Dinner @ Fleurette

November 8, 2021 in European by thywhaleliciousfay

Returning to Singapore after my overseas work stint was a great relief for me. It was hard being away from family and friends, especially when I couldn’t make any short trips back during the last 1.5 of my 2 years due to COVID-19. And as much as there’s still many restaurants I had not ticked off my to-try list in Australia, I was keen to start on my fast growing to-try list in Singapore. One could say it’s also because Singapore is where my heart ultimately belongs to. :)

Since returning in mid July 2021, I had been lucky with my reservations. And I am very thankful because I heard it’s hard to obtain bookings at the more popular restaurants. Especially Japanese restaurants which offered omakase menus. Although I think it helped that I was making reservation for myself. I know right… Didn’t think I would still be dining solo after returning, but most of my friends had tried most of the restaurants I was keen to go to. And several times at it too.

However luck had it that I found a fellow foodie who was keen on trying Fleurette. Yeah! And thus, reservation was made through the restaurant website with almost 1.5 months advanced notice for counter seats.

Located at Rangoon Road, the nearest MRT station to Fleurette was Novena or Farrer Park. But the distance from either stations to the restaurant ain’t quite walkable. One would still need to take the bus before embarking on an additional 5 to 10 minutes walk. Me? I took the taxi. Ha!

As I neared the restaurant, I saw a staff waiting at the entrance in anticipation of arriving diners. And after checking my reservation detail, he led me to the dining space while thanking me for my past purchase of their madeleines. I was surprised. I had supported Fleurette by ordering the madelelines almost 2 months back (for delivery to a friend), but I didn’t think they would connect it to my dinner reservation. So that was a nice personal touch. And I fell in love with the space. Being the first to reach, I couldn’t help but initiate conversation with the waiting staff and gush about how lovely the space was. I liked how they softened up the interior with (preserved) flowers and accentuated the texture of the walls through clever use of lights.

There’s no physical menu at Fleurette. In fact, when one is making the reservation, it’s indicated that the tasting menu for dinner is priced at $228 and is changed monthly. And the meal do not require everyone to fully arrive at the counter before starting. So once my friend arrived, we commenced our dinner tasting menu, $228 with:-

1) Dish #1 (above) – Sea bream with coriander and jalapeño sauce, and bonito with bell pepper and leek sauce. We were told to start with the sea bream first. With 2 slices served for each of the 2 appetisers, these were lovely. The sea bream was light on the palette, while the bonito was heavier cause of its smokiness.

2) Dish #2 (above) – Sweet prawn (awaebi), avocado and heirloom tomatoes tart.


  

3) Dish #3 (above) – Salt water sea urchin (ensui uni), salmon roe, oyster, mussel, medium fatty tuna (chutoro) and vinegar jelly.

4) Dish #4 (above) – Grilled arctic surf clam (hokkigai) and gingko nut in dashi broth. This unfortunately smelled good but taste did not match up to the aroma. The gingko nut also had a weird texture. I was expecting it to be sweet and squishy, but it was bitter and its core had a honeycomb texture (ie, non solid).


5) Dish #5 (above) – Steamed egg (chawanmushi) made with shiitake mushrooms, and topped off with 2 drops of matsutake mushroom oil and shaved truffle. So while the chawanmushi was silky (as what I would expect from a restaurant of Fleurette’s calibre), my friend thought the truffle did little for the overall taste. I personally thought the truffle introduced a slight nutty depth to complement the mushroom flavour such that it was a very earthy dish. But I wouldn’t say this dish impressed.

6) Dish #6 (above) – Langoustine served with parsley and assam sauces. This was not too bad. I liked it.


  

7) Dish #7 (above) – Abalone from Jeju Island (Korea) served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, and accompanied with focaccia. The waiting staff went round to ask if we wanted seconds of the bread. And me being a huge bread lover, I was given 2 more pieces even before I started on my first. Oops, greedy me strike again. But sadly, the bread was a tad oily and didn’t quite go well with the abalone liver sauce. Uh huh, I used the bread to wipe clean my bowl. And one should not underestimate how hot the stone bowl was. The sauce was bubbling away as we tucked in. So much so that the sauce that’s in contact with the stone bowl was burnt by the time I got to the bottom of my bowl. Puffed rice served on the abalone was burnt too. Pity.

  

  

8) Dish #8 (above) – Pork served in 2 ways; French-cut pork loin with thinly sliced matsutake mushroom, pumpkin and ginger flower, and pork cheek ragu with wild mushroom. This was beautiful! I especially enjoyed the pork loin. Served pink, it was tender with a great balance between meat and fats. And the use of the pickled ginger flower was clever!


9) Dish #9 (above) – Firefly squid (hotaru ika) claypot rice. Another dish which I thoroughly enjoyed. I especially liked the scorched rice bits for the additional firm and crunchy texture on top of the ‘popping’ from biting into the firefly squid. And note how I used the singular form – Firefly squid. It would have been nicer if we got more firefly squids in our portion. But that aside… My friend and I went for seconds. Keke.

10) Dish #10 (above) – Palette cleanser of cucumber sorbet with compressed cucumber in mint syrup and horseradish.

11) Dish #11 (above) – Hokkaido milk ice cream with snow salt and Spanish olive oil. And to be very honest, I wasn’t impressed. Don’t get me wrong. It was a great combination, but I expected more from Fleurette. A more… Complex dish? Maybe it’s a case of me being spoilt (since I tried a good number of restaurants), but this dessert really ain’t that hard to assemble on one’s own.


12) Dish #12 (above) – Fleurette’s signature Tahitian vanilla & honey madeleine. And it was nice I finally got to try the madeleine that I previously ordered as a surprise delivery for my friend. Although I hoped the madeleines sent then didn’t look like what’s presented to us. Again, I may be nit picking but I was taken aback to see our madeleines served as ‘broken’ shells. And I knew they could do better because they offered us seconds, and the second piece was perfect.

13) Dish #13 (above) – Warabi-mochi.

I enjoyed myself at Fleurette. But it really wasn’t entirely because of the food. Quite a big part was contributed by my company. Had I dined at Fleurette solo, I probably would have left the restaurant slightly disappointed. You see… Yes, service was good. And yes, there were dishes that were beautifully executed. But… I was left feeling mostly confused by the end of my meal.

It was evident the dishes were heavily influenced by Japanese cuisine. Actually… I ain’t sure if I could even use the word ‘influence’ because of dishes like the hotaru ika donabe or truffle chawanmushi which were Japanese dishes. Prior to dinner, I read from their website that chef-owner Tariq Helou was of Japanese, Chinese and Lebanese origins. So I arrived at the restaurant looking forward to fusion dishes, or a good mix of different cuisines. But what’s served were 70% Japanese dishes. And because majority of the dishes were Japanese dishes, I found myself putting on my ‘Japanese critic hat’… And the dishes missed the mark (to my standard) only because Fleurette really isn’t a full-fledged Japanese restaurant.

I also thought it was a little weird that they charged us for warm water. My stomach was feeling a little queasy in the afternoon, which was why I opted for warm water. So while the waiting staff mentioned upfront that it’s a one-time charge for still or sparkling, I was surprised to see a charge for warm water on the bill. Isn’t warm water just boiled tap water? Unless it was the still water that they boiled with… *Shrug*

Would I recommend Fleurette? Well… It’s not exactly bad to the extent where I would say “don’t bother”. Do still give them a try. I do empathise with them as they opened in the midst of the pandemic and went through the 2 full lockdowns. In fact, give head chef Tariq some time. Time for him to further develop his dishes and be able to showcase what’s uniquely him. I would really love to see more Chinese and Lebanese influences in his dishes.

FLEURETTE
204 Rangoon Road, Singapore
+65 8725 8218, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sat : 19:00 – 22:30
Ambience: 8
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon & Sun

Dinner @ Botanic Gardens Restaurant (Adelaide, Australia)

January 14, 2021 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Awarded with 1 hat by Australia Good Food Guide (2020), I was attracted to checking out Botanic Gardens Restaurant (BGR) because of the fact that the restaurant was located within a botanical garden. When I was making my booking through their website, I imagined taking a nice long stroll in Adelaide Botanic Garden before heading into the restaurant for my dinner. Uh huh… I visualised a scenic image.

And on the day of my dinner, I received a text message earlier in the afternoon informing me that the sole entry into Adelaide Botanic Garden was through Friends Gate. Definitely very handy. So while I was supposed to reach a little earlier than my dinner appointment time to explore the botanical garden, I ended up running behind time instead. Boohoo. So while I was supposed to be enjoying the sun set, I ended up walking in darkness and was welcomed by sights of bats flying among the tall tress enroute to the gate.

Because I was still feeling full from my very filling lunch (at Topiary Dining), I decided not to go all out. So from the menu, I went with the shorter tasting menu. Ie, 5 courses instead of 7. There were options for sides, but I didn’t go for any of those too. And with that, I commenced my 5-courses menu, AUD90 with:-

1) Bread, Complimentary (above) – House made seeded sourdough with cultured butter.


  

2) Snacks (above) – Assortment including i) salanova lettuce, pear, pecorino, walnut, ii) baby cucumber, gribiche, caper berries, iii) Gazander oyster, saltbush, bonito bacon, and iv) Baharat scallop, taramasalata, smoked roe, violet leaf.

3) Smoked hiramasa kingfish (above) – With sheep’s milk yoghurt, peas, nigella seed, curry leaf.

4) Humpty Doo baby barramundi (above) – With crab & prawn, preserved orange, black garlic, buttermilk. Wasn’t too impressed with this dish. I thought the kitchen would do something with the fish skin, but it was presented just as it is; Simply pan fried. I expected more. Or have I been spoilt by most restaurants?

5) Roasted eggplant (above) – With kelp, turnip, king brown mushrooms, green elk. And to cater to my dietary restriction, I was told the beef dish was replaced with this dish of eggplant. What!?! I preferred if they replaced it with another meat dish. And the eggplant was a very big portion. I didn’t finish it. Probably because I wasn’t excited about the taste too.

6) Chestnut cake (above) – With apple, rosemary, apple ice cream, candided chestnut, creme fraiche. Texture wise, the cake was slightly sticky with some crunchy bits. Loved this!

7) Petit fours (above) – Salted caramel with sea salt.

8) Latte, AUD4.50 (above)

The food at Botanic Gardens Restaurant was average. It failed to impress. A real pity. But I enjoyed myself nonetheless thanks to the wonderful staff. While I wouldn’t say Botanic Gardens Restaurant is worth making a special trip for, I say one may consider popping by the restaurant if one intends to visit Adelaide Botanic Garden and would like to have meal that’s not too far away. I loved the restaurant’s interior and could imagine how beautiful the venue would be during the day.

BOTANIC GARDENS RESTAURANT
Plane Tree Drive, Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8223 3526, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Thur – Sun : 12:00 – 15:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Thur – Sat : 18:30 – 21:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Mon, Tues & Wed
** Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.

Dinner @ Topiary Dining (Adelaide, Australia)

January 11, 2021 in Australian, European by thywhaleliciousfay

Topiary Dining wasn’t in my initial ‘meal planning’ for my second trip to Adelaide. I had intended to use that ’empty meal slot’ to rest my stomach. I know… Like what was I thinking. But during the trip and on the night before (my empty meal slot), I got uneasy. Haha. Was thinking to myself what a shame it would be if I didn’t fully make use of my ‘meal slots’.

And remembering a friend recommended Topiary before, I quickly searched for information on Topiary’s reservation process. Although I wasn’t sure what got into me then because I didn’t make my booking via online booking system that same night. I think I was worried if my booking was too last minute since some restaurants only prepare enough ingredients based on secured reservations. But thankfully, when I gave the restaurant a call at 10am to make lunch reservation for the same day, the staff was able to accept my booking. :)

It was a good thing the restaurant started operation early at 9am because it’s quite a long journey to Topiary from Adelaide city centre. Almost 2 hours! Including waiting time to board the second bus from Tea Tree Plaza Interchange to Tea Tree Gully city, and a 10 minutes walk (on a hiking trail) to the restaurant.

Although I have to say the journey to Topiary was pretty cool. Although long, it allowed me to experience O-Bahn Busway; A guided busway part of the bus rapid transit system. A system first conceived to enable buses to avoid traffic congestion by sharing tram tunnels in the German city of Essen.


Indoors

Between indoors and verandah, I opted for the latter as my preference of seating. But unfortunately it was raining on the day of my meal. So while I was still able to sit at the enclosed verandah, I wasn’t able to enjoy the view as much because of the rain shield. View of the (small) garden and patio with the overhanging plants. But don’t get me wrong… The indoors was charming too. I liked how a touch of nature was given to each table. For the day that I dined in, rosemary was used.


Verandah

Topiary offered 2 courses (AUD45), 3 courses (AUD60) and tasting menus. And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), I ordered the tasting menu (journey), AUD140 which comprised of:-

1) Bread and crackling (above) – Wood-fired sourdough served with 2 types of butter. I thought the butter with crackling was pretty interesting.


  

2) Snack #1 (above) – Fried haloumi topped with ricotta and watermelon, and pork rillette wrapped within nasturtium. And the pork was batter fried such that it was (slightly) crisp on the exterior but soft within. The attention to details. Wow.

3) Snack #2 (above) – Chicken liver pate on cracker.


4) Snack #3 (above) – Smoked mackerel with abalone sauce.

5) Smoked mussel crumpet (above) – With mussel water mayonnaise, citrus marmalade and sour fennel.


6) Our ham and blackberry jam (above) – Paired with beetroot and hung goat’s yogurt.


  

7) Whipped house feta buried in brassica (above) – Was told to mix the salad up as there was pickled white onion, wild garlic flowers, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts under the crispy brassica. But I thought the dish was a little sour. Probably due to the dressing.

8) Pork with spring peas and beans (above) – Whole broad bean pod ghanoush, fresh pea and bean salsa dressed in allium vinaigrette. This was meant to be beef. But it was replaced with pork due to my dietary restriction. And the grilled aroma from the charred peas was really strong and fragrant. Pity about the pork which was on the fattier end.

9) Fair fish with Riverland asparagus (above) – With peasant’s bisque mousse and Riverland asparagus poached in smoked tomato butter.

10) Lambs neck and nasturtium (above) – With celeriac cream, nasturtium oil and juice, and dried lamb’s liver.


11) Mushroom macaron (above) – Was told that the macaron was made with Swiss brown mushroom. But the mushroom-ing didn’t just stop there. The cream sandwiched between the (macaron) biscuits had pine mushroom, and the macaron was further dusted with Swiss brown mushroom powder.


  

12) Colleens lemons and rosemary (above) – And the staff shared that the dessert was created to thank a neighbour who gave the restaurant rosemary and lemons from her property. Cake was unfortunately a little dry, but manageable when eaten with the rosemary-infused panna cotta or the lemon curd ice cream.

13) Latte, AUD4.50 (above) – And to end my meal, I ordered skinny latte for myself.

It was only after my meal that I realised Australia Good Food Guide (not to be confused as being awarded with hat) recommend another dessert dish called ‘Fallen Leaves’. It was on the menu, but not included in the the tasting menu. I probably could have requested to switch or order additional, but… I guess I only have myself to blame for not doing my homework prior to my meal. Sob.

Lunch at Topiary was nice. But the food didn’t exactly wow me though. So taking into consideration that the restaurant was a little far out (maybe not so if one drives), Topiary wouldn’t be in my Top 3 for recommendation in Adelaide.

TOPIARY DINING
1361 North East Road, Tea Tree Gully, Adelaide, SA, Australia
+61 8 8263 0818, Website
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Sun : 09:00 – 15:00
Ambience: 7
Sat : 18:00 – 20:30
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Hours are post-COVID lockdown, and may change when normality resumes.