Saturday, January 13, 2007

Basil Alcove

C says:

We read about this place on Asiaone Wine and Dine; a review by the author of another food blog, ieatishootipost. It was described as a ‘coffeeshop fine dining experience’so, intrigued, we headed down on Saturday evening for dinner.

This place was apparently opened by a young chef who wants to make fine dining available to the masses, at everyday prices. As a result, the focus is clearly the food – don’t expect any ambience whatsoever; even though I expected a very simple, no frills joint, I was still surprised when I realized that we would be eating on the pavement itself, outside Fortune Centre along Middle Road, facing the Nayang Academy of Fine Arts. Little tables are set up on the sidewalk, complete with umbrellas and tealights, making for a cosy albeit very surreal experience. People walking by (and there were many, since Middle Road is quite the thoroughfare) can peer at what you’re having, which was probably a good thing for the restaurant, because they got quite a few drop-in visitors who were intrigued by what we were eating.

We shared a dish of sautéed mixed mushrooms (shitake and white button). Instead of just sliced mushrooms stir fried together with some butter and garlic, check out the presentation:

Not only did they look good, but they were very tasty as well. Not overcooked, nor overly seasoned or garlicky. The centre tablespoon held a balsmamic and olive oil dipping sauce.

I ordered the Basilico roast duck, and A ordered the roast rack of lamb. Both came with the same sides of buttery cubed potatoes, and sautéed poh choy (Chinese spinach). My duck had a dipping sauce of red wine vinegar with black pepper, served in a shot glass, and A’s lamb had some marmalade-type dressing on the side.

I really enjoyed the duck. For just $16.90, I had a very substantial portion consisting of 5 or 6 very large slices. The duck was prepared medium so it wasn’t tough, and surprisingly it didn’t have a very strong duck taste at all. Even A could manage a few bites. It came with a garlic pesto spread, and all 3 flavours of duck, pesto and the vinegar dipping sauce came together perfectly.

A’s lamb was pretty good too. He said one piece was a bit hard, but the other piece was perfect, and the blackened charred bits were heavenly. It was also done medium, and this too was pretty good value at $16.90 as well.

There are currently no desserts on the menu, because they’re still just finding their feet. It has plenty of potential, though, and I’d like to go back some time and see what else the chef can do. There’s currently no service charge or any taxes, but do note that they only accept cash at the moment.

A says:

Except for the inconsistent lamb, the food is good and very affordable for the standard that you get. But eating proper food at a roadside with the constant stream of pedestrians is very distracting. Although I’d definitely eat here if I was in the area, I don’t think it’s a place I’d specifically go to just for the food (unless they have something special on). The cappuccino there is pretty good though.

Basil Alcove
190 Middle Road
#01-07, Fortune Centre
(Outside the building, along Middle Road)
Tel: 63361318
Opening hours: 12pm to 10pm daily; closed on Mondays

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