Friday, September 21, 2007

Bad Breath...

This Australian prime rib chain landed on our sunny shores sometime last year, but there was a distinct lack of customers that was not inspiring. There is a upstairs seating area that could have been full, for all we knew, but this chain has 68 outlets Down Under, according to the Australian website. Surely there should be crowds beating down their doors? The restaurant gave out flyers, advertised huge discounts on their billboards, even put some poor sod into a, what else, pig suit and made him walk around the village, but apparently to no avail. We only noticed a crowd developing on weekends after the restaurant revamped the downstairs area and turned it into a bar. Not the best advertisement for its food, I must say, but hey, at least then we saw people!

Needless to say, we held off checking the place out till, craving some grilled chicken last Friday night, we decided to give it a chance, especially since the billboard outside advertised a 30% discount off mains for UOB cardholders. That night, we were asked if we had a reservation. No, we didn't. Then we were seated downstairs in full view of passers-by, because, according to the waitstaff, the upstairs area was full. Ok, good to know that the restaurant was doing some businesss. (Now that I think back on it, it might have been empty upstairs. We could have been strategically placed to demonstrate that the restaurant was drawing customers!)

diet coke

HM wasn't feeling that hungry so we decided to limit ourselves to a main course each, although as usual, I couldn't resist trying a mug of soup, just to get some insight into the rest of the menu.

cream of mushroom soup

The soup indeed came in a mug. Other than the novelty value of the presentation, there was little to recommend it. The soup was thin and characterless, reminiscent of Cup O' Soup. I think I've had better soup at Han's...

chargrilled chicken with fries and salad

prime rib half slab

The mains were better, but only slightly. The prime rib, the restaurant's signature dish, was tender and falling off the bone, although a leetle bit dry. However, the sauce was tasty but not so you couldn't get it out of a bottle, albeit a pricier bottle, off a supermarket shelf. Still, at least we finished the ribs. The chicken fared worse. I'm not saying the restaurant uses frozen meat, but it certainly tasted that way. HM pushed it around her plate and, even with my help, could not finish the thing.

To sum it up, much of what we tried that night looked, tasted and/or felt as if lots of shortcuts had been taken in terms of food prep. Either that or that a lot of mass production was involved. The mashed potatoes could have come out of a packet ("add water and stir"), the fries from a freezer pack. The plates came wet, as if the food had been microwaved before serving. I don't know whether the kitchen indeed resorted to such techniques, but it certainly tasted that way to me. The only saving grace that night was that we didn't have to pay full price for the meal. The bill came up to $64 before discount, $51 after. At $25 per head, the quality of food at places such as Aston's and Ema's Diner beats this hands down. And if we had wanted something less, we may as well have gone to our friendly neighbourhood western food stall which at least serves a mean pork chop rice and battered cod fish.



Anonymous MM said...

Don't knock Han's!

12:09 am  

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