Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dining Pierside

No, it wasn't a special occasion, unless having dinner with our friend MM, who was miraculously NOT double or triple booked on a Friday night, counts as one. If at all, the remarkable thing was that we had never gotten round to dining at Pierside Kitchen before, given that we are generally and genuinely fond of the other Marmalade outlets i.e. Marmalade Pantry, and the two Toasts. We had certainly walked past it a number of times. Then again, for some reason, the One Fullerton outlets all look like they are big on looks, not necessarily substance. But since our dining companion, MM, vetoed our first choice of dinner venue (HM wanted a veggie burger from Brewerkz but MM turned her nose up at what she considers their rampant use of MSG.), HM turned to her trusty copy of the IS restaurant guide, hit on Pierside Kitchen, and the rest was history.

We arrived at 8 p.m. The waterfront seating looked suitably atmospheric but 'twas somewhat muggy, so we opted to sit indoors. Good thing too, because it did in fact rain a little later on. The decor was reminiscent of Toast, particularly the tiled floor, albeit an upmarket version. The tables were reasonably well spaced out. In fact the place felt a little quiet at first. Only when the crowd moved in from outside was there a pleasant vibe.
Other than that, our only other observation was that it was a tad dark...

Knowing MM was going to be late, we went ahead and ordered some drinks and appetisers to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

mossy mermaid (lime juice, apple juice and soda) and iced lemon tea

mini foccacia served with tomato pesto, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil

cream of grilled cepes with deepfried parsley

cumin spiced crab cakes, marinated cucumber and chilli

To start with, the drinks weren't all that impressive. My mossy mermaid tasted like a kid's drink; MM who had a sip of it later hit it on the head when she said it reminded her of Qoo... HM's iced lemon tea was much better, but still, it was iced lemon tea, no more, no less.

As for the starters, we couldn't quite agree. I liked the full flavoured soup while HM felt it was glorified cream of mushroom. HM liked the crab cakes although I thought they tasted quite junky, like those Japanese croquettes you buy from snack counters. I had to concede though that the texture of the crab cakes was excellent - crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside.What we both enjoyed was the little buns with their sidekicks. Whether dipped into the tomato pesto, the sea salt and/or the EVOO, they were just the thing to blunt the edge of our hunger.

MM arrived just in time to partake of the last of the appetizers. We could finally get round to ordering our mains.

oven roasted miso cod, new potatoes and sweet peas

tandoori moreton bay bug with raisin and cardamom basmati pilaf, spiced cauliflower

We decided to order and share three mains. I abdicated responsiblity to HM who promptly decided on the miso cod and the moreton bay bugs. MM was less successful. First she tried to order the braised lamb shank and oriental spices, only to be told that lamb was not available. Then, when she decided to go for the whole pan roasted trout with garlic, scallion & black bean crust, steamed asparagus, she found out that trout was also not available. The waitperson took great pains to assure us that those were the only two items not available which was of course little consolation for MM. Finally, she settled for a pasta...

arugula pappardelle, braised oxtail and horseradish

I'm not sure how the restaurant itself defines its cuisine, but it was certainly fusion, and as far as the experiment went, the most successful dish was the cod. It was delectably fluffy and moist, the subtle sweetness of the cod amplified to mouthwatering goodness by the miso. Compared to that, the moreton bay bugs were delicious, but let's face it, curried whatever is no big deal in this here country. As for the pappardelle, we weren't sure what to make of the braised oxtail. I swear it tasted as if it had been braised in tau cheo which, added to the pasta, just made the dish somewhat cloying. Incidentally HM had an issue with both the starches; she found the pilaf and the pappardelle too chewy for her liking. Neither MM nor I were too put off by that.

our chosen trio of desserts

So far we had not been swept off our feet, but fortunately for us the best was yet to be. We opted for three desserts: ginger pudding, confit of granny smith apples & home made yoghurt; basil crepes, caramelized bananas & butterscotch ice cream; and valrhona chocolate fondant & vanilla bean ice cream. All three desserts were outstanding, but my favourite was the ginger pudding, in particular, the yogurt-apple mix which was a brilliant complement.

Inclusive of a ginger caipirinha for MM and a glass of verdelho for HM, the bill came up to SGD $242 for the three of us. Let's face it, Pierside Kitchen is no place for those who are price-sensitive. I have to admit that we weren't bowled over either, but I think Pierside Kitchen deserves a second visit, at least for the opportunity to unearth gems like the cod and those desserts.



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