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brunch time at orchard road!

robert timms was an accidental brunch choice for a lazy saturday morning. accidental meaning that mandarin gallery’s antoinette and wild honey were both completely swamped, with waiting times of 30 – 45 minutes whilst robert timms @ orchard shopping center looked distinctly empty besides one of two tables and hence we settled on that.

not that it was a bad choice.

i like the fact that it wasn’t crowded and the place had an airy, cheery atmosphere that really encouraged much talking/sharing and just chilling out. furnishings are nothing much to talk about, its just a simple restaurant layout with some slight australian accents (like the koala). and its not too expensive — something like a cross between a cafeteria styled fast food place and a more sophisticated cafe like environment. let’s talk food.

big bang  ($18.00) – sausages, turkey ham, beef patty, baked beans and bacon

to be honest, its a little of a meat overload, and it was semi-comical trying to see my friend trying to slowly work through the entire portion. definitely satisfies meat lovers though my friend didn’t particularly like the beef patty, but otherwise its not a smart choice for a light brunch option. girls, you can share this amongst three i suspect.

three way toasts ($13.50) – sauteed mixed mushrooms, bratwurst sausage, poached egg with turkey ham on multigrain toasts 

i got this which was pretty decent, what with three distinct flavors topped onto some multigrain toasts. poached egg with turkey was good, with the egg being nicely soft-boiled, oozing upon being poked at. the sauteed mixed mushrooms could have benefited from a little more flavor and perhaps a little of pepper and herbs because it was pretty bland. the bratwurst sausage slices were pleasant and reminded me of chorizo – they were slightly spicy (like the korean bean paste style spicy). overall, a decent choice with variety and a balance of flavors. i mean, i’m not expecting top notch quality food here and neither am i paying for such, so its all good. 

couldn’t end the meal without a decent cafe latte ($5.80), since coffees were apparently the draw of this place (help me, i’m turning ang-moh with the need for coffee). its aromatic and decent (honestly cant comment much about coffee) and made for a good after-meal drink. to be honest, i like the place because its simple, not too crowded, serves hearty decent brunch food at a sensible price, and is a nice place to just chat and chill with friends. mission accomplished. 6.75/10

house of robert timms321 Orchard Road, #01-01/02, Orchard Shopping Centre, singapore 238866 | brunch, australian, contemporary

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clearing the backlog.

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:-

(sorry if the dish name/price is inaccurate.. im trying to remember the ballpark figure)

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?

Coca De Matanza – Garlic Saffron Bread with Lean Pork Belly Meat, Fried Chorizo, Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic and Smoked Idiabazal Cheese ($36?)

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.

chocolate fondant, vanilla ice cream and sesame snap

sticky date pudding with brandy butterscotch sauce and ginger ice cream

vanilla pannacotta with berry compote

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

bittersweet memories.

you know, after blogging and reviewing so much about food, there’s a certain realization that food memories are hugely influenced by the people we eat the food with, the conversation we hold with them throughout the meal, and the emotions felt. in this case, it was a bittersweet meal, with the realization that chillin’ with my sis was going to be something that would be quite rare come next month onwards, considering that she would be flying off to spain for goodness knows how long. ah well.. it has been nice and a great support, and its really cool to grow up and see our siblings become our close friends.

anyways.. old empire gastrobar is this unpretentious pub/bar located in the sleepy shopping centre of valley point near river valley. (yes, spize is nearby, and dozo and la noce are in the same building.. if you need a reference). the sense i get from the bar is that it is an unpretentious watering hole, with lively 90s music, simple bar furnishings — a place that would completely blend into its surroundings had it been plonked into a irish/uk/us town. with such an environment, you would understand why foreigners flock to this place for drinks on a lazy, rainy friday night to just unwind, chillax and chat with friends. i was wondering why Singaporeans didn’t seem to buy into such a culture in general, then i remembered the coffee shops littered with old uncles watching football and realized the parallel there. different strokes for different folks eh?

and as an aside, using the word “gastrobar” really does raise the atas-ness of a restaurant by several notches eh? i mean, upon reading about this gastrobar on HGW, i was imagining some cool, chic, hip, well-designed bar serving pricey fusion bar food with an assortment of beer. well my impression couldn’t be more way off, considering this place was simply an unpretentious pub with well.. simple pubby food like fish & chips, burgers, chicken wings and the likes. but hey.. this shows.. using these “atas” words like gastro really does work sometimes eh? i’m chope-ing the word “gastroculture” or something like that for my future restaurant eh? lol..

trappistes rochefort 6

ok.. beer wise, they do have a real decent, long selection of beers, and with a happy hour till 8pm, you can get some relatively decently priced beers to accompany your meal. i got the trappistes rochefort 6 ($11), some belgian ale which had a malty sweet taste that appealed to my sweet-tooth sensibilities, whereas my sis got a girly koppaberg strawberry-lime beer ($8). both were pretty decent selections imo (but i still prefer wine of course =))

        smoked duck breast, $18

this is a surprisingly well plated dish for simple bar grub and the duck breast was all sorts of delicious, tasting almost somewhat like ham — well grilled, flavorful and really kinda addictive to be honest. the drawback of this dish would be the fact that it was kinda really oily, meaning that the health-conscious sensibilities of mine were kinda protesting at the dish. but its worth a try to be honest.

empire burger, $18

my sis ordered an empire burger, which was another surprise as well, this one not as pleasant. to be honest, the notion of burgers at a pub conjured up images of huge slabs of patty and bun in my mind, so it was kinda underwhelming to see such a small burger being served up, along with a decent potion of potato wedges. the burger was alrite, but nothing too special. this doesn’t really warrant an $18 to be honest..

hmm.. all in all, this place is nice to hang out and have some beer while catching up with friends. furthermore, there’s a 15% discount with standard chartered to sweeten the deal. food-wise, its kinda unexpected if you’re expecting common bar grub. there’s some level of sophistication but it needs some tweaking in my opinion. hold on the food-front until more reviews emerge praising their cuisine — otherwise, come for somewhat more delicious bar grub then. 6.5/10

old empire gastrobar |  491 River Valley Road, #01-16 Valley Point | bar grub, beers

tiong bahru chic

tiong bahru’s seriously becoming chic you guys, what with popular cafes and restaurants like forty hands and open door policy sprouting up, along with curio shops like strangelets (that sold popaganda!) and cool bakeries like drips. mark my words, tiong bahru’s your next duxton/ann siang. already, i noticed an increasing number of foreigners and well-dressed singaporeans strolling around roads with names like tiong poh road and such, so its a matter of time. anyways, ODP is sited along yong siak street, directly across forty hands. its not exactly easy to get there — you’d have to walk for about 10 minutes to get into the old estate area from tiong bahru MRT, but i guess that’s what gives it its tranquil charms. the place is still relatively under-developed and primarily an old residential estate, so when night falls, there’s a certain tranquility that settles within the area. parking isn’t an issue because there’s a relatively big open air carpark within the estate.

the interior of ODP gives off a very industrial, sleekly designed feel that feels like some up and coming restaurant in NYC, say within the meat packing district. you do get the feeling of being transported to another world, one where tired executives head to artsy restaurants like these to unwind from the days work alongside well-dressed socialites quietly sharing the latest gossips with each other. one must mention the furniture within the restaurant, which has largely adopted the “olden days” theme, with tables converted from old classroom desks, and many chairs being those old, rusty metallic chairs in classrooms. the furniture, whilst fitting with the theme, wasn’t exactly too comfortable as the chairs were kind of hard and my mom stared at the rust worried she would get tetanus (lol.. kidding). ok food talk.

steak tartare with truffle mayo and potato chips, $19

yummy! i recently commented to a friend that i found truffle fries to be the next big overhyped dish of singaporean cafes but these truffle potato chips made me literally swoon upon first bite — crispy and amazingly flavored with truffle sauce. i could order an entire bowl to finish if I had the chance. =) the steak tartare was well made and paired well the toasted bread. i suspect we were supposed to eat the chips with the tartare, but the chips were too good to need any further flavor inject. mind you, for people who don’t know, tartare refers to raw meat, usually used for spreads for toast. (this is essentially the thing mr bean ordered and hated, and proceeded to try hiding chunks of them in the most ridiculous places ever. but don’t worry this tastes good.) so yeah, if you get squeamish about eating raw stuff, then don’t order this — though to be honest, it tasted really great and had no such slimy/raw feel to it.

48 hour cooked braised beef cheek with mochi potatoes, carrot puree, and snow pea lendrils , $29

didn’t exactly like the snow pea lendrils, but besides that this dish was perfect — something that can literally send you to gastronomie heaven. the beef cheek is so soft that it really melts in your mouth as you savour it. the sauce for it is well balanced, and the carrot puree formed a perfect complement to the beef cheeks. mochi potatoes was something new to me and they likewise went really really well with the dish, and made me actually hanker for more of such carbs. my only other complain would be that the sauce wasn’t enough and I ended up eating a little portion of the beef cheeks without the sauce. but besides that, seriously guys, go try this rendition of beef cheeks. yummz.

pork belly with parsnip puree, braised quinoa and celery, $29

tried some portions of this — the crisps stacked on top of the pork belly were really good and the pork belly was one slab of crispy goodness as well. my companions who ate this gave quite high reviews as well, besides for the fact that it was slightly small.

i didn’t try the desserts. why? to be honest, I realised just how expensive some of the dishes were – desserts were roughly $15 each, which is kind of exorbitant. and likewise, a quick calculation in my mind made me realise that we had already spent upwards of 30+ for a shared appetizer and mains each. haha.. i’m quite the calculative cheapskate nowadays perhaps, but i think the atas food trips is taking a tolling on my wallet. =(

overall? a really cool place with an exciting menu and food that has some serious flavor and goodness in time. it’s more pricey that your usual cafes (a spaghetti bolognaise went for $22) but in return, you get good ambience, interesting food arrangements (there was a tendency to use chopping boards and stone pots for various dishes) and good, solid food. come at least once to try it out, then take a stroll round the estate to discover this part of singapore, eh? 8.0/10

open door policy | 19 yong siak street | contemporary, western

de ja vu.

ya’know, i rarely head back to the same restaurant, and especially in such a short duration. but considering its close proximity to my house, and that my elder sis had suggesting bringing kayla there for lunch, i begrudgingly decided to revisit the place, albeit reminding myself not to order the desserts. read about the previous meal here.

and boy, i did quite a 180. this time we ordered the chicken schnitzel yet again, but also shepherd’s pie ($16.90), as well as the bratwurst brat ($18.90). the dishes really gave off a homey, warm feeling, which went well with the fact it was pouring like crazy outside. the bratwurst was deliciously juicy, bursting in our mouths as we bit into it (i compared it to squeezing a pimple to which both my sister’s reeled back in disgust. lol). i found the pairing of the bratwurst with the accompanying honey mustard sauce really nice, the sweetness complementing the juicy flavor of the meat. the shepherd’s pie was well made/baked, with the top crust nicely browned and crisp and the proportion of beef stew and potato was just nice such that the starchiness of the potato did not overwhelm the dish.

and hey it’s kids friendly! (there’s only one baby chair though, so book in advance) we fed kaykayla the mashed potatoes with corn along with the shepherd’s pie and she approved of it by finishing the entire bowl. haha.. she’s really the most critical reviewer actually.

and mind you, the ambience of the place was distinctly different from the sparse, empty feel the first time i went, as the restaurant was merrily packed with patrons, lending a cheery, laid back atmosphere to the place. the service was also much more prompt and faster than the first, perhaps because the owner of the restaurant was around this time.

desserts time! i read on HGW that the apple crumble with ice cream ($6) was decent, so i was willing to give the desserts a second shot since the mains proved to be a delightful improvement as well. and boy.. the apple crumble is really quite good, the crust is nicely baked and crisp and the ice cream really went well with the apple pie. we also ordered a chocolate truffle cake that was pleasantly delicious as well.

 all in all? little part 1 cafe deserves a raise in scoring — choose wisely and you get a really pleasant, decent meal – avoid the brownies and go for the apple crumble for dessert as well. and oh.. come when the owner is around to get the best experience i suppose. =) 6.5/10

ittle part 1 cafe | 15 jasmine road, adelphi park estate | german, beers, cafe, desserts

german trick or treat

little part 1 cafe is the very definition of hidden find – tucked away at a small road after thomson plaza and sited at a row of smallish shops supporting a cosy neighborhood, its a place you would easily miss unless you knew what you were looking for. the interior is quite cosily decorated, typical of those cafes you would find at a street side in munich.. i say munich because the cafe reminds me distinctly of Germany, what with the paulaner brauhaus beers and a menu featuring food like chicken schnitzel. i particularly like the photo frame wall feature in the cafe, which lends a certain eccentric haphazard charm to the place. i went with my sis on a lazy thursday afternoon where there were a few patrons just chillin’ and whiling afternoon away. quaint.

this being said, the service was tad slow, considering that you really had a slow, linear chain of customers coming in. the dishes took quite a few to come, especially for the dessert. let’s talk about food then.

chicken schnitzel – $18.90

this place isn’t exactly cheap, but the chicken schnitzel was really quite good, especially compared to a the chicken meuniere served at nearby swensens @ thomson plaza. the breaded chicken was crispy and juicy and didn’t feel any bit fattening or oily (unlike say KFC) and the accompanying white wine sauce was an interesting complement to the dish. i was delighted to find that the mashed potatoes had corn in them, which added a nice flavor to what can be quite mundane normally. the salad also was infused with a kind of citrusy vinaigrette which made for a very pleasant meal in general. mind you, this dish is big, so bring an appetite here.

four cheese crepe – $16.90

my sis got the four cheese crepe, which was pretty decent. surprisingly, i don’t see that many restaurants doing much crepes, when its actually a very simple and very common dish in europe.

brownie with vanilla ice cream – $6.50

sadly, the dessert was a disappointing disaster. i suspect the brownie was over-microwaved and hence it was dry, flaky and had a slight plasticky taste, which was kinda sad since i was hoping for something chewy and delicious. the ice cream felt like it was ladled out of a cheap walls ice cream tub and tasted cheap and not at all artisanal (haha i love that word). to be honest, i think a cafe should serve desserts of a certain standard, so its kinda disappointing.

all in all, a decent chill out spot for some German-influenced food. the chicken schnitzel is worth a try, perhaps shared along with some buffalo wings. it’s a little pricey to be honest and the desserts are an abject disappointment. so-so place for me. oh.. but plus points for not having any service charge… maybe that explains for the slower than usual service. 5.5/10

little part 1 cafe | 15 jasmine road, adelphi park estate | german, beers, cafe

simple playspace.

saturday mornings have become lazy, brunch-hunting mornings where I hunt down new cafes and establishments to soak in the atmosphere, comment about the ambience, enjoy a good meal and chat with good friends. =) that’s a pretty chill life, eh? so this time round, lik sin and i got down to exploring arbite @ serangoon gardens. after having watched michelle chong’s inspired portrayal of a serangoon gardener, i decided to go explore this area abit.

so arbite took the place of what used to be a chinese dessert stall that used to sell durian desserts which contributed to an overall pungent environment to its cosy confines. me no life. arbite has taken the space and has decorated it in a sleek, white minimalist theme, using swedish-style furniture to create a tasteful cosy area for people to escape the midday heat. the decorative elements are lego blocks that have been stuck onto cracks in the wall, and there are also jars of lego for little kids to play with. nice concept. location wise, arbite manages to achieve that hidden gem feel owing to the fact that it resides of the second floor above guardian pharmacy, but is actually really convenient, considering it faces serangoon circus and can be seen once u get off the board that leads into the area. let’s talk food then.

pappardelle with mushrooms and parma ham – button mushrooms, spinach, parma ham and cream sauce drizzled in truffle oil ($19.90)

yay for home-made pappardelle! it’s been awhile since i’ve managed to taste home-made pappardelle — those i tasted in florence really set an incredibly high standard with an amazing crunchiness and lightness to the taste of the pasta. mind you, there really is a difference when stuff is home made and made well. makes me really want to head back to florence again. FYI, the restaurant you MUST go to in florence for their pasta and wine tasting is Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. anyways,the parppadelle here can’t compare to that found in florence, but stands pretty well on its own. there is a certain level of crunchiness and the ingredients really worked well together, the cream sauce balancing out the savoriness of the parma ham and the mushrooms. good stuff.

pork schnitzel, $17.90

lik sin got the pork schnitzel, which was a smart choice i suppose, since arbite is a pun for the german/danish word for work. anyways, he liked it alot, especially with the gratuitous dollop of blue cheese at the side.

my wife’s chocolate cake, served with a scoop of movenpick’s vanilla ice cream, $8.00

the dessert is kinda huge and should be shared. its delicious mind you but imo, too much chocolate makes on jelak very easily. anyways, i appreciated the fact that the movenpick ice cream used real vanilla pods because you could see the black grains in the ice cream. (the cheaper and much easier method would be to use vanilla essence) the ice cream went really well with the chocolate cake, which had a thick layer of chocolate ganache on top of the chocolate cake that swirled well with the ice cream. the cake itself was pretty light but still held its own flavors together with the ganache and ice cream. yummy.

all in all, i’m definitely coming back here, what with other delicious things on the menu, from brunch breakfasts to lamb shanks. nice chill ambience and a cool environment. 7.5/10

arbite | 66a serangoon gardens way | cafe, contemporary, desserts