A day at the races.
Ladies in pristinely white lace dresses adorned with indicate embroidery, swinging their petite parasols to and fro. Men in their black suits and white buttons, curtsying and sweeping their hats off in a flowery motion. Horses racing by, a flurried blur of speckled brown and psychedelic jerseyed riders.
A picture out of an Audrey Hepburn film?
It’s hard to picture now with the newly renovated Turf City Grandstand: a place that evolved from a horse-racing gambling haunt to a foodie’s heaven. Restaurants line the walkways and populate the indoors- bless them.
It wasn’t my first time there; I visited Tung Lok XiHe there for the New Year, where they served arguably the best Peking duck in Singapore. [Previous Post: New Year, Schnew Yarr]
This time round it was Omakase Burger, Latte E Miele Gelato, and La Benaton.
Yes, that’s right; our family tends to eat more than one meal when it comes to noshing out. The choices are multitudinous- why limit yourself to one?
Perhaps the best testament to any good restaurant is a long snaking queue extending beyond its doors- and Omakase Burger certainly caught our attention with its ridiculously high demand. Luckily enough the queue was comparatively short when we arrived (when we left it snaked out the door to the other side of the walkway1!) and so our wait was short.
A modern fast-food-style diner? Check. Pay-collect-and-sit? Check. Plastic chairs and wooden tables? Check.
And so the exorbitant price tag alarmed me. Fast food for $17.50? This had better some seriously good grub.
High expectations rose towards the sky when I saw the spread of raving reviews (magazines, newspapers, you name it) on their cashier table- and so we waited. Our Root Beer Float was churned out first- a colossal beer mug of fizzy pop and swirly vanilla ice cream- certainly not what I had expected! It was a good surprise, however- unlike most root beer floats that give a pitiful ice cream to root beer ratio- this had an over abundance of ice cream and half a can of root beer besides to boot.
I love the beautiful emulsion of ice cream and root beer- creamy goodness that fills the mouth with a delicate aroma yet strong taste; perfect for ice-cream-spooning ladies and root-beer-gulping men. A truly unisex drink. Anti-misogynistic applaud kicks in and I appreciate the fact that root beer is no longer a ‘manly’ drink- [ooh, increased pleasure= increased utility- the economics student in me blurts!].
The burgers finally came rolling in and if looks are deceiving, I dearly hoped it held true. Normal, store-packaged buns; Half-melted cheese that looked liked it came out of a processed square cheese packet; and gritty, dry-looking patties. Looks better be deceiving, if I am to stop judging a burger by its cover [bun].
One bite and the ooze of juice hits you- an unplaceable unique flavor (their special omakase sauce) clearly is a gem. The patty that I’d ordered at rare was cooked medium-rare (which quite honestly I should’ve filed a lawsuit for), but it was quite perfect for a hamburger patty so it didn’t bother me too much. Good, satisfying friday-family-night-out nosh; also perfect before-baseball-game grub. But oh, I forgot- we’re not in New York. Nothing beats eating at Five Guys (burger joint) before a Yankees Game. Memories and nostalgia blend into one dull ache.
But this will have to do for now.
The oven-baked chicken parmesan that my parents ordered was supreme; a gritty, crunchy exterior and a tender, succulent interior. It arguably outshone the burgers, which was what we were here for! No complaints there. Decent food for $14.90.
The medium cheeseburger that my sister ordered was woefully plain and looked terrible- I couldn’t bring myself to try it. Not something I would wish to review on this blog- but once again, looks may be deceiving.
Last but not least, of course- when there’s truffle fries on the menu, it is an imperative to order it. Truffle Fries. Simply some fries drizzled with truffle oil, but a gastronomic delight. Their fries were normal french fries, but to my delight they weren’t McDonald’s-esque or too soggy/oily. Simple dish to make, but nevertheless I was glad that it didn’t shatter my expectations.
The portions were rather small for fast food fare- and especially for the steep price. Fine dining restaurants may have the liberty to give measly portions, declaring that it’s the flavor that matters- and small portions mean good balance. But this is fast food, man- don’t delude yourself. I hardly think a thicker patty and a bigger bun will affect things that much, taking into consideration the sky-high charges.
Rating: 4/7 [Good food, great burgers in comparison to the normal Burger King patty; but a tad overpriced for the quality of food served! I won’t be in a hurry to come back until there are some serious price cuts.]
This place is more of a wine cellar than anything else, and being woefully underaged my knowledge about wines is close to nil.
Zilch. Nada. Zip.
You should trust my judgement on that because you’re looking at a girl that prefers $20 bottles of muscato over $300 ruby red wines! While people rant about the complexity and fruitful/dry taste and palettes and all that oui, oui, c’est magnifique! I simply go: Fizz. Check. Sweetness. Check. Alcohol content. Check.
And there you have me on cloud nine with my head up in the wafty clouds.
What I can say about this place is the charm and unpretentiousness. It’s run by a Singaporean lady and her French husband- and the lady was the dearest sweet that offered us a sample of pretty much her whole range of cheeses.
There’s a reason why I was born in the year of the rat [although I prefer the more docile species, the mouse].
We ended up buying a small slab of their 24 month Comte and their Tomme du Jura. Their range of Comte’s spanned many different ages- and if you compare the tastes the older cheeses have a more complex, gritty feel to them (the salt crystals start to form!). I personally love the more gooey cheeses like the Mont d’or, but when it comes to cheese anything goes.
As long as it’s not store-packaged square-processed lumps. I can’t stand those.
What I love about La Benaton is that they have very small sealed packages of cheese- countless times have we bought some cheese from Jones the Grocer and left the slab unfinished; the reasonable blocks of cheese here are perfect for the small family.
If you ever are in Turf City do drop by La Benaton [literally, the basket- the basket they use to collect grapes for wine-making, how apt! I love how the French language makes everything sound so entirely romantic]! If not for the wine and cheese, just drop in to say a friendly hello to the shopkeepers, they’re insanely kind souls.
Latte E Miele Gelato
Dinner without dessert is like the Sahara without desert.
Stomachs clearly not satisfied with the diminutive burger portions and not alleviated by the cheese sampling, we walked on into Latte E Miele Gelato and hastily called up an ice cream waffle and a tiramisu.
The waffles came steaming out within 5 minutes, and the friendly waiter asked ‘chocolate or whipped cream?’ Typical of me to request both; but only un petite peu (oh wait, that’s french- just like me to get my european languages mixed up!) of the whipped cream. The waffle looked like it was drowning in chocolate sauce; but the waiter clearly wasn’t shy about showing off his artistic inclinations as he proudly handed us our waffle, painted with a zig zag pattern of burnt sienna chocolatey goodness.
A little disappointed that the chocolate sauce came out of a Hershey’s bottle- but even the most snobbish food critic wouldn’t say no to a chocolate ice cream waffle. Hershey will do for now.
The tiramisu was a delight- but when have you ever tasted a bad ice cream tiramisu? The insides had little crunchy bits of ice, though- either indicating that the ice cream was not adequately blended while freezing or that some chef had been careless in putting the ice cream and the cream together- but again, I couldn’t care less because it added some nice texture and panache to the dessert.
Epicurean cravings satisfied? Check.
Rating: 6/7 [Smooth delicious ice cream, but give me Gelato Art anytime! The piccolo flavor is $4.50, but that’s about right for Italian Gelato. In Singapore, at least. Such an expensive nation.]