Four quick bites

Posted on January 23, 2007 by Aun

S and I are admittedly a little boring. When going out for a meal, we tend to prefer dining in familiar favourites than checking out new places. There’s a lot less risk. There’s nothing worse than shelling out hard-earned cash on an awful or disappointing experience. It’s so much easier to simply return to places where you know you’ll get good food and good service. It’s also a sad truth that for every new, great restaurant there are another half dozen out there that just don’t cut it.

That said, we do try to dine somewhere new every couple of weeks. Sometimes, we go to places because friends have recommended them highly. A few times, we’ll simply chance upon an interesting place. Some other times, we’ll check a place out because we know someone there — a manager or a chef, for example. And then there is occasionally a restaurant that, because of the buzz around it, is a must-try. Since I started this blog, S and I agreed on a simple rule. If a place doesn’t pan out, we don’t write about it. We only write about a place if we like it or we think it has potential.

Here’s a short list of four restaurants that S and I have recently discovered. Most are new; one is slightly older than the others. All are interesting places worth watching and trying.

Garuda Padang Cuisine
It’s always exciting to see what Tung Lok founder Andrew Tjioe has up his sleeve. When I heard that he was opening a nasi padang restaurant (and the group’s first halal restaurant), I was both curious and excited. Garuda Padang Cuisine, located in Cairnhill Place, is actually a franchise of a successful nasi padang restaurant that was started in Medan in the mid-1970s. For those unfamiliar with this kind of cuisine, it’s essentially rice served with a large variety of cooked foods, ranging from rendangs to curries. I dined at Garuda last week with my wife S and two friends. While it may be a little spartan, I like the all white and grey interiors of the large restaurant. I also enjoyed the food. Everything we ate was good. S and I liked that nothing was too spicy, which meant that we could really taste and appreciate the flavours in the various dishes we tried. And we tried a lot of things. Because the portions here are tiny, we ended up having to order a ton of food. Dinner worked out to roughly $34 a person–not exactly a steal, if you’re accustomed to the prices you pay for nasi padang served at a coffeeshop, but it’s pretty good value given that you’re dining in a restaurant. I liked the ambience (especially that it was air-conditioned) and the food was good. S and I will definitely be coming back and we hope that you too will give it a try.

Garuda Padang Cuisine
Cairnhill Place #02-01 (Ground Level), 15 Cairnhill Road, Tel: 6735-4111

Garuda has opened a newer, smaller branch in Vivocity already:
Vivocity #B2-28, 1 Harborfront Walk, Tel: 6376-9595

Borgo
S and I had been told that Borgo was worth a visit by many friends. This tiny, homey Italian restaurant, nestled into a crowded little stretch of Bukit Timah Road, opened in the middle of last year. It’s almost embarrassing that it took us 6 months to try Borgo, but we’re really happy we finally did. Borgo is small and when it’s crowded, it can get a little ridiculously noisy. But the food is good. I’d even say it’s better than good. It’s not fancy fare though. Which is not a bad thing. The food here is simple, hearty and very tasty. I especially like the char-grilled homemade sausages. Amusingly, S prefered the chicken sausage while I preferred the pork one, which made it a cinch to share. I also like the cheese ravioli with “a light cheese sauce”. These were deliciously savory and filling. I’ll admit that S and I have only tasted a small range of Borgo’s menu. We’re looking forward to trying more dishes in the coming months. After all, I have a lot of eating to catch up on.

Borgo
789 Bukit Timah Road, Tel: 6466-7762

Novus
Easily one of the prettiest new restaurants in town, Novus also has one of the best locations imaginable. Novus sits off the main rotunda of the newly renovated National Museum. The long, narrow room is divided in half. On one side is a sleek bar; on the other, on a slightly raised platform, is the bright, airy, and refined dining room. The food at Novus is elegant and contemporary. Aussie Executive Chef Dan Masters, German Executive Sous Chef Phillip Meisel, and their team are obviously highly competent at turning out beautifully plated and delicious European dishes. I really like the seared scallops with braised pork belly and chestnut puree. The pork was cooked to meltingly-soft perfection. The duck rillette is also very well-made. Another great dish — albeit a pricey one — is the slipper lobster served with slow-roasted veal. When I had this, the veal was prepared beautifully. Also good is the crispy-skinned seabass served with a little pasta, a saffron sauce and some rouille. I was impressed that the fish was tender, i.e. not the least bit overcooked. Also on the menu are three cuts of wagyu. I haven’t tried them yet, mostly because they’re priced rather high. (I am of course hoping I can sucker a friend into buying me lunch there sometime soon so I can order some.) Novus is a good place for a chic meal. It’s the kind of city restaurant that most cosmopolitan cities have several of, and which Singapore needs more of. It’s a good addition to our dining scene and I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops over the coming months.

Novus
National Museum #01-02, 93 Stamford Road, Tel: 6336 8770

Brasserie Wolf
S and I are huge fans of Brasserie Wolf. So are several friends of ours. Sadly, it seems there aren’t enough of us (fans, that is). Whenever we eat at this traditional French bistro, we’re just one of a small handful of filled tables. In all the times we’ve been there, the restaurant has never been more than half-full. Which is a real shame. Chef Philippe Nouzillat delivers really good, authentic bistro fare. His French onion soup is easily the best I’ve had in town. And I love his confit of duck and his steak with fries and homemade Bearnaise sauce. The decor, unfortunately, is a tad cheesy and theme parkish, you know, more Disney than Paris. But the food is very, very good. And it deserves your support.

Brasserie Wolf
The Pier, #01-13, 80 Mohamed Sultan Road, Tel: 6835-7818

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. mj January 23, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Hi Aun,

    Your page’s one of the foodblogs I frequent because its gives for such pleasurable reading. Quick question, what are the prices like at Borgo? The whole little-italian-place concept is interesting, I’d like to sniff it out someday soon. (:

  2. Kat in the Hat January 23, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    So with you on the downsides of trying new places. My hubby n I have almost given up trying new places in Sing as the number of times we’ve been disappointeed far outnumbers the gems.

    Will def. try Brass. Wolf – we’re also fans of brasseries but then we’re French. We tried a well reviewed new one in HK last month – The Press Room – it’s more NYC/modern style serving French food that’s as the French put it “correct”. Prices are good value by HK standards. Good portions. Heaving with people. They have a small cheese and charcuterie store next door – tho’ I found the cheese cave idea rather pretentious.

  3. M January 23, 2007 at 10:10 pm

    ooh yummy, thanks for the recommendations! Glad you enjoyed Borgo; was telling S that you might want to try the limoncello next time as chef Mimmo apparently makes his own – definitely leaves a nice buzz….

  4. jk January 25, 2007 at 12:25 am

    I did a search for Brass Wolf and came up with only 23 posts! This one was unflattering. This one says the French embassy choose it to host a lunch. The set lunch is a good choice. An amateur collage here.

  5. ken January 25, 2007 at 8:04 am

    I’m with you on Brasserie Wolf. They also do a roast suckling pig that has to be ordered in advance that’s great for small parties. I’ve had it on two occasions and it never disappoints.

  6. Hsian January 26, 2007 at 6:59 am

    Will definitely try to check out these places when down again visiting family in Singapore.

    Speaking of duck confit, have you ever tried the one at Frangipani in Kuala Lumpur?

  7. Anonymous January 28, 2007 at 10:25 am

    I went to Brasserie Wolf last night and the food was in fact quite good. I had heard most unflattering remarks from friends about the place and food in general but the lamb shank I ordered was very well cooked and the portion was generous. THe French onion soup was excellent as recommended by chubby hubby.

    HOWEVER, the service was very poor for such an establishment. There were many waitors milling around but we found their service inattentive and indifferent. I had to call countless times for my water to be refilled. Cutlery was taken away and not replaced. They did not seem knowledgeable about the menu which disappointed me.

    The ambience of the restaurant was sorely lacking. It was cavernous and upholstered like a kitschy Las Vegas lounge. I did not like it and I think to some extent it does affect the dining experience, rightly or wrongly.

    Although the food was good, the entire dining experience was less than satisfactory. And for the prices we paid I would rather just walk down the street to Sage for excellent food and service.

  8. Chubby Hubby January 28, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Anonymous: Thanks for the report. I certainly hope that the Esmirada group people (who own Brasserie Wolf) take note of your comments. Good service is one of the hardest things to find in Singapore. In fact, I can count on two hands the number of restaurants here that I think offer above average service. It’s a real problem.

  9. speedwater April 9, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    We went to Fabbrica in Dempsey Road last week. The setting was nice and owner was friendly. They even arranged a table outside for us.

    We ordered a bottle of Italian wine, not too bad, although we were first a bit wary because the cork was damped and it seemed there was a small trace of wine sipped through the cork. But when wine was tasted it was ok.

    We ordered a foei gras and Mozzarella cheese wrapped with ham. The foei gras was so so but the Mozzarella cheese was disasterous. It was very cold as if it just came from a fridge (which I assume it could be). We had to send back the starters back to the kitchen. When the cheese came back, I tried it and it was tasteless and rubbery. Disappointed.

    For main course, we had duck confit and beef tenderloin. I must tell you this, the beef tenderloin was the worst ever. I asked for medium and it came in burnt on the outside and inside was rare!!!! Again, very disappointed this time, we had to send back the beef tenderloin back to the kitchen. When it came back to me, the meat was well-done and dry. Oh my GOD. Whats wrong?? I just could not believe it. So many wrong things in one dinner. HORRIBLE

    We had to help ourselves with our bottle of wine (decanted).

    Never never again would I go back to Fabbrica. Traumatic experience indeed.

    Its north and south, black and white if compared with Borgo or even Cantina. Of cos, Borgo and Cantina are much better.

    This is an independent review, no bias view in this comment about the restaurant, it is based on the actual experience.

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