I have always loved these dining outings with my family, especially now when I the time I spend with Mama and Lil’ Bro is rather limited. It provides an opportunity to explore and experience new things together as well as share our stories, thoughts and amateur food critiques ;)! The photo below only reinforces to me the joys that my family brings me every day.
To say that Singapore’s cafe scene has grown over the past few years would still be an understatement.
At present, there is no shortage of cafes to choose from when Western dishes or hearty breakfast fare is being craved; a far cry from a time where I remember McDonald’s being the only place we would visit to appease Lil’ Bro’s desire for ‘non-hawker’ food. Singapore has what appears to be an infinite list of cafes making their mark across the island city in unique locations, however there are certainly a few which have stood out.
An animation to whet the appetite….
Five and Dime Eatery is another one of the consistently trending cafe/restaurants, which I had been meaning to try since its existence first surfaced on Instagram. Unlike the typical brunch/lunch fare, Five and Dime adds a Japanese nuance to its menu.
For the last six months I have been travelling between Sydney and Singapore, visiting my Lil’ Bro who has undergone quite a dramatic life-change; moving to Singapore (post-HSC) for National Service. Although there was initial worry for him, in terms of adapting to such change, Lil’ Bro took the challenge with a determined and positive attitude and recently graduated from his Basic Military Training.
The final challenge of this component of his service was a 24km route march from the Training Centre to the majestic location of the Floating Platform at Marina Bay, which is surrounded by the beautiful icons of the city. Following this gruelling but what Lil’ Bro describes as an emotional and breathtaking march, symbolic of their 10 week intensive training, the ‘recruits’ take part in their ‘Passing Out Parade’ (shortened to POP) where they are met by their family and friends.
This event was highly anticipated by my family, however my suspicions are that I was the most eager of all. The night before the POP, I set numerous alarms to ensure that we would be able to secure front row seats for the best photo opportunities – I was out of my bed at 4.00am. My parents and aunt were amused by my eagerness, especially when we ended up being the first to arrive at Marina Bay although I insisted that we were already arriving very late!
Hello out there! Sorry for the lack of updates- I’m still alive!! The past few weeks have been quite hectic to say the least – second year uni has begun and my brain/body was/is still clinging on to the summer holidays for dear life! Full of lab hours and afternoon lectures, blogging time and foodie trips have been limited but I thought I would post a quick review as a break from all the scientific mumbo jumbo on nerves which have been sending me into a head spin.
The first weekend after resuming study had the family booked into ‘The Grace Hotel’s new ‘Seafood Buffet’ as a stress reliever. What could be better than seafood to take my mind off the troubles of uni haha?! I was ‘slightly’ excited when I heard that the Brasserie would be providing my seafood loving tastebuds with an array of Sydney’s finest produce! After my fun and delicious experiences at The Grace Hotel for their ‘Flavours of…’ food festivals I felt reassured that my stomach would be in good hands!
As per usual the ‘salad station’ did not fail to impress, with a rather wide selection of cold salads, perfect for the awkward ‘it’s autumn but it feels like summer’ weather. My picks would have been the cabbage coleslaw, which was full of crunch and freshness, without being drowned out by a heavy dressing. If you’re looking for something slightly more ‘solid’ for your salads then the ‘Cous Cous with Pumpkin’ would be the way to go!
Oh and you surely won’t walk past this section of the lineage of food without picking up some mighty fine ‘King Prawns’ from a large bucket of ‘heaven’ (well in the eyes of any seafood lover). Combine the simple yet wonderfully fresh prawns with ‘Thousand Island’ sauce and I would have been quite content, but I didn’t want to miss out on the Mussels or Smoked Salmon which were both testament to Sydney’s fantastic seafood and the kitchen’s ability to bring out the best …from the best!
A tasty segue between salads and mains came in the form of a tomato seafood soup which was full of flavour and had me ready to tackle the next course!
When it came to the main course there were numerous options, even for those who want to opt for a non-seafood dish (…..no comment…….are you crazy?? Haha).
Lil’ Bro went for the ‘Roast Lamb’(which was unsurprising) and by his return for a second serving, I can safely say that he thoroughly enjoyed it!
My picks for the mains would be the ‘Steamed Ginger Barramundi with Chilli’ and ‘Pasta’ dish.
Normally, one would expect a steamed fish to be on the ‘no-go-zone’ of the buffet but having tried quite a few fish dishes at the Grace before, I knew that this was a must-try dish. The combination of ginger and chilli created a light yet flavoursome and appetising dish, that held no trace of ‘fishiness’; only the fresh taste of a well cooked, tender fish! Combining my two loves of chilli and fish, I was a happy seafood diner to say the least!
The Pasta is a fantastic option as a ‘break’ from seafood if need be. A few buffet experiences have led me to fear overcooked and lack lustre buffet pasta, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with this dish. The creamy pesto and sundried tomato combination made for a simple yet effective ‘carb’ dish – I may have scraped the plate clean…shhh!
I had already spied the vast array of mouth watering desserts as I lined up for the salads! I loved how the desserts were ‘mini’ cakes and thus easy to serve with no messy cutting up involved!! It may have also aided in the process of trying a majority of the options.
In terms of ‘top picks’ for the desserts, I have to say that competition was steep! Each miniature serving of goodness was not too heavy (perfect if you want to sample a few options) but definitely not boring for the tastebuds! In the end I would recommend just choosing your dessert based on your favourite flavours, but my picks would have been the ‘Cheesecake’ and anything ‘Berry’!
Oh and if that’s not enough to satisfy your stomach, the cocktail menu is being developed and updated! I can’t quite remember the names of these creations but the fruitier watermelon option was perfectly refreshing, while the banana and chocolate flavoured option was definitely my kind of cocktail…..mmmm…such a great flavour combination!!
All in all, for $45 pp, The Grace Hotel’s Seafood Buffet is definitely value for money! The food is fresh and the kitchen has brought out the best from Sydney’s fine produce. Yeah yeah, I know there weren’t any oysters (a little heartbreaking) BUT for the price paid, I was perfectly content with my prawns and barramundi! For seafood lovers looking to kick their craving in a comfortable and welcoming environment, make a trip to The Grace Hotel before this introductory promotion ends!
Hope everyone is having a wonderful Easter!!
Hello Sydney! I am now back on the Sydney foodie scene and blogosphere; however I come baring sad news for the blog. My hard drive containing all my foodie photographs has succumbed to a horrible fate and is no longer working. I have sent it off to the ‘doctors’ to see if anything can be recovered but that means a large proportion of my holiday snapshots are ‘lost in transit’. I was hoping to share with you some of my favourite eats of all time, festive feasting and much loved memories from my trip, but I am not sure if such an event will occur. Fingers crossed that the photos can be saved!!
In the interim, while I anxiously await the news of my hard drive’s fate, I thought I would share my first Friday night family dinner in Sydney for 2013. Every Friday, my family picks up a tired and hungry Mumma from work and either head straight to our favourite/staple restaurant Golden Century or to a new destination, which I have scouted out according to everyone’s food craving. It is a time which we end our busy week (and maybe celebrate ‘FRIDAY’) as a family with the company and sharing of good food – an unspoken tradition.
The first 2013 Friday in Sydney, led us towards Pyrmont in search of Italian cuisine, which Lil’ Bro had his heart set on. A bowl of hearty pasta and a cheesy wood-fire oven pizza had been overlooked on our stay in Singapore, as 99% of the time we opted to filled our bellies with the local cuisine – no regrets! We headed down Harris St, planning to dine at The Stars @ Pyrmont; a quaint Italian joint, however the sweltering heat had us make a double take when we stepped into its non-air conditioned premises. The 45degree heat was too much to handle and we just needed somewhere cool and comfortable.
Mumma had recently attended a function at Signorelli Gastronomia, which was just a stone-throw away and after hearing rave reviews about it over the blogosphere I made a beeline for the car and gave instructions to Pappa to take us to the air-conditioned bliss!
We arrived around 6.30pm to find the restaurant rather quiet for a Friday night, although we were a little early. The restaurant has seating within its own premises, which spills out into the bright and airy lobby of the office building in which it is situated. We were seated at a comfortable bunker in the lobby and immediately began our search through the menu.
The hunger silencers of bread were brought to the table and I could not resist the crunchy crusts accompanied by the airy and soft innards. I have serious regret for not snapping a photo of these delights! Ah the simple things in life! Sometimes their enjoyment is emphasised by the company of loved ones and cherished routine.
Our hunger drew our eyes straight to the main courses – we wanted a hearty meal and we wanted it straight away! Being our first time dining at the restaurant, there were too many wonderful pastas to single out just one; from ‘Hand Made Ravioli’ to ‘Squid Ink Linguine with Alaskan Crab Meat’ and the mysterious ‘Risotto of the Day’. “The result of this wide selection?” you may ask. Mumma, Pappa and I decided upon three pasta dishes to share, ‘Potato Gnocchi’, ‘Risotto of the Day’ and ‘Spaghetti Chitarra’.
The ‘Potato Gnocchi’ was wonderfully flavoured! It was definitely one of the best gnocchi’s I’ve had in a long while – retaining its chewiness, which was in perfect balance with the generic description of ‘fluffy goodness’. It did not fall apart and crumble, nor did it melt into a gooey blob when popped into my mouth. Instead, the perfectly cook pillow was texturally smooth and was surprisingly sweet, hinting at the pure freshness of the ingredients. Ok, enough about the gnocchi itself. The other stars of the dish were Calamari, Zucchini Flower and Buffalo Mozzerella. My seafood yearning stomach was absolutely satisfied by the juicy, seared calamari. The texture of the calamari was complemented wonderfully by the slight crunch of the zucchini flower and soft, subtle mozzerlla. Mumma was in love with this dish!
My pick was the ‘Risotto of the Day’, a combination of Smoked Scamorza, Fresh Horseradish and Asparagus. I was completely blown away by this dish and may have even preferred it to the “Potato Gnocchi” as the flavour had a real ‘kick’ to it. ‘Scamorza’ is a type of Italian Cow Cheese and its smoked flavour was what I found to bring the components together, with the more subtly flavoured asparagus. It wasn’t a texturally complicated cheese, thus providing the flavour and letting the texture of asparagus and horseradish shine, ringing true to the meaning of “Gastronomia” – “the art and science of good eating”. The beauty of sharing is the ability for each diner to experience the delight of the dish as well and who better to spread the foodie love with than the family at the end of the week?
Pappa thought the ‘Spaghetti Chitarra’ sounded interesting, however I think we were all a little disappointed with this dish as it paled in comparison to the wonderful flavours of the previous two. Nevertheless, it is still worthy of praise – if I had not tried the other two dishes I would have been quite happy with this dish. The spaghetti was cooked Al Dente and had a very different texture as it was handmade! You could almost taste the effort that had been poured into creating such a simple base ingredient. The ‘Chitarra’ was described as ‘pork cheek’ by the waiter and was scattered throughout the spaghetti, however I didn’t feel like it provided much flavour as the tomato base seemed to dominate.
Lil’ Bro was the odd one out as he chose to order ‘Stone Fired Oven Pizza’ with Italian Sausage, Mushrooms and Olive. Taking ‘ownership’ over a majority of the pizza, we decided upon a trade – some pasta for some pizza. Mumma had been raving about their pizza after her function and it definitely lived up to expectation. We were in delight with wonderfully thin base and oozing cheese, which subtly complemented the stronger flavours of the sausage and olive. Pizzas always remind me of relaxing nights in front of the television with the family, so it definitely brought something comforting and sentimental to the table.
As an accompanying snack, we couldn’t resist the bowl of fries, which were well cooked – not too oily and sprinkled with an interesting black salt.
After the clearing of his plate, Lil’ Bro looked at us with wide eyes and asked, “Dessert?” The good thing about Friday dinners, is our stomachs’ default to ‘Indulgent Mode’.
I spied the words “Salted Caramel” on the menu and that was basically the end of it. We ordered two “Salted Caramel Crème Brulee” as there would not be much sharing from the boys end of the table! It was a well done dessert with the flavour of caramel taking on a perfect level of decadence, however I was quite disappointed with the missing ‘salty’ kick that I was holding out for. I would have enjoyed the glaze to be slightly more ‘burnt’ as well, but the caramel flavour and crust had me quite happy.
Mumma suggested the “Baked Strawberry Cheesecake” and how glad I was that she did! I found it to be even better than the “Crème Brulee”, with the subtle and light cheese playing well with the more acidic and sweet flavours of the strawberry.
Overall it was a casual and simple but delicious experience; however try to be seated within the restaurant itself as diners in the lobby are sometimes forgotten! So if you’re in Pyrmont looking for a good eat, keep Signorelli Gastronomia in mind.
This is definitely a Friday dinner destination from now on, calling for visits to try their famous ‘Antipasti’ and other pasta dishes. It is this unspoken tradition that has led to my experience of many different cuisines and the strong bond of the family – we are able to enjoy each others’ company within our busy schedules and uplift any negative tiredness or stressfulness with conversation and food!