This is an invited review. Meal paid for by restaurant. Together with Foodiequeen, Hungry Cow, Simin, Jencooks
One of the comfort restaurants, which make Kin and I very comfortable with the ambience, decor, food was a Tex-Mex place called Chico's and Charlie's at Liat Towers. For years, this was a refuge when we wanted to relax, and enjoy a margarita with some good solid Mexican food. But they disappeared, and we sometimes ache for good Tex-Mex. Years later, I began to travel quite frequently to Texas, and found that C&C's food was actually quite authentic when compared to real Texas Mexican food found in Southlake, Roanoak, Mesquite, all small towns around the bi-city metropolis of Dallas Fort Worth.
The interior of Santa Fe reminds me of the ranches in Texas (or New Mexico - the state where the city of Santa Fe actually is in). Reminds me of old cowboy movies, of the insides of a salon when the hero cowboy comes to have his shot of whisky. Except that this was a riverboat! Riverboats typically ply the Mississippi, further north (though its called the Deep South by the Americans...go figure).
This riverboat restaurant is by no means new. The occassion of their invitation was to celebrate their 10th Anniversary! This must be one of the best kept foodie secrets. 10 years, and for all the food bloggers on my table it was our first visit. And judging by the comments all round, yes, I am letting the cat out of the bag, not our last.
We ordered many of the dishes in the menu. BTW, if you read this early, and get there before July 11, 2009, the mains are all at S$10 (this is super value, as they are almost real Texan sized servings). Service was cheerful and swift.
First up, barbequed pork ribs:
Simply dubbed Santa Fe BBQ Ribs, the large slab of ribs were smothered with a BBQ sauce. The meat fell of the bone, and tasted rather good. This instantly brought me back to the Smoked Meat houses around Mesquite, TX. Meat was marinated, and slowly cooked by the hot smoke from slow burning chips from the mesquite wood. The smokey flavour combined to the fine, herbal like fragrance from the mesquite was marvellous. So was the Santa Fe's example. Nice.
We also had the fajitas...both beef and chicken. Shown below is the beef fajita:
The beef was tender, if you observe at about 7 o'clock in the picture, you will notice its actually done medium (bravo!). Slap the meat in to your flour tortila, add some shreded cabbage, jalapeno, cheese, and viola! your fajita.
As starters, being food bloggers, we had two rounds of this (testament to its great taste?)...one in the begining, and another towards the end of the main meal.
Named buffalo wings...I often wonder why buffalo...do they have wings? Anyway, the radius/ulnar part of the chicken wing was marinated, and probably deep fried to create a nice crispy crust, but then smothered in a sauce. Quite delicious. The crisp skin below the sauce, providing a nice contrast to the juicy chicken within.
The star of the evening for me was the Blackened Burger.
A huge sesame bun, with a huge beef patty. This is a real chopped beef patty, served to us medium doneness. With chopped onions, lettuce, onion rings served over a bed of rough cut fries. The burger was very nice...huge to the extent of being messy to eat (but hey, eating a large burger is fun partly because its messy). And tasty. The patty was mild tasting...though actually covered with a layer of crushed black pepper. A bit more salt would elevate the taste a bit, but that's easily done at the table to your taste. The fries were also very nice...crisp on the outside, and smooth and creamy inside.
Overall, I found the place to be very nice...the environment was cozy and friendly. The service good. The food wholesome. The riverboat is interesting, and would make a nice place for a company gathering. Comprsing of 3 levels, the lower deck where we dined, the upper deck which can be made into meeting room, seminar room, or another dining room, and the roof-deck which offers open air BBQ.
The only snag, as noted by Foodiesqueen in her blogpost was the difficulty of getting there. I got lost driving there and ended up at the new IR. And as I understand it, only one bus service runs the route.
31 Marina Coastal Drive
Berth 1 (Stewords Riverboat) Marina South Pier
Sun-Fri: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-10pm
Sat & PH Eve: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm
Photonote: shot with Panasonic Lumix DMC LX3. The interior of the restaurant was really dark...hard to get handheld shots without flash.