Alkaff Mansion Ristorante, Singapore

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Category: Western

10 Telok Blangah Green, Singapore 109178

Honestly, besides the lovely sight of the tudor-style historical bungalow peering over the park (which you can’t really see much of at night), the privacy and the very attentive service, I’m not sure anything else about Alkaff Mansion Ristorante really stood out to me. The portions are on the small side, which is fine considering it’s fine dining, but I didn’t come away very satisfied.

Damage: $$$

Antipasti (~27SGD), Pasta (~30SGD), Fish Main (~43SGD), Meat Main (~50SGD), Desserts (~15SGD)

To go: On rare occasion – should try new places first 😐

If I were to return, I would probably try going back in the day instead when I can enjoy the view and maybe sit out at Alkaff‘s Terrace. I’m thinking late afternoons would be a fine time for that. The menu changes every now and then.

They have a 3-course set lunch on weekdays at $36++, and Italian Afternoon tea on Mondays to Fridays at $26++ and Saturdays at $40++ (I suppose this helps cover the costs of the live band, dessert bar, and the additional crepes suzette and pasta stations).


A MORE DETAILED RECOUNT

2-starter

We opened our meal with an antipasti of Salmon Carpaccio; The salmon was fresh and the roe was springy as it should be, but the greens did nothing for the dish by being dry and tasteless. Although I like my dressing on salads or antipasti light, this was an olive oil dressing that did not quite bring out the flavours of the dish.

For the mains, we ordered the Porcetto Sardinyan Style, Carre’ d’Agnello al Forno, and Fettuccini with slow-roasted veal.

The Porcetto Sardinyan Style (see feature picture) was recommended to us as a fantastic Alkaff Mansion special. While the meat itself was relatively juicy and tender, the skin was really hard to cut through. If I were to knock it with my knife blade, it would remain unblemished while giving rise to a clicking sound. Again, the rest of the greens on the plate did nothing for the dish.

Lamb Rack and Veal Fettuccini

The Carre’ d’Agnello al Forno, or Oven Baked Lamb Rack, was slightly on the well done side but remained tender, although I wasn’t a fan of the slightly sweet and sticky sauce. The mash was grainy. As a pasta lover, I was disappointed that the fettuccini was rather forgettable; the meat was tasty and the pasta was al dente, but they felt like two separate dishes put on the same plate. The sauce could not coat nor cling to the pasta even after I tried to mix it up a few times, possibly also because there wasn’t a lot of it. At almost $30, there are many other places which can serve up a better pasta at this price point.

Semifreddo and Panna CottaTo end off, we had the Semifreddo al Cioccolato Bianco e Caffe’, and the Panna Cotta alla Vaniglia, Frutti di Bosco e Salsa al Lamponi. I love my sweets, but I would suggest having dessert elsewhere. The coffee came across as way too bitter in the semifreddo and the panna cotta had a bit too much of a gelatin texture to it which prevented the creaminess from coming through.

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse, Singapore

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Category: Western – Steakhouse

I visited Wooloomooloo Steakhouse when they first opened in Singapore, and I’ve gone back (and have been wanting to go back) at every opportunity. Wooloomooloo Steakhouse has a cosy spot in my book as a place that serves a great steak, is cosy (yet comfortable enough and not overly pretentious), and good to go with friends, family, and even that special someone.

2 Stamford Road, Level 3 Swissotel The Stamford, 178882 (Access from Raffles City Shopping Mall)

Wooloomooloo Steakhouse is tucked at a corner, just behind the escalators leading up to the conference venues, on level 3. You’ll be led from the entrance past chillers displaying a variety of wine and a classically-furnished bar area (think cigars and men in top hats) into the restaurant, which is surprisingly larger than it appears from the outside.

Damage: $$$

They’re reasonable (by that I mean around 70 bucks for an Australian Black Angus Beef 12-oz Rib Eye or Sirloin). If you don’t feel like spending a bomb, I’d pick them over CUT by Wolfgang Puck or Morton’s. In this price range, they trumph Bedrock Bar & Grill, and are comparable to Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse, although I’d go to the latter just for the Fiorentina.

To go: Yes, whenever possible

Christmas time is actually a really good time to go to Wooloomooloo Steakhouse. They usually have a very comprehensive 4-course Christmas menu for $68++ at lunchtime, including a steak option for the mains. The rest of the menu is fixed. For people who can’t eat a whole lot, a set menu makes more sense as well. As for the rest of the lucky ones with bottomless pits for stomachs, by all means, feast and be merry!

The ambience by day is comfortable, cosy, with light coming in from the full length windows, and with views of the Padang. By night, the place seems to transform into a warm, rustic and charming atmosphere, with gentle lighting illuminating the dark wood.


A MORE DETAILED RECOUNT

StartersThe bread that opened our meal was an onion bun which was served warm. The bun was soft, yet with a thin outer layer that provided a bit of bite, while the inside was fluffy and moist. I loved the onions atop, which was well complemented by the sea salt butter, although I thought some of the flavour could have been better kept at the edges which had been heated out a little too much.

The cream of pumpkin soup was next – creamy and flavourful. The highlight of this dish, however, was really the foie gras which was seared to perfection. Many places overcook foie gras, but this one wasn’t; the searing brought out the intensity of the flavour on the outside, while the inside remained soft and almost tofu-like.

Salmon on cream cheese

The appetiser was a smoked salmon dish on some cream cheese and topped with mint leaves. I thought this was an excellent choice, being light and full of fresh bright flavours, and really set the stage for the heavier (and meatier) mains and creaminess of the dessert to follow. I am personally not a fan of smoked salmon because I find it tends to be rather salty, but this was quite alright even for me.

The steak, oh the steak, was really my favourite part of the meal – as it should be, considering it is after all a steakhouse. It was a true medium, springy and still red through the middle, was tender through and kept its juices. The brown gravy brought out the meat’s woody notes, and the mash on the side was pureed into a cream.

Fruitcake dessert and coffee

The dessert was a Christmastime special of fruitcake, seated in a moat of a creamy vanilla sauce, topped with vanilla ice cream and a caramelised thin. I wasn’t a fan of the fruitcake (nor of most fruitcakes for that matter) because it was quite hard and the flavours were too synthetic and gummy for my liking, although the ice cream was fine. The coffee that came later was a great way to finish the meal and cleanse the palate though – strong and full-bodied with a mild bitter finish, accompanied with a little chocolate truffle cube.

The Beginnings of Memoirs of Taste

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I’ve become so much a lover of food these past few years that I’m surprised that I didn’t think of doing this earlier. But hey 2015, new year, new beginnings – I guess better late than never.

Growing up, I was always extremely fussy with my food and refused to eat at least half a billion things. I must be making up for lost time now, because I think of food 24/7 and look forward to all my meals. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but one thing for certain is that I have grown to truly appreciate my food and take an interest in what’s going into it and how it got to be at my table. Oh, and the second thing for certain is that I don’t think I’ll ever survive a diet of any kind – the wide spectrum of tastes is just too amazing to miss. I tried a diet once and almost died from crankiness. This is why I’m setting out to try new places, revisit old ones, and document them all from 2015.

Food makes me happy, and just like for scents, I sometimes associate food with specific memories. That explains the title of my blog, Memoirs of Taste. Rather than having a TV (or YouTube) dinner, meals are better had with other people, accompanied with a little chat and sprinkles of laughter. Meals were meant for us to socialise and appreciate the company of family and friends, and I don’t mean to sound archaic but in the past, they were always important events and community-based things probably with good reason. I’ve also come to realise that I enjoy my food a lot more when I’m actually thinking about it, not when mindless munching while scrolling through net-a-porter.com.

So Memoirs of Taste is my food diary – the places I’ve been, things I’ve tried… and me documenting these experiences in my own personal way, especially since I love taking pictures of food. It’s also a good way for me to keep track of what I liked, what I didn’t, what I’d learnt, and to remember every single moment of it all. Life’s too short to not be living it.

Yours Truly, Zabrina