The Lokal – Aussie Inspired Cafe

The Lokal - (2)

The Lokal is one of those cafes where one look at it and you know it’s just going to stay crowded for many weeks to come. Located in the Duxton area, there are a surprising number of Caucasian types that were at the cafe when we were there. I guess it’s because the chef is from Sydney. Having opened not that long ago, the news does travel fast doesn’t it?

Food is definitely the highlight here, as compared to those cafes where you feel two or three food dishes have been put in the menu just so that they can say that they serve food. In fact, The Lokal can even be thought of more as a casual restaurant serving good coffee, rather than a cafe, as brunch items are definitely not a highlight here.That’s because the chef owner Darren Farr was one of the founding chefs at Tetsuya in Sydney. Yes, the Tetsuya owned by Tetsuya Wakuda who also owns Waku Ghin in Singapore. Read more about Darren Farr here.

When we were there on a Sunday, they had their brunch menu out. But it’s nothing like what the other cafes are dishing out, aka eggs benedict, all day breakfast and the likes. There is not a poached egg dish to be found on the main menu, although you can get it if you customise your own breakfast. This, I highly advise you NOT TO, because eggs are just NOT The Lokal’s speciality.

The Lokal's Brunch Menu

See this menu, it does not have an eggs based dish in the main section, and for good reason. Try the items such as the Toasted banana bread which I heard was fantastic, or the plate of smoked salmon, as it is smoked in house!

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Osia – Cooking with Friends featuring Tim Montgomery

*Media Invite*

This has got to be one of my fastest posts as it is not even 24 hours since I left the restaurant that I am penning this down. But dining at Osia at Resorts World Singapore was a wonderful experience and I need to share this news with you before Chef Tim Montgomery flies home to Australia!

Due to popular demand, Osia is once again hosting Cooking with Friends with guest Chef Timothy Montgomery from 16 to 19 July. Returning for a second stint, Chef Montgomery is a talented Australian chef who now holds the Executive chef position for both Berardo’s Restaurant & Bar and Noosa International Food & Wine Festival. Prior to taking on these two roles, he previously led Bacchus Restaurant to win four consecutive Chef Hat’s – a prestigious Australian restaurant award. In the upcoming month, Chef Montgomery will be presenting Osia’s diners with several delectable menus reflecting his food philosophy: simplicity, freshness and a deep respect for seasonal and regional produce.

Osia Restaurant - Us with Tim Montgomery

Standout dishes available on Chef Montgomery’s a la carte menu include the Moreton Bay Bug, Jasmine Rice Congee with Macadamia and Guanciale; and ‘Kokoda’ Kingfish and Scallop with Coconut, Yuzu, Fingerlime and Rice Cracker. For those wanting to add to their culinary belt, a complimentary masterclass by Chef Montgomery will also be held on the 19th of July for dine-in guests only.

3-course Set Lunch: $50++/ 4-course Set Lunch $60++

3-course Set Dinner: $90++/ 4-course Set Dinner $115++/5-course Set Dinner$135++

Available from 16th to 19th July 2014

Free cooking demonstration by Chef Timothy Montgomery: 19th July from 3pm-5pm on a first come first serve basis (max of 15 pax; reservations recommended)

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Lewin Terrace

Lewin Terrace, located on Fort Canning Hill, is one of those fine-dining restaurants that boasts a very historic location but yet is a mere stone’s throw away from the city centre. Surprise surprise, it is but a 10 minute walk from City Hall MRT station!

Admittedly, finding it may be a bit of a problem, but if you know to stop your taxi just before the Philatelic museum, the stairs leading to the black and white conservation building which houses Lewin Terrace is just behind the museum and the fire station! Thankfully, I am familiar with this area, having worked in the vicinity for several years. I’ve never found it a problem to get here, even on my 1st day of work, because I know my museums well! Smile

Lewin Terrace

This is the beautiful Lewin Terrace bungalow that greets you after you have ascended the stairs. This was the former residence of the Chief who headed the Central Fire Station on Hill Street. You might vaguely recall that the restaurant Flutes used to occupy this building previously. Here’s a good spot to take all those selfies, if you manage to arrive before nightfall. But be careful because you might find a friendly face popping out of the veranda to welcome you warmly with a “HELLO!” just as you are admiring yourself in your iPhone, as was what happened to me.

Daisuke Kawai

The friendly face and voice belongs to none other than Mr Daisuke Kawai himself, the general manager and chief sommelier of Lewin Terrace. You can tell he’s a friendly person right? Smile The Japanese are ever so polite and eager to ensure you have a good time, you know you are in good hands when it comes to service standards. Beneath his unassuming exterior, Daisuke boasts an arsenal of sommelier awards, including Top Wines Best Sommelier of the Year in the Singapore World Gourmet Series Awards of Excellence 2013.

Lewin Terrace - (2)

We had a sampling of the tasting menu available at Lewin Terrace, prepared by Chef de Cuisine Ryoichi Kano and team. Chef Ryoichi loves experimenting with different foods, spices and tastes, which is evident in the French Japanese inspired cuisine that you will find at Lewin Terrace.

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Burnt Ends

Once in a while, I come across a gem of a restaurant that is so worthy of being mentioned and shared with the world that I’ve decided to bump it up the queue and write about it asap. Interestingly, if not for my foodie friends who organised this makan session, Burnt Ends would not have featured in my radar so I am really thankful for having made the acquaintance of Burnt Ends!

Burnt Ends is a modern Australian barbeque offering seating at the countertop table looking directly into the open kitchen. The reason why I said Burnt Ends would not have been my first port of call is because comfortable seating is extremely important to me. Food is of course important, but to be able to enjoy it in comfort, without having to fret about a confined space, and being able to face my dining companions, those are important factors for me too. Buttttt, having said that, we enjoyed the food here so much, I’m willing to say that I’ll forgo the comfort again for another chance at that lovely Pulled Pork cheese burger and the lamb!

Burnt Ends (1)

As you can tell from the name, Burnt Ends also specialises in barbequing, smoking, slow roasting and cooking directly on coals. Check out those said coals in the picture above!

Burnt Ends - Smoked Quail Eggs $6

Started off our meal with these Smoked Quail Eggs $6. 1 egg $1, not a bad pricing for a restaurant. You won’t believe these eggs, they look like normal quail eggs, but the minute you bite into them, this wonderful smoky flavour envelopes your tongue, it’s almost as if they’d injected smoky soup into where the yolk would have been!

Burnt Ends - Lamb and Carrot $14

Lamb and Carrot $14

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Gaia Ristorante at Goodwood Park Hotel

Today’s Straits Times’ article on Gaia by Wong Ah Yoke has reminded me that I really ought to push out my post as well on this hidden gem!  Gaia Ristorante is located at the illustrious Goodwood Park Hotel, and with a location like that, and an interior decor that spells fine dining, you would not be faulted for thinking that the prices are not wallet friendly. But depending on what you order, you could actually dine at Gaia Ristorante and have a good time without having to wash the dishes later!

If you stick to the pasta main courses, they are mostly in the $20+ range. A black cod dish costs $38, while the pork costs $35. If you go for the more expensive meats like lobster, veal, lamb saddle and pigeon, that’s where the prices start to become steep. Desserts cost about $15, once again, quite comparable to some desserts at brand name cafes these days.

For our media tasting, the Partner and I sampled the degustation menu, which comprises 5 courses at $98++/pax.

Gaia Ristorante Canapes

Assorted rice and potato crackers
Caramelised figs with Oscietra Caviar
Watermelon with black squid in and almonds
Parmesan bisquit with balsamic vinegar and Asian spices

One thing I love about dining at such restaurants is that they always try to surprise you with some small canapes to kickstart the meal. You never know what you will be served but usually the items are pretty good and the chef has the flexibility to be creative with the ingredients he has on hand. My favourite here was the figs with caviar, a sweet and salty combination that I’ve never tried before.

Gaia Ristorante -  Variazione cruda di gamberi (1)

Variazione cruda di gamberi – Raw red Sicilian prawn: warm ricotta cheese, oregano and Raw blue Caledonian prawn: peach, salt caramel

At Japanese restaurants, I do not flinch when being served Amaebi, aka raw sweet shrimp. And in fact, I am not one to shy away from raw foods, I love raw meats! I’m not exactly sure why I did a double take, save for the fact that the blue Caledonian prawn looked like a raw tiger prawn, and tiger prawns are not commonly served raw. But the fact is that the red Sicilian prawn as equally as raw, and once I saw that fact, there was no stopping me from diving into this dish.

If you have the opportunity, I really would recommend ordering this dish. This is where you can taste fresh prawns at their finest. They were so succulent and sweet that I feel as if I’ll never look at prawns the same way again. This is where you can savour the true texture of prawns that have not been marinaded in alkaline water (like in many chinese restaurants). They are firm but yielding with each bite.

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