Saturday, June 10, 2006

How Important Are Stars?

Restaurant reviews are a relatively strong social force in Singapore today. I personally have often followed the directions of our local Sunday food reviews to the latest feature eatery only to find myself part of the herd, which mulled over the local paper in the morning and decided on having lunch at the recommended location. More often than not, other than the recommended dishes, the only other piece of information that I would be able to remember from the write-up would be the number of stars it was awarded. I recently wondered about how accurate this star system, which we use as common baseline to measure our restaurants, when I read two very diverse restaurant reviews about the same place within the span of a week—one that found the food problematic on a couple of occasions and the other that found it almost flawless and heavenly. Having being confused by the media, I decided to investigate the matter myself.

Whether in search of nostalgia, good food or just curious the newest places, local foodies and non-foodies alike have been flocking down to this place. I’m just the next one to join the grazing crowd at this beautiful old colonial house at Rochester Park. How was my grazing experience? Well, I think it would depend on your end purpose. When I dine out, food is primary. I can tolerate or overlook bossy service ladies that bark instructions at me, waiting for a good 15-20 minutes for my order to be taken simply because he is cooking and other things service staff who mill around the room but never seem to see me, if the food is absolutely to die for. So this is my position, the most important thing is what is on my plate.

Salt and Pepper Grilled Sea Scallops, Sliced Mango, Lime, Vanilla, Syrup and Fresh Herbs

The menu is very large, and caters to every eating type of customer from the herbivores with a vegetarian section to the carnivores with a barbecue meat section. Asia and more specifically Thailand is where the menu finds its greatest influence, mainly because the cuisine suits our hot hot hot weather. Items on the menu that we tried include Roasted Sweetbreads, Lyonnaise Tart with Peppered Onion Sauce, Salt and Pepper Grilled Sea Scallops, Sliced Mango, Lime, Vanilla, Syrup and Fresh Herbs, King Prawns 3 Ways, Tempura, Chilled Pan-tossed with Coconut Coriander Sorbet, Wrapped Roasted Chicken with a Warm Salad of Potato, Garlic, Red Nam Jim Dressing, Coriander and Thai Basil, Roasted Barramundi, Pumpkin and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli, Chilli Plum Salsa with Chive Oil and the Dessert Platter, which were average but nothing quite hit the spot. The flavour philosophy (as I gather) is to go big and brash, as demonstrated in the house specialities of Crispy Hand-Rolled Pork Hock, Red and Black Plum Salsa with Redcurrant Chilli Caramel and Soy Lacquered Wagyu Ox Cheek, Coconut Rice, Green Papaya and Pomelo Salad, Fried Shallots with Tamarind Dressing, but these were seemingly over flavoured in one sense of the other, the former being a sweet dish with sweet meat and the latter being salty.

Having earlier stated my position, to me, here at Graze, at the moment, style has seems to have taken precedence over food substance. My take on this issue on restaurant reviewing business based on this case study is that maybe sometimes it might be matter of individual taste.

4 Rochester Park
Singapore 139215
Tel: 6775-9000



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was fortunate to eat at Graze twice, once with a full food tasting as my friend is one of the partners. I have to be honest and agree that style seems to have overshadowed substance. The menu, IMHO, is too large. I think perhaps a scaled down and more focussed menu, with each dish done brilliantly rather than "good" would be a better concept.

4:07 PM  
Blogger tlc said...

i made this interesting find in the rochestor cluster though - dont write it off yet! One Rochestor, that is namely a bar, has an interesting selection of bar food, including a very divine "siew yoke" or roast pork. not usually my thing but tastes heavenly at the first bite. must try.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i totally agree - graze is complete style over substance, i found the food really mediocre actually and the service was bad. the apple crumble was the worst i had ever eaten, and its hard to screw up crumble! they got our bill wrong twice. i wouldnt go back there again at all. though the cocktails were nice.

i too read that blog review of Graze which said the food was great - that totally diminished the credibility of the blogger for me. i mean, seriously!


6:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the honest review. :)

4:13 PM  
Blogger Aderlyn said...

i went to Graze when it first "opened" and had already read a couple of "rave" reviews. it seems that there was still a lot for them to do. The sparklng shiraz was no where near cold enough to be decent drinking, the BBQ platter was something my uncle could have done at home, and the warm lava chocolate cake was lacking in QC - it was oozing for some and not for others. We were sorely disappointed! I'm not saying don't go there, but I certainly am not anymore :)

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

can not belive wat i am reading, you should stay at the hawker centers la. found the food and service to be very good, guess it's personal choice though.

fyi tastings are generally were problem are tried to be sorted out. A real friend would say somthing in private not blog on line to make themselves sound interesting

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Graze is perfect for any occasion. They serve A wide selection of plain grilled meat and seafood. I went for one of their signature dishes of the crab and citrus linguine – the orange, lime and lemon segments adding a jolting, shocking zestiness to the rich, sweet crab... YUM!

10:03 AM  

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