Sunday, September 16, 2012

Singapore - Cocotte Communal Restaurant Bar

The Hotel
Singapore's Little India is revamping.  It is becoming trendy and with the sprouting of a couple of subway stations serving the area, the residential market is also on the up and up.  And with an increasing market to serve, it is no wonder the restaurant scene here is going to extend beyond thosais and accompanying sambars.

Bread and beurre
The Wanderlust Hotel, a newish boutique hotel in the area, houses Cocotte, which offers casual French food.  It is dimly lit but it isn't romantic, but it is rustic and the food is pretty enjoyable all round.

For dinner, they offer a prix fixe menu with several items that require sharing.  Based on what you choose, dinner can get a little expensive despite the entry price but overall enjoyable since the quality of the food is pretty good.

French radishes with butter and Maldon flakes
A French classic started us off.  This one is all about the produce which did not disappoint.  Crunchy radishes with a slight bittersweet taste made smooth and fragrant with the butter, then highlighted with salt.

French oysters - Brittany
Briny but not overly so, this was more sea sweet than sea salty.  Very nice with a twist of lemon and a garlic vinaigrette.

Seafood casserole
This was an excellent seafood pot.  All imported (ok, there was the carbon footprint thing) but oh so fresh.  The brown crab had such sweet and soft flesh that little chewing was necessary to savor the creamy roe and flesh together.  The mussels, shrimps and scampi were also very good.  It was a huge pot and it got a little much at the end.  A tad salty and I could have been a little drunk from the generous white wine which may not have totally evaporated in the cooking process *smiles..

Accompanying fries and walnut salad were a nice break from all the seafood.  The fries a little too dangerously so since we were not daunted by how much there was.

Apple Tart
Dinner ended on a very sweet note with the apple tart.  Perfect crisp with medium cooked apples.  We could have done with a little more ice cream but nobody's complaining.

PS. I don't speak French but there appears to be a few meanings to Cocotte.  I wonder what the message was when they thought of the name.  A little naughty or a little community.  Go figure.

No. 2 Dickson Road
Tel: +65-62981188

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hong Kong - Strip House by Harlan Goldstein

I've never had a bad meal at a Harlan Goldstein establishment.  That's a pretty tall order in the fickle and inconstent F&B world today.  I've enjoyed them all, from Tuscany by H (a pity it had to go) to Gold.  Oh I did have a a very meh meal - at H One - but that was after Harlan was no longer associated with the H.  So don't be fooled.

Strip House is Harlan's latest venture and yes it does steaks, and yes, pretty well.  But it has a whole bag of goodies, within a smallish menu mind you, that you don't really have to eat beef if you don't want to. 

House cured bacon
This was 2 wonderful strips of pork belly, subtly smoked and salted then grilled.  So many ways it could go wrong, but this was delish.  One might even say it was a tad small... 
Crab cakes

But many rave about this one in the appetiser section, and rightly so.  So good we had to have 2 orders.  This was a literal interpretation of the name of the dish.  Huge lumps of crab meat molded into a cake, then lightly pan fried.  And then a lobster bisque like sauce to match.  If you like crab, you can probably eat this all day.

Onion loaf
Good but I've had better.  But even then, we polished off the whole loaf.  If you like soft and fluffy this would be your loaf.  I like a little chew in my breads but otherwise, a bit more whiff of onion would have made this a loaf of desire. 
New York Strip
This was a pretty decent piece of meat.  With enough marbling yet not too much so folks who like some bite, can chew through (but without too much work).  Well grilled with a good pink centre, this was enjoyable.  The sprig of rosemary on garlic is a nice touch, subtle enough not to overwhelm.  

Kick Ass Mac Cheese
Yes, that kind of language is used on the menu.  Because statements of fact are not offensive?  Yes, it was kick ass.  And yes, I would eat it again even if it doesn't look like much.  I'm not shallow like that.

Sizzling brownie
It was the more dramatic of the 2 desserts with our server pouring chocolate sauce into the hot griddle to make it sizzle.  But it was just a lot of chocolate for me that I could barely open my mouth.  Good for sharing since it would be one heck of a meal in itself. 

Lemon cake
This was the sweet winner hands down.  Lemony liquid insides encased in a moist cake.  Paired with vanilla ice cream and cooked cherries, perfectly light finish to an otherwise heavy meal.  So light it's possible to have 2, well almost possible. 

Oh and did I mention we had a patient and sweet server too, who had to put up with a slightly stressed group of individuals who had a hard week?  She did a great job of winding us down into the weekend too.  Great job!  I'm sorry I forgot your name!  But I'm sure I'll see you again.

5/F, Grand Progress Building
15-16 Lan Kwai Fong
Tel: +852-2521 8638