Friday, August 19, 2005

Second Thoughts about Ember

When you put a bunch of people in a room who are opinionated, passion about food and love eating, you sometimes get arguments about where to go for lunch, which place has the best orgasmic prawn mee experience, which their favourite hawker foods, their favourite restaurants, etc, etc.. in a nutshell, it really is just food talk. So over one BBQ, while holding a lamb chop in my right hand and chewing the prawn that I just popped into my mouth, I was caught up in one of these restaurant debates. The topic at hand was St. Pierre vs. Ember. We were divided amongst ourselves on which was the better restaurant and as a final solution to our debate, we decided to schedule dates at the various restaurant for our restaurant challenge. I was all ready to defend my St. Pierre, but as we know, that didn’t quite work out as planned, and so this is my report on Ember.

It has been nearly a year since I was last at this restaurant. My last experience here was pleasant but not out of this world. My memories were that it was slightly pricey for the really small portions that they were serving. So instead of going with the chef dégustation like the last time, we went for the á la carte menu instead.

The menu doesn’t really capture me, and nothing seemed to jump out at me while I flipped it saying “EAT ME, EAT ME”. However, since Chef Sebastian won the award for Rising Chef of the Year at the World Gourmet Summit 2005, he must be doing something right. Plus, I think it is time we acknowledged and supported more of our local talents.

My second experience at this restaurant was better. The food was relatively well executed. The ambience at the restaurant is also rather chic, causal, cozy and warm. So with much regret, my restaurant that I supported in our first restaurant challenge had to lose gracefully.


Baked Duck Pastilla with arugala salad, lemon vinegrette

Nosh: From the appetizers we had the pan seared foie gras with caramelised apple and clove, port and raspberry glaze and the baked duck pastille with arugala salad, lemon vinegrette. The foie gras was close to over cooked, but thankfully not at that point. What in particular is good about this dish is the caramalised condiments that accompany the liver that makes it good. The baked duck pastille was exciting since I have only read about pastilles and have never had them. The pastille was good and crisp with good tasting roasted duck in the center. The duck however was a little dry and the pastille was rather thin, where it was more like a parcel rather than a pastille. Nonetheless, the combination was beautiful.

For main courses, we had the pumpkin risotto with fennel fritters, sundried tomatoes, seared Chilean seabass with mushroom and smoked bacon ragout, truffle yuzu butter sauce and the charred marinated chicken with spices, coriander and yoghurt dressing. The risotto tasted a very comforting, although the creamy warm rice bubbles tasted a little more like sundried tomato risotto rather than pumpkin risotto. In addition to the creamy comforting sensation, the deep fried fennel fritters added to the comfort food meter. The seabass was well cooked, perfect texture, holding its form and not over cooked, and the sauce is rather wonderful, with the salty bacon, the pungent truffle and the creamy butter to tie it all together. The charred marinated chicken was I think what eptiomises this restaurant. The charred marinated chicken tasted like a tandoori chicken, but not just the deep fried kind of tandoori chicken that they sometimes serve at Northern Indian restaurants, but rather chicken cooked with excellent technique. Using existing flavours that had stood the test of time, and adding a few twist of their own without being too out of the box, but cooking it well.

We skipped dessert and had coffee and tea instead because none of us felt like having a valrona warm chocolate cake that seems to appear on every menu nowadays or caramelised banana something that was on the menu. (Which incidentally sparked off another talk about cooked fruit and goreng pisang)

Pay: About S$60 for 3 courses. Set dinner is S$45+++ and the chef dégustation is available on request.

Service: Prompt and friendly.

Rave: The sundried tomato bread that is served at the beginning of the meal is really good. I also think it is rather charming that the mother cooks with the son in the kitchen, so I guess I’ll give extra points for respect.

1 Comments:

Blogger Amanduh said...

I adored the warm banana tart with lavendar ice cream! Super yummy!

10:30 AM  

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