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Friday, 1 May 2015

[Media Invite] Dinner at Violet Herbs @ Tanjong Pagar

81 Tras Street, Singapore 079020
Tel: 6221 3968

Located amongst a row of shophouses at Tanjong Pagar, right below Acclaim House, is a hidden gem named Violet Herbs, donned in hues which reflect exactly that.  It is a three-months' old restaurant serving Modern European cuisine with a fusion twist, with a New Age semi-fine dining concept.

The ground level is done up in dreamy hues of violet - from the pale lilac walls to bright violet couches and cabinets, bar counters, reflected beautifully in the clear gilt mirrors mounted on walls - one feels all at once romanticized, royal-ized and relaxed.  The polished steps are thoughtfully and elegantly lit by tealight candles, so one ascends with a dazed sense of mysticism to level two.

Voila - a spacious and completely different theme here. Level 2 removes itself from the sweeter theme below and basks itself in more earthly, soothing and sophisticated tones with the dominant charmer of the large reflective windows.

While the main menu opens up to wide selections of meat, seafood and desserts etc, prepared with lots of herbs and in good European sense, we were excited to go through the Tasting Menu of the evening as well. By the way, the weekday set lunches here go for SGD$32++, weekday set dinners SGD$48++, degustation set dinners at merely SGD$98++ for 6 course and SGD$128++ for 8 course. This lives true to Violet Herbs' desire to bring good European food to the public at affordable rates.

All right, introduction aside, time for the tasting session to begin. Oh yes, before I forget, this is a media invite by Openrice, attended by their representatives as well as the familiar ChubbyBotakkoala and I was also glad to have finally met Madamechewy; the event was hosted by lovely owner Danni and her polite team.

The Beef Tender with Madeira Sauce was exactly that - tender and smooth, beautifully flavoured with the sweet wine, complemented with crackling sprinklings atop. The Saffron Bread was resplendent with the bittersweet, hay-like flavour of this precious herb, tasting good even without any spread (of butter, in this case);  it has a coarse but firm texture.

Mango Scallops kickstarted the meal, an interesting orchestra of textures between the bouncy scallop and single crispy potato chip. The combination of sweetness and umami between the scallop, potato chip, mango gel and parsnip was an excellent flavours play as well, balancing the two elements with ever-slight hints of spices.

Next, we had the Parsnip Velouté, complete with fresh Sri Lankan crab meat, crumble and herb oil. A velouté, by the way, is a white soup or sauce thickend by butter and cream. This dish herein has a satiny, creamy texture that goes very easy on the throat; the crab and edible flower petal were both delightful enhancements.

Following that, the Truffle Foie Gras was being introduced, another dish well anticipated, incorporating the goodness of one-hour poached egg, summer truffle, cepes reduction and shiso cress. The overall flavour was richly indulgent; only to be brought to another level altogether after the egg yolk sunk its golden form unto the concoction. The foie gras was buttery soft, melting in the mouth deliciously; the one-hour poached egg enabled the egg yolk to attain a suede-y texture instead of being runny.

We had a palate cleanser now - the cooling and refreshing Yuzu Sorbet with a luscious taste and slides silkily past the throat. I could easily eat 20 of this...

The Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly came aboard next, teamed with spicy blood orange sauce and mircoherbs, and served atop fresh asparagus. The smokey hints of the succulent pork was addictive; and the constrasting chewy texture against the quivering fatty parts made for a perfect bite. The baked and then double-fried homemade herb fries retained its crispy texture throughout the course; the herbal hints were exuded slowly  and steadily.

Then we tried the Marinated Red Miso Cod, one of their signature dishes here as well. This beautiful and artfully-arranged dish consists of roasted pumpkin puree, mixed herbs and almond eggplant on the side. The red miso flavour was absolute and certain, somehow overshadowing the natural sweetness of the cod, and texture was just a little on the hard side. Don't get me wrong - this would make a great dish for someone more accustomed to stronger flavours. The eggplant itself was crumbly and good, made even more so by the almond grains coating it.

Dessert completed the meal, and we concluded merrily with Frozen Nougat, comprising of mixed berries, lychee sorbet and raspberry sauce.  The nutty dessert immerses itself into the senses immdiately upon the first bite, its luscious flavour melting indulgently in the mouth. The coupling with the breezier, softer touch of lychee was invigorating; this dish easily ranks as one of my favorite desserts.

Overall, the atmosphere and food at Violet Herbs were great - non-pretentious, comfortable and quality-ensured. The service team was very patient and helpful, offering detailed information about each course served (not just to our tables).  The owner Danni (in pink above) - who also designed the interior aesthetics of the restaurant - and her husband Chef Edward Hoe (who may look young but has extensive experience in the culinary realm across varied cuisine) came over to explain the origins of this restaurant.

That pretty much sums up my feedback and observation of Violet Herbs. Thank you to Danni and team for having us, and thank you Openrice for the invite!

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