Sunday, December 03, 2006

To Graze is to Eat Slowly

Believe it or not, the current bout of eating frenzy was not initiated by me. HM is the one behind this series of forays into new food territory. Left to my own devices, I am inclined to re-visit the familiar, only because I hate to be disappointed. Not very adventurous, you might say, but it really irks me when a much-vaunted restaurant or cafe produces a mediocre eating experience. Throw in HM's customary finickyness about food ("Don't feel like spicy/oily/rich...") and it all just seems easier to go to a place we both like and enjoy. Anyway, she has been mighty adventurous lately, so I should not look a gift horse in the mouth eh?

Talking about horses, we finally made it to Graze for Sunday brunch. One of the Rochester quintet of F&B outlets, Graze has opened to some acclaim, mostly for its Australian cafe-style cuisine, and of course for the setting.

Like most places in Singapore, the Rochester outlets are undoubtedly prettier at night. By the cruel light of day, things can look a lot more mundane. Still, as we sat there in the courtyard 'neath the trees, it was all rather pleasant, even with the overcast sky and occasional drizzle. The morning we were there, two things marred the ambience - the noise from the roadworks just metres away on the other side of the hedge, and the music being piped through the sound system. The construction noise was actually quite tolerable (and unavoidable anyway) but the chillout lounge was just incongruous somehow. That, and the service staff.

Nothing wrong with the service per se, but there was something about the wait staff that didn't gel with the place. They were slightly smarmy and it didn't help that they were all dressed in black t-shirts and black jeans, and had slicked-back hair dos. We're sure they fit real well into the evening service, but for brunch, we have our doubts. (We suggest white aprons over their black outfits to get away from the bouncer look.) Anyway, the music, the wait staff and the, uh, patrons (one of whom attempted to do brunch with sunglasses on, despite the obvious lack of sun) made for a somewhat pretentious effect.

But the food we couldn't quibble with.

chewy chunks, with butter and preserves

homemade spiced honey - delicious!

Bread was served the moment we sat down, lovely chunks of chewy loaves that kept the hunger pangs abay while we dithered over the menu. Not that the brunch menu was extensive but it had just enough items to give us a moment's pause over what to choose - waffles, scones, toast, various combis of eggs and...

a skinny latte

The coffee was just nice, not too bitter as often happens.

cinnamon french toast topped off with cream, plus bratwurst and potatoes on the side

Scottish smoked salmon on bagel halves, with cream cheese, and arugula (rocket)

the cast iron pan aka the works

Greedy me had the good ol' fashioned fry up while HM uncharacteristically went for something savoury i.e. the bagel and lox. Our brunch companion had the cinnamon french toast which she complained was not egg-y enough.(Methinks she has french toast confused with bombay toast.) We thought it was excellent!

In fact, everything was done well, the french toast being particularly yummy, yet surprisingly, the meal did not cost a bomb, SGD $85 for the three of us. I'll concede that the drinks were expensive - $8 for coffee - but the brunch mains averaged $12 to $18. I know that's not cheap cheap, but for a chi chi upmarket joint, the bill did not make me gasp, not even flinch. For that, and the laid-back cool of the decor, we'll close one eye to the pseudo-swankiness of the place.

P.S. For those interested, reservations are a must.



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