Thursday, February 22, 2007

Café de Amigo

C says:

A is feeling mighty smug right about now. He went to Café de Amigo with his folks while I was in Hong Kong, and told me that I’d definitely enjoy it. Well, we went there on Thursday night and A was right. It was really up my alley and I really liked the food there.

Café de Amigo has been around for ages, and is pretty well known amongst older wine aficionados. It used to be located at Specialist’s Centre, but has since moved to Funan. (I would say Funan Centre, but it’s been renamed twice; first Funan the IT Mall, and now Funan Digitalife Mall.)

It’s by no means a posh and stuffy place, and the name itself seems to suggest some kind of identity crisis. The food is predominantly French, but more like French by way of Hainan, since both the owner and executive chef are both very much Chinese. The menu is quite hilarious because it does try hard, but the spelling errors bring it firmly down to earth in a quirkily charming way. “Seafood Gumble”, “Pork Beacon with Spaghetti”, and “creamy spinach moose”, to name a few.

Still, all that aside, it’s quite a pleasant place to have dinner, and was surprisingly not empty on a weekday night. They have a 4-course set dinner every night for a basic $42+++, with some premium choices requiring some top-up, like the duck breast main (+$5) and the apple pie dessert (+$4).

We were very impressed with the service. A called in the afternoon to make a reservation, and asked if they had the duck breast, because he specifically wanted me to try it. When they confirmed that they did, we made the booking. When we got there and placed our orders, the waitress told me there were out of duck breast and I gasped in horror, and said “BUT WE CALLED!” She then asked us if we were A, because she had specially set aside the last duck breast for A when he called. Phew.

Anyway the starters and the soup were quite good but not spectacular. A had the Oysters Angel Horseback (oysters wrapped with bacon and deep fried), and I had the deep fried cheese. A’s oysters were much better, but next time we may share the escargots instead. A had the French Onion soup, and I had the Cream of Potato which had some nice crispy bacon bits on top. Not mindblowing, but not dishwater bland either.

The main courses were really good. A had the Fillet of Leng Fish (some kind of white fish similar to Sole), because the Fillet of Baby Salmon wasn’t available. This turned out much better than expected. The outside was pan fried to a nice crisp golden brown, but the fish wasn’t dried out or overdone.

The duck was fantastic. It was cooked medium rare so it was pink in the centre and still nice and juicy. It was served with a red wine/cherry sauce, spinach sautéed with garlic, and a couple of hash brown balls. The flavour of the duck was strong but not overpowering, just very meaty and flavourful. Delicious; I’m definitely having this again.

The set comes with a basic dessert of frozen tiramisu, but apparently that’s really quite bad, so I would recommend just topping up the $4 extra to have the Normandy Apple Pie. It’s not so much a pie as a tarte tatin, almost – a disc of buttery puff pastry, wafer thin slices of apple, topped with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with honey. This was absolutely heavenly, and I was completely stuffed after eating every last morsel.

Because we had a voucher for a one-for-one set dinner, courtesy of A’s folks, dinner was quite reasonable. Without the vouchers, I’m not sure how worthwhile the set is, considering that only the main course and the dessert are really outstanding. Perhaps next time we’ll come here just for a main and a dessert.

A says:

This place has the problem of having food that’s really, really good (duck breast, leng fish, apple pie) and really, really bad (the non-top up mains on the set). Consistency in each dish itself is also an issue I think. As good as the food we had was, it was actually better the first time I came.
Many thanks again to the hostess with the mostest who remembered to keep the duck breast for us. The other waiters are a bit blur at times, but still very attentive. No need to keep flailing your arms to catch their eye at all.

Overall, the prices may seem high for the setting, but if you order the right items, it’s definitely worth it. It’s also supposed to be a decent wine place, so wine lovers (who I shall henceforth call whiners – heh heh) should enjoy the selection and the no corkage policy (provided you spend at least $35 per person). I can’t confirm this though, as I know shit about wine.

Last bits of advice – the apple pie is huge and a must-try so save room for it. And avoid the Tiramizzzu (frozen tiramisu) at all cost.

Café de Amigo
109 North Bridge Road #02-15
Funan Digitalife Mall
Tel: 6835-0238
Open daily from 11 am to midnight; last order 10 pm

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