Casual chic

Posted on April 23, 2006 by Aun

I finally got around to having dinner at Graze, the chic new restaurant in Rochester Park. My wife S and most of our friends had gone for a pre-opening tasting while I was out of town, so I’d heard quite a bit about the place before this visit. And despite some mixed reviews from friends, bloggers and readers (who have left comments on a previous post), I was quite excited and hoped that any kinks that the restauant’s young and brave owners have had, had been ironed out over the past few weeks.

Some have but some haven’t. In general, I’d give the restaurant two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Most of the food we tried was excellent. The space itself is beautifully designed. And the drinks (cocktails) are yummy. The only problem areas are the service and the desserts. The former can be easily fixed and co-owner Yenn Wong, who also owns the JIA Hotel in Hong Kong, tells me they are already working on the latter.

We started our meal with ginger wine oyster shooters with wasabi and cucumber oil. I liked these a lot. Small, refreshing and tasty, they’re the perfect way to start one’s meal. S paired hers with a super yummy geen apple mojito while I had a glass of a Tasmanian gewurztraminer. For a starter, I had an entree size portion of blue swimmer crab linguine, garlic, chilli with a chilled crab and lemon salsa (pictured below). It was light, refreshing and delicious. And huge. The entree size portion would have been big enough for not just one but two main courses. S had roasted sweetbreads with a peppered onion tart. It was very good. The sweetbreads were cooked perfectly and the sauce, while a tad powerful had a lovely, rich earthy taste.

For mains, S and I chose dishes we knew would be good. I had the crispy hand-rolled pork hock with red and black plum salsa and redcurrant chilli caramel. S had the soy lacquered wagyu ox cheek with coconut rice, green papaya and pomelo salad, fried shallots with a tamarind dressing. Both were lovely; we couldn’t decide which was better. The ox cheek was wonderfully tender on the inside and crispy on the outside; as was the pork hock. Both dishes are paired with accompaniments that have very Thai flavours that should appeal to most local palates.

For dessert, we shared a rhubarb and apple crumble that was ridiculously big and only so-so. It’s not something I’d order again. But what I would have again and again are the lychee martinis and the vodka-spiked ice teas, both of which we tasted after our meal.

I’ll definitely come back. The al fresco area is especially gorgeous and perfect for a pre-dinner drink. The interior restaurant space is cozy, casual yet stylishly chic. I have yet to try the barbecue menu and will do so on my next visit. The Opia-inspired dishes that I had were excellent. The service, as I mentioned, needs a lot (really, a lot) of work. But I hear gossip that a certain very talented restaurant manager is leaving one of the city’s most popular spaces to take over the floor at Graze. If what I hear is true then he’ll kick some dumb-ass waiter butt and things should be running smoothly in no time. I can’t wait.

GRAZE
No 4 Rochester Park, Singapore 139215
Tel: (65) 6775 9000

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Anonymous April 23, 2006 at 8:42 pm

    First time visitor here, first time post, and it shall begin with this bold declaration: You are my idol.

    Just to let you know, I am living vicariously through your blog. You are leading my ultimate fantasy. God, the envy.

  2. Anonymous April 23, 2006 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks for this. Confirms my doubts. I’ll wait until the service improves. I have a huge allergy for bad service. While service in Singapore is rarely rude, it’s more the case of brainless wait staff who float around like zombies that really annoys me to no end. Everytime I hear “may I repeat your order”, my skin starts crawling. And then they still get it wrong.

    The very rare exception I’d like to mention is Ignatius’ staff at Iggy’s. I have no qualms in tipping his guys generously. They friendly, knowledgeable, discreet -true professional wait staff. Which brings me to my next favourite topic – professional wait staff or lack thereof in Asia.

  3. Anonymous April 23, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    Hi,

    Would just like to check with you with regards to the two cocktails that you’d tasted after dinner – you’d mentioned lemongrass martini & spiked ice tea.

    Could it be Lychee martini, and vodka ice tea? Unfortunately for the latter, over-confidence in the freezer-chilled vodka had prompted a stronger proportion of vodka as compared to the original recipe (50% more), which defeated the purpose of a “surprise kick” to the beverage.

    By the way, your e-mail account is full.

    Warmest regards,
    D

  4. MM April 23, 2006 at 11:08 pm

    Yeah CH, I tried to email you and your email box is full. Thanks for the heads up. I’m due to check it out soon and now I am a little worried. Sigh … I might just have to console myself with the drinks then.

  5. J April 24, 2006 at 12:27 am

    hiya, gorgeous pictures, as always! (and especially so if i recall the atmospheric-but-terrible-for-photo-op lighting) L should get you to do the publicity pix ;)

  6. Chubby Hubby April 24, 2006 at 12:35 am

    Anon: um… thanks.

    Anon2: Iggy’s does have great service. But you should not miss out on the great food at Graze.

    D: Hi, you’re right. Lychee not lemongrass. Thanks for the heads-up on the email account. Will check on it.

    MM: Oops. Will look into it.

    J: Thanks. Feel free to mention it to her.

  7. Kate April 24, 2006 at 1:01 am

    absolutely spectacular! I’m sure they were quite impressed. Mmmm…

  8. pineapplemalibu April 24, 2006 at 2:12 am

    Hi! About Graze: I read about it through your blog and was waiting in anticipation for it to open. But having been there, I didn’t think that the food was spectacular, and the service was much to be desired. Not that they were rude, just new.

  9. Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 1:25 pm

    this place will be a huge hit, i had a great time there, food was spectacular, lounging in the garden with a coktail is a perfect way to spend an evening, the service was ok, hey they are new and getting slammed, at least these guys have tried to do something different, sorbet with beef in singapore weather, hats off to them

  10. Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    cosy place, was there on thursday night and they we full, service could improve, but should be great if what Chubby Hubby said is true about the manager. Food was tasty on our vist, have to agree with the ox cheek, devine. Try the chocolate pudding for a sinful dessert, we ordered seconds for our table. also loved the b&w movies on the screen very funky.

  11. nowmd April 25, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    george bush may not have found wmd’s but he should have invaded MINT at GRAZE, the lemongrass cosmo is a definte WMD that will blow anyones mind away. Finally, cocktails where you can taste the alcohol not the sugar

  12. Anonymous May 3, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    first thing first, i think your blog is excellent. hats off to you! went to graze for dinner a few nights back, met the manager (Kevin) who was formally from PS cafe. wasn’t too impress with him. in fact i think he needs to brush up more on his PR skills. all in all – the atmosphere at graze was excellent. however, the same cannot be said of their food. in fact i was rather disappointed. perhaps i expected much more from graze after all the hype about the place. definately won’t be going back for their food. if i do go back, its only because of the ambience, then again, if that is the case, i rather head to 1 rochester.

  13. Anonymous May 18, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    Hi, I’m a big fan of your site, but I’m afraid had a very different experience from you at Graze. I went there for brunch and was sorely disappointed. The omelet was titchy, and the hollandaise sauce on my eggs benedict was very heavy on vinegar. Overall I found the prices on the high side. Much better value and better food can be had at Marmalade Pantry for one. Service – not memorable, though it wasn’t bad.

  14. Anonymous September 20, 2006 at 9:28 am

    Love the food at Gaze and the location. Unforunatley the service has not improved and Kevin : hmm not sure how helpful he is, as I have not seen an improvement. Shame as I really love the food.

    When will Singpaore ever improve on its service?

  15. Kenny T April 16, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I celebrated my birthday last year at Graze. Brought 8 friends there for dinner and the service was indeed horrendous.

    I arrived and lingered on the lawn of the restaurant, wondering who would come attend to us… no one did. The birthday boy had to walk up to the staff and ask for assistance and ask for the reserved table.

    On top of that, when I told the manager that I had a bit of a tough time finding the entrance to the restaurant because you’re practically staring at the back of the restaurant, which looks near identical to the bungalow/restaurant next to it, after you get off the car. All she could say was “Oh is it? I’m sorry. Would you like to order now?”

    I asked for the bill at the end of the night and after 10 minutes, never came. Asked again, for the bill and it’s as if they have a miraculous phobia of the bill or money.

    The staff is not very friendly. Decent food, just very indecent service. Will never go back. There are plenty of places with better food and service out there, at this price range.

    I’d go to Iggy’s anytime. One of the best service and food in Singapore, if not South East Asia.

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