Thursday, September 19, 2013

Central Park in the Lion City

Cute Cute was just reminiscing about his carefree school days when he read about a newly opened restaurant serving honest, wholesome and organic meals nestled in the heart of UTown - NUS University Town. It was in his university days that he befriended Cuchi, now his beloved wife. Time certainly flies, that was a good ole ten years back. He decided to head down to see how things have changed, and of course to find out why a restaurant situated in a place of higher learning here would be named after a famous spot in New York City.

Overcast and cloudy skies weave a sleepy spell during the
weekend. But the thought of a good brunch is enough to
 wake lazy fur balls. Rise & Shine!
The new UTown is certainly charming with its wide open spaces and greens.
As they explored the place, the lions both agreed that it has the vibe of an
overseas campus, much like those in the West.
Facing a huge open field, it is not hard to miss Central Park restaurant
with its humble bright orange chairs. The brainchild of Miss Sandra Lee who
is purportedly the only chef in Singapore trained in raw vegan cuisine, Central Park
pays homage to her days in the Big Apple. The restaurant uses fresh, organic and
sustainable produce in a changing menu that includes meal options for vegans and
vegetarians. If you don't like your greens (shame on you!), tuck into their
seafood dishes instead. There are no meat dishes available here though.
After placing orders, patrons can grab a good read from the
restaurant's stash of books and magazines displayed on a table
Simple and unpretentious interior inside. The lions
choose to sit outdoors for fresh air and people-watching.
The hand-cut sweet potato fries are so addictive with their
natural sweetness; no accompanying sauce needed.
This salmon dish served on a bed of fusilli pasta was
perfectly executed without the use of much marinate to
emphasise freshness.
The highlight of the meal was surprisingly the humble mushroom soup with
a hint of truffle oil! The soup, with its clean, wholesome flavours, did justice
to the fresh, organic ingredients used. Nothing fancy here but this underrated
restaurant is huge on simple, fresh flavours. Cuchi thought that it reminded her
of a lighter and "greener" version of the hearty meals served at The Big Sheila.

This underrated spot with its lovely outdoorsy ambience by the field definitely deserves much more limelight. Check out their desserts as well. A straightforward chocolate avocado tart, finished in a few mouthfuls by the lions, is testament that simplicity is best here. A repeat visit is in the works.

Central Park
No. 2 College Avenue West
Stephan Riady Building
#01-09, UTown
Singapore 138607

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sweet Respite at The Marshmallow Tree

Rainy days are here again. The lions really love the fresh grassy scent of nature after a shower. The cool weather also gives them a great excuse to retreat for a warm cuppa and indulge in a good read at a neighbourhood cafe. The Marshmallow Tree is a favourite hideaway for them recently. It joins Maple & Market, Ciel Patisserie and Creamier as one of the more charming nooks nestled under a nondescript block of flats. The heartlands are certainly evolving.  

The Marshmallow Tree is like a whimsical playground of everything fun that one loves in childhood. A charming indoor swing, Narnia-like lamp posts, carpet grass, colourful graffiti on a chalkboard and rainbow cushions on mismatched furniture complete the idyllic scene here. To sweeten the experience, get your fingers sticky on a gooey stick of roasted marshmallow served in an oh-so-cute lilliputian ceramic pot with every drink order. There are not many savoury items on the menu though, so this a place for serious sugar-holics. Try their dessert of the day, we had the absolutely sinful Domo Cup of marshmallows, cream cheese and mars bar. The coffee's is pretty decent and the waffles are great as well. Cuchi was literally staring at the rose latte with its sexy pink colour at another table, she hoped that she was not too rude. Another day, perhaps.

 the Marshmallow Tree
46 Telok Blangah Drive
Singapore 100046

Friday, September 6, 2013

Social Dining at Platters

Late night revellers have been happily occupying the pedestrian-only streets on two evenings a week at Ann Siang Road and Club Street. The dining enclave is touted to be the Lion City's answer to the hip Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong with her pretty conservation shophouses and heritage charm.  The closure to traffic during wind-down Friday and Saturday nights has certainly turned up the tempo a notch higher with dining-under-the-stars and partying-in-the-streets becoming a reality. 

Too spoilt for choice? Out of all the dining establishments in the area, you might like to check out Platters Bistro & Wine Bar advocating the convival concept of "social dining". This is great for groups as well as  easily bored and finicky eaters. A medley of food items are served on a wooden sharing platter so diners are able to trade the dull price of a main for variety instead. 

Ongoing till October, Platters is presenting their Guest Chef Edition: 5 with Chef Karl Dobler and Chef Eugenia Ong from Table at 7 at the helm. Every four months, a guest chef from a local restaurant is invited to design 6 dishes on the signature wooden boards. Great news for jaded diners hankering for something new each time!

Chef Karl Dobler & Chef Eugenia Ong
The lions couldn't wait to try the dishes by the two chefs with impressive resumes. Chef Dobler started the Salut group of restaurants whereas Chef Eugenia honed her skills in traditional Indonesian cuisine managing her family-owned Jawar Timur restaurant years ago.

Asia's Ultimate Star Burgers: Rendang Mini Burgers, Chicken Satay Mini Burgers
and Curry-kaffir Lime Fries. $32 half-board /$60 full board
These bite-sized babies were initially created to feed hungry Zouk flea market visitors.
They proved so popular that they made their appearance at Pasar Bella for a season and
are now part of this edition's menu. The lions preferred the rendang version made
from soft, succulent beef shin in coconut-y gravy. The fries are also sinfully addictive.
The Oceanic Ensemble: Mussels Hot Pot, Grilled Tiger Prawns with Shrimp Sambal
Glaze, Crispy Fried Soft Shell Crab, mustard achar and herb mesclun.
$38 for half board/$72 for full board
The Tiger Prawns with Shrimp Sambal Glaze was picked by Michelin-star celebrity
chef Marco Pierre White in a culinary competition last year. He called the dish
"clean, tangy and very refreshing". Nuff said.
The Butcher's Grill: Braised Pork Belly simmered in Asian Spice mix of cinnamon
and star anise; Pepper-crusted Beef Tataki with truffle mash; and Grilled Lamb
Cutlets with Ratatouille. $48 for half board/$92 for full board
This is the lions' favourite platter of all and falls under the die die must order category.
The braised pork belly is certainly a piece-de-resistance with its tender, melt-in-the-mouth
texture and is drenched with fragrant and comfortingly familiar Asian spices.
The humble side of truffle mash also stands out.
Life is sweet, truly dessert platter: Jackfruit Beignet with Coconut Custard, Citrus
Panna Cotta with Fresh Berries and Valrhona Chocolate Tart.
$24 for half board/$44 for full board
The highlight of the dessert platter was definitely the Jackfruit incarnate of the local
goreng pisang. The pungent scent of Jackfruit was brilliantly balanced with the mildly sweet
coconut custard filing. In Asian terms, it was a clever showcase of a playful balance of
yin and yang - the heaty Jackfruit vs the cooling Coconut.

Platters Bistro & Wine Bar offers a great platform for local dining establishments and local bred chefs to experiment and create dishes outside their usual repertoire. The main challenge perhaps is in maintaining the consistency of dishes created as the consulting chefs are tasked with training the onsite culinary team in executing the newly designed menu.

Oh, and do remember to check out their extensive wine list :) Thanks to Jean from FoodCult for this invited tasting session!

Platters Bistro & Wine Bar
42 Club Street
Singapore 046920