Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tastings Room @ Marina Square (Restaurant Week!)

 Ho-ho-ho it's restaurant week! First time I'm going for a restaurant week dinner, and managed to book two spots, this and Absinthe on Sunday night. Have to say I'm more looking forward to Absinthe but we shall see!

Oddly located beneath the City Link - Marina Square escalator on the ground floor, Tasting Room was a non-star restaraunt at 35++ for a 3 course set dinner. Menu was available before hand so we knew what was coming! They had two choices for starters, mains and dessert so we just told them to give us everything.

{ Pan Seared Foie Gras } 
Served with an orange cranberry chutney, port wine jelly and ginger scented toast 

 First observation - wtf are those bubbles on my foie gras??? Not a good sign.

Second observation, it didn't look seared at all - it should be charred and slightly crispy on the outside.

Third observation cutting into it, it wasn't as soft as all the other foie gras' I've had - it was still slightly firm, which was weird. And it was lukewarm, like room temperature or even cold. Tasted slightly uncooked. Should have sent it back to the kitchen but I didn't (felt bad after taking photos for 5 minutes).

Port wine jelly was really really nice though!

 The foie gras arrived suspiciously quick upon ordering, and I had a sense of foreboding when this unappetising lump (complete with a dab of froth on top - you can spot it on the right side) was presented to us. As it turns out, it was rather cold and undercooked and we both wondered out loud if the chef had merely microwaved this (!!). 

Not the best way to start a meal in Restaurant Week.. but hey. Moving on!

{ Pan Seared Scallops }
Served with leafy greens and chive beurre blanc

 A couple of acceptable minutes passed before the other starter plopped on our table. This one sure looked a heck lot more promising than the sad attempt that was strangely bubbly foie gras. I must say this tasted good! Scallops were tender and not overly cooked (which would have resulted in a tough-chewy texture) and went really well with the creamy sauce. Also enjoyed the juicy roe within the sauce. My evening has been redeemed!

 I had a scallop - it was cooked just right, springy and Q and mildly sweet and went really well with the beurre blanc. I know how hard it is to make that damn sauce!

 And seems to be the trend these days - waited excruciatingly long for the main course to arrive (another 20 - 30 minutes). While the ambience of the restaurant itself was quite nice (though the tables are little too close to each other) I couldn't help but be amused to the very-singaporean chef just 2 feet away from our table in the kitchen.

来来来多五个 fwa gra! (Translation : Five more plates of Foie Gras my kind chefs!)
两个猪两个鸭!! (Translation : Two pork two duck aka. Two more plates of roasted pork bellies and two more plates of duck confit my good sir, cheeri-o!!)

Nearing 40 minutes after we sat down and ordered, we got a little impatient and hurried the waiter for the main course. I swear they were churning out armies of starters but no main courses.

{ Confit of French Duck Leg }
Served with smooth potato mash, grilled pear and tangy orange sauce

 Finally the main course arrived, and whoa. Ok, the duck confit was the real deal! Cured and roasted, super soft and flaking off the bone. Ultra-duper flavourful, fatty and tender, really really great. Though yet another turn off was that the mash and pear came pre-prepared in tupperware boxes ( bane of sitting near the kitchen window!). While I understand the restaurant expects a busy night due to the restaurant week, but dining is a complete experience, not just about the food. While the mash and pears tasted good, the fact that I saw them in the tupperwares, and the aforementioned 两个猪两个鸭 kinda ruined it for me.

But the duck itself was awesome.

 The duck was indeed awesome! I daresay this is the best duck confit I've had, surpassing the one from Black Sheep Cafe. The meat was very very soft inside, and you can tell it's been cured pretty damn long with deep flavours throughout each bite. The skin was slightly crispy and with the soft soft fat underneath, there was nothing else I could be contented with :)

French beans were crunchy and slightly sweet. The pear was a bit underwhelming though - wished it was a bit more pronounced. 

{ Slow Roasted Crackling Pork Belly }
Pork belly slow roasted to a crackling finish with mash potatoes and
rose wine infused apple sauce

 I had the crackling pork belly - and wow this was pretty good as well. You know it's been slow cooked because it's sooooooo soft and tender, flaking easy at the slightest prod. While I couldn't quite taste the rose wine, the apple sauce was a natural pairing to pork. Just wish there was more sauce because the pork tends to be a little dry. Skin was crispy and crackling indeed! Asparagus slightly overcooked and soft. 

 This was good, but the sauce could have been sweeter to better complement the pork. Loved the crackling! 

Warm Banana Cake with Lemongrass Ginger Ice Cream }
Served with caramelized banana

 Now this. Was. VERY. Lemongrassy. If you're not a fan of lemongrass or ginger (or banana for that matter) this would throw you off your seat. I really loved the bits of ginger in the ice cream. All the flavours seemed to pair very well for me and I was disappointed there wasn't more of everything on the plate :(

 Two words - holy crap. That ice cream was amazingly LEMONGRASS and with bits of ginger it it. Really, really, really strong lemongrass flavour, felt like Thailand wafting through my face eating it, lol. Acquired taste though - I was quite taken aback but B loved it. Pairing with the banana cake was fantastic.

{ Vanilla Crème Brulee }
Served with mixed berries

 My dessert was the creme brulee - it was done well, the creme mushy and sweet with the subtle hint of vanilla in the sweetness. Though I prefered more brulee on mine. Was quite impressed though that you could see the bits of vanilla beans as you work your way through, was a nice reassurance that proper ingredients were used.

First taste of restaurant week, but completely not impressed by the foie gras (to be blunt - BAD) but the main course and dessert saved it. I thought the mains were both really awesome and a surprisingly great portion as well. Final bill came to 110ish. Next stop - Absinthe!

HGW Link (78% at time of writing) : http://www.hungrygowhere.com/singapore/The_Tastings_Room/
Rating (out of 4) : 

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