brunch March 29, 2016
I wonder how many eggs I have already eaten in my life, and how many of them were from brunch alone? I can't help it though -- a meal is not considered brunch until there's coffee and eggs somewhere. I suppose restaurants and cafes would be happy to hear that. For salt tapas & bar just outside of Raffles City at City Hall MRT, Chef Ronald Li and friends have expanded their brunch menu which is available every weekend from 11.30pm to 3pm, and I was happy to be able to consume more eggs on the pretext of trying out their items for brunch a couple of weeks ago.
It was a rather empty restaurant when I was there on a Saturday morning. I suppose most people are having a snooze in after Friday night's revelry! The restaurant's really bright and cheery with the natural light pouring in on that hot sunny day.
Pricing for brunch is decent because the dishes are meant to be smaller, tapas-style sharing plates. However some of the items are rather oddly priced (especially if you compare it to the drinks) for what you are getting. View the brunch menu here: http://salttapas.com/salt-content/uploads/Salt-tapas-BRUNCH-alacarte-menu.pdf
We started with 2 appetizers
1. Taco of tempura soft shell crab (changed to fish due to crab not available), pineapple salsa, wasabi mayo (S$14) - Light, fun to eat and a mix of textures makes this rather yummy. Very Australian too, I have come to realize. 3/5
2. Pork belly sliders, bbq pulled pork, pickled cucumber & chilli (S$13) - Really liked these little sliders because they are so easy to eat. Pulled pork is also a difficult meat to do because it can be overwhelming. This was not, so props to the team. 4/5
But of course we were there for brunch. I suspect Chef is particularly talented at doing eggs because they were generally stellar. They include:
1. Egg berentine with bonito flakes (S$14) - The Egg Berentine is a cross between the Eggs Benedict and Florentine. The egg is sous vide at 66 degrees celcius for 1 hour before being poached. There's spinach and ham and a hollandaise sauce infused with dashi (Chef likes to use other ingredients apart from salt to naturally season his food). The muffins are made in-house. This was an interesting rendition of a classic. Really liked the touch of bonito on top. Nothing to complain about - a job well done. 4/5
2. Spanish omelette with spicy sauce (S$15) - The omelette consists of sautéed diced tomato, onion, potato, bell peppers, chorizo (this is made by salt tapas butcher according to a house recipe) and chives and paired with a spicy sauce comprising onions, shallots, tabasco, whole peeled tomatoes, salt, pepper. This is probably the second most beautiful dish I have ever photographed in my life. The colours were just amazing. Taste-wise this was quite muted - would have loved a stronger zing to the spicy sauce, or a saltier chorizo. Probably best consumed hot as well. Also rather expensive for an omelette. 2.5/5
3. French toast, Okinawa ice cream, clotted cream, jam (S$15) - A house-made brioche is soaked for 1-2 minutes in a custard with butter, eggs, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon powder, vanilla bean and clover flour (added in to thicken the batter). It is then pan-seared for caramelisation before being baked for 10 minutes. The Okinawa ice cream is made in-house using Okinawa sugar from Japan. The Okinawa sugar adds a raw, deep, earthy sweetness to the dish which was the reason behind pairing this with the toast. The dish also comes with house-made mango jam and garnished with grated Italian meringue. It's a lot to take in. I liked the rich brioche very much, but unfortunately I could not really taste the okinawa sugar. It was just a little too sweet for me. The mango jam was a nice touch though. Again while the ingredients were quite fancy, the overall effect did not match up. 3.5/5
4. Club sandwich with Cajun fries (S$16) - The Club sandwich is served with house-made olive bread made with pitted kalamata olives. Chicken is first poached for eight minutes before shredding and Cajun spice mix is a special recipe by Luke Mangan, imported from Australia. A non-egg brunch item, the club sandwich was actually one of my favorites that day. It was hearty, and a good solid lunch item to ingest before going about a full day. 4/5
5. Scrambled eggs with ratatouille, sautéed zucchini and toast ($15). SUPER fluffy. Haha I love fluffy soft scrambled eggs with a milky taste and this one hits all the spots. Even though its quite pricey for just eggs, I loved the way they are done. I suppose its an indulgence if you were to order this once in a while. 4/5
From the garden, we have something more green/healthy.
1. Curried roast pumpkin, capsicum, labneh, dukkah & coriander (S$14) - A dish that reminds me of India. Pumpkins are nice and sweet, but I wouldn't necessarily crave or order it. 2.5/5
2. Beets, ricotta cream, fig, pickled green chilli, honey & thyme dressing (S$14) - Another beautiful dish. The gold and regular beets have now become my new favorite vegetable. I love the earthy, slightly sweet taste. The honey and thyme dressing was a little too light though - I didn't actually taste much of it. 3/5
From the paddock there are
1. Sumac spiced veal & pork meatballs, mash fontina (S$15) - I like meatballs, and this dish nailed it. Soft, fresh balls. Still it was a little strange to just have meatballs and mash for brunch. Perhaps a sharing dish, with a sandwich or scrambled eggs each. 3.5/5
2. BBQ pork ribs, mash, pickled onion, sautéed pea, edamame (S$19) - Chef uses US Saint Louis pork ribs which has just the right fat content to give the meat a good flavour when it is rendered out. The ribs are placed in the oven and baked for more than 6 hours before being slathered with a house-made BBQ sauce (Chef's special recipe comprising of lime leaves, tomato, soy sauce, tabasco, hickory, soft brown sugar and a secret ingredient). This is one of their signature dishes, not new, but I can see why its made permanent. Again one of the best dishes of that tasting, even if it is not necessarily a brunch item. The meat was so soft it fell off the rib, and the marinate was the right balance of sweet and salty. 4.5/5
For desserts we tried a couple, which I thought was rather average, so perhaps skip it and just have mains.
1. Dulce de leche & salted pecan semifreddo, strawberries, wafer (S$13) - Was really excited about the dulce de leche (burnt condensed milk, like caramel) but I could not taste it at all in the semifreddo. The salted pecans did not really come out either. 1/5
2. Churros, hazelnut sauce, orange mamalade, chantilly cream (S$14) - The churros were better. Fat and crispy. But again, I didn't think it was anything special. Still, this helped to add the Spanish vibe to the Aussie background. 3/5
Even though the food looked really good, there are only a few items that truly stood out for me in the myriad of very average tasting options - the pork ribs, the scrambled eggs and the club sandwich. Pricing still needs a bit of work. I'll recommend you to check it out for brunch if you are in the area on Saturdays/Sundays but be careful with what you pick!
salt tapas & bar
#01-22A, Raffles City Shopping Centre, No. 252 North Bridge Road, Singapore 179103
Brunch: Saturdays & Sundays 11.30am to 3pm
Thank you Food News PR and salt for the invite!