Off 51 Waterloo Street, and hidden behind trees and a pre-independent colonial building, lie a quaint and exceptionally calm restaurant with a good hand at brunch. Dining there on a late weekend morning, one can literally be mesmerised by church bells and the choir, lightly contrasted with that of the occasional vehicle passing by the road. It magically seems like a restaurant popped out of nowhere, and neatly snuck between structured institutions. However, it was a valued discovery altogether. And I still remember happily munching away at the homemade Country Style Granola. Simple ingredients, placed ingeniously together, perfect!
From the entire experience, I was pretty taken away with the quote by Antheime Brillat-Savarin. “The discovery of a new dish does more for a human than the discovery of a new star”. Pretty individualistically instrumental, but yes, I guess each time we find a new dish that we so exceptionally love, it will affect us in profound ways. Brillat-Savarin is pretty philosophical and to me a poet as well. Some of his phrases which I found interesting were:
Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.
The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all aeras; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.
Ah, but my journey really begins as I started to find where on Waterloo Street was number 51. Thinking back, it was really hard to miss it as they named the entire building after the number.
Before making my way to the restaurant, I noticed this cute little lady bug promoting all things Art! Should I go up? Should I go up? I decided lunch was more important. So no.
Then there was Fine Palate, in all its simple fine glory.
Neatly spaced out, this area represents the al-fresco dining option of the restaurant. Situated next to the church, it is the ideal place if you want to immerse in hymns during the weekend as you sip tea and reflect.
Then I noticed this masterpiece. I have no idea who this belonged to, but I reckoned it was Fine Palate. “A gourmet is a glutton with brains” – who would’ve guess?
The interior of the restaurant is largely divided into the sitting areas on the left and the counter/cashier/shiny counter tap where menus are placed in a bowl situated to the right. The space might seem appropriate for a private party.
The great globes of light hanging overhead at each of the three main tables while decoratively pleasant, do take on another form if one were to stare at it long enough. The proportionate dimensions remind me of a giant eye gazing intently overhead.
Before we get too distracted by the globe of light, brunch has begun. First up, the staff served up a platter of warm toast glazed with oil together with a side of tomato chutney that reminded me more of a herbed chutney with tomato than tomato chutney with herbs.
First up, I ordered a serving of Pineapple, Mango and Coconut smoothie ($8) and Lemon Meringue Milkshake ($10). Out of the two, I personally recommend the Lemon Meringue Milkshake. Definitely not a common drink in Singapore and oh so heavenly sweet and sour at the same time. It’s pretty intense and delicious! The PMC smoothie was a little flat and could do with more kick from the Pineapple and Coconut.
The drink with top marks for me: Lemon Meringue Milkshake
Starting brunch proper, the first dish up – Country Style Granola. To what I understand, prepared freshly in the kitchen, topped with an assortment of berries and yogurt, these are some really excellent morning meusli.
Each chew brought a marvelous combination of natural flavours and sweetness. The granola, nuts and all, brought in the textures bordering the crunchy to the naturally sticky. Excellent first course to open the palate for more! Could do with a splash more yogurt though as it was rather dry once nearer to the end.
The second highlight for the day goes to the Spanish Style Omelette ($18). A huge yellow white crisp yet runny omelette stuffed with a scattering of sliced chorizo and smoked cheddar cheese was that was needed for me to go wow. Mesmerising, soft and cloudy, each cut into the omelette revealed the molten cheese and partially set eggs. The chorizo salty and with a bite here and there complemented the dish well. Adding in the cheese essentially brought the familiarity of this creation to the next level.
The other main brunch item I tried for the day was the Steak and Eggs ($20). A good 250g ribeye prepared specially to your preference, with a side of 2 eggs done in any style. I chose poached and it came with a generous drizzle of hollandiase all over. The steak was pretty decent with a good chew throughout. Though I thought that the medium rare doneness could be better improved on, I do think that is awesome dish for both its value and target towards satisfying a lazy morning afternoon. The side of roasted mushrooms lend an excellent quality of earthiness to the overall picture.
A closer look at the poached egg with the golden hollandiase glazed all over. It made me think that it was more yolk on the top of the egg than encapsulated within. The hollandaise was balanced with not too much acidity or vinegar to cause a disturbance in the overall experience. Clean, clear flavours sparkled with an occasional zest and tanginess.
But seriously, what is the poached egg experience without breaking through and letting the yolk run out. Yummylicious, even more so now that we mixed with the yolk with the sauces. A good dish always has an overarching identity and structure, in this case it definitely was the yolks.
But for a winner hidden amongst the pages, it has to go to the Crispy Kurobuta Pork Belly ($16). Now this is what I call a Pork Belly. A wholesome piece left to sear and then baked to goodness. The layer of skin, fat and meat was literally a melt in the mouth master piece. Kudos goes to this creation as the savouriness of the meats stands out and leave a lasting impression.
The Quiche of the Day ($12) arrived soon after and from the looks of the numerous ingredients, it was a fantastic piece of Vegetable Quiche. Milky and slightly custard like in texture, the quiche was a savoury delight through and through. A hearty serving, easily washed down with the side salad and vinaigrette, this was a quiche that could realistically be served and cause the “nevermind the calorie count mood”. Though I do recall meaty textures like mushroom that permeate the dish. And, it leaves the impression of a fairly savoury morning.
Didn’t like the capsicum but couldn’t do much about it.
Now desserts!Lemon Tart ($10) seems to be a perennial favourite for myself, as nearly all the restaurants I’ve been to had a variety which I’ve tried. The Lemon Tart at Fine Palate is done a little differently as the top was sprinkled with sugar and then seemingly glazed over with a torch. Flavour wise, the tartness was not as intensive as what I would imagine even with much needed assistance from the side of berry compote.
The other dessert staple available is the Baked Oreo Cheesecake ($10). Didn’t really appreciate the cheesecake though. I thought the compote was a little to strong as it overpowered the cake itself. Sweet, creamy with the occasional oreo bit.
One final look at the Oreo Cheesecake
Dining at Fine Palate was truly a remarkable experience for me. I rediscovered how to enjoy an omelette, partake in the subtle beauties of granola with simple yogurt, and then going through the Lemon Meringue milkshake from start till end. Most of the dishes served were hits to me, except really the oreo cheesecake. The dishes are generally in the value for money price range especially for friends and family heading out for that special day. It’s locality, while central, appears to create quite an exclusive setting for all. Fine Palate, definitely does not require you to inherit a fine palate. Instead, the dishes here although the creation of clearcut ingredients that focus on home and comfort food, create the impression that a Fine Palate is really about the appreciation of harmonious marrying of ingredients. I’ve only tried a selection from the menu, but I definitely look forward for my next return visit and slowly make my way through the rest. Hopefully, by then more dishes (and equally impressive dishes) will show up!
Thank you Fine Palate for the invitation
51 Waterloo Street
Reservations : 6336 5120
Website : http://www.facebook.com/FinePalateSG/info and www.finepalate.com.sg
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