the problem with food blogging is that whilst some restaurants really compel me to blog about the fantastic tastes and the artful decor (say, jaan), others simply can’t excite me to summon much enthusiasm to write about. so let me try to complete this whilst i have so time to spare.
chalk is the very definition of hidden find, tucked up above mount sophia at old school, where timbre is also sited. its a chillax, artsy environment what with the semi-industrial, minimalistic designs (seemingly with the swedish design aesthetic) along with tasteful paintings and furniture. getting here can be quite a pain if you don’t have a car, as it means climbing up quite a few sequences of steps from plaza singapura. but that gives it the secluded charm i suppose.
my first impression of chalk was hugely positive – nice ambience along with good wine and company, and the restaurant gave the sense of a cosy after-work chill out spot for wine and food lovers and artsy bohemian spirits alike. often quite packed and requiring reservations, the restaurant had the air of a crowded yet still sufficiently private feel of a popular dining club, if you know what i mean. food-wise, the first experience proved pretty good, what with a decent carbonara serving, nice desserts and at a price point that wasn’t too expensive.
so it was with these high expectations that i headed back to chalk to celebrate my birthday (now you know how backlogged this post is.. lol). and with high expectations came a high crash i suppose. what stunned me initially was the prices of the food as i stared at the menu – simple pastas were going at high 20s to 30s (the range of fine dining establishments), appetizers going at 20s to 40s (for iberico ham) and with flatbreads (some variant of a pizza) fetching at least 30 bucks. its was seriously pricey and i was kinda shocked at the menu and really even wondering what to order. lets not even talk about the drinks menu.
i mean, let’s be honest about prices. people head to restaurants with a certain expectation after looking at the ambience, the clientele and just the general hype, classify them as a certain type of restaurant (cheap/value, cafe-style/brunch, mid-range, pricey, fine-dining). to me, chalk fell nicely in between the cafe/mid-range zone, where i would have expected pastas at around low 20s and mains at high 20s – 30s.. hmm, i dunno, the shock really took away alot of the initial goodwill i had of the place. and of course, with such prices, you become just that much demanding of what you get served with.
let’s talk service next. i would call it inattentive at best. there weren’t that many tables being served at that time, like 3 – 4.. which was surprisingly empty actually (maybe it was a sign). service was slow and it was difficult to get the waiter’s attention it seemed. furthermore, there was a distinct sense that some of the waiters (or perhaps owner?) of the place was fixated on serving this ang-moh family that were seated later than us and pointedly ignored us. and that’s annoying.
and then let’s talk food. surprisingly, the menu didn’t seem to have the well-acclaimed carbonara anymore, and the selections seemed to have thinned out. let’s see:-
seafood aglio olio, $32
to be honest, the dish didn’t look too bad or taste too bad, but i seriously don’t know how the restaurant would justify a pricepoint of 30-ish bucks. The ingredients don’t look particularly spectacular or expensive and neither does the execution seem to require some major expensive equipment. so why?
i’ve said my piece about the price so i’m not repeating. taken on its own, this dish is actually a decent variation of your common pizza, with the caramelized onions, fried chorizo and pork belly meat blending well to create a flat bread that was both sweet and savory and tasted good. it’s a decent dish.
desserts was where chalk won back some points. the desserts felt inspired and the vanilla pannacotta is really something to die. for. light, but bursting with immense vanilla flavor and paired spectacularly with the berry compote, this dessert seriously left you wanting for me. haven’t seen another pannacotta that is as good as this to be honest. try this if you are here.
hmm. all in all? a disappointment, more from an overpriced standpoint. dishes were well-executed and tasty but the price left a bitter taste in the mouth. service didn’t help either. i liked their spanish flatbread, but found their others mains (didn’t really include them, but it included dishes like half a spring chicken and barramundi fish) to be too simplistic and uninspired to fetch such a high price. desserts were good. its sad to say this, but i doubt i would revisit chalk unless i hear sufficient good hype again. the competition out there is just too stiff. 5.0/10
chalk restaurant | 11 mount sophia, #01-03, singapore | desserts, western, contemporary