off the beaten track: the universal

Off the beaten track: The Universal

oh my.. wat a contraversial name u wld say. as though they are expecting their food to impress the majority. But I beg you to rethink your initial responses as I have been converted. The Universal Bar and Restaurant reallie serves up some lip-smacking, heart wrenching cusine tt i'm sure will bring a smile even to the grinch's thin lips.

I had first stumbled upon this resturant thru their website as i was frantically searching for a place to celebrate my bf's birthday. Conditions, somewhere quiet, with intimate settings all of which not compromising the standard of the food served. And boy was i glad, or rather elated at this discovery.

Situated on the secluded Duxton Hill, it was definitely off the beaten track. A little obscure, a little secretive, a little mysterious. I adored the cobbled pathways tt led up to the resturant from the carpark, the quaint shophouses tt lined the streets tt created a colonial and olden day feel to the whole experience. Earlier tt day, I had called to make a reservation at the resturant and the staff were warm in their greetings as i was quickly ushered to a table upon entering the resturant.
Babe and I took several moments to study the menu. Simple due to its few dishes offered yet complimented with a very extensive wine list with wines ranging from $50 a bottle to $600 a bottle for vintage wines. Whilst studying the menu, cold tap water was quickly served up by the waitress. I was truly appreciative as the staff didn't insist on us purchasing bottles of mineral water which would have probably incurred a huge debt on our bill. We placed our orders and settled down to enjoy the ambience of the resturant.

As you can judge from the photos, the concept behind the decoration of the Universal was somewat streamlined, clean with white washed walls and antique furnishings which further enhanced the feel of dining in fine settings, slightly reminiscent of the english colonial period. I was most intriguied by the lovely chandeliers on the ceilings. Bold black, and patterned like the motifs tt reminded me of the lovely prints from anna sui cosmetics, they certainly did their role in playing up the poshness in the air. Though the seatings were rather close together which i imagine cld result in slight disturbance if the resturant were to be crowded, we were blessed with the fact tt it was a monday and tt there were in fact no other patrons in the resturant dining in tt night. Private dining at its best. yes...

Soon, the food was served up. First we were served the white wine that we had ordered. An Argentinian Chardonnay, it was a bit on the alcoholic spectrum with little fruitness or acidity to boot. Not my favourite but then again, it was highly enhanced due to the standards of the cuisine served. We were surprised by starters provided to us that we didn't order. They were on the house and apparently items tt are not on the menu. the first spoonful holding a buffalo mozarella cheese with olives and anchovies. this was literally an explosion in the mouth, it was an explosion of different flavors, textures and wat not as they melded together in the mouth. I was sold immediately. u shld have seen the smirk on my face as i savored every nibble. The next was unrecognisable by me and i didn't reallie catch what the waiter said so my guess would be grilled scallops with white truffle oil (think i caught a little of tt from the waiter), that was magnificanto as well as it was certainly a spell binding experience for the palate. Its a wonder who a combination of ingredients in a spoon cld lead to such orgasmic experiences. Wonderful... tres tres bien.

Brioche was also served up, warm and crisp and extremely savoury. it was accompanied by a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dip. I dare say tt this is a wonderful alternative to the usual bread and butter served in most resturants. YUM!

On top of the starters on the house, i had previously ordered the house speciality caesar salad with crisp bacon and shaved parmesan cheese. OHHH!!! this was soo good. Couldn't reallie figure out the dressing used but it was light and complimented the slices of parmesan cheese extremely well. I was delighted by my choice.

By now, i was practically feeling on top of the world, in fact a little tired from experiencing a wind fall of wonderful, mind blowing cuisine in such a short period of time. Its true tt good food (and good company, zhiheng wld add) certainly can make one happie.

After a short breather, we were served our mains. Babe had the Salmon and I had the Slow Braised Kurobuta. the presentation of the dishes awed me as i was brought to attention, stunned by the soothing combination of colors on the plate tt offered an appetising yet calm factor to its appearance. I wanted more.. and i dug in... *stops and stares.. eyes WIDEN*. the kurobuta.. it literally melts in your mouth. Like a kobe beef equivalent of pork, the kurobuta had fats evenly marbled throughout hence providing the melt in your mouth texture. intense wld be the word to describe the whole dish, the side accompaniments were brillant as well, with the mushrooms being captivating and left me wanting more.

We finally ended off the meal with the flourless warm chocolate fondant with vanilla pod ice-cream. It was a staple in most resturants and i often wld judge a resturant by the standard of its warm chocolate cake. So here goes nothing, the presentation as usual was flawless. if i were on the gym floor, i would raise a perfect 10 to this one. the taste however... was mindboggling as well. Warm chocolate cake with a liquid centre and fudge chocolate oozing out with every spoonful. Chocolate high... the lovely selection of fruits on the side heightened the experience. the Vanilla pod ice-cream however was just mediocre but a must have with this dish.
Overall, The Universal Bar and Restaurant serves up cuisine tt is worth every single penny you pay for. in which case, we paid $164 for 2 pax. But certainly, it is a hidden gem in the Singapore food scene. Service is extremely personalised and makes diners feel at ease. A place you just want to visit again and again.

would u hold me safe in your arms...

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