Dinner @ Fratini La Trattoria

April 12, 2015 in Italian

One of my girlfriends recently had dinner at Fratini and was raving to me of her awesome experience. With her strong recommendation, I decided to check Fratini out with my (other) Italian-cuisine-loving girlfriend. And reservation is a must. On our first attempt, I tried to make reservation on the same day we meant to have dinner but was told they were full house for the night. Hence, on our second attempt, I called at least 5 days in advance to make reservation for a Saturday dinner. =)

Located in Bukit Timah, there’s no neighbouring MRT station. I took a bus from Botanic Garden MRT station and got off in front of Hwa Chong Junior College. Since I was familiar with Greenwood estate, I was able to make my way quickly from the bus stop without referring to Google map. From the bus stop, it’s a 10 to 12 minutes walk to the restaurant, which is nestled inside the estate of private houses.

Upon arrival, we were led to our table and was told by the staff that the chef would attend to us shortly. So yes, the unique thing about Fratini is that there’s no menu. It’s the Italian omakase (I’ll leave it to you)! The only hints we got (before the chef came to us) were from the boards that were hung on the wall. Pricing for lunch starts from $45, while dinner starts from $85.

As with omakase or tailored menu, communication is key. My girlfriend and I are pretty easy going people. We just nodded our heads away when chef Gabriel Fratini said he will do a 4-courses meal with pasta as mains for us.

And with that, we started our dinner with:-


  
  

1) Appetizer #1 (above) – Crab meat with apple, prawn with mashed pumpkin, chopped yellow tail and asparagus tossed in citrus dressing and scallop with paprika and burrata cheese.

2) Appetizer #2 (above) – Pork rib with pear and meat ball comprised of chicken & pork served with tomato sauce.

3) Appetizer #3 (above) – Grilled prawn with spinach sauce, zucchini & beans and sea bass with asparagus sauce. I especially liked that porcini mushroom was sandwiched between the skin and meat of the sea bass which introduced an interesting mix of textures into the dish. So good!

4) Appetizer #4 (above) – Pan-seared crayfish.

5) Main #1 (above) – Ravioli with spinach filling, topped with spinach sauce and grated ricotta cheese. 2 pieces each for my girlfriend and I.

  

6) Main #2 (above) – And chef Gabriel happily introduced this as the traditional Italian dish; Tagliatelle with prawn and squid. And we liked the idea of our pasta being served in a skillet where we portioned out our pasta with the given tongs.

7) Desserts (above) – Spicy chocolate mousse, pana cotta with mango mousse and tiramisu. For the chocolate mousse, we were told to lift the tart into our mouth with the chilli. But don’t bite into the chilli. Pull it out! Our favourite of the 3 was the panna cotta!

And the reason why our dinner became more than (the originally planned) 4 courses was because when my girlfriend and I were onto our second dish, we realised our dinner was coming to an end very soon! And that’s unusual for us cause our dinners together tend to be a long affair. As such, my girlfriend and I requested for additional dishes. Which of course, the staff got the chef to tend to us. Chef Gabriel came up to us and went “So what’s happening here?” with a wide smile. Ha!

So yes, communication is key. While one can’t choose what one wants specifically (if not that would defeat the whole intention of ‘leaving it to the chef’), chef Gabriel tailors the menu according to one’s dietary restriction and to what was purchased (daily) from the market. But if one is like us who eat a lot, do let the chef know too! He probably (initially) thought 4 courses would be sufficient by judging us from our appearance; My girlfriend is really skinny.

Speaking of which, my girlfriend and I love variety. We requested for 2 different mains. But as there was only 2 of us, it was slightly difficult for chef Gabriel to do 2 different mains as the food was served in a pot. Although 2 different mains was no issue for groups of 3 and above. So it was really nice that chef Gabriel managed to squeeze in something for us and came up with 2 different mains; Ravioli and tagliatelle. =)

So yes, I definitely recommend Fratini La Trattoria. Food was finger-licking good, and service was exceptional too! One could also tell they are definitely doing it right when most of the patrons were regulars. It’s amazing how chef Gabriel juggled between managing the kitchen and interacting with the customers! Most of the dishes were introduced by head chef Gabriel himself. If he was busy conversing with a table, the co-chef would personally serve the dish on his behalf.

Our dinner worked up to $100 (before GST and service charge) per person, which was affordable and very value-for-money.

FRATINI LA TRATTORIA
10 Greenwood Avenue, Hillcrest Park, Singapore
6468 2868, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 23:00 (Dinner
Value: 8
Service: 8
* Closed on Mon

Dinner @ Yoyogi

February 11, 2015 in Japanese

My friend and I came on a weekday at 7.30pm, and locating the restaurant’s entrance was a tricky task! We would have walked past the main door had I not suddenly noticed the Japanese words on the wall.

Upon entering, we were promptly led to our counter seats once our reservation was confirmed. And seeing that I had a (bulky) bag, the staff offered to put it in the locker. Which of course, I quickly took out my phone, mobile charger and camera before passing my bag over. =)

Making reservation was definitely a must. With only 20 counter seats, they were running at full house by 8pm! And most of the customers were observed to be regulars! That despite the fact that Yoyogi was pretty inaccessible unless one drove. Wow. So before I started my dinner, I had (already) concluded chef Edwin Tan must be doing something right (in order) for his regulars to follow him when he relocated the restaurant from Mohammad Sultan to the former Turf City.

I took longer (than normal) in deciding what to order cause my friend and I decided we shouldn’t do omakase together so that I could take more pictures. Haha. And while I was ‘studying’ which set to order, a staff (whom I got to learn later was chef Edwin’s wife) came over and assisted me. For the omakase, she started off recommending $168, although I went with $180 in the end.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), we ordered:-

1) Truffle course, $75 comprised of:-

(A) Amber jackfish with black truffle (above) – And it was from this dish that I realised for black truffle, there were also many varieties (of black truffle). I did not like the truffle which tasted a little like mushroom and did not go too well with the fish slices. Dish available on the a-la carte menu at $45 too.

(B) Signature truffle pasta (above) – With sakura ebi. Really enjoyed this cold dish of truffle-infused capellini. I liked the crunch which was introduced into the dish with (flying fish) roe, and saltiness from the small shrimp. Also available on the a-la carte at $18. A must try!

(C) Black truffle tea pot soup (above) – An average dish of soup with a piece of chicken, a slice of fish cake, scallop and slices of black truffle.

(D) Chiraishi (above) – And for our truffle course, we were supposed to be given the ohmi beef rice bowl with black truffle and onsen egg. However, as my friend and I don’t take beef, our beef bowl was replaced with rice bowl of chutoro, sea urchin and salmon roe. And this was good. I liked that every grains was coated with seaweed (not the roasted ones) with the topping separated from the rice by a bed of shredded roasted seaweed. Really good.

(E) Yuzu sorbet (above)

2) Omakase course, $180 comprised of:-

(A) Seasonal appetiser (above) – Comprised of monkfish liver, fish roe and vinegar-ed seaweed.

(B) Botan shrimp with sea urchin and caviar (above) – This was requested by me after seeing pictures of this dish posted on Instagram. And this tasted as good as its visual! Give me a second serving, anytime!


(C) Assorted sashimi (above)

(D) Abalone and caviar on pasta (above) – Frankly, what’s not to love about this cold dish. I liked how every elements complimented one another.


(E) Mashed Japanese sweet potato with foie gras (above) – This was surprisingly light on the palate. Pretty tasty!





(F) 5 pieces of sushi (above) – And for this, we could choose between nigiri sushi, chiraishi (smaller portion served in a martini glass) and tempura. And I went with sushi where we had amberjack belly, stone perch (ishidai) with citrus sauce, chef Edwin’s creation ‘humpback grill’ of slightly torched botan shrimp, foie gras, sea urchin with caviar, Alaskan (zuwa) crab with vinegar-ed miso and eel.

(G) Tea pot soup – Same as what we had for our truffle course, but with no truffle.

(H) Musk melon (above)

3) Sake, $120 (720ml) – Chef Edwin came up to us at the start of our dinner and asked with a big smile if we wanted any beer or sake. We decided to go with sake cause it did not feel right to reject him (and his huge friendly smile). Haha. And we were recommended Tamagawa Junmai ginjo “Omachi”. But what I did not like was that wine glasses were used. But that was easily resolved by requesting for a change to sake cups. There’s a sake cellar within the restaurant which my friend observed that the smallest bottle size was 720ml.

So yes, the person behind Yoyogi was chef Edwin. I absolutely liked that he was equally warm to regulars and non-regulars. My friend and I were not sitting in his section (Ie, not in front of him), but chef Edwin made the effort to walk over and check on us a few times. And it’s not an exaggeration when I say he has eyes of a hawk! He was monitoring our progress (from the corner of his eyes) and would instruct his waiting staff to “clear dish” whenever we were done with our respective courses of the meal.

I enjoyed the ambience of the bustling restaurant which felt intimate and cosy! Although it got a little rowdy into the night when the regulars were high on alcohol, all was good.

Managed to witness an incident which only showed chef Edwin’s great emphasis on service. The waiting staff came out from 1 of the 2 private rooms to inform chef Edwin that the customers did not like the sake. Now, the customers had tasted like 1/4 worth. Yet, with no hesitation, chef Edwin instructed the staff to change the bottle and passed the staff a bottle of whiskey.

I definitely recommend Yoyogi. Saw a couple eating deep-fried kinki fish which looked so good. Was told by lady boss that deep fried was done for smaller kinki fish, while bigger ones will be grilled, steamed with sake or served as sashimi. The next time I am back, I am gonna try the kinki fish! And in case one can’t finish the alcohol, the (opened) bottle can be kept at the restaurant too.

YOYOGI SUSHI & SAKE BAR
200 Turf Club Road, The Grandstand, #01-12, Singapore
6468 8826, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Tues – Sun : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Tues – Sun : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
* Closed on Mon
Service: 8

Dinner @ Shelter in the Woods

April 13, 2013 in European, French

“There’s this new place at Greenwood which starts with a M. Let’s go there”, my girlfriend said over the phone. A quick search showed that there’re four new restaurants. However, none started with a M. Hmm…

And the venue being Greenwood, parking can be a little tricky as there’re limited carpark lots. Especially so when one is arriving at 8pm. And for those walking in, it can be a long walk if you get off the wrong bus stop.

Most of the restaurants were pretty empty on a Thursday night. All except for Shelter in the Woods which was really packed. Further intrigued by the décor of the restaurant, we decided to walk in.

We were offered counter seats as all of the tables were occupied. Yes, all! Once we were seated, the bartender immediately greeted us with a wide smile, promptly gave us the menu and introduced us to the specials.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) Pan seared foie gras, confit grapes and fresh apple, $20 (above) – With only a piece served, this is definitely not enough for more than two to share simply because the foie gras was so good! The foie gras, which melted in my mouth, went very well with the sauce.

2) Tarte flambee, $10 (above) – This french pizza of onion, bacon and cheese sure is addictive. I finished more than half of it. The crust which was very thin, was light yet not flaky as what one will expect from a crust that’s so thin. A must try.

3) Minute clam’s mariniere and purple artichoke barigoule, $23 (above) – This was recommended by the staff when we wanted to order one more appetizer. This was not too bad, though service wise, I thought it was a little weird we were not given spoon to scoop the gravy / soup.

4) Crispy skin suckling pig marinated with “aromates”, $35 (above) – This is the highlight of our dinner!!! So good! A must try. The meat was so tender and juicy. The skin, which was slightly crispy, was not easy to be further sliced into smaller pieces. But hey! The kitchen had already sliced the meat into biteable sizes. So what I did was to eat the meat on its own, leaving just enough meat to go into my mouth with the entire piece of skin. Pure bliss. And there’s something special about the mash potato. It’s as though cheese was mixed with it. The mash was silky and creamy.

5) Profiteroles, $12 (above) – This dessert was one of the specials. This was average.

6) Lemon tart with meringue, $9 – The second highlight of our dinner. So good! A must try. And because the meringue was in small droplets instead of one big scoop / swirl on the tart, every mouthful had the meringue melting in my mouth.

I definitely recommend Shelter in the Woods. And please remember to call to make reservation before coming. We were very lucky to be able to walk in. Our counter seats were just beside their phone, and for most of the incoming calls, we overheard the staff having had to politely reject people as they were full house. Wow. For a restaurant that’s only turning 3 months on 15th April, this place sure is doing well. And that’s fully understandable as the food is good with a really enthusiastic and friendly team of staff with a good sense of humour.

SHELTER IN THE WOODS
22 Greenwood Avenue, Singapore
6466 6225, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Sat – Sun : 11:00 – 14:00 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sun : 18:00 – 10:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8