Hidden behind the streets of Orchard Road and nestled within acres of lush greenery, a visit to Shangri-La Hotel is always one of mysticality and richness coupled together in exotic fashion. With the Garden Wing newly renovated and revitalised, the Waterfall Cafe makes its reappearance opposite the pristine pool and The Line, this time serving up a spread of Mediterranean inspired cuisine by chef de cuisine Stephane Cocu.
The Waterfall Cafe aims to introduce a spread of healthy yet creative dishes with organic ingredients sourced from sustainable origins. Its menu focuses on robust flavours with the extensive employment of herbs, salts and spices to bring out and add to the natural delights available. Tantalizing, yet with the range of organic goodness. Waterfall Cafe is perhaps what epitomizes the essence of Shangri-La.
The hotel has one of the most splendid lobbies I’ve seen so far. Huge pillars and the warm glow from the chandeliers, nice.
The lobby lounge
As we made our way past the Garden Wing and just before the entrance of the Waterfall Cafe, we were all greeted with a modern sculpted waterfall. I have never really ventured past the immediate outdoor areas of The Line so this was totally new for me.
The Waterfall Cafe features both indoor and outdoor dining options. With a stretch of the restaurant facing the pool, dining here in the mornings and early evenings should be a breeze in cool comforting weather.
Making our way into the restaurant, the counters and rows of bread to the left takes prominence.
To the right, the homely decor with a huge rectangular deep brown wooden counter and an outlook towards the pool through huge windows create the impression of space, comfort in a safari resort of sorts.
The main counter had jars of sweets teasing the tastebuds of all guests walking in.
Breads, the open concept kitchen and the selection of cheese available to accompany the meal
Look closely and you will notice the walls filled with herbs, salts, oils and spices ready for purchase. These are the very ingredients used in the dishes to come.
Luxurious setting further in
As I walked about the main interior of the restaurant, which was almost like a very large living room, I simply had to take a shot of this table setting. Besides the fantastic view, the design of the table with the lamp was too unique to not notice. It really encourages an intimate dining experience for any party of guests to come.
Nestled further in is the private dining area of the restaurant. With a seating capacity of 14 persons comfortably, the area promises a richer exclusive dining experience. A kitchen studio is attached where from time to time, Culinary Masterclasses will be held at the cafe.
Tones of deep brown and velvety red
As all of us settled down to dinner proper, breads from the kitchen were immediately served up. A mixed selection of Pumpkin Seeds, Black Sesame, Sourdough and Oats accompanied with herbed butter. Each piece was meaty and nicely textured, sating the stomach before the surprises to come. Pair it with the herbed butter for that smooth finish.
As an added treat, we were all served with a selection of Cheese Puffs and Sticks. I especially adored the puffs as each piece was so light and fluffy yet intensely flavoured with a good spread of gruyere.
A selection of Organic Sodas from the restaurant. I highly recommend the Lemonade out of the Lemon & Lime and Blackcurrant available. It’s just zesty with a good thorough flavour although I personally felt that the Blackcurrant was a little flat in both taste and bubbliness.
The dinner menu style at the Waterfall Cafe presents a spread of Salad & Light Dishes; a handful of soups and pastas; and a variety of Mains to go along with. Key recommendations from the dishes I tried would be the Seared Scallops in Hazelnut Crust and the Watermelon, tomato, mint and Arugula for that unique textures and complex contrast of flavours respectively.
The dishes at Waterfall Cafe go mainly by the key ingredients used. Therefore, for the Watermelon and Tomato Salad, the full name reads Watermelon, Tomato, Mint, Arugula, Olives and Onions / With Prawns ($16/24). Although it would take quite a breath to read it all out and having been quite accustomed the Asian simplicity and occasional elaborative dish naming, I would still say this is one dish to try. The ingredients used are fresh and simple with little surprises. But the real steal comes when portions of juicy sweet watermelon and sun-kissed tangy tomato marry the flavours together. Be it the tomatoes with their rich umami content, the sweetness of the watermelon really stood out. The topping of crisp Parmesan sheet adds a further dimension of texture with a nice touch as a fanciful presentation.
The English Pea Veloute, Brown Butter Crouton / with Parma Ham ($10/12) is definitely one starter diverse in hues, with quaint comforting flavours to start with. The pea veloute, slightly thick with the subtle nuttiness is a good pair with the parma ham for its slightly oily touch of saltiness. Pieces of cheese and crouton add to the sparkle though for me I would go for a heavier and stronger flavours of pea that would let me tender a sigh of content.
The dish which I had as my share for the night was the Seabass Carpaccio, Tasmanian Peppers, Fennel & Orange Salad ($16). First bite through the thinly sliced sea bass sprinkled with flicks of citrus and I immediately thought of the ubiquitous Yu Sheng served during the Chinese Lunar New Year. The composition although varyingly different was enough to rekindle the flavours from the festive favourite. Enjoyable yes, especially when you bite through the pieces of fresh orang, allowing the bright sweetness to cascade with the well dressed combined leaves.
The other soup of Chilled Gazpacho with Basil and Mozzarella / with sea scallops ($10/16) was not too bad for me. Cooling with the fuzzy richness from the tomato, further enriched with the slight intensities from the scallop, the gazpacho was clear and refreshing. Pieces of scallops at the bottom were a real contrast in flavour as the first touch of it was a sharp contrast in overall flavours. Still the Gazpacho was a faint reminder to the one that I had at SANTI, but it was serving delightful nonetheless.
The Seared Sea Scallops in Hazelnut Crust, Crushed Potatoes, Port Wine Jus ($24) seemed to be a favourite amongst the diners tonight. I tried a small portion and found the scallops to be very well crusted with the infusion of scallop aromatics not to be missed. Delightful petite portions that come with mash by the side and bits of hazelnuts to texture things up.
Another dish to start with might be the choice of Salmon Gravalax, Honey Mustard Dressing, Grain Bread ($18).
Now onto the mains. Desiree chose the Slow Baked Veal Cheek with Sage, Capers, Eggplant, Tomatoes, & Celery ($29). While the choice for veal gave a flavourful and hearty impression, the sides of vegetables could be better complemented elsewhere. Personally, I felt that the textures were a little too soft throughout but it would make excellent comfort food in light of a dark stormy day.
A breahtaking presentation and tasteful dish to spend the calories on would be Atlantic Cod on Barley Risotto, Pequillo Peppers, Vadouvan Emulsion ($38). The slight oiliness from the cod and its tender fish taste was an beautiful pair with the firm earthy nuttiness of the barley. Pairing it with the spiced emulsion draped along the sides, the combination lightened the creaminess slightly with a sense of frothiness.
For a picture perfect dish, I really have to recommend The Socca, Spicy tomato coulis, roasted vegetables, fresh herb salad & pesto / with chorizo ($21/25). Based on the auspices of Wikipedia, I found that Socca is supposed to be a thin pancake made from chickpea flour and lightly spiced before serve. Waterfall Cafe really dresses things up when chunks of garden vegetables, bright salad leaves and slices of chorizo sausage are garnished on top the pancake. I found the pancake crisp and tasty on its own, and definitely a crowd pleaser because of its savoury yet easily refreshing green presentation.
Personally I was quite confused over which dish to choose as each description was equally tempting. But I finally settled on the Iberico Pork Chop, Saunteed Corn with Carrots and Zucchini, Caramelised Pineapple ($38). Being a meat lover of sorts, this was the perfect choice for me. The skin, nicely seared and crisp on the top gave way to a thick cut of the pork chops. Slicing through, glazing it with the brown sweet savoury sauce, and then enjoying every portion thoroughly, the flavour intensity of the black pig was sheer bliss. It was the kind that after each bite, a moment of hearty tastiness would be left behind. Freshening the palate with the pieces of tangy caramelized pineapple thereafter, I was ready to begin the dish all over again. The generous portion of corn was a good pairing as it provided a firm crunch with moments of sweetness that went well with the overall flavour complexities of the dish.
I was also deciding to go for the Roasted Chicken Breast, Mushroom and Spinach, Roasted Figs, Hazelnut Chicken Jus ($28) but eventually chose the chops.
A small selection of three pasta dishes were available for the night. One of them, the Fettuccine with Porcini Mushroom, Parma Ham, & Parmesan Foam ($28) sound as delectable as it can get. The fettuccine, wonderfully crisp and al dente was very fresh to me in both textures and flavour. The choice of porcini lent an musky earthy touch to the slightly salty parmesan foam, which was accentuated with the slices of ham. Nice, light, and compelling.
Ready for desserts? The main counter has a selection available for accompaniment with tea or coffee. Just ask the service staff!
To really head into desserts proper, I will have to unabashedly recommend the Lemon Curd on a Flaky Sablee Dough, Fresh Blueberry, Orchid Root Scented Coulis ($10). As I am more of a fan of sweet desserts with an added dimension of flavour, this particular choice of lemon curd tart was really an awesome beginning. I have to admittedly say that this is a very pretty picture of the dish as it really emphasizes the floral patterns from the inside out. Wonderfully sweet with the choicest cut in flavour from the sour lemon, it was an excellent comprehension throughout. Not too heavy, and you won’t get tired from enjoying each morsel. I remember another favourite lemon curd tart served at Obolo, it was just as good!
The serving of Lychee Soup with Summer Fruits, Exotic Fruit Cube and Orange Sherbet ($10) was quaint but somewhat of a puzzled dessert to me. I half expected the lychee soup to really stand out with its distinctive scented sweetness, but it was somewhat overwhelmed with the orange sherbet melting into the broth giving rise to an infusion creation flavour that resembled grapefruit. Colourful and varied, I would have loved that
And the Assorted Fresh Fruit Platter with Lime and Mint ($12), yet not one which I will order on first sight since it really is not too hard getting more bang for your buck elsewhere.
A sinful and decadent indulgence to comfort yourself in would be the Warm Flourless Valrhona chocolate cake, berry compote and Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream ($14). Excellently smooth velvety warm chocolate paired with the cool creaminess from the bourbon ice cream. I would say that it could have been better with a stronger tinge of liquor but no complaints there.
The Coconut Cream Panna Cotta, Strawberry Confit, Brown Butter and Citrus Tuile ($8) scored high on presentation but catered more to those with an acquired taste for it. I thought that the coconut cream was a little overpowering with the strawberry confit not really cutting through the flavours. Unique though, and still beautiful to gaze at.
Another shot of the Panna Cotta.
The Trio of Chocolate Mousse, White, Milk, Dark, Cacao Crumble ($8) was a definite pleaser for me. The mousse was light and smooth throughout.
Taste meticulously, and the sweetness found in each layer are distinctively different, complementing well with each other. The topping of cacao crumble really adds to the crunch, and another layer of chocolate.
The tart of the day with ice cream ($12) was the Blueberry Crumble. Firm and crumbly (like duh), it was a artful take on producing fresh sweet tart blueberries into a warm fuzzy compote. The crust, slightly buttery was excellent and well paired with the ice cream. Keep it simple and the results are usually very good.
Of course, for those who need to have a strong savoury ending to their meals, there is always the Cheese Platter of 3 types / 5 types ($16/25) to go for.
Me, Desiree and Chef Stephane Cocu
My call of Waterfall Cafe as the next most luxurious getaway in town comes from the generally delectable healthy organic dishes available in a lush setting that overlooks the blue and green all in the comfort of restaurant made to look like your ideal home. It is not just the dishes that have left an impression, but the wonderful quaint decor that would leave you gazing around and immersing in an experience out of the streets of Orchard and into the mystical world found elsewhere. As a hotel guest on a beautiful Sunday morning, I reckon that this would be a favourite place to have brunch in and I can totally imagine doing so before heading down by the pool to relax. An immersive experience altogether, an experience distinctive of what I think should be the Shangri-La.
Many thanks to Shangri-La hotel for the invitation
Garden Wing, Level One
Orange Grove Road
Tel : 6213 4138