Making the trip to New Orleans for work and a quick stop over to LA just for Top Chef favorite M. Voltaggio’s new Inkwell restaurant proved to be a bit sad and disappointing. Considering the miles flown for food it was a let down. The hype and maybe the expectation was too high. First we reserved way advance and the restaurant was quite empty. Service was friendly but sometimes a bit snobby when we said the food was salty. I don’t like people to tell me how the way the dish is supposed tot taste. Salty is Salty. Period.
Masculine Minimalistic look – Black Leather Sofas, White Walls Clean lines very sleek look.
The drinks we ordered were the blended whisky and sloe gin. Prices were sort of reasonable i mean for the amount you expect to pay at a restaurant and from a Top Chef restaurant no less.
The blended scotch tasted ok not memorable however the sloe gin tasted like a chinese medicine brew with a coffee aftertaste. Like not good. You can smell it and a lingering after taste in your mouth. The menus seemed kind of reasonable for some dishes and pricey for others. Again I ate at Craft many years ago and prices was higher although the food was impeccable. (Skirt steak was still soft 5 hours later)
The waitress suggested 5 dishes to share for the two of us but we went a bit over board as it was a loong way from Thailand. The waitress also said the kitchen will determine the order of the courses according to taste. Sounded smart to me.
All components was yummy. Tomatoes fresh – Lovely Taste – Feta strong and Delicious. Yet the dish had no ooomph to it. It was not something you remember forever.
Of the evening this was one of the dishes that i will remember. Simply well dressed greens – Crispy delicious Pork Ears. And underneath.. A supremely eggy pudding/custard that was so fine, delicate without being too eggy even if it was very egg yolk. Together the combination was marvelous. I admit. Savoury, Creamy, Sharp Vinaigrette, Crispy Pork, crunchy greens, soft smoothness on tongue from pudding. 10 / 10
Cheese was delicious and the puffy Chip was delicious. Stops there. The creamy corn was saltier with every bite and we informed the waiter but he said that was how it is and that it’s not salty. So we left it at that.
The tartare was yummy (but not memorable) we didn’t see any Vietnamese flavours aside from the asian herbs on top. The mayo was the star of the dish – Airy, fluffy cloud of deliciousness. I will remember this mayo forever. 9/10
The interesting part of this was that the fish dishes came after the heartier savoury beef tartare. Even in the menu the meat dishes was listed after the seafood ones.
I thought this dish was rather well executed, i think the delicate tuna meshed well with the celery root. However I didn’t really understand the tofu mustard. Didn’t taste like tofu or mustard.
The balance of fattiness and the crispy celery root was well done. The green powder wasn’t really needed as there was so little of it and can’t taste the flavour but i thought it was quite fun and easy to eat. 9/10
Unfortunately things are going downhill. The octopus was burnt and over cooked. Like a dog’s chew toy. Quite awful sadly. The pasta was way undercooked – Not al dente. You can see the raw pasta in the middle when you bit into it. The flavours seemed alright however i couldn’t get past the rubbery octopus and hard pasta. It was very sad.
I was really looking forward to this dish. I love bellys of every animal. It’s fatty, rich and tender. Strangely it was stringy, chewy and not a great texture of lamb belly. The pine nuts felt like it’s past it’s prime. When nuts aren’t creamy but has that stale taste it’s a bit of a huge let down. The yogurt curds was delicious. Creamy, sourish and thick. That was it. Kind of heart breaking at 30 bucks for delicious yogurt. Curds…..
Sadly it was a memorable evening but i remember more of the bad bits rather than the good. I think it was the expectation and considering i was a huge fan. I would rate the overall experience at 4/10. More of an ink blot than ink.well……
Around 20 minutes walk from Piazza Castello, on the left at the section is Solferino Cucina. When you see this fountain at the intersection the restaurant is right across of it. I forgot to take a picture as i was lost and starving when i finally found the place.
It’s a homey & comforting with generous seating, with a simple but elegant setting. The menu was quite extensive but i ordered their Torino Steak Tartare and the ravioli with butter and sage. First came the bread basket, hard rolls and the grissini sticks. Yum. Nice and crunchy!
The steak tartare is served table side where they mix it right in front of you with Olive oil and salt. I think they want to showcase their local beef which is why there is hardly any dressing at all, Olive oil and a hint of lemon. Personally the beef was savory and delicious but it was too bland for my taste. Although the tableside performance was quite enjoyable! Eating it with the mustard was yummy with the bread sticks, i think the bread rolls were too hard for me.
The portion was so generous i admit that i was already quite full, however the ravioli arrived at the table and it smelt so so so good. You can smell the delicate touches of sage, Parmesan and the butter. It was piping hot, meaty, salty, cheesy and oh so delicious. It was so simple but beautifully done. The pasta was al dente, giving that delicate bite before you sink into the meaty savoury deliciousness! Look at it up close, it’s really really sooo good.
Of course i couldn’t move but i had to have an espresso afterwards the “Italian Way” and it came with 4 ginormous biscuits! Delish, delish, delish!!!
IF you are in Singapore and will be eating other restaurants in the style of Modern / Fusion whatever you call it, don’t even THINK about coming to Tippling Club first…. Why???? Everyone else will pale in comparison. It will ruin all the other great restaurants that you will dine. No Really. We had 3 other meals at fantastically acclaimed places and they were really delicious meals but i must say Tippling Club came out a 20 over 10.
The party of 3 consisted of a Headstrong Chinese Daddy “Who tolerates Guai Lo Food” but doesn’t appreciate it much, a very picky French Cuisine Loving Mommy and me. Although the front of the restaurant excludes cool with it’s decor, but I think people would appreciate a sign which would be more visible than their logo on the glass door. The staff was warm, friendly and sincere, kudos to that!! They even remembered our reservation and asked if our flight over was pleasant which it wasn’t but lunch seemed to get off on a good start.
As we perused the menu, there were quite a good choice since we were a party of there and there was 4 choices so we just ordered everything off the lunch menu except for the vegetarian ones. To me this was an affordable pricey for a restaurant of this standard, although at first my parents said it seemed pretty pricey for lunch!
Our first snack was the Chef’s interpretation of the curry which was this foamy thingy with puffed rice on shop in a little glass jar. My dad gave out the “What is this crap expression”, and my mom said wow this reminds me of Chef Gaggan (Also another ultimate restaurant not to be experienced first in Bangkok or everything else will just kinda pale in comparison)
It melts in your mouth but with a texture like light heavy cream, not just air air. Some of those foams i’ve eaten has nothing but air and very little taste, this carries with it a delicately balanced yellow coconut curry – kind like Massaman Curry just a right amount of curry, sweet salty and good balance of spices not too over powering. I was just about to tell my dad i can eat it for him (Thai Chinese people not from Singapore & Malaysia have a hard time eating indian / arabic influenced curries) he waws already scraping the last of the curry foam into his mouth. He said this is not bad. My Mom loved it and i loved it. A great start to the meal. 10 / 10 definitely.
Why is this burnt? My dad says when they placed the next starter in front of us. It’s a burnt chili pepper with a soy wasabi emulsion. First off, it looks so cool with the burnt peppers on slate and the giant steel scientific lab tweezers tool. I took a test bite. It was like a black tempura casing the sweet peppers, it wasn’t spicy at all and did not taste burnt. Now we are all wondering about that, although the sauce was a bit salty cause there was a fair amount so we dipped quite alot but it was awesome. You really expected a nasty burnt taste but there’s none! A crunchy battter covering a sweetness of the pepper. I didn’t even want to sauce although it complemented each other nicely!
See how cute it is? It’s called the Lava Lamp cleanser. Its a tomato water with basil and olive oil and when they pour it the oils separate into bubbles and float around just like the old 80’s lava lamp. Smart and very very very cute. Taste is a light tomatoey with a burst of basil oil and olive oil, i would prefer a stronger more peppery olive oil but with the presentation and the taste i have no complaints. 9 / 10
There was a choice of 3 non veg starter and 1 veg starter and we all each had the non veg starter each. Daddy had the “Smoked Yabbies with Gazpacho and Pan cristal” Dunno what the Pan cristal means but the Yabbies seem to be a small craw fish in a green bell pepper gazpacho (I think). The yabbies were fresh with a tight sweet meat, and the gazpacho was chilled and didn’t taste green / veggie / grassish. Sometimes with fresh veggies hence gazpacho there’s that green green taste to green veggies but this one was light, very fresh, and went very well with the craw fish. Again super 10 points, my Dad’s a hardcore chinese and he mopped up COLD SOUP! Too all the Asian Kids out there, really get your parents and grandparents to taste cold soup. Really it was that good.
Now, i dont consider myself a gourmet or gourmand just someone who loves good food. I had steak tartare in NYC, LA, PARIS, etc it’s actually me and my moms fav dish, and boy is she picky. Really, she almost made a chef cry when she asked to re season his tartare. I let the picture speak for the presentation itself but the tartare was superb. No really…. perfectly balanced, the beef, mustardy, salty, peppery, savoury. If the yolk is not of good quality you can smell eggy rawness which no amount of tabasco will cover it up. 20 / 10
This dish is beautiful! Really Really… However you need to eat it together, the frozen veal slices, the hot round fried balls that burst in your mouth. The only drawback is that the veal should have been sliced thinner. I understand the thick slices for texture, but when it’s too thick it’s too cold and you lose the taste of the veal, maybe a bit thinner slices and more of it. Still an interesting and yummy dish 8 / 10
Then we have the Salt Water Banrramundi, it’s grilled fish with a green curry and tom kha sauce. It sounded so bad, I mean considering green curry is sweet with a kick, while tom kha is white, creamy and sour. The fish came nicely cooked, with a foamy topping but i think the sauces were mild enough that they didn’t clash with each other. It was a delicate dish and the fish was nicely grilled. So great work with the contrasting flavors! 8/10
The second winning dish of the day i thought was to be my roast lamb, but it was the chicken. It came looking super impressive, a long piece of chicken breast in an extremely savory almost yeasty bitter sauce. IT was very very delicious, the breast is usually hard but this was soft and juicy. I think the deep flavour came from the livers and foie gras. This is a really elegant dish. Two thumbs up!
The lamb was rather nice, medium rare, rump is probably the butt area anyway the best way to describe is this is the area where the leg and the loin meet. Sounds alot better right? Its actually very flavorful, thought in my opinion if not cooked medium rare it would definitely be a bit chewy. It’s a quite lean meat for my taste but still a good dish, just not as outstanding as the other dishes. Although it looks really hearty and filling. Which at this point everyone is already stuffed!
Everyone is now leaning back and wishing there was nothing left… Nope… It’s starting to feel like torture until the first dessert arrived, which looked like an abstract painting more than an olive oil orange cheesecake… I liked their freeze dried techniques i think for the cheesecake, it felt crumbly and interesting with the cold yogurt and the creamy bits and pieces countered with the sour mandarin orange. I didn’t get to try to try the flat white stuff, my mom and dad gobbled it up, all in all delicious, soft, crunchy, creamy and sour dessert. Looks beautiful on the black plate.
Next up is the pistachio and chocolate souffle with vanilla mini magnum. I think the mini magnum must be bought but the souffle arrived tall and proud and piping hot! To everyone’s surprise my dad just lifted the mini magnum and used it as a spoon to scoop out a bite of the souffle to which he explained, the hot and hot in one mouthful should feel nice. Interesting! The souffle was delicate and chocolately it didn’t taste floury like many souffles did. It really was like eating a hot chocolate cloud.
The only low note of the meal was actually my dessert, which i didn’t like. It felt like a breakfast, i loved the set up it was really cute with the satiric mini k cereal box as the mini t cereal box. I felt like i was eating a strawberry granola with milk. I didn’t like it at all… (There’s a free petit fours after your meal served with coffee) However on the last note, it was a lovely meal, that i felt justified the price,(which was about 250 SG dollars), the service was sincere and homey. Some places offer high service with a snobbery to it which can make you feel uncomfortable, but definitely not over here. Must come back, must come to eat here if you are in SG!
Modern cuisine is something people imagine to be just like on tv. Alot of smoke, and foams and nitrogen, and anti freeze, and weird kitchen concoctions that look like an abstract painting. I think it all comes down to taste. In Bangkok the best i’ve ever tasted and is still high in my dictionary is none other than Chef Gaggan. Until recently i came to Singapore and finally got to have the lunch at Tippling Club. I would say there are some similarities in their cuisine, the beautiful fusion of different cultures and their genius touch. Other than that the food is wildly different. Chef Ryan should really be considered as the best Modernist cuisine in Singapore.
Starting off the experience was the first amuse bouche:
Its the Chefs interpretation of the local curry. A cute small jar with what looks like a custardy colored foam with some puffed rice arrives with a small spoon. My dad, the Honkie very suspicious of “Gweilo” foods, especially weird foods with foams poked it with his spoon and said “What food are we having again?” (He’s the double boiled black chicken type of dad) I was inspecting my “foam” when i heard him scraping his own jar. The “foam” had the delicate touch of a great tasting curry, more yellow curry with a hint of the coconut cream. The savory, sweet, creamy was perfectly balanced and then you get the crunch of the puffed rice. Seriously. It set the bar intensely high.
And then this arrivied:
Exactly my thoughts, what is that burnt thing? Apparently it’s a chilli in some kind of a coating which is yes according to our eye is burnt, tar, charcoal etc. The blob is a soy sauce wasabi mayo if i’m not mistaken. The tree of us exchanged looks and gingerly used the tongs to have a taste. Thought flash…. It should taste burnt, bitter, yucky. But it wasnt! I dont know why, it’s all dark all the way through. Really, all black and inside was like a chilli pepper, roasty and savory and soft, the mayo was a tad too salty for me so we used really little of the dip. My dad kept saying, but it’s burnt but it’s burnt!!! I really really want to know how the (*^&%^*$)%$) did chef ryan manage it!!! A stroke of genius and skill!!!
Our palate cleanser was a tomato water and basil and olive oil. Tastes like tomato, basil and olive oil, it was refreshing and cute. I think this one was more of a beauty for the eyes. I think the oils were in the double layered shot glass already i jsut recall them pouring it infront of us and the green and yellow droplets were floating around everywhere. Very lovely presentation.
Now on to the first course! Yabbies, cucumber gazpacho and pan cristal.
I actually forgot that gazpacho was a cold soup. Well i didn’t really forget i was more concentrating on the yabbie part which is like a large shrimp. I figured my dad thought it was more like a salad, with big shrimp and green goo as a sauce. The yabbies were fresh, and nicely flavored, i think the cucumber gazpacho must have had some bell pepper in helping with the body. It didn’t have that nasty cucumber greeny smell you sometimes get with cucumber. It was refreshing with a hint of sour and a nice smooth texture. Dad didn’t complain. At all.
Mum’s was the steak tartare. The presentation was exquisite, really nice, i can’t taste the truffles tho (truffled egg yolk) but to me the really tough part of making a tartare is getting the condiments and seasonings right. It’s hard. So far there has been only 2 steak tartare where me and my mom didn’t adjust the seasonings, one is Chez Pape in Bangkok and one is Paris. Here is the third. It was so perfectly balanced, spicy, sweet and meaty goodness with the mustardy tasting crispy baguette. Seriously one of the best tartare ever!!!
Now this dish looks like a work of art. The veal shavings was frozen, the hot potato balls were piping hot and cheesy and crunchy, with a salty savory squid ink underneath. It was a interesting mouth feel with the hot and cold, savory and floury cheesy hotness. Yum. The salty and soury capers added a nice touch to the dish and the carrots and nice sweet freshness. Beautiful dish.
I like my lamb medium rare and soft now tough and chewy. IT was juice, bloody with a delicious velvety mash to go with it. The rosemary and mint jus was not overpowering and helped elevate the taste. The mini peas were a nice popping texture in the mouth. I like how the food arrived hot, some places with the wait and the thin slices, it arrives cold and i hate that. Can’t find a problem with this place. Seriously.
Upon reading the menu and we are from Thailand what would you think? Salt water Barramuni, green curry puree, aubergine caviar, compressed celery and tom kha veloute. Like green curry and tom kha together?? Are you sick in the head? In thailand there are two very different dishes, the green curry is made from a green curry paste and fried with a coconut cream then you add your thai eggplants etc etc. It’s a sweet, spicy heavy curry to be eaten with rice or rice noodles. Tom Kha is like a delicate coconut cream soup with hints of galangal and sour and spice but delicate. It’s kinda like bryan adams vs kiss.
Fish was perfectly cooked, piping hot and juice with a crispy skin. You can taste the sweet tangy green curry somewhere and the foamy Tom Kha i presume was soury which is probably like a lemon with your fish. Even my dad said it was delicious. Really, Green Curry and Tom Kha in the same dish. Perfection!
Now for the showcase, well all of the were showcases but i would give it to the dish where it would seem so simple, yet card to cook perfectly but to leave such a footprint in your memory.
The chicken was like a soft delicate tofu with a bite, the foie gras added such richness and decadence to the dish, making this ordinary chicken worthy a place alongside a tomahawk steak. The richness of the mushroom and the weird chocalate looking and taste feel like sauce really hit a home run. My dad said it was the best tasting chicken he’s ever tasted. It really was.
And it’s not even over!!!!!!!!!!!! Now on to dessert!
Confit Mandarin and Olive oil Cheese Cake with carmelised yogurt and thyme. It’s soo weird, but in a good way, it was like eating a frozen cheese cake, the sour, sweet creamy was a great balance. I didn’t get to taste the white sheet thingy but i’m sure it was lovely. It’s like a healthy beautiful deconstructed cheesecake of some sort. Sooo goood.
Personally, i’m not a fan of pistachio, sometimes i feel like it tastes like amaretto, but it came with a mini magnum, and the souffle was piping hot and beautifully risen, it didn’t collapse too. Nice combo again, hot and cold. My dad loved it, he loves the amaretto taste.
The only part i didn’t like or it wasnt bad, cute playful presentation on Chef’s part. The cornflake box was personally printed with the shop and his name on it. So funny!
See the big T instead of a K? hahahaha funny!!! Maybe because it was called strawberries and cream, i expected like a cheesecake or strawberries with cream. It was more like a breakfast cereal, i liked the hint of goats cheese which was a nice touch in contradiction with the freeze dried strawberries which was ohhh soo sour!! So aybe that’s why i felt that it was a bit weird….
We were all full and stuffed by the end of the meal and we had come petit fours with our coffee… Again beautifully presented, and rich chocolate and ganaches…
The bill came to 270 sg dollars – roughly 6750 baht, which is really pricey for Thai standards even for a dinner, but really it was worth every every penny. I loved that he had the same concept as Chef Gaggan – Avant Garde cuisine and affordable pricing. I mean you could save up and come enjoy without missing your home mortgage even if you were still a first jobber. Both my parents were happy and laughing and saying we need to bring our sister here. That’s high praise for a conservative daddy who’s actually eaten more haute cuisine than i ever had. Seriously if you had one meal in Singapore, hightail it to Tippling Club!!
Reservations at Gaggans proved to be a difficult task since they were completely full, maybe due to the fact they ranked 3rd place in the Top 50 resetaurants of Asia. Which to my prior experience there, Chef Gaggan Anand deserves every accolade there is, but without any regret I had the chance to suggest a French Bistro in its stead. JP French was talked about by many groups of people being homey comfort food at acceptable pricing. I felt it came along the lines of Chez Pape (one of my favorites located in Soi 11) simple ingredients cooked well. Ok this is what we ate;
Complimentary Amuse Bouche, one with parma ham and one with a pate. I liked both, the pate was very dense and intense flavoured but not over powering. Good Job!
Lobster Bisque – A bit flat but tastes were fine, i preferred a creamier or a heavier bisque. Mushroom soup is as is, mushroom. Cream and a intense intense mushroom taste, very earthy and a great comfort food.
Frogs Legs – Dad ordered it, too adventurous for me actually but they said it was just like in France.
Escargots – Over baked, it came out dried and chewy. Sad, i usually have a thing for snails. The buttery herby topping was under seasoned and the poor snail was well not good. A sad miss.
The JP Chef Salad comes packed with a poached egg, slices of smoked duck breast, parma ham, duck confit and some foi gras pate on toast and of course the salad. Personally I’m not a fan of the salad dressing, it was a clear but doesn’t really taste French to me (my preference is towards a more mustardy taste), ill admit however with hot baguettes you can turn this into a heavy lunch or a light dinner.
Hot Goats cheese Salad – Same salad but topped with generous goats cheese, again the goats cheese wasn’t as expected, it turned out dry. Usually it should have been a crispy topping and a melty oozy character, this was dry and brittle.
As seen there were a few hits and misses but so far I would rate this dinner going at a strong 6, and a 10 for service and hospitality now on to the main courses:
Steak Tartar – A hit more mustard, tabasco, salt and less gerkins this dish was also a star. The meat was of great flavor nd quality you could taste the meat. It has a presence even over so many of the other ingredients in the dish, alas too much capers and gerkins, i had to pick them out.
Spaghetti with seafood and tomato sauce. Not bad, but not exactly a dish to reorder. Too tomatoey and dry. It’s hard to explain but pasta lovers will understand exactly what i’m saying. You couldn’t taste the seafood and the pasta was overcooked.
Beef Tenderloin – As you can see in the picture it was a big hunk of meat, nicely seared and perfectly cooked. A 2 thumbs up. The beef here is of great quality!
As mentioned earlier, we said the hospitality was great and it was true! We had a complimentary creme brulee with candle compliments of the owner, very nice! The creme brulee was excellent by the way which was why i didn’t eat the other desserts except for a spoonful of the apple tart. Yum!
All in all it was a more than decent restaurant, stick to the traditional dishes and you wont be disappointed. Great pricing, great service and some above average dishes! We will be back!