Monday, July 16, 2012

Eating at the stables: classy dining at Marmalade Pantry

Marmalade Pantry is an old name in Singapore dining...I would describe it as a chic, casual dining environment, where beautiful people meet and greet. Especially so at their rather boisterous Ion outlet. Recently, they opened another outlet in the old Turf Club grounds. A much more homey, country atmosphere, rather more romantic.

Set near the Riding Club, and their can almost detect the faint smell of the horses when the wind is blowing the right direction. The restaurant took over from another old favourite: Mimolette.

I was there on invitation of Food News, who are the PR folks who do the fine work of promoting Marmalade. And to begin our tasting, some salads.

Pan seared haloumi salad

The star of this dish is the namesake haloumi - a Greek cheese with a high melting point, so suitable for grilling and frying or in this case pan searing. The cheese is usually made with a mixture of goat and sheep's milk. This particular example is made in Australia, and is rather firm, with a nice, firm texture, and a slightly salty flavour. Goes well with the juicy tomatos and greens which adorn the dish with the generous drizzing of olive oil.

The second salad is their Mexican chicken salad

Beautiful Mexican flavours - with the salsa like mix of chick peas, diced tomatos, spiced corn and avocado et al. And nicely supported by the crisply grilled tortila and grilled chicken.

The pastas were next, and as two of their all time favourites were part of our tasting menu. First the crabmeat linguini

Spicy, piquant sauce, but with richness fortified by the exuberant crabmeat. Very nice. The pasta was a bit over al dente, but the dish was quite outstanding in my books. Not quite the coy-ness of the similarly named pasta used to be served at Valentino's (which alas, in last tasting has slipped from its lofty self some 5 years ago), but quite close. Close enough to beat Valentino's current offering.

And spagetti carbonara...this is a hard one to nail by many cooks...

But the chaps at the Marmalade kitchen did well. A perfectly poached egg sits on top of a decadently rich, creamy sauce, littered with chunky, crisp, flavourful bacon bits.. I know my friend Dr Mycroft would love this one.

On to the mains. Their signature steak and eggs

We ordered it Chicago medium rare...charred on the outside. And it was delivered as ordered. The beef was, I guess, Australian grain fed...given the chewy sinews and lack of intermuscular fat in the form of generous marbling. But the meat was well grilled (in which I mean lightly grilled...) and was flavourful, delicious, albeit a bit on the tough side of good. The sauce on the side is a good take, as this will allow the diner to choose how much or little (I like it sans sauce) they prefer. The smashed peas provided a nice counterpoint. Well deserving of a signature dish.

We were next presented with crispy pork belly

Looking more like two large ribs, the pork belly drew smiles and oohs around. I found the pork to be very nicely seasoned, and tender. The crispyness remained on the skin, which remained so even with the natural jus drizzled over the meat. Some celeraic and apple slaw provides the bit of acid to cut through the fat (yum) of the meat.

And beef cheeks

Touted in the menu as 120 days grain fed beef cheeks...with horseradish mash, field mushrooms and pearl onions and asparagus. The cheeks were super tender, almost to being mushy, as beef cheeks tend to be. Despite the French label, I don't beleive I have ever seen a laughing cow, so the cheek muscles are I guess not heavily exercised, which attributes to the tenderness of the cheeks. Comparing to my gold standard for this in Singapore, Marmalade's is less structured (in that it is too tender, perhaps too much braising), and a bit too mushy. Brasserie Wolf is still the standard bearer for me in this department.

In any tasting event, especially where there are bloggers...cameras are whipped out and before the food can be tasted, photographs must be taken. The restaurant was rather dim, in keeping with the romantic intents of the environment, so we had a small private studio, at a prep table used by the waiters to stage the dishes.

Which leads us to the desserts...of course the famous Marmalade cupcakes were a feature, as well as the Lemon brulee tart, a granny smith and stem ginger pudding, a sticky date pudding together with the Red velvet cupcake, Elvis cupcake and the Hummingbird cupcake.

Regular readers of this blog will know I am not much of a dessert connoisseur. I did eat, and taste all the sweets. For me, the standouts were the lemon brulee tart - very sour and perky. And the sticky date pudding.

Beautiful environment, really cozy and romantic. And a nice menu, with many specialities to choose from.

Many thanks to Jasmin from Foodnews and Marmalade Pantry at the Stables for hosting the tasting.

The Marmalade Pantry (Fairways Drive)
55 Fairways Drive, Singapore 286846
6467 7748
Tue–Fri: 3pm – 11pm, Sat–Sun: 10am– 11pm (Closed on Mon)

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