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Monday, 30 November 2015

Afternoon Tea at Non Entrée Desserts Cafe @ Rangoon Road

204 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218451
Tel: 9878 6543

Taking over the now-defunct Woodshed Cafe, this bright and vibrant exterior is the transformed-entity of Non Entrée Desserts Cafe, a new kid on the block serving modern European desserts in various flavours and beautiful forms.  Having seen many photos of the pastries here posted by friends on various platforms, my sweettooth ached and I decided to come by. It is located right next to Ng Ah Sio Bak Kut Teh (review here), within stone's throw from Founder's Bak Kut Teh's other outlet at Rangoon Road as well.

The cafe is helmed by ex-Basilico (review here) pastry chef, Francis and two friends, who seek to provide exquisite desserts for cafe-hoppers. The interior was simple, with a vintage, retro charm to it; service was affable and friendly. Patrons had to wait to be seated, but orders are placed at the counter together with payment.

Gelato was served as well; in a colorful variety. It was tempting on this scorching sunny weekend afternoon.  A fellow customer strongly recommended the Pistachio Gelato, terming it "spectacular". *Celine ordered a scoop of Tiramisu Gelato that was bittersweet with alcohol flavour but weak in coffee aroma.

The array of desserts was aplenty - all with enticing names and looked tempting to the palate. From nuts to chocolate to fruity flavour, there is something pretty for everyone; and they were priced rather reasonably, between SGD$8.90 to SGD$10.90 per slice.

We also looked through the menu, and decided to order a different assortment to share, since there were 4 of us.

But first things first, drinks to quench our thirst.  The Iced Milk Tea (SGD$5.00) was light in tea flavour and diluted; my Iced Lemon Tea (SGD$5.50) was bland in taste save for citrusy hints as well; *Celine mentioned that her Iced Mocha (SGD$6.50) was pretty good.

The first dessert being brought to our table was the Pistachio Raspberry Cake (SGD$8.90) - layers of pistachio sponge clasping raspberry puree in between; topped with light pistachio cream and coating of chocolate. It was lightly-sapid with the nutty sweetness of pistachio, sharpened by the slight-tartiness of raspberry, a well-balanced mix of flavours. Texture-wise, it was soft, like sponge.

Next, the Strawberry Shortcake (SGD$8.90) which was a pretty cylinder of pink coating snow-white interior. The cake was soft, smooth and redolent of strawberry flavour; it was easy to eat bite after bite of this without feeling overwhelming. The huge strawberry sitting atop was very sweet!

Then the Drunken Babe (SGD$16.90) - walnut brownie, milk chocolate cream pipe infused with Whiskey, smokey bacon crisps on chocolate paper, caramel popcorn and raspberry sorbet. This was a beautiful dessert architect and a burst of flavours all in one. The brownie cubes were moistened and luscious; taste heightened by the Whiskey-infused cream running through it. The popcorn added crunch to the salacious dessert, making it easy to want more.

Following that, Chocolate Avalanche (SGD$13.90) - one of their prettiest iconic desserts here - warm chocolate cake with luscious Valrhona chocolate lava flowing (if cut right) into the chocolate-almond nougatine and orange-infused vanilla ice-cream contained into the round glass jar. It would be an art to watch this tiny act. The chocolate was rich and saccharine, draping warmly across the tongue deliciously while we piled on cold ice-cream and sticky spoonfuls of nougatine - it was a very satisfying dessert, one that lingered long after in the tongue and mind.

Lastly, quite disappointed that the Cherry Pop (SGD$13.90) was unavailable that day - for it had all my favorite components of cherries, chocolate and a little alcohol.

So I ordered a very cute dessert - the Rubber Ducky (SGD$12.50) - Crème Fraîche pudding with fresh mango puree, sago, biscuit, exotic cocktail frozen ducky sitting in a foamy bath of lemongrass cloud. It was one of the most adorable desserts I have ever come across, and it tasted awesome too! The frozen ducky was slightly tarty, redolent of yuzu flavour, going very well with the fragrant lemongrass foam it was pooled in. As for the lemongrass foam, it was sago pearls beneath the bubbles, lovely to chew on.

Overall, we were very happy with the desserts at Non Entree Cafe - service was good and all the items scored high points on aesthetics and taste. Maybe they could improve on the drinks a little, then all would be perfect.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Chilling out at Smoke & Mirrors Lounge @ National Gallery

1 St. Andrew’s Road #06-01 National Gallery, Singapore 178957
Tel:  6384 5595
Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one” - Albert Einstein

Smoke and Mirrors is a new bar concept under the Park Hotel Group. It has opened its doors at the newly refurbished National Gallery (the ex-Supreme Court building), and everything about it seemed to be laced with a chic sophistication and enigma.  I fell in love with the name bearing a concept I use a lot in my writings and muse, the alluring images on the website, as well as the photos I’ve seen in social media feeds, so I told myself I had to visit this place. 

The first two trysts proved unsuccessful because they were booked for the 2 Fridays I had intended to visit. Finally, on a Wednesday evening, I managed to visit this enchanting rooftop bar with a new friend, *Camelia.

The settings were dimly-lit, crusted with lots of mirror reflections to give it an intimate and mysterious feel, darkly seductive and posh all at the same time. The stunning sculptural bar counter was the centre of attention, lit tastefully like a beacon in the dark night. Sitting alfresco means being accorded panoramic views of the colorful cityscape while sitting indoors bring about a heightening of the senses amongst the dark earth tones and glossy reflections. It was as sexy as it could get.

We sat indoors because it was beginning to drizzle. The leather seats were comfortable and service was excellent – polite, professional and quite attentive. There were bar bites as well as mains on the menu, as well as a wide array of drinks (cocktails, wine, etc).

A good many items were unavailable due to being “out of stock” because they were a new bar, because they have been operating since 11.00am so food ran out, and because not much storage space. They included the basic calamari, crab claws, churros and chocolate fondant cake, which the service crew had to keep retuning to apologise and inform us of the unavailability of our orders.

The starter snacks were good - assorted mix of sweet and salted almonds that were refillable.  It was a refreshing bar bites and rather addictive.

In the end, we stuck with Signature Chicken Wings (SGD$14.00), consisting of 6 crispy fried chicken wings marinated with a light tinge of spiciness. The skin was crackling and thin, and the overall texture was light, moistened and tasty.  

We also went for the Popcorn Chicken with Dried Chilli (SGD$14.00), which was the most unique I have ever seen, having eaten the same item at many other spots prior to this. The Popcorn Chicken here was crispy on the outside and tender within, the chicken also well-moistened so it was not dry or rough. Best of all, there were dried chilli and leek pooled within the serving plate and which the popcorn chicken pieces were infused with, to add a tangy touch to the dish. It was indeed tasty, especially with drinks.

For drinks, *Camelia had a glass of Trimbach Pinot Noir Reserve (SGD$18.00), which she commented was smooth and lovely.

I went for the artistic touch, and one of their special cocktails – Painting Class (SGD$22.00) comprising Peruvian Pisco, fresh lemon, Smoke & Mirrors strawberry cordial, prosecco and edible chocolate paint. Their cocktails in this series are inspired art on exhibit at the National Gallery - mine was inspired by Lim Yew Kuan. It had a lovely plum and kumquat combination kind of flavor, was refreshing and sweet; I loved the edible chocolate smeared on the outside of the glass as well, and I scraped it all up too.

The overall experience was pretty awesome – we could still overlook the beautiful night scene outside, even though we were seated within. The music was jazzy and lounge music type, so it was relaxing and unobstrusive for our conversation. The food, drinks and service were all top-notch; our only grumble was that many items we’d wanted were sold out, so hope that this could be looked into.

To end this review, I would like to add on that service was excellent, especially by one of their crew *Byron or something, who heard our rants patiently, and as a gesture of apology / or to placate us, he offered us a couple of shots (gin with lime, I believe). It was a nice gesture, and gave us hope that things would definitely look up here – that perhaps when we visit again, the experience would be perfect. Anyway, I loved this place, and shall name it my next hangout of choice.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Afternoon Tea at The Providore Cafe @ Mandarin Gallery

333A Orchard Rd, #02-05 Mandarin Gallery, Singapore 238897
Tel: 6732 1565

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon before our Makeup Lesson at Make Up Store, so *Charmaine and I met up for catching up at The Providore. The other cafes were all crowded, and I have been to most of them anyway.

The Providore is a café, a grocer and a bistro all at once, reminding me greatly of similar concepts such as Dean & Deluca and Jones the Grocer – where cheese, dairy products, and spirits etc are retailed and we could have the option of dining in. 

Ambience was casual and relaxing, with a choice of indoor and outdoor seating. Service was surprisingly good – it had been painfully slow and inefficient when I visited around a year ago. Orders were taken promptly and the crew was very polite. The Providore brand does not just serve food, but also adore food; bringing some of the best locally-produced and globally-sourced products to us in Singapore where they choose to build their brand.

Anyway, *Charmaine and I shared some Cheese and Ham Croquettes, deep fried. The exterior was a crumbly coat opening up to reveal bits of ham and melted cheese. This simple but palatable snack was perfect for munching during tea-time, over coffee or tea.  And I really liked how it had the right texture - not too dry, not greasy, but the right level of softness.

The Chai Latte (SGD$6.50) was presented prettily with a cinnamon stick. The beverage was made up of Providore 7 spice Chai powder and steamed milk, giving it a smooth, creamy texture and piquant aroma of Chai. I loved the tinge of spiciness amongst the bittersweetness of the drink.

*Charmaine had the Flat White (SGD$6.00), also served with pretty latte art. She mentioned the coffee was silky in texture and tasted good. 

Rose Earl Grey (SGD$7.50) was served in a pot, infused with the fragrant sweetness of roses amongst the darker, smokier, natural taste of the tea itself.

Overall, The Providore was a pretty neat place to hang out at. I would like to be back for one of the wines or ciders, over a proper meal or slice of cake another time.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Def Leppard's Concert at Suntec CIty Convention Centre

Venue: Suntec City Convention Centre, Level 6, Hall 601-604
Date: 24 November 2015 (Tuesday)
Time: 8.00pm - 10.00pm
Tickets price: SGD$108.00,  SGD$128.00,  SGD$148.00 and SGD$168.00

Being a fan of Def Leppard's songs, I wondered for more than a decade why they did not come to Singapore to perform at all, since year 1996.  I was still in elementary / primary school back then, and have not heard of them.

I fell in love with them when I was in high / secondary school, hearing their "Love Bites" on Class 95 FM and then 98.7 FM radio stations.  I loved the song so much because it was so melancholy and haunting, evoking weird feelings in me. So I called into the latter radio station (in the past you could do that, and sometimes the DJs would pick up and chat with you, if they were nice enough) - and asked the male DJ what the song was.  He recited the name to me, which I'd thought was "Deaf Leopard", but a visit to the music store (we did not have much use for the Internet back then) yielded me the right spelling, and I bought a few of their CDs.

It was then I began to fall in love with them and their songs more and more, even though they are a band way beyond my era.  I listened to their songs fervently, and finally in 2015 they returned! The Beau and I bought tickets for the Standing Pen, since I have never been to a concert and had to stand before - he said I would be closer to the rock hand.

The day came and the turnout was not bad - more foreigners.  Anyway the band came only at 8.30pm, but belted out many of their popular hits including my favorite "Love Bites", then "When Love and Hate Collide", "Pour Some Sugar on Me', etc. The concert-goers were all enjoying themselves and rocking to the music, singing along with the band as well.

I was a little disappointed that they did not perform 3 other favorite songs of mine, namely "Too Late for Love"  and  "Foolin' ". Also, their conclusion was very abrupt - they just performed till around 10.00pm and then suddenly paused while fans shouted that they wanted more, and then the band said goodbye and walked away. But oh well, we can't have everything, riight? They sounded better in person, and I had fun.   

Many of them were holding up their phones to record the band's performance blatantly, and I was surprised that the Suntec City Management did not control the recordings. Isn't it an infringement of copyright? Anyway it was a little annoying because their lifted arms were blocking those behind. Mind you, I only started to take some photos when I saw practically everyone was using thier phones to video the performance. 

Overall, I enjoyed the concert and was happy to finally meet Def Leppard in person. They promised to be back more often - well, let's see.

You might also be interested to read about Air Supply's Concert in March 2015 by clicking here.