Jasmine: Valentine’s Day. Commercialised? Yes. Waste of money? Totally. Occasion for florists and card companies to earn tons? Certainly.
Are we still going to celebrate it? Absolutely!
Every restaurant worth its weight in salt will surely be packed, so Andrew and I have come up with a list of some of our favourite romantic eateries, arranged by price point.
1) Under $15: Forty Hands (78 Yong Siak Street)
Andrew: This is one of the most unique cafes I’ve visited thus far. In spite of its secluded locality, there was a steady stream of patrons on a Sunday at 3 p.m. I’m not normally one who has an eye for decor but I was really fascinated by the cake display and the interesting arrangement of planks and different lamps on the ceiling.
Apparently they have a good dinner menu, but we only managed to try their sandwiches which were really quite good. The pulled pork sandwich which I had had raisins, pineapples and tomato puree in it. It tasted like a well-toasted version of a Hawaiian pizza. I was so tempted to try their bitter chocolate tart, their orange jaffa slice and their huge cookies, but I was saving my stomach for a heavy dinner! The light at the bottom of the display just makes the desserts look all the more yummy.
Jasmine: Forty Hands had a very authentically local atmosphere, from the recycled cans to the Chinese porcelain plates that were reminiscent of 60s’ hawker ware. They supposedly serve a mean latte, but I thought that the selection of food (sandwiches and all day breakfasts) was scrumptious.
My salt cod mash was quite special. Although I tasted more mash than cod, it was flavoured with just the right amount of saltiness, and went well with the rocket and toasted wholemeal bread.
Jasmine: Looks can be deceiving. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant was one of our early finds, tucked away along Keppel Road. The storefront looks like it has survived a natural disaster, but the inside is cozy and unpretentious.
Andrew: What we liked about this place was how quiet it was. (Well, it would be given that it’s almost impossible to get here without a car.) It might not be as quiet on Valentines Day, but the service here is top notch and guaranteed to make you feel like you’re the only ones in the restaurant. The calamari was juicy and tasty, unlike many other versions where only thin slivers are offered. The pastas that we had were cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of herbs, seasonings and olive oil to flavour every single bite. I heard their escargoes and beef stroganoff are really good.
Still Under $20: Le Petit Cuisine (along Upper Thomson Road or at Serene Centre)
Jasmine: Another lovely little bistro that Andrew’s introduced me to is the French place, Le Petit Cuisine, which does surprisingly good meals with a French spin at decent prices (no GST!).
Jasmine: Being quite the carnivore, I’ve tried the confit du canard (nice crispy skin) and just yesterday, Andrew ordered the beef and lamb sausages for me. The sausages were accompanied by a unique variety of sauces – Bearnaise (which I personally preferred with eggs Benedict) and two types of mustard. Given that the sausages retained their natural savoury flavour and juiciness, I preferred them sans any kind of dressing.
Andrew: The Serene Centre branch of this restaurant can be rather romantic as it has an outdoor seating area dimly lit up with little tea light candles on the table and feels like one of those small cafes in Paris. Heh. (Jasmine: Yes! Andrew brought me there on one of our very first dates and I really liked how quaint and out-of-the-way it was. I like to think that we dined in the garden by candlelight, heh.) The food’s very decent for the price. I would recommend the escargoes on croissant starter. They are extremely generous with the garlic butter sauce which they douse generously on the croissant. The escargoes are great and the croissant absorbs up all the sauce and is extremely yummy! I had the beef bourguignon spaghetti yesterday which was very hearty and flavourful with the right combination of spices, carrots and huge chunks of beef.
3) Under $30: TWG (at Ion)
Jasmine: Be prepared to wait in queue for up to 20 minutes as this place has limited seating and is very popular. The quality of the teas far outpaced the quality of the cuisine. Chocolate Truffle Mint tea was my selection and the mint aftertaste was subtle without being bland while the chocolate was sufficiently rich without being overpowering.
The high tea sets sounded divine but tasted average. For the price they commanded, the portion size was also abit of a let down. I’d recommend splitting a half-dozen tea-infused macarons with a friend instead.
Andrew: The whole place speaks British upper-class without being overly pretentious. Like Dearie mentioned though, the food wasn’t impressive. Don’t come here with the intention to have a hearty, delicious meal. The tea-set shown below can hardly satisfy any grown man’s appetite.
Andrew: This is the kind of place where you come to savour the experience and enjoy good (or in my case, great!) company. Choosing the teas itself is such a delightful experience as the waiter brings out the various tea leaves for you to sample their fragrance. There are more varieties of teas here than drinks at any regular restaurants. Besides the regional teas, they had such interesting flavours like Chocolate Tea, Christmas Lights Tea, Hypnosis Tea etc. There is such attention to detail in the cups and tea-pots that you feel like you’re engaging in an art form. (Of course, after you’ve finished appreciating that art, you’ll probably need to fill your tummy at Ion’s Food Gallery at Basement 4. Heh.)