Platypus Lobster Shack: Weak in the knees

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Some nights I dream about this.

The thoraic warmth of the creamy homemade mayonnaise mixed in with the succulent chunks of butter poached lobsters; the smell of grilled, slightly charred bread filling my nostrils. This makes for such a umbrian treat.

Repeated visits, and I've always called for the same item. Like a blindfolded mission evoked by memory sensory pleasures. Not tonight, not this night cause when 5 and a 1/2 unite , a larger congregation of seafood delights can come together. 

We had the Crustacean Bowl as appetisers. Small in size but big on flavors. There was an explosion of flavors on the palette that made an impressive amuse bouche, especially with so many mouths to feed. The uni creme forming a sticky mixture with the Japanese rice; a treasure trove of all things delicious, the butter poached lobster, honey ponzu, caviar and cheddar cheese provided plenty of sharp twists and turns on the flavor profile. I would definitely be delighted to tuck into a bowl of this on a solo act if not for the enormous damage it would do to my already dimpled thighs. The same can't be said of the Lobster Bisque that obviously had a problematic acquaintance with the salt jar, the natural sweetness of the lobster lost in that unnatural processed salinity. The Truffle Crisps attack the senses with full force, causing grown men to salivate at the table with its heady wafts of truffle mists. But that was just an illusion that dissipated quickly with the passing winds. Crisps being crisps have a way of conducting mysterious vanishing acts on the dinner table and likewise, these were gone in a jiffy. A perfect snack for the peckish. 



Moving on the main leads, the lobster rolls. They were seemingly smaller than I recalled them to be, however, their golden hides and generous creamy contents do not betray its identity. The Spicy Diablo Roll ($19.90/roll) with its piquant garlic spice and meek heated condition was enough to lift the sweet lobster and make it absolutely irresistible. I just wish it was a little bigger...




As much as I am a purist at heart, I'm  not immune to the appeal of the zanier specimens such as the Caramel Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding ($12). A little bit on the sweet side but totally good for sharing; just go easy on the chocolate sauce.

Take note that for you Platypus lobster roll fans out there: they are also available at the new Bugis location. So do make sure to make your reservations before going down!

Platypus Lobster Shack
China Square
Nankin Row #01-31
3 Pickering Street
S( 048660)
t: 6438 7961

Opening Hours:
Mon-Thurs: 5 30pm - 10pm
Fri: 5 30pm - 11pm
Sat: 5 30pm - 11pm
Closed Sundays

Foodology Fresh: That's why eating greens are so hard

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I've always had a penchant for vegetables, noming my way through my plate of greens like a meek cow during meal times. No signs of rebellion whatsoever. I would often stare with awkward befuddlement whenever another kid would shove away his vegetables, nudging it to the side of the plate and then subsequently throwing a fit when circumstances gets to forceful. 'Why?' Don't they see its' allure?

Growing up, and gaining access to the covers of the vegetable dictionary; I embraced my edible greens with a tighter affection. My stint in Australia reinforcing our relationship with love gifts in the forms of ruby red beetroot, bitter endives and hybrid broccoli. It  is a libation  that brings back many happy memories - a time where getting your hands on a superb salad at any deli or even making your own at a fraction of the cost was as easy as pie. The salad maker driven by a purpose to to do as little as possible to highlight the vitality of the greens. I've since then feasted on countless salads, ranging from those of more innovative nature, incorporating deep fried quinoa; to the classics like caesar salads with a glorious homemade anchovy dressing that throws it into a class of its own. 

I miss all that. Supermarkets brimming full of seasonal produce, and mixed leaves that don't cost you an arm or a leg. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that in Singapore, with everything being imported in, salads are expensive. Still, with the notion of eating healthy with conscious effort on everyone's' mind, salad joints have been doing a roaring business. 

One such outlet is Foodology Fresh, located beside Maxwell food centre. Talk about choices, chicken rice versus a roasted chicken salad; you know where my allegiance lie. But lets give the cleaner choice a go shall we?

Working with a self-serve concept, Foodology Fresh empowers customers to make their own meal choices. Enforcing power to the hands of the office workers to make the healthier choice. What works for me? Shall we find out?




Neatly stacked, you'll find a good selection of wholesome lunch options. Do take note that a current promotion includes a soup, quiche or muffin at just $3 with every purchase of a salad, sandwich or wrap. A few of the standouts for me from the salad section were the Smoked Duck Breast Salad and the Roasted Chicken, Grape and Apricot Salad.


For something a little more hearty, go for the Chili Con Carne Wrap or the Club Sandwich. The former carrying a slight spicy kick in the mix, mingled with a good amount of greens, the entire dish comes together quite nicely. 


And if you're flat out starved, consider topping up $3 for the Wild Mushroom Soup (original price: $5.80); a bowl of comfort perfumed with the robustness of roasted mushrooms; seemingly perfect for a pick-me-up on a rainy afternoon. The Pumpkin Soup is commendable as well but a tad too bland for my liking.



Quiche fanatics might want to give the quiches a miss. The 3 varieties of Salmon & Asparagus, Spinach & Mushroom and Chicken Ham, all missing the mark with their limp anemic crusts which to be brutally honest, were all a tad raw in the middle. Perhaps a few minutes in the microwave would do the trick *snorts*




Among the tasting portions on offer, the Smoked Duck Breast Salad which consists of mesclun, beetroot, sweet potato, red chicory, feta cheese, crisp caramelised walnuts and a tangy orange dressing is enough to warrant a singular visit to the joint.  Earthy in flavors punctured by the salinity of the crumbly feta cheese and then twisted round the bend again with the jewels nubes of caramelised walnuts, this is one salad to invogirate the appetite for sure.

Desserts are yet again another shoddy affair with the sweet muffins leading the way over the lackluster tarts that have obvious issues with their gelatine content; resulting in a  lemon curd that is somewhat more of a lemon jelly devoid of its desired creamy texture. For a good afternoon treat, pick up the banana walnut muffin instead, its moist innards and aromatic wafts of familiarity a good accompaniment to a piping hot cup of coffee.

Foodology Fresh, for me, does not hold up to its end of the bargain, it's offerings lacking the persuasive power to convince me to choose the healthier route over a quick trip to the hawker next door for a belly busting meal (which explaints the beer and Xiao Long Bao I indulged in after this tasting). Still, its' cause is inspirational and perhaps in it's residenceý, the conversion of mindsets will be slow and ardous but still proceeding. 



Foodology Fresh @ The URA Centre
45 Maxwell Road
#01-02, S(069118)
t: 6223 9724

Opening Hours:
Mon- Fri: 8am - 6pm

Cocotte: Snail-paced Rustic French in Little India

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I was greeted with the puffy-faced, glossy eyed stare of a man who had just spent the last 5 minutes of his time trapped in a bathroom, the tussle for life taking a toil on his ruptured oesophagus. The culprit to his misery, a measly fish bone that had somehow weaselled its way into his food and lodged itself deep in there. I looked on helplessly and dragged my fork through the mustard sauce, pausing to pass a comment in a bid to shed some calming effect. (Don't judge, I eat when I'm stressed *sheepish grin*). 


After chewing on a slippery banana (offered so kindly by the worrisome staff) and several gulps of water later, the worse had come to pass and my partner resumed eating at a frenetic pace, an action spurred on by the tardiness of the food. Our orders of seabass and roast pork collar taking a solid 45 minutes after ordering to arrive at the table. Was it worth the wait you might ask?

The Whole roasted Seabass ($46) with tomatoes provencal, basil aioli and crispy quinoa offered a decent medley of flavours on the plate with the smudges of pesto and spicy tomato lifting the dish. While the kitchen maintains a tight focus on the done-ness on the fish, nailing it to 'perfection' with it's slightly charred crisp skin and mellow flesh; a lot more seasoning was called for. Thank goodness for the bed of spicy crisp quinoa that provided a good textural relief. 

The other dish that came 'çomplimentary' credits to the Entertainer App was the one that caught my undivided attention, the Roast Pork Collar ($34 for S and $60 for M). The combination of Australian free range pork collar slow cooked with creamy mustard sauce was just subliminal. It greets you at the threshold, the faint aroma of toasted almond flakes activating a section in my brain that sends me digging relentless at the crisp flakes with spoonfuls of rich salty gravy. Not to mention the pork collar that has been roasted to submission, peeling off its tough exterior in exchange for bewitching supple flesh. I mopped up everything with gusto and wished hard for a magical top-up to appear. None of that happened eventually, but I'm sure we'll be back for a repeat visit. Probably dinner the next time round, since the menu offers a wider selection of ala-carte items to chose from.


Cocotte
2 Dickson Road
S(209494)
t: 6298 1188
w: www.restaurantcocotte.com

Opening Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 12pm - 2 30pm, 6 30pm - 10 30pm
Fri - Sun: 12pm - 3pm, 6 30pm - 11 00pm
Closed on Tuesdays

Pie Face: Australian pie chain now on our local shores

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The mention of Australian Pie Face rings back memories of my days well spent in Sydney. Of early morning walks to the Townhall subway station, the coffee aroma adrift from the machines already hard at work providing black elixir to commuters at this underground booth; I resist the urge to get a pie, the lingering smell of butter permeating my nostrils. Despite my somewhat extended stay in Sydney, I've never found a reason to patronise the chain mainly because of it's domineering existence in the market, almost akin to bread-talk in Singaporean context; so that makes me kind of a snob doesn't it?, but why have pie face's pies when you can get your hands on Bourke Street Bakery's lamb and harissa pie? I digress. Forgive me.

Spurred on by the very fact that pies aren't part of our culture here means that there is room for its interjection into our foodscape, and hence Pie Face's first foray into Asia is definitely timely. Unveiling its first store in 313@somerset, the chain sets out to introduce the locals to the humble pie (excuse my punt). Helmed by Mr Francois Galand, French born and trained chef, the kitchen team sets out to produce gourmet pies from scratch, using the traditional French puff pastry technique in a  bid to produce flaky pie crusts to compliment the hearty fillings.  

As I was one of the lucky ones privileged enough to sample Pie Face's offerings during the media launch.. these are some of my visual and taste observations...



Fun fact: did you know that the different facial expressions aren't at all random? They are used as means for the staff to differentiate the pie fillings hidden within. The 'o' for Thai chicken curry, 'v' for the vegetarian Tandoori, 'p' for the chicken and peppercorn as well as 'S' for the Chunky steak pie... What a brilliant idea!


After a taste test, I had my strict favourites. The Chicken and Mushroom Pie ($4.90 for the large, $3.00 for the mini) was a comforting creamy mixture of tender chicken breast, mushrooms and garlic. Almost like the old school chicken ala king stuffed in a golden pouch. Not to be missed is the Thai Chicken Curry Pie ($4.90 for large, $3.00 for mini), an Asian inspired pie which carries the heady aroma of coconut milk. Despite the Chunky Steak Pie ($5.20) 's claim to be the crown jewel in Pie Face's array, this pie had some major shortfalls especially dealing with the tenderness of the beef chunks that turned out a bit stringy from the braising process. 

On a separate note, Pie Face does serve up some pretty good coffee, with a solid management of frothing technique sans the fancy latte artwork. But if you're going to order a takeaway, it doesn't really matter either way. Prices for coffee start from $4.00.




And if in the case you aren't a big pie fan, fret not, the chain does offer other alternatives to curb the munchies.  The Almond stick and Cheese stick ($1.90 each) are pulse quickening treats that blend the likes of crispy golden puff pastry with a mish-mash of sweet and savoury fillings, almond creme in the former and a gooey cheese in the latter. Yes, admittedly these two can cause quite an oil slick in the bags, but despite the artery clogging implications behind them, it disappears all too quickly.

There are also 8 Sweet Pies ($3.30 each), with flavors ranging from butterscotch to apple crumble to my all time favourite pecan pie! These little monsters seek to entice the youngsters with their colourful hues, however, take heed that the sugar content can be a tad preposterous; so unless you have a high tolerance for sweets, avoid these. 



Pie Face

313@Somerset
#B3-10
S(238895)

Bugis Village
249 Victoria Street
S(188034)

Operating Hours:
10am - 10pm

Pantler: A Promise-land of Honey and Sweets

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Peering down the grey minimalistic hallways of the shop house, my heart was gripped by eager anticipation to dive straight into the rows of sweet desserts. Here at Pantler, breads and pastries rule the land, there's no gimmick to the concept here, and hence decor is understandably stark. 

For the neat freaks, Pantler's setup is the hinterland of your fantasies, entremets placed fastidiously on clinical silver trays lined up with tangential precision to its neighbours. Here, attention to detail has spilled over from Japanese foreshores, manifesting itself in exquisite looking cakes and tarts that makes for drool worthy eye candy. 

Two separate visits later, I was sold. This is what Singapore's commercial district is in dire need of. A boutique purveyor of quality patisserie and boulangerie items in a simple yet classy environment. Perfect for mid-afternoon tea breaks or client meetings, if you may.


Founded by Baker Matthias Phua and partner, Head Chef Tomoharu Morita whose credentials span from highly acclaimed Grand Hyatt Tokyo to Joel Robuchon Singapore. The two have dedicated their passion and skills to creating products that are authentic and beautiful, paying special attention to produce, Beurre d'Isigny French butter and Japanese flour milled by Nishio Milling from Aichi Prefecture. This high quality ingredients takes precedence in the boulangerie items, the croissant ($3), crispy on the outside with light and fluffy innards. Unfortantately Singapore's humidity has dealt it a bad card and the exterior suffered a little, texturally. Nothing that a little warming up in the oven won't solve.


The Mango Passion ($5.80) and Creme Caramel ($5.80) comes highly recommended. Diving into the former will lend your mind a chimera of narratives; the tantalising creaminess of the mango flavoured panna cotta spiked by a slight tang from the passion fruit coulis pooled over the top. The 'jiggly-ness' of the pudding a testament to the Chef's profound pastry knowledge and skills. Touted to be Matthias's dessert of choice, I was eager to get a glimpse of what he saw in this humble offering. Lo and behold, this was frickin' magic in the mouth; I lapped it up greedily. What this traditional dessert has on the other versions is the caramel sauce that had been pushed to the edge of caramelization without burning. That's talent right there.



Other offerings that I've since tried are the signature Yatsura ($8.50) - hazelnut dacquoise, dark chocolate mousse and hazelnut feuilletine. Almost like the makings of a ferrero rocher in a more sophisticated form. The Pantler roll cake ($4.80) failed to leave an impression, and I took a back seat on the Pantler Cheesecake ($6.80) that was a tad too crumbly and dry for my liking.

The best desserts causes a clamour, sharing them provokes tension. The question of who's settling the last bite clearly defining likes and dislikes within the gang. My choice amongst the spread, the Pithivier ($7.50), a dessert that I've not had since making my own in pastry school a couple of years back. This traditional round French puff pastry circle filled with almond frangipane brought back flashbacks of the days of struggles with handmade puff pastry armed with only a rolling pin. Delicious in every right, the pastry was undeniably fresh and flaky whilst the almond filling fragrant, almost like eating a 100% marzipan. Don't judge.


The Ricotta Cheese Tart ($8.50) is another formidable dessert with soft and tangy innards backed by a crisp short crust pastry. Perfect for those who like something a little lighter.


Then there's the much talked about Choux Creme ($5.50). Details elevate this humble dessert such as the crisp nougatine topping that caps the choux pastry just before entering the oven;  and the velvety smooth vanilla bean flecked pastry cream filling. My only wish would be a better cook on the puffs that would render the innards a little drier and crisper.

Coffee at Pantler is from Dutch Colony, so fans of the blend can now get your fix in the city!

Judicious with butter, sugar and everything nice, Pantler is set to steal the hearts and minds of dessert lovers and cafe go-ers alike. Be sure to make your rounds quick before the news gets out!




Pantler
198 Telok Ayer Street
S(068637)
t: 6221 6223

Operating Hours:
Mon - Fri: 8 30am - 8 30pm
Sat: 10 30 am - 5 30pm