Excellent Lunch & Company @ Clifford on 27Mar2014

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lobster salad

had a most enjoyable lunch at clifford, fullerton bay hotel, on 27.3.2014, in the company of good friends – hugo, a close dutch friend was visiting singapore, & PL, who had helped me a lot in my earlier ventures, and who insisted on buying lunch. 🙂

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baguette

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multi-grain rolls

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duck rillettes

we were served bread – baguette & multi-grain roll. both were good, and especially so as they were served with duck rillettes in addition to the usual butter. 🙂

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salmon tartar with sour cream, bit of mesclun salad

i had lunch at clifford maybe 1.5 years ago with my dining quartet which has now discontinued. food & ambience were truly excellent, especially as we had the uob 1 for 1 at S$68 (so S$34pax) 3-course lunch then. 🙂

the price is a lot more now, 2-course for S$48, and 3-course for S$58, coffee included. we took the 2-course. the appetizer choices included a salmon tartar, a mushroom veloute & i think a salad (cannot quite recall). the mains choices included a herb crusted lamb loin, a dory fillet, and a pasta (can’t recall what). there were a lot more appetizer & mains choices but they came with supplements.

PL ordered the lobster salad (top photo – looked just fabulous) – S$12 supplement, and the 220g beef entrecot (a ribeye or scotch fillet steak) – S$25 supplement. i ordered the salmon tartar & lamb loin & hugo ordered same salmon & the dory. the salmon tartar was a good-size helping.

the suave, efficient & polite restaurant manager prakash came by to ask about the food, so i gave him some feedback. i thought the salmon tartar was very fresh & sweet but the sour cream distracted & did not quite enhance the flavour (this part of course is subjective taste…). personally i like it with just sea salt & pepper & olive oil. those might already have been incorporated so perhaps just some additional fresh ground black peppers. 🙂

i thought the prices were really too high, though fortunately the regular appetiser & mains (i.e. w/o supplements) were quite excellent. compare this with les amis’ 4-course S$45pax set lunch, which included choice of patagonia toothfish (the excellent chilean seabass my favourite fish) or quail. to be fair, i have not tried the les amis set lunch yet (will do soon enough!), but you know it’s les amis! 🙂

likewise the excellent S$45pax set lunch we had at au jar din! & au jardin’s plating was also somewhat more artisan by comparison! or indeed the exquisite & simply fabulous S$48 3-course lunch at gordon grill at goodwood park, with 3 mini appetisers & 3 mini soups. 🙂

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citrus lychee drink (complementary from parkas)

prakash was very receptive & accommodating. he offered us a complementary citrus lychee drink. PL declined so we had 2 glasses.

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220g beef entrecot

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dory fillet

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herb crusted lamb loin

my herb crusted lamb loin was excellent, nicely medium rare & flavourful with hardly any gamey taste. my friends were asking what was the crust (breadcrumbs with spinach, basil etc) as c/w my own pistachio crusted rack of lamb. the dory looked great.

the beef entrecot looked perfectly charred. PL like it well done. somehow it did not quite look like 220g, not sure if it was dry aged for more intense flavours & so had some weight loss.

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petite four

we had coffee & petit fours (which means small oven & not 4 items!). macarons were too sweet. nutty chocolates were ok. i did not try the cake but it should be good.

overall, the service was efficient & responsive, the ambience was just super, and the food quality quite excellent. i can’t say food was better than au jardin though (in fact i thought au jardin’s was better) & of course the price was not just marginally but significantly higher than les amis (S$48 2-course vs S$45 4-course set lunch) or au jar din or gordon grill. i will come here for its great ambience, service & food, but sparingly. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy

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Fabulous New Year Eve Dinner Degustation @ Au Jardin on 31Dec2013

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

au jardin new year eve degustation menu

au jardin new year eve degustation menu

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wanted to buy my wife a nice new year eve dinner, and saw the quite attractive menu in au jardin’s website, so decided to make a reservation for 2pax dinner on 31.12.2013.

we had couple of degustation dinners at au jardin many years back (my wife said 10 years ago). they were like 8-course priced at S$200pax  & were really good. i had considered trying the S$150pax table d’hote  (ie prix fixe)menu, but never did. subsequently, the regular menu did not look attractive as it does not today (ie 4-course at S$150pax), so i did not do dinner at au jardin but only occasional lunches (especially the recent maybank 1 for 1 promotion set lunch).

my wife & I generally have the practice not to dine out during public holidays, festive periods, mothers’ day etc as those occasions were very commercilaised & one often ended up paying through the nose (like 50% – 100% more) & getting poor food & poor service. anyhow for this new year eve dinner, au jardin served a 7-course+amuse bouche dinner at $198pax which was no difference in price from 10 years ago & far better menu than the regular S$150pax course menu, so the arrangement suited us fine.

i just wonder why they don’t do such menu regularly, especially when their business had not been good, and they are closing down by 31.3.2014 as a result of huge rental increase (& to me perhaps poor strategy & marketing). sign!

i do not rate au jardin degustation as better than the creative & excellent degustation at Jaan which cost only S$119pax after 50% feed at raffles discount, however one need a change of menu & environment, and most degus restaurants like iggy’s, gunthers etc are far more expensive. others like keystone & saint pierre are a little cheaper but not as fine, and private affairs had closed down.

wife ordered a red. it was expensive, 1/2 bottle for S$85++, but it was a grand cru classe & was really nice though i took maybe 30ml.

amuse bouche - foie gras terrine

amuse bouche – foie gras terrine

blue fin tuna ceviche

blue fin tuna ceviche

cold pasta with mud crab, caviar & uni

cold pasta with mud crab, caviar & uni

iberico pork cheeks, joselito proscuito, egg confit & winter truffles

iberico pork cheeks, joselito proscuito, egg confit & winter truffles

dover sole with razor clam & clam emulsion

dover sole with razor clam & clam emulsion

the 7-course dinner (+amuse bouche) came with 4 appetisers, 1 palate cleanser, 1 main, 1 dessert; as well as coffee & petit fours.

we had a warm bread basket. both the baguette & a raisin bread were good. the amuse bouche was a foie gras terrine with tobiko (flying fish roe) & jelly. this wasn’t exceptional & but still a great start to the evening dinner. 🙂

1st course was blue fin tuna ceviche with tobiko. it was nothing inventive, but very sweet & tasty.

the 2nd course, cold pasta with mud crab, caviar & sea urchin, was heavenly, par excellence. it way surpassed gordon grill’s (no comparison really as gordon grill’s was for a S$48pax lunch) & according to my wife likewise c/w gunther’s. 🙂

the 3rd course was a braised iberico pork cheek, with joselito proscuito, egg confit & winter truffle. sous vide low temperature poached egg is a regular feature in fine dining & i really loved the texture enhancement it gave to the dish, the proscuito was excellent, pork cheek so-so & i had already written about the excellent winter truffle here. 🙂

the 4th course was a lightly breaded dover sole served with razor clam & clam emulsion. the dover sole was ok, tender, i guess considered good in a good restaurant, but really average dish by comparison to other courses. the razor clam was great. 🙂

palate cleanser - watermelon, sorbet & lime jelly

palate cleanser – watermelon, sorbet & lime jelly

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

wagyu striploin marbling score 5 rare

pistachio cake, green tea soil, raspberry sorbet

pistachio cake, green tea soil, raspberry sorbet

next we had the palate cleanser – a watermelon confit with sorbet & lime jelly. it was good.

the grilled wagyu striploin MBS5 rare (top photo & second above) was excellent. this was much better than what i did at home. it was done rare & yet totally charred (for maillard reaction that gave flavour to the beef) & served with carrot & root vegetables and a tiny piece of black garlic. superb! 🙂

for dessert, we had pistachio cake with raspberry sorbet. the cake was bland but when taken together with the slightly sour sorbet, it was good. 🙂

my cappuccino was great. the petit fours though was miserable (same as they served for set lunches). mini macarons were too sweet, chocolate was ok.

overall we had an excellent evening of food, wine & conversation. Jaan’s degustation gave far better value.nevertheless i enjoyed this dinner very much & would come back but regrettably they do not serve this in their regular menu. i may consider trying ala carte or their course menu. not sure for now!

happy new year everyone!

happy new year everyone!

and before signing off, happy new year 2014 to all my friends, readers & everyone!

c.h.e.f. andy

Majestic’s Excellent 8-course WGS (World Gourmet Summit) dinner on 19Apr2013

black turffle on hokkaido scallop with gourd

black truffle on hokkaido scallop with gourd

looked at Majestic’s 8-course WGS (World Gourmet Summit) dinner menu on its website & decided to go for this dinner. 🙂 WGS dinners have been around for many years. was never quite motivated to try them as I always believe (& still do) that good food begins with taste, and presentation & creativity (including fusion & molecular discoveries & adventures) are superlative to good taste & superfluous to bad ones; and have always felt it is paying lots of $ to get average (or poor) food & service..

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Majestic’s excellent 8-course WGS (World Gourmet Summit) menu ending 26apr2013

Majestic is our favourite Chinese fine dining restaurant so we are confident with the quality of its cooking (not to say bias..haha..). this 8-course WGS dinner menu is S$99++pax c/w several hundred $ for other WGS dinners & there is a 10% Citibank credit card discount, so it looked reasonable to give it a try & we were happy we did. 🙂

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The lobster soup with a yasai (veg) tempura was a great start. The lobster meat were plump, sweet & tender. The soup was very smooth & tasty – the intense hae mee (prawn noodle) type stock, not the foam cappuccino bisque served at most western fine dining. the tempura batter was good.

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the braised abalone and lotus roots with a minced oyster filling in batter & brocoli in brown sauce was a superb dish. 🙂 Chinese dried abalones in brown sauce are always soooo good. the abalone was smaller than the 5-head ones at Xin Cuisine, probably 8 or 10-heads but still good size. the lotus root with minced oyster though was par excellence, very good indeed! 🙂 next item on the menu (top photo) was plump, sweet,nicely seared hokkaido scallop sitting on a marrow gourd with a sprinkling of tobiko (flying fish roe), and it had an amazingly large black truffle topping it! I love the fragrance truffle & truffle oil add to dishes (especially cold Japanese noodle topped with caviar & some truffle oil at Gordon Grill) but never believe in paying stratospheric prices for them.

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the 4th dish was 1 of the best caramelised (I think honey vinegared) pork rib I had. you can the glaze, glistening..not sure how it is done – whether baked or deep (or shallow) fried & braised. the plating was good with the green tea powder donning some chinese character (京?). 🙂

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teochew steamed promfet topped with pigskin

next was the teochew steamed promfet – as good as any good teochew restaurant, not sure the plating & pigskin topping (odd choice) was an effort in fine dining presentation? whatever –  the taste still a good robust steamed teochew promfet dish. 🙂

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we were expecting panfried wagyu MBS6 – I guess maybe that was too much of an expectation for the price? haha. 🙂 what we got was panfried wagyu guotie (锅贴)..when reading menu I was thinking a panfried wagyu + a pot sticker yum yum..it was not to be..the minced wagyu was very tasty & the dough was good..not quite the same but well can’t have the best of everything, 🙂

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the 2 desserts were I guess another effort at creativity & fine dining.. don’t know what to make of the cherry pie thingy..the puff pastry was excellent, lovely swans too, the filling a bit sweet & not my thing, like a sticky date pudding? maybe.

the ice dessert  I consider a 败笔 (point of failure) of an otherwise outstanding menu..the usual aloe vera sorbet at Majestic is so good no need the trouble to invent something fancy..not that it was bad really, but it was much ado about nothing – an ice jelly in a hawker centre would be more shiok!

overall it was an outstanding & enjoyable dinner. the WGS menu promotion is until 26apr2013. 🙂

c.h.e.f andy