Friday, July 17, 2015

Bread Street Kitchen at MBS

Certainly Gordon Ramsay is a controversial figure. His on-screen persona on various TV shows shows a dynamic personality oft given to explosive outbursts, but also one who is totally passionate about cooking and the restaurant business. When he opened his Bread Street Kitchen in Singapore, it made most celebrity chefs tend to do in our small island.

So the big question is, is it worth the hype? Prior to going, I spoke to some friends who have been there, and read some of the reports on the blogosphere. Mixed reviews, mostly. We called up to make a reservation for a weekday lunch two days before, and were told they had to put us on the waitlist. Hmm. Are they that popular? The morning of our lunch, they called and said they can sit us at our requested time.

When we arrived, the restaurant was not empty, but not full either. Next to us, 3 tables were empty throughout our lunch. So much for a wait list. The decor was rather impressive. The restaurant is spread over two levels, with a rather long flight of stairs connecting them. We sat at the upper level.

Three of us shared two starters and two desserts, and we each had our own main course. For starters, we had the seared scallops

Nothing really special. The scallops were rather ordinary. The searing was done well, and the carrot puree sauce it sat on was nice. As was the touch of bacon bits, apple and celery cress. 

Next, was the patted salt beef brisket in grain mustard, piccalilli and caraway crackers

The brisket was pulled, and mixed with a sauce which is mildly spiced with grain mustard. The crackers was reminiscent of curry - the caraway (a kind of cumin) showing itself. One of my lunch companions rather liked this dish, while I and the other remained neutral.

For my mains, I had the slow roasted Dingley Dell pork belly

I have read a few positive reviews on this dish. The cracking was very nicely done. The pork itself was only slightly fat, with a thin sliver of fat under the very crisp skin. The meat was nicely done. But at $28 a serving, it struck me that it was rather expensive. I preferred the version offered by Keith Crackling Roast at Pasarbella, where for the same money, the serving would be a bit larger. But would not have the accompanying spiced apple puree. 

My lunch companions had the Dingley Dell pork chop and the risotto with girolle mushroom, peas, green asparagus and aged parmesan.

The pork chop looked like a princly cut. 10 oz, and on the bone. It was grilled beautifully, and done almost nicely medium...slightly pink on the inside, and moist and tender. 

The risotto was a bit of an interesting dish

Looking rather small, and plain, it was in fact rather delicious. The rice was nicely al dente, and creamy sauce smothered it well. The vegetables were very nice, adding great flavours. The peas, asparagus were particularly fragrant and came out well. The cheese was very light, perhaps a bit mellow as it was aged. Nice dish.

For desserts, chocolate fondant with salted caramel and mint chocolate chip ice cream

For me the star of the lunch. The molten chocolate lava flowed easily, was nice, thick, and not very sweet counterpointed with a rich, slightly bitter after taste. Went very well with the salted caramel and the ice cream.

The banana sticky toffee pudding came with muscovado caramel and clotted cream. We found it to be a bit too sweet, but the flavours were excellent. 

We found the service to be attentive and very good, despite many reports that it was rather spotty and can be a bit snooty. Our waiter was all smiles, and ready with recommendations, and was happy to pour us glsses of plain water.

Overall, a rather nice lunch. But given the hype of Gordon Ramsay, I must say I am underwhelmed. The dishes were rather safe, and not innovative...though it must be noted that it was not Gordon's aim to be innovative in Bread Street Kitchen, but rather to serve the staples. And this they did well. I feel the prices are a tad pricey, though no doubt due to the high rental Marina Bay Sands area.