless and portion sizes were decently priced. However, I just didn't find the surroundings suitable for the service of such foods.
The desserts made their mini parades soon after everyone made a declaration to have been stuffed to the brim. I chose the Mango Sticky Rice over the rest since that again seemed to be the most suitable for sharing. Served with dried shards of coconut, that added a refreshing sweet bite to the otherwise monotonous dish with only soft and chewy left to describe it. This rendition was well executed with the glutinous rice cooked to a nice doneness and that sweetened coconut milk drizzled generously over. The Chocolate lava cake possessed a very unnatural sweet flavor probably hailing from the use of cheap compound chocolate within but I'm sure the less finicky would happily settle for this dish.
The Fat Cat is definitely a hidden find, a casual bistro set up in the tranquil settings of the Jalan Riang stretch. Winged by a throng of great eateries of diverse representations, The Fat Cat does serve its purpose of delivering food to groups of people with conflicting needs at decent prices. Not bad indeed for a gathering of indecisive people.
Dining in Pasta Brave, you would half expect an Italian Mafia to storm out from the depths of the hidden rooms beyond the walls, Tommy guns in hand, creating a din. Yes, Pasta Brava does carry a truly authentic Italian family diner atmosphere. Albeit a bit old fashioned but charming in its own rights.
We ravelled the night with two starter dishes, the Sformato di melanzane alla parmigiana (I hope I got that right) ($15) - oven glazed slices of egg plant with tomato sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella and the Bruschetta al pomodoro e bascillico ($6). The former dish, I got to try since I wasn't that big on Bruschetta; it was lovely with tender eggplant smothered in a fresh layer of cheese and homemade tangy tomato sauce; admittedly a bit pricey for it's portion but still a great way to kick start the evening. The glass of house wine joined in the party shortly after. Don't judge. I can't resist.
Moving on, our choice of entrees sure filled us to the brim. Pappardella al ragu d'anatra con funghi ($23) - pappardella with ragout of duckling and mushrooms and his Filetto di manzo al Gorgonzola ($31) - pan fried beef tenderloin flavoured with white wine, green peppercorn and mozzarella. Having tried the pappardella dish before, it sure maintained its' standards, delicious shreds of slow-cooked duck draped in a rich tomato sauce punctured with the earthiness of braised mushrooms. I did and always will love this dish. The beef tenderloin was pounded and cooked to perfection, and that cheese infused sauce with green peppercorns..magnifico.
All in all, Pasta Brava Italian Restaurant offers a safe and GOOD option for those seeking an Italian treat. With a steady following and a long standing history of placement in the area, Pasta Brava does have a proud reputation; so remember to make your reservations should you be intending to visit!
11 Craig Road Singapore
Tel: +65 6227 7550
I think we should introduce a new restaurant. I think it's time.
Let's talk about Mis En Place. A diner along East Coast Road, has it not caught your eye yet? Perhaps the more bodacious neighbour, Rabbit Carrot Gun has stolen a glance or two from you passer-bys. But don't be fulled by it's humble and muted ambiance; Mis En Place has a similarly straightforward menu with many classics done right, good enough to leave the most of us enthralled and titillated.
Kick starting the meal, we had the Garlic Toast ($3), Truffle Fries ($8) and Spiced Squid ($8). Did not try the former hence no comments, the truffle fries I must say are terribly addictive, full fledge dipping into the side of aioli just made the whole deal much more delectable. Unlike most other places, Mis En Place do theirs chunky and not shoestring style, totally up my alley! The spiced squid on the other hand came a bit limp as though the frying took place at an incorrect temperature. However, the light coating of herbs and spices improved the dish's chances by leaps and bounds.
Baked Escargot ($13) - Portobello mushroom caps filled with escargots baked with roasted garlic butter and Parmesan cheese.
Not a big fan of this dish as I would have preferred either the mushroom or escargot flavors to have been predominant. Both of which were washed out by the robust notes of garlic.
Caesar Salad ($10)
A very light edition of the usual suspect. I adore the complexity of the cream anchovy sauce that the romaine lettuce was tossed in. Complete with herbed croutons and plump cherry tomatoes
The main affair was a medley of signatures from their menu (to be honest, I reckon we savoured almost 90% of its offerings, much to my delight of course.) Starting off with the Roast Chicken($16). for it's simple uncanny menu description, I was half expecting a crispy skin roast chicken to appear, however, MEP's rendition beared a closer resemblance to a braised chicken than not. Still, with succulent flesh and served in a flavoursome jus derived from it's slow roasting; this made for a pretty wholesome event.
Another perennial favourite of mine was the Steak and Fries($26) which hosted a pan seared marbled striploin. At some point of time, it's over tender texture comes across as a rather strange deal till you understand that their beef has been done sous vide style.
The Hand Chopped Burger ($14), no uniform patties here as each are roughly hand-moulded to produce an almost "steak-like" texture. Though I must vouch for it's juiciness, the lack of seasoning and it's poor meat:bun ratio let the dish down.
However, amongst all the jovial exchanges and chaotic plate movements around the table that night, the Atlantic Black Cod($30)definitely stole the limelight. Pan seared cod fillet served with salted egg sabayon and served on a bed of mousseline potatoes, this combination was ingenious, the luminous drippings of salted egg yolk combination providing that unique bit of saltiness to the fish. A Must have!
Mis En Place also swigs a couple of pasta dishes. We had the Prawn Pasta($16) and the Carbonara ($14 namely. Don't be fooled by the spaghetti look alike pasta used in the dish, because it ain't, it's Bucatini, a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the centre (justified by a successful attempt to drink coke through a single strand of cooked pasta, I know, my dining partners are weird. haha); said to be good for cream based pastas, I found the two dishes to be a bit one dimensional and very jarring at times.
Our last dish came in the form of Duck Crunch($19) - crispy skin confit of ducks leg served with mousseline potatoes and mixed leafs. I completely massacred this dish, much to the horror of my companions who claim to be filled to the brim at this stage. Boasting a lovely crisp skin littered with the shiny prospects of salt and enveloping a rich yet savoury flesh, this dish took my world by storm. The accompanying water apple salad (also served appetiser portion) was a delight to have between mouthfuls of the fatty duck, with a unique blend of tanginess and sweetness, it's no wonder this is touted to be a favourite amongst ladies.
Desserts at Mis En Place aren't it's strong suit, however, I relinquished in the Creme Brulee ($6), digging into the petite ramekin with fervour till it was all gone. The Chocolate Cake ($10) on the other hand, failed to leave an impression with it's slightly bitter innards (probably due to the usage of chocolate with inappropriately high cocoa percentage). Pass me the sugar please!
Situated amongst a gang of well established dining establishments, Mis En Place has to put on a game face to make a name for itself. That being said, it's not impossible given some of it's dishes beautiful execution and value for money prices. Do drop by for it's set lunches to get your dollar's worth too!
“Life's under no obligation to give us what we expect.”
― Margaret Mitchell
Perhaps I've been too preoccupied with expectations. Being touted as having one of the best burgers in Singapore, I marched down to Omakase Burger at the Grandstand hoping to be floored. Little did I know that the experience would leave me a little jaded.
A little background information regarding Omakase Burger, it was set up by banker turned restaurateur Cheng Hsin Yao who decided on sharing his perfect burger with the world after a year and a half of experimenting. This came in the form of a patty made with blends of USDA choice grade beef with no fillers, a soft (and extremely yellow) bun created by a Japanese artisanal baker, specially imported American Cheese and a signature Omakase sauce comprising of 13 secret ingredients.
Sounds like a recipe for success doesn't it? Well here's the low down.
Destination wise, the interior design of the place gave off a very casual vibe, befitting of it's self-service nature similar to a fast food joint. My one gripe is that tissues (which you would come to see the need for after the juicy burgers start spitting juices out at you) are in short supply around the shop. Please be a little more generous with these!
Food wise, I had the Bacon Cheeseburger ($15.90) which was the original cheeseburger finished with a couple slices of high quality American bacon smoked in natural hardwood whereas my accomplice had the Deluxe Cheeseburger ($15.90) topped with a generous helping of grilled onions and mushrooms. Truth be told, portions were minuscule and the whole affair had a very commercialised feel to it. Performing a side by side comparison, I find the deluxe a much better choice given the lavish grilled onions and mushrooms added some smokey flavors to it's composition and allowed the "oh-too" yellow buns to become vehicles for the lovely drippings that held the mingled flavors of earthy goodness with charred meats. That being said, I've had better and at a better value for money too. Pay a little extra for the fries ($3.90) and you get bodum cup full of skinny fries. Nothing fancy there, a little too much salt on there perhaps.
In all, I must have spent 20 minutes in there. leaving promptly with a half filled stomach and a void so big that disappointment poured in.
Sundays are special days. A day for sleeping in and perhaps for take multiple swigs of champagne (ideally) after a full on brunch; it is even more so for me since my 6 day work week only allows for one full on day in the sun. Coming to full terms with this fact, I've even took to the habit of sleeping in early Saturdays just to muster enough energy for a full day of activities which include a slightly reluctant and very sluggish trip to Sunday morning service (my bad, I know). That aside, Sundays are meant for eating out, and I go big, working down a list of "must-visits" that have been slowly piling up over the weeks. Is it just me or restaurants and eateries are popping up like baby rabbits all over this island?
So, if like me you are looking for place significant enough for today than The Big Sheila at Opera Estate, Siglap would be my suggestion.
I was a little bewildered by the location of the establishment. Nestled amongst a row of shop houses similar to Jalan Riang, most of which are main kitchens and holding areas for catering and dispatch functions, The Big Sheila stands out as the new kid on the block. Opened by an Australian expat, Fleur Glover, her switch over from a career in IT to F&B speaking volumes about her passion for the artistry of feeding the masses. And her unique styles certainly make for an interesting experience, the food menu constantly evolving, a showcase of Fleur's skills and talent for recognising the need for constant change to feed the Singaporean palate.
Upon entering the dining area, I was struck by the lovely display counters. A throng of beautifully put together delicacies gracing the white counter tops. One can't help but gawk at it's mouth watering appeal.
As for me, I passed and settled in on the couches (what's with all the pillows?!) with my boyfriend. Browsing thru the menu, the counter top mains beckoning from the other side, I finally ordered the Scotch Eggs whilst he went with A Ploughman’s($24++): piggy terrine, packed with pistachio and prune, baby scotch egg, pickles, homemade chutney, aged cheddar cheese and a crusty French baguette.
The scotch eggs were gorgeous, a delicate soft-centered quails eggs enrobed in loosely packed mince adequately spiced and seasoned and then crumbed and lightly fried. A far cry from it's rustic origins of having a full sized hardboiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, crumbed and baked.
The ploughmans platter was a a sight to behold as well. Bright colors and a myriad of textures smearing the granite slabs. I adored it's simplicity yet complexity of flavors when put together. The pork terrine with pistachio and prunes, a winning combination when eaten together with the crusty baguette. Definitely a must have!
I've heard loads about the desserts at the Big Sheila but not wanting to have the temptation of scarfing down an entire slice of cake (look at the size of that Frangelico layered cake!) by myself (since the bf doesn't eat dessert), I gave it a miss. Pity...
All in all, The Big Sheila is a quaint addition to the sleepy chai chee estate. With a ever changing menu of such transcendence quality, it's no wonder the rave reviews and mad gushing from some fellow foodies keep coming. You have to taste it to believe it's magic.
The Big Sheila
15 Swan Lake Ave,
Siglap Singapore 455711
Tel: +65 6645 4422
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Fundamentally-flawed is Lee Sihan. 25 going on 26, she is a dessert enthusiast,
food nomad, wanderer of lands and a pastry chef.
Fueled by a lifelong addiction to all things sweet, and a burning desire to travel the globe
follow her as she embarks on delicious escapades both in and out of the kitchen