April 21, 2014

Simple, casual, good

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With a string of crappy yet fatty meals behind me, my last hours in Singapore were spent with friends at two different restaurants in the same neighborhood, with both offering simple, well-executed Western fare.

Brasserie Gavroche was the venue chosen by my friend L, who is an old friend I have known for (gasp!) almost 20 years.  She was a little apprehensive about picking a place, since she feels that my taste in restaurants is always very atas... and of course she had been told about the crappy meals that I'd been having...

The decor certainly looked like an old school brasserie, and interestingly the menus were sandwiched between plastic boxed in a wooden frame.  These have got to be the heaviest and the most unwieldy menus I've ever handled...

I quickly spotted two very fatty items on the menu, and both were appetizers.  I figured I'd take those and forgo some of the yummy-sounding main courses, since the two appetizers would probably add up to enough calories for this meal...

Tartine d'os à moëlle - bone marrow is always a good choice, and here they were serving it on bread from Poilane.  I didn't quite expect so many cloves of garlic confit, but as I wasn't about to kiss anyone for the next few hours... The little chunks of marrow were pure manna from heaven, and you really do need all that bread to soak everything up.

Crépinettes de pied de cochon sauce tartare - as soon as I saw the words "pied de cochon" I was sold.  It's been way too long since I had this done the French way, and to have it wrapped in crépinette?  Unbeatable.  Pan-frying warmed up all the fat and collagen, yet produced a crispy exterior.  Little medallions of heaven.  And you needed the slightly sharp acidity from the mustard in sauce tartare to cut the fat.

2012 Domaine de la Mordorée La Dame Rousse - very young so it was still medium-bodied, and the tannins were clearly still around.  Blueberries, minty, cedar.  Good to wash down my fatty food.

This was a very simple meal, but it was also immensely satisfying - especially after what I've gone through the last few days.  If I lived in Singapore, I would imagine coming here for some pretty straightforward, yummy food.

Dinner was just a couple of blocks down, and also turned down to be non-local.  After threatening to take me to have bak kut teh (肉骨茶) - which I would have been totally fine with - my friend suggested we meet up at Fordham and Grand.

This place has a very compact menu for food, but seems to be popular for cocktails and wine.

Miso eggplant, shimeji escabeche and Jerusalem artichoke chips - this wasn't what I expected... as I was expecting heavier, sweeter flavors from miso like the way Japanese would do this.  But never mind, this was still pretty tasty - especially with the chips.

Grilled kurobuta pork collar, grapes and sucrine lettuce - actually this was very, very nicely done.  The pork flavors were fairly strong, which is what I like.  It's also very tender given the marbling around that part, and this was pretty well done.  The grapes on top were very interesting, lending some acidity and fruity sweetness.  I was surprised at how much lettuce came on the plate... it was one whole head of lettuce, and that's pretty solid!

Sautéed vegetables - I ordered these because I thought I needed some veg, but after the sucrine lettuce with my pork collar... I didn't really have much room for these.

Orange martini: confit, granité and jelly with sesame tuile - this was apparently pretty famous, so I ordered it to share with my friend.  Very nice, actually.  Three different textures of orange, and the alcohol was in the jelly.  Naturally the granité was very light and refreshing.

This was a nice, simple little dinner.  There wasn't anything really fancy here, but everything was well-executed and delicious.  And what's more, it all came at a very reasonable price.  With the place open until fairly late, it looks like a good venue for late-night dining or a few drinks.

I'm glad to have had these two simple yet good meals today, which helped end my trip on a positive note.  My next trip to Singapore will be for business, and I probably won't have much time to dine at places I'd like to go to.  Sigh...

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