My cousin P recommended this place, saying that the owners are the folks behind Gourmet Cellar at River Valley. Indeed, this place does seem to be another whiner’s haven, what with the shelf of wines on display and a dedicated wine and drinks list. However, the bright orange chairs, colourful pendant lamps and customers’ comments scribbled on the walls make this place a less intimidating version of, say, Friends at Jelita.
The name KR-50 is a rather unimaginative tribute to the address of the place – 50 Kent Ridge Crescent. It’s situated in the NUS University Cultural Centre, and sharing the premises is its sister joint, Nicole’s Deli & Bistro. Actually, the comprehensive drinks list is courtesy of Nicole’s, and the menu offers some bar bites like chicken wings and spicy chorizo sausages as well.
KR-50 itself offers a modern European menu with an emphasis on creative vegetarian and seafood dishes. But not to worry, it’s not all chickpeas and lentils; there are more than enough menu choices for carnivores like us.
To start with, A and I shared a Neptune Salad, consisting of seared prawns, scallops and fish on a bed of warm baby spinach, with a lime-mango salsa and topped with tobiko (flying fish roe). Luckily the mango wasn’t overpowering so A had no problems with this dish. The seafood was very fresh – the prawns were downright crunchy – and cooked just right. This was right up my alley but a little too seafoody for A.
For our mains, because I couldn’t decide which to order, we ordered the seared rib-eye and the crabmeat linguine to share. The linguine was served with a creamy tomato sauce and was surprisingly peppery, which suited me fine. I’m not sure that I could have finished a whole plate on my own, though. Good thing we shared.
The rib-eye seemed to be a popular choice, because most of the other tables were having it as well. It comes with a creamy gorgonzola sauce, but I asked for it to be served on the side. As far as rib-eyes go, this wasn’t too bad, but damn L’Angelus for setting the standard for all rib-eyes to follow! Now I can’t have a rib-eye steak anywhere without comparing it to the stellar one there, and more often than not, most places will fall short. KR-50’s rib-eye was a little overdone for the medium rare that I requested, and the meat wasn’t as fine or sweet. Still, it wasn’t too bad when dunked into the gorgonzola sauce, which was watered down slightly so it wasn’t too salty or in-your-face.
Portions weren’t massive so we managed to fit in a dessert each. A had the tiramisu, which based on the scribblings on the wall was a much lauded dessert, and I had the apple crumble that P recommended. A said the tiramisu wasn’t as good as the one at Valentino’s, and I have to agree that it lacked that certain oomph (which has nothing to do with the amount of alcohol). This one tasted like you could have made it yourself, and lacked that rich smoothness of the one made by Valentino’s sister Pirla, which is in a whole different league.
The crumble was served with a flute of apple jell-o, which were like serious flavour shots of apple juice. I’m not sure if they were meant to be eaten with the crumble, but to me they were each better off separate. The crumble itself was good – I like the addition of the grated coconut that was sprinkled on top, so that when baked it was golden brown and added a distinctive flavour.
A minor downside to the evening was when we were settling the bill. I was fully aware of an HSBC promotion because I had received the flyer just a few days ago; the same promotion was also published in streetdirectory.com when I searched for directions to the place. However, when I asked if there were any credit card promotions, the supervisor said there weren’t any. Now, I usually take the restaurant’s word for it, because I’m really not all that hard up for discounts, nor do I feel ‘cheated’ out of a good deal. However, given that I’d seen the HSBC promotion from two different sources, I had to bring it up. The supervisor looked surprised and said he wasn’t aware of anything, and implied that the promotion happened a while ago. I had to persist, saying I just received it in the mail, before he admitted that perhaps the promotional literature had been sent out to the public before the bank had a chance to inform the restaurant owners themselves. He said that “having been in the restaurant line” for many years, this was not unheard of. Anyway, he said he’d check with the bank on Monday, and gave us a 10% discount anyway (the promotion was for a 10% discount plus a $10 voucher), but I just wish it hadn’t been such an arduous process to get there.
Packing for reservists so quick post from me:
Food – Starters seem very good. Mains – not so much. Tiramisu not as good as C’s when she gets it right.
Service – Outstanding until it came to the bill part. But it wasn’t that crowded and I think it might be a problem if it is.
Location – It’s an interesting place. No problem with parking since car park is usually empty. That’s if you can find the car park (since it’s in the University Cultural Centre, but the signs only direct you to the Music Conservatory car park). C says: Look for signs to Car Park 3. Inside the car park, the signs on the wall will direct you to the Cultural Centre.
Overall – Might be okay for a quiet, semi-romantic dinner or a small gathering and you want to try someplace different, but I wouldn’t go for a regular dinner.
KR-50 Contemporary Restaurant & Bar
Nicole’s deli & bistro
50 Kent Ridge Crescent
University Cultural Centre
(next to Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music)
Open Monday to Saturday
11.30 am – 2.30 pm (lunch)
4.30 pm – 10.30 pm (drinks and bar bites)
6 pm – 10.30 pm (dinner)