Saturday, February 28, 2009

Tippling Club: the good and the bad

I like what they are doing at the Tippling Club. They are a breath of fresh air to our local dining scene with their sense of taste, modern techniques and interactive dining layout. And their cocktails are clever and sophisticated or as a friend of mine would describe as “a party at a high level”.

They initially only served dinner and post-dinner drinks and tapas but that proved to be too intimidating for many, including me, so they introduced lunch sets with a tagline that tried to demystify the notion that a meal at the Tippling Club was too expensive an experience for many and to perhaps quash the joke going around that it should be named the Rip off club. The lunch thing worked, priced at a more accessible level we managed to round up a group of five that were willing to try the Tippling Club.

The only drawback about lunch is that instead of the cocktails, which are really half the show, they don’t come with lunch but a unit of alcohol is allotted to all diners – choice between white and red but that issue can be easily solved by ordering your cocktails by the side. I’ve had lunch at the Tippling Club twice. They change the lunch menu on a monthly basis, making eating here on a regular basis possible without being bored. I adored eating here for a number of reasons.

One. The food is cleverly convivial. Their first offering was fizzy rum infused grapes. Bubbles are always fun. Charred peppers, which are given an extra charred dye by a squid ink batter and served with a soy sauce-based foam and eaten with these long pincers.

Two. The plating is stylish. The plates are a combination of many labour intensive intricate pieces pulled together.

Linguini Carbonara, wild mushroom puree, crispy bacon

Three. The combination of flavours and use of textures are inventive and imaginative. Foams and jellies – will, needless to say, appear on the plates but so will other surprising elements, so go with an open mind to be entertained and fed.

four textures of parmesan and rocket emulsion

whipped gorgonzola

Four. Their cheese courses are divine. On the first visit I had a whipped gorgonzola that was served with edible flowers, capers and broken pizza bread and on the second visit I had Parmesan in four ways and both were absolutely delicious.

Five. Cocktails. Two words, smoky bastard.

But for all the good things that are happening at this place, its Achilles heel will be spotty cooking that was sadly consistent on both visits – one dish was under salted, another was too salty and then very tragically my pasta was soft to the point of mush despite its beautiful appearance and wonderful flavours. I would love to continue supporting this place for its potential and what they do but a poor execution of a good idea is a culinary tragedy.

The Tippling Club
8D Dempsey Road, Singapore
Phone: 6475-2217

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Chasing duck tales in Bali

I think I had forgotten how good duck could taste. I tried to give it up for a while because a diet stated forbidden me to eat duck, whatever screw that, duck is yum.

Bebek. I think the Indonesians have a cute name for the duck. Bebek. It has got a cute ring to it, no? Bebek bebek bebek. It is almost onomatopoeic. Believe me, I was trying not to eat duck, but that didn’t work. My resistance crumbled, the dishes sounded so good on the menu, bebek betutu and deep fried duck, the no-eating-duck plan was shelved till post-Bali.

One. Bebek betutu at Bumbu Bali, that was pre-ordered on the morning of our arrival, I expected to look a little more glamourous. Stripped of the banana leaves that cradled was our duck, there was our duck, the one that was rubbed with local spices and slow cooked for hours and hours. It was tender, very tender but I found too mildly flavoured despite the hours of stewing in spices. The pre-cursor to the arrival of the bebek betutu, the bebek soto was, however, delectable.

Two. Murni’s Warung in Ubud, one of the oldest restaurants in Bali, history is a testimony to itself. Its bebek betutu is tried and true, tender off the bone with a better distinct flavour, and no pre-ordering required!

Three. Deep fried duck at Bebek Bengil, the dirty duck diner. Maybe they should export this as a fast food. Balinese Fried Duck, and it will be commonly known as BFD. Deep fried chicken has had long success, so why not deep fried duck. And not just any deep fried duck but duck that have been sitting in marinade for 36 hours and then lowered into the deep fat fryer. Deep fried duck that is best eaten with hands. Finger licking good.

Bumbu Bali
Jalan Pratama, Tanjung Benoa,
Nusa Dua 80363

Murni’s Warung
At The Bridge, Campuhan
Ubud, Bali
Tel: +62-361-975 233

Bebek Bengil Restaurant
(Dirty Duck Dinner)
Padang Tegal - Ubud

Tel: +62-361- 975 489

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