Mar 31, 2011|
The menu: Rotating weekly, with delicately prepared reworkings of homestyle Italian classics, many from the north (their chef’s from Treviso). You get a choice from three appetizers, three mains and two desserts. On our visit, there was soup, salad or beef carpaccio, as well as spaghetti with Parma ham and butter sauce, baby snapper fillet with soft polenta or pan-roasted chicken breast with fontina cheese.
The damage: $38 for three courses, including coffee or tea.
The verdict: Boy, does this place get busy. That’s worth bearing in mind if you’re in a rush, when food can take a while; it’s quieter around noon, though. If you’re looking to impress, the combination of innovative dishes and enthusiastic service makes it a real winner. And you’ve got to love the building it’s in.
#01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building, 28 Maxwell Rd., 6227-6819. Mon-Fri noon-3:30pm.
The menu: Chef Adrian Ling presents a selection of modern European dishes and has the others beat in terms of sheer variety. We were able to pick from six different starters, eight mains and three desserts (that’s a whopping 17 dishes in total). For appetizers, we went with citrus-marinated salmon and miso aioli, as well as foie gras terrine sachertorte with roselle espuma and apricot jam ($10 supplement), both of which were lovely. Settling on our mains proved to be a tricky business, but we finally decided on the signature uni tagliolini with a rich crustacean cream sauce and pork gratons and onglet steak with caramelized onions, pomme puree and truffle-infused Madeira sauce ($5 supplement). For a delightful finale, osmanthus-scented crème brûlée with lychee sorbet and baked black rice pudding with H jicha ice cream made us happy campers.
The damage: A mere $32 for three courses—talk about a steal.
The verdict: This is an ideal spot for lunch, whether you’re dining with business associates or catching up with friends (although we noticed more than a few tai tais in attendance). We’re big fans of the discreet, decidedly un-snooty service and real value-for-money sets. Dempsey’s not convenient for everyone, though.
#01-04, 7 Dempsey Rd., 6475-0080. Tue-Fri noon-3pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-3pm.
The menu: A range of 11 appetizers (three of which are foie gras, $6 supplement), seven mains and 10 delectable desserts. We can’t help but be impressed that their dessert selection is almost as varied as that of their starters. Don’t miss chef Sebastian Ng’s droolworthy homemade crispy tofu with foie gras-mirin sauce and pan-seared Chilean seabass with smoked bacon ragout and truffle yuzu butter. We also adore 12-hour-cooked pork belly with savoy cabbage, apple puree and spiced Calvados sauce. End on a sweet note with the caramelized pear tart and baileys ice cream or coconut panna cotta with gula melaka and water chestnuts.
The damage: $39.50 for three courses, including coffee or tea.
The verdict: It gets really busy here during lunchtime, with an endless parade of OLs and execs who work in the area. So if you’re after a quiet meal, this isn’t the place for you. But if you care more about good quality fare, are a dessert fiend and don’t mind the bustling surrounds, we can’t think of a better spot.
G/F Hotel 1929, 50 Keong Saik Rd., 6347-1928. Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm.
The menu: Conceptualized by Australian chef-restaurateur Luke Mangan, some of his signatures make an appearance as entrées including “glass” Sydney crab omelet in a mild white miso-mustard broth with enoki mushrooms, basil, chili and sesame seeds. There are also vegetarian options for each course such as “Salt” salad (seasonal baby vegetables, slow-poached hen’s egg, buffalo mozzarella and candied walnuts) and an incredibly light pan-fried potato gnocchi with sweet corn, lemon thyme and truffled verjuice. Carnivores will appreciate the pork scotch—Australian berkshire kurobuta, café de Paris and green beans with confit eschallot.
The damage: $40 for two courses—an entrée and a main. Not too painful at all, but not as good a deal as some of the other establishments about town.
The verdict: While the food is undoubtedly tasty and the view arresting, we would have preferred the option of a three course set lunch. That said, there’s nothing stopping you from ordering up your dessert of choice off the à la carte menu.
5/F ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, 6592-5118. Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm.
The menu: A three-course Italian set lunch, with four starters, three mains and two desserts to choose from, that changes every week according to what’s available. On our visit, starters were a fresh cucumber salad, a superbly delicate raw king fish tambale, homemade foie gras pate with mango chutney, so popular it’s always on the menu ($8 supplement), or a silky cream of cauliflower soup. Oven-roasted spare ribs were the stand-out main, though the homemade linguine and grilled tuna fillet ran them close. Then a mixed fruit cocktail and lemon sorbet, or raisin parfait with crushed nuts to finish (for the time being, at least).
The damage: $36, includes coffee or tea.
The verdict: Hard to fault, especially at this price and in such a charming space (they occupy five adjacent shophouses, you know). The only problem is that with a menu rotating so fast, the dish you love one week could be gone the next. Some of the portions could perhaps be bigger, but this is lunch after all: We’re just greedy when it comes to food this good.
21 Club St., 6224-3534. Mon-Fri noon-2:30pm.