Two newbies open in the same ‘hood
On our to-go list is Rhubarb Le Restaurant co-founded by Chef Paul Longworth from Au Petit Salut. This place is keeping a low profile despite being located in the place to be, Duxton Hill. Expect French haute cuisine like ‘Pigeon with Rhubarb Rose Purée With Crunchy Grapes’ and ‘Crisp-Skinned Red Snapper with Razor Clam in Lemon Verbena Sauce.’ Rhubarb Le Restaurant, 3 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089589. Tel: (+65) 8127 5001.
Editor’s Pick! Further up the hill, there’s Alba 1836 for some Italian fine dining. Alessandro Frau, Chef Owner of Acqua (Phuket) and winner of Thailand’s Iron Chef, who designed the menu and fired up the kitchens, has now left things in the safe Sardinian hands of Chef Luca Piras. Chef Frau however will still be jetting back and forth from his spot in Phuket to keep an eye on things and keep the menu fresh. To start, there is a plethora of fresh ingredient-led dishes starring Burrata cheese, raw Sicilian prawns, and various carpaccios (a good sign of ingredient respect) or you can try the slow cooked Octopus Salad With Fennel Leaves, Celery and Taggiasche Olives ($28). Keep an eye out for the first courses: the comforting moreish Saffron Risotto with Stracchino Cheese, Sea Urchin and Caviar ($40) and the Home Made Ravioli Agnolotti Stuffed with Burrata and Black Truffle with Ossobuco Ragout ($35) were scrape-the-plate winners. It’s striking how interesting and varied the menu is, and the mains keep up the surprises with dishes like Roasted Lamb Loin in a Sardinian Pecorino Cheese Crust, Stewed Artichokes “Cacciatora” Style ($42) and Oven Roasted Suckling Pig with a Millefeuille of Potato and Goat’s Cheese, Broad Beans Frittata and Suckling Pig Jus ($50). Leave room for the gelati for dessert – it’s pretty special stuff. Ladies who lunch best look here too – the set lunch is fantastic value at $35 for three courses (doubly so given the range of menu choices). Midweek ‘meetings’ will never be the same again – especially once you clock their wine machines offering 40 (that’s no typo!) choices of wine by the glass! Alba 1836, 28 Duxton Hill #01-01, Singapore 089610. Tel: (+65) 6222 2048.
Lime House, offering Singapore’s only taste of Caribbean food, has opened an offshoot in the city – Lime Deli. It’s all systems go here and lunch times can be hectic so get your takeaway order in quick (or you can dine in too). From roti wraps of curry goat ($8) to interesting salads and sandwiches that go way beyond your boring BLT. Try their jerk chicken ($6), lime marinated fish ($6) or coffee jerk beef ($7) sandwiches. For dine-in there’s more substantial fare like their goat curry ($13) which comes with two sides like lemon lime slaw and rice and peas. As they say in the Caribbean “Empty bag na canna stand upright!*” (A hungry man can’t work) So go, eat! Lime Deli, 51 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 048441. Tel (+65) 6222 7530 [*Don’t quote me on that.]
Editor’s Pick! The traditional coffee shop name of Sin Lee Foods doesn’t belie the urban feel of this new unassuming café, which has actually inherited the name from the former shop occupant who used to serve prawn noodles. Once you find this out of the way, hole-in-the-wall, tucked underneath an HDB you’ll be pleasantly surprised. On the menu are unusual dishes – their Fried Chicken & Waffles ($21.90) has everyone talking, there’s Spud & Fish ($16) comprising a slab of layered russet potatoes topped with cold smoked salmon and a soft egg or try their Foie Gras Danish ($22) if you dare – pan roasted duck liver with a raisin danish, Nutella, cucumber and dressed beets! But what we really recommend you tuck into is their Soft Shell Bun ($17) – panko encrusted soft shell crab, a lick of spice and some slaw in a brioche style toasted bun served with fries – deelish! For dessert, there are waffles galore or try their hot mini doughnuts ($8.50) with daily changing dips (like poached apple jelly and marshmallow cream). A very worthwhile destination to stroll off the beaten path to, if you’re in the Tiong Bahru neighbourhood that is. Sin Lee Foods, 4 Jalan Bukit Ho Swee #01-164, Singapore 162004. Tel: (+65) 6377 3170.
SET has opened in the curious location of PoMo mall off Selegie Rd. It’s been set up by former members of Tao’s Restaurant, and probably the best thing going for it is the good value – though there is no a la carte, just the set menu, hence the name. Though even that comes at a cost: the concept is a little confused – is it Asian or Western or fusion? Lunches are five-course ($28.80) and dinners six-course ($38.80) — the sixth course being a grilled King Oyster mushroom. Dishes include Tomato Caprese (three slivers of tomato, topped with ‘spray’ mozzarella) and soups like Mushroom Velouté with Peanut Butter (a combination which didn’t really do it for us). Mains fared better though and are far more western than anything else: Roasted Beef Tenderloin and Marinated Rack of Lamb, served with crunchy brussel sprouts and a sprinkle of red peppercorns and sea salt. Desserts are good – Espresso Crème Brûlée and Pistachio Panna Cotta and for something a little Asian – Huai San Jello… Chinese wild yam jelly. SET, 1 Selegie Road, #02-01 PoMo, Singapore 188306. Tel: (+65) 6337 7644.