Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Highlander Bar and Restaurant

Clarke Quay is currently the hippest, coolest place in Singapore's fickle clubbing and dining scene. It has a good mix of retail outlets, restaurants, bars and entertainment spots, all set in a charming and quaint historical heritage site. There is much to see, do and eat at Clarke Quay.

One interesting new addition is Highland Bar and Restaurant (Block 3B, The Foundry, #01-11 Clarke Quay, River Valley Road, Singapore 17901 Tel: 6235 9528) which serves authentic Scottish cuisine. I have yet to encounter a restaurant in Singapore which is dedicated to Scottish cuisine, and was delighted to find that Highlander Bar and Restaurant is committed to providing its diners a uniquely bona fide Scottish experience - from the traditional antler chandeliers and contemporary stills of Scotland adorning the interior to the lovely Scottish music and the tartan kilts worn by all its waitstaff!

One notable attraction is its warm and inviting wood-panelled bar, which features an extensive range of more than 200 whiskies by the glass (prices ranging from SGD 10 to SGD70 per shot)!

I started my meal with a traditional Scottish dish not commonly found in these parts– Haggis (SGD 15). Haggis is sheeps’ innards (heart, lung and liver) minced with onions, oatmeal and spices encased in sheeps’ intestines and boiled. It was served with “neeps and tatties” (turnips and potatoes). The haggis was tasty and hearty and didn’t smell strongly of offal. I was assured that the haggis is as authentic as it gets, as it is sourced directly from Scotland, and is not in anyway modified for the local palate. The “neeps and tatties” were smooth and creamy and went well with the hearty haggis.

The Scotch Eggs (SGD 10) were my personal favourite. The hard boiled eggs were wrapped in minced beef, dipped in breadcrumbs and then deepfried. They were light and crispy, and not at all oily or cloying. The best part was the whisky-infused mustard mayonnaise which provided a tangy creamy lift to this dish.

The Venison Sausages (SGD 18) were savoury and meaty, with a tasty spicy bite. Like the haggis, these delicious bits were sourced from Scotland to ensure that authenticity is not compromised.

My other favourite is the White Mealie Pudding (SGD 16). It’s not a dessert, it is actually savoury dish made with white mealie (a type of coarse grain, similar to oatmeal). It was delicious. It was nutty, crunchy and chewy with a unique texture. It’s not something that one can easily find outside of Scotland, so I would recommend that you try this dish here.

My main of Highlander Game Pie (SGD 28) was a hearty, rich stew of venison, quail and sausage, topped with a flaky crispy puff pastry. The meats were tender and were sufficiently infused with the rich stock in which they were cooked.

If meat is not quite your thing, go for the Grilled Royal Deeside Salmon (SGD29) which was well seasoned with rosemary and accompanied by a delicate whisky hollandaise. The fish was still pink in the centre and flaked off easily.

There are quite a number of desserts on the menu, and I would certainly have liked to try more.

As it is, I only had room for the Cranachan (SGD10) which is again a traditional Scottish dessert made of oats soaked in whisky, cream and honey and served with fruit coulis in a tall glass. It’s like an ice cream parfait, minus all the unwanted calories.

Highland Bar and Restaurant is a little piece of Scottish haven right here in Singapore, with everything reflecting the pride and history of Scottish heritage. Highland Bar and Restaurant offers a unique and truly enjoyable dining experience, which I would highly recommend.

Zen's postscript: This post has been published on AsiaOne Wine and Dine at

Friday, February 23, 2007

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Happy Lunar New Year to one and all.

This is a great opportunity for fun, festivities and feasting.

My most memorable meal during this season was the lo hei (tossed raw fish salad, representing abundance and prosperity) that my mom personally prepared, the popiah that I had at my mom's house, and also her special buddha jump over the wall soup - so named because the aroma of this soup is so appetising that it caused even the stone statues of buddhas in temples to jump over the wall to drink it.

This is a bowl of the lip-smacking delectable treat - it is full of good things like thick slices of abalone, slippery fish maw (cooked twice in boiling water, then boiled in the soup), sea cucumber and dried scallop. It was full of that umami richness, and it was boiled so long that the soup was almost gelatinous, so that one's lips felt a little gummy after drinking it.


Friday, February 16, 2007

Patara Fine Thai Cuisine @ Tanglin Mall

I enjoy Thai food a lot. I think it makes good use of spices in its cooking, and one can usually taste a burst of flavours on one's palate when eating Thai food - hot, sour, spicy, sweet.

Patara Fine Thai Cuisine (Tanglin Mall, 3rd Floor) has a good selection of very good Thai desserts - dessert buffet for SGD7, and also serves very good authentic Thai dishes.

DH and I used to frequent the branch at Raffles City, but since a very embarrassing incident which occurred sometime back, DH and I have never returned to that place.

I happened to be at Tanglin Mall during lunch, and found that Patara Fine Thai Cuisine wasn't at all crowded, and was a good place to have a tranquil quiet lunch for one.

I ordered the tom yam kung (SGD12), which was very good. Tart, spicy and chockful of fresh seafood. There was squid, cod, prawns, all very tasty. It wasn't too sour, wasn't too spicy. There was a slight hint of lemongrass, which was delicious. I drank up every drop.

Then I had the pad thai woon sen (SGD18), thai fried noodles with transluscent mung bean noodles (known locally as tung hoon). One can also choose to have traditional pad thai with thin rice noodles. It was a large portion, which can be shared between 2 or 3. It was very well fried with a wok-fragrance that comes with good control of the fire.

The dessert buffet (SGD7) was extensive. I chose my favourites - the mango sticky rice, steamed sweet tapioca drizzled with coconut milk, and pandan pudding. All were very good. I later also had a serving of Thai red rubies, made of waterchestnuts in coconut milk.

I was almost too full to walk out.

Now that I have found a nice quiet respite in Orchard Road, I think I will be going back quite often.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill @ Swallow Street, off Picadilly Circus

This is one meal that I had in London which was very enjoyable. Mostly because of the company - lots of important people from the company were here.

Now, Bentley's is a well-regarded restaurant along London's Picadilly Circus specialising in seafood. The food here was therefore, needless to say, excellent.

The starter of smoked salmon, potato pancakes and creme fraiche was tart and appetising.

The main of slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with leeks and rosemary jus was tender and very tasty. The hint of rosemary really lifted this dish and made it extra fragrant.

The chocolate tart with poire william cream was dark and rich and enjoyable.

Claypot Laksa @ Food Republic, Vivocity

Now, as you already know, I think that the Food Republic at Vivocity contains some culinary gems.

This one is a personal favourite. Claypot Laksa originally from Depot Road.

It is served hot and bubbling away in a claypot, and is a calorie-laden, artery-clogging bowl of delectable goodness.

The laksa gravy is fragrant with spices and coconut milk and is very very thick and rich. The taupok (fried beancurd puffs) were soaked in this rich and tasty gravy, and were heavenly.

This is even better than the popular 328 Katong laksa (with a few branches all over Singapore), which used to be my favourite.

Try it and see!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sad Mommy

This post has been removed by the editor.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Le Papillon @ Red Dot Traffic Building

Le Papillon (at Maxwell Road, Red Dot Traffic Building) means The Butterfly in French.

And indeed, the dining experience here was like a beatiful butterfly unfurling its wings, with each course getting better and more exquisite, showcasing the chef's talent. Chef Anderson Ho, as I understand it, used to helm another good restaurant (Fig Leaf) together with Jimmy Chok (Salt and now, Academy Bistro).

When DS and I stepped into the restaurant, we were the only patrons. Midway through our meal, another couple arrived. But that was it. It did seem very dismal. It made me worry about the freshness of the food that we were served, quite frankly.

It's such a difficult position for new restaurants to be in, particularly for those in the middle to fine cuisine genre. Whilst one would like to use the freshest ingredients, it is a waste to throw food away if people don't turn up to eat it. So if the turnover isn't good, it will impact on the quality of the food served. A vicious cycle really. Perhaps this place suffers from a lack of publicity. It would be a pity of a restaurant of this calibre is unable to continue operations because of that. Particularly since the food was really quite exceptional.

We both had the lunch set for an affordable SGD29.90 each.

My starter of baked gratin of cheese and broccoli was good. The portion seemed a little small. I was scraping my plate every time I scooped up a bite, which means that the serving of was too thin.

DS' starter of grilled prawn salad was nice and tasty.

I had the braised beef with mashed potato, a hearty savoury and tasty dish. The potato was fluffy and smooth, and the beef was tender.

DS' grilled sea bream was delicate, and served on a bed of peas and some green mash. Pretty good.

Our dessert was panna cotta with mango and a macaroon on top. The panna cotta was a little too stodgy for me, almost pudding-like.

I quite liked this place, and I think Chef Anderson is pretty talented.

London Gastronomy Part 2

Monday - No Photos, as camera ran out of battery

Breakfast: chocolate pastry from delice de france eaten on the train to Feltham.

Lunch: sausages with mash and red cabbage eaten at the office cafeteria.

Dinner: Chez Gerard, a french restaurant in Mayfair. I had:

1. the grilled queen scallops on shell with herb butter. Not really queen scallops, more like baby scallops. They were the size of dried scallops that mom puts in our porridge back home.

2. the seafood in white wine cream sauce. Salmon, monkfish, squid, prawns and 4 mussels. Quite heavy.

3. roasted pineapple with icecream. I've tried roasted / grilled pineapple at the brazil churrascaria places. Grilling really brings out the sweetness in the pineapple, I think.

London Weekend Gastronomy Part 2

Sunday Breakfast

It's even harder finding breakfast on Sundays, most places are closed. I went back to Ye Olde Tavern and had poached eggs with sausage.

Sunday Lunch

After wandering around at Camden Lock Market, I went to Tower of London, but was rebuffed by the 15 pound entrance fee. We ate at a pub near the Tower of London.

My lunch of mixed grill with peas, mushroom, tomato and baked potato was very filling. There was rump steak, gammon steak, lamb chops and sausage. All were rather dry and overcooked, seeing as it was not really a fine dining restaurant.
DB couldn't finish his roast beef with yorkshire pudding either. I tried a little and also found it overcooked.
The most fun part of lunch was the Bailey's chocolate shots. It came in real edible chocolate cups!
Sunday dinner
Dinner was at Canteen, a bistro near Liverpool Street tube station.
The roast pork with apples was a good pairing. It was quite fatty, and the skin wasn't crackling type, more like braised. It was not bad.