Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hog’s Breath Café, Holland Village

C says:

We came here on Saturday night on a whim. After watching a (very bad) movie at the Red Dot Design Museum, it was about 8.30 pm so we had to go to a place that opened till pretty late. I’d just seen an ad in IS magazine about Hog’s Breath Café and remembered that it’s open till midnight, so we headed to the Holland V branch since it’s on our way home (there’s another branch at Chijmes).

We had the buffalo wings for starters, and for mains, A had the bbq baby back ribs which was one of the day’s specials, and I had the prime rib. Each prime rib cut is 300g, and you can have a number of sauces – traditional, mushroom or pepper – on the side. I ordered it medium rare and it came out perfect. I was extremely impressed – the steak was tender and sweet, and not one part of it was sinewy or chewy. This was one of the best prime ribs I’ve had in a long time.

A’s baby back ribs, though not as good as my prime rib, was also excellent. I found the sauce a little overpowering as it smothered the meat, but the ribs were slow roasted such that they literally just fell off the bones.

The starter fared less well, though. The buffalo wings should have been called bbq sauce wings, because that’s exactly what they were. I guess it’s a mistake to order buffalo wings anywhere other than Sunset Grill.

Washed down with a latte (A) and a Corona (me), this was an unexpectedly satisfying dinner. Business was fairly brisk as well; I guess it helps that they’re open till midnight, because there were people streaming in even after 9.

A says:

I think the staff are trained to be super-friendly but thankfully not as bad as the T.G.I.Friday “I’m your new best friend” kind. At least they know their stuff. Atmosphere is very relaxed and enjoyable. Best of all, the mains (and the sides they came with) exceeded expectations – both in portion size and in taste. Maybe skip the mediocre buffalo wings and try a different starter or a dessert next time. Latte was good though.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Buko Nero

C says:

Time for our monthly trip to Buko Nero again. We’ve waxed lyrical about the place often enough, so a short post this time, just detailing what we had. The menu for the night was:

Chicken Breast Salad with Mango Dressing
Cream of Cauliflower soup with Smoked Salmon
Mint and Honeydew Sherbet
A’s main: Beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon, with cranberry glaze
C’s main: Parpadelle with portobello mushroom and white asparagus
My Grandmother’s Cake with Vanilla Coulis

The amuse bouche was a grilled swordfish belly crostini with mayonnaise. The swordfish belly was nice and fatty, and almost melt-in-the-mouth, and had a nice smoky flavour, but it was nowhere near last month’s seared steak one.

As good as the pasta here is, my parpadelle wasn’t as good as A’s tenderloin, mainly because it lacked oomph, being a vegetarian dish. The sauce was very delicate and tasty, with a slight hint of tomato, but somehow I felt that something was missing. It was probably the lack of a strong flavour among the ingredients – previous pastas here have contained scallops or clams, and the flavour of the seafood/shellfish have infused the pasta and the sauce with a distinctive taste that was lacking this time.

A’s tenderloin was great as usual. The sweetness of the cranberry glaze made this different from the usual tenderloin dishes that we’ve had here so far, and provided a good contrast to the meatiness of the dish.

The cake looked ordinary but tasted a lot better. Apparently it was flourless, and it had a dense but still light texture. The almost-burnt bits on top were especially yummy.

Didn’t manage to get a booking for next month yet, because they’re closed from 16th to 24th July. Hopefully we can get a table for 27th July.

A says:

Brilliant as always. Also got the latte this time so very happy.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Da Paolo at Rochester Park

C says:

The gang celebrated my 25th (ahem…) birthday on Saturday with a (surprise) dinner at Da Paolo. The place looked really pretty, being in a nice colonial bungalow and all, but everything sort of went downhill from there. (But guys, you generally agree with my assessment of the place/food right? This is in no way dissing the planning that you guys went to for me… thanks so much! *muah*) Anyway, back to the review:

First, the ambience – most of the seating is outdoors, which is nice but can get a little bit hot. What got to all of us was the lighting, or lack thereof. We could hardly read the menu, and when our food came, we could barely see what we were eating either. Service left a heck of a lot to be desired too. Took them ages to (1) stick the candles into a cake and light them, (2) cut 10 slices of cake, and (3) bring us our bill. That was the worst, think it took them about 10 minutes to bring the bill.

Food – nothing to rave about at all. The smoked cheese starter was bland; the braised vegetables that came with it were tasteless and hard. I ordered the seared tuna, which was served with some tomato salsa on top, and couscous. The menu said it was sashimi-grade tuna, but I didn’t particularly find it that good quality. You can get better quality tuna at Kuriya fish market. The seasoning of the tuna was also non-exisitent – it had no flavour at all, and it was overly seared so some parts tasted like canned tuna. A had the T-bone steak with black pepper, and the only thing going for this was the strong flavour of the US beef, which I guess is attributable to the beef rather than the cooking. We asked for the beef medium rare, but it came out more like medium, and some bits were seriously tough and sinewy.

All in all, really not impressive. Also, the food doesn’t really come with side dishes (except the tuna which came with a sprinkling of couscous); you’re supposed to spend ANOTHER bomb ordering sides separately. Don’t know about you, but for at least $30 per main, I’d expect at least some cursory vegetables or potatoes or something. Bread wasn’t free either – the waiter told us it was $4 per serving, though the menu said $3.

S said her rib eye was pretty good, and her only complaint was that there just wasn’t very much of it. Maybe we just ordered the wrong dishes. The rest of you, any comments on your food? Do share! : )

A says:

Food was average. Staff were surprisingly very friendly but service was super slow. I guess it’s more of a place to drink and look cool rather than eat. Not going back anytime soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Piper's Pies

C says:

Apologies to our loyal readers out there (yes, all 3 of you...) for the radio silence of late. A was in the army for the last 2 weeks so we haven't had much opportunity, nor been in the mood, to eat out much.

Thankfully the ordeal is over for another year, and we've got a number of dinners planned for the next couple of weekends, so we should get back into the swing of things, posting-wise!

Quick one as a return post - we tried Piper's Pies on Tuesday night, an Australian pie shop located along the same row of restaurants as Corduroy & Finch and Ubin Seafood, along Bukit Timah Road. The place has potential, but it was deserted on a Tuesday night at 8 pm. They close at 9, so most of their pies were sold out. It's probably more of a lunch place too, because having just one pie for dinner isn't exactly filling or satisfying.

I had the Piper's Pie, which was puff pastry with minced beef - your standard classic minced meat pie. It was a tad boring but quite tasty, and the puff pastry was nice and light but not overly crumbly. Peter's Pie is apparently the same filling, but with mashed potato instead, i.e. a shepherd's pie. A had the chicken with white wine pie, and we both agreed that his was better than mine. It was quite generous with chicken chunks, most of which were pretty tender, and the creamy white wine sauce wasn't too heavy or gelak. They have a chicken and asparagus pie on the menu but it was unfortunately sold out.

They've got a pretty decent dessert menu as well, but since we had ice cream and cheesecake at home, we passed on dessert this time. I definitely wouldn't mind coming back here again for a light meal, or perhaps even to take out some pies to store in the freezer as an emergency meal.

A says:

A bit pricey but you pay for quality. There's a good selection of pies and the desserts don't look bad. Place is clean and simple while service is decent and friendly. Definitely a place to go if you like pie. But since I'm not a big pie fan (unless it's pizza pie), I probably won't be back for a while.

Guest post: Buko Nero

My friend G and her husband M decided to try Buko Nero after reading our reviews on it, and actually managed the unthinkable - they called and managed to get a reservation for the very next night!! Unbelievable! Maybe it's just us that keeps having trouble getting reservations, even when we call up to a month in advance.

Anyway, this isn't about how the good people at Buko Nero don't like us... G has kindly agreed to let me post her review about the place, so without further ado, I give you - a guest post from G:

G says:

Ok, (drum roll please) my review of Buko Nero. Overall, we thought the standard of the food was high. Good ingredients and tastefully presented. We both had ala carte items. Starters: me - Scallops on a bed of salmon carpaccio. M - tau kwa tower. Mains: me - today's special of tenderloin with bacon on bed of potato mash and baby asparagus. M - beef tenderloin as per the menu. Accompanied by a bottle of 2004 chianti. No desserts, just 2 espressos.

I liked my starter, it tasted good and was very pretty to look at. The scallops had little dollops of ebiko roe on them. Unfortunately, there were only 3 of them. Gone in 3 bites :-( Guess I'm used to hefty portions. Tau kwa tower was very tasty, I liked the mushrooms in it too. I preferred this to my own starter although M said it was quite heavy in taste for him but both of us agreed that it was very well plated. It smelled heavenly too.

Mains were done rare, just the way we ordered and the way we both like our meat. Excellent taste and good quality cuts and well plated but again, they were too small for the both of us. The cut was slightly smaller than the size of my palm. It was thick though.

Service was very polite. Both servers wore Birkenstock! - big plus! There were only 3 tables of diners when we arrived at 8pm and a couple who walked in managed to snag a table.

Ambience. Very chic with all the cream and dark brown tones. Nice music. I liked the book shelf with all the quirky decoration although the plastic chairs were a minus. M found the glass tables a little clinical but we both liked the water tumblers. They're from Bodum and we were arguing for a while whether they were glass or plastic cos they were so light! Also, it was good that they used proper balloon wine glasses for our red wine. And we had 2 buckets of bread, the second of which I only had one slice cos M polished off all the rest! M's a bit of a bread monster. He makes his own bread at home.

So yes, it was all very nice but we could have done with MORE! I am so greedy! But yes, very pleasant.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Pizza Month Summary

A says:

I’ve realised that I actually prefer really thin and crispy pizzas that aren’t overloaded with toppings. So here’s my Top 5:

1. Naxos
2. Peperoni
3. Valentino’s
4. Rocky’s
5. Spizza

C says:

My Top 5 is slightly different, not least because I had a fairly off-colour experience at Naxos the other day. Went there for lunch, and as usual ordered the Mii Tuna. First bite was a tad mushy, but I thought it was just the guacamole sauce. But after eating a little more, S and I realised that it wasn’t the sauce, it was the tuna itself that was mushy inside. I don’t think it was undercooked, because rare tuna is still firm. It must have gone off, which is kinda gross. Also, the service at lunch was pretty lacking – all the waiters seemed blur and didn’t seem to know what was on the menu.

Note: If you go to Naxos at dinner time, remember that there IS an HSBC credit card discount, contrary to what the waitstaff may say. Whenever I went at lunch, they’d tell me “Sorry, only at dinner time”, and when I went at dinner, they used to tell me that there wasn’t any discount. I finally asked the boss the other day, and he rather unapologetically just shrugged it off, and told me that the waitstaff must have made a mistake. I’m afraid I won’t be coming here again any time soon.

Enough of my rant. Here’s MY Top 5:

1. Valentino’s
2. Rocky’s
3. Peperoni
4. Sistina
5. Spizza