Thursday, January 18, 2007

Brown Sugar: It is sweet but ...

Brown Sugar Cafe Bistro
277 River Valley Road
Stardus Clubhouse, #01-04
Tel: 6333-6612

For Sunday Brunch, there are a few good things and a few not so good things happening at this relatively new bistro Brown Sugar. The unfortunate thing about it is that it is the not-so-good things that I think might either kill it or make it a run of the mill bistro with no real clear identity.

The chef or rather the architect behind the menu is Yuan Oeij, a man who is relatively new but familiar to the culinary scene. Having worked in some famed kitchens, Yuen has been working as a chef for hire cooking for private parties, which I image are still possible with a private room at the Brown Sugar premise. He, however (and this I find rather odd), does not really cook in Brown Sugar but does more floor management, as spotted on Sunday in his white polo and jeans greeting and chatting with his friends and select guests.

The best thing about this place was its reasonably priced menu. On weekdays they offer competitively priced set lunches $23 for two courses and $27 for three. And even if you ordered a la carte like we did, the food that we ordered were nothing too extraordinary but well presented and good value for money.

With regards to food, there are a few good things going on. Most of the items that we ordered were from the abridged version of the a la carte section of the menu. Starters of lobster bisque with prawn ravioli and grilled squid salad, orange and Mediterranean vinaigrette were delicious, the former being robust and yet light and the latter had a great refreshing quality. Main course choices consisted of pasta options and ‘burger’ options, and we sampled the latter, choosing the ribeye sandwich with caramelised onions, roasted aioli and yam chips and the signature portobello mushroom burger, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, arugula and fries, both of which were very down-to-earth and hearty.

We ordered one item from their brunch menu and this is where, food-wise, it goes pear-shaped. Two eggs, scrambled, with sausage and hash brown, and this was rather disappointing. The scrambled eggs were far over-cooked and looked and was too dry and was probably closer to something that you might find in a McDonald’s styrofoam box that has been sitting around for too long. The secondary elements on that plate were ok, but nothing to rave about.

The other not so good things that are happening here is the disorganisation or the non-responsive nature of the service staff. Once we were seated and had our orders taken, no one came to take drink orders or to bring water to the table for at least 20 minutes. The second incident of almost feeling ignored was when we asked if they had a dinner a la carte menu, after which we waited, eventually paid for the bill and realised that they were not going to bring it to us.

If you excuse the service, the food is dependable. To me, its not bad but it needs to find its own voice because currently it almost like a long lost twin to the Marmalade Pantry in terms of the clean modern deco and its casual but elegant menu items.

* See the whole set of photos here

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