With the arrival of new Executive Chef Ronald Li, Salt Tapas and Bar is set to see refreshed menu items and energy in the popular modern tapas restaurant at the Raffles City Shopping Centre. Keeping in line with Chef Luke Mangan’s culinary philosophy, Chef Ronald aims to keep the dishes simple and fresh while interjecting his own brand of individuality and flavour on a plate. I found the dishes sampled to be exciting and flavourful, with a good range of flavour from the savoury to the sweet to keep me well sated. On top of it all, the choice of cocktails are worth the order, making this one place on my “to-go” list when I need a night’s out in town.
Chef Ronald, 31, started his career in the culinary world since the tender age of 18 as a part-time pastry chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore. Since then, he has joined notable kitchens such as Restaurant Andre in 2012, and was Junior Sous Chef and then Sous Chef for Ku De Ta (now known as Ce La Vi) in 2013. While this is his first foray as Executive Chef, the dishes seem promising and reflect his training from kitchens and the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Start off the night with some Roasted garlic flat bread with romesco ($6++). The bread, nicely warm and toasted, comes packed with flavour from an assortment of chopped herbs, salt and olive oil.
I especially enjoyed each portion being paired with the in-house romesco sauce that is made from capsicum, chilli and tomatoes for that zesty hearty flavour. Pairing the romesco sauce with the herbed breads is one of the best ways to start the night.
The next serving of Taco of tempura prawn, pineapple salsa, chipotle mayo ($12++; Tasting portion depicted) had a decent combination of prawn tempuras cobbled together. While I did enjoy the savoury and creamy chipotle mayonnaise coupled with a light serving of pineeapple salsa, I thought the tacos were just simple bites for the bigger meal to come. Still, kudos goes to chef for his work in creating a batter that is light and crisp – pretty decent when served at the bar.
Sliders are usually a hit or miss for me as the miniaturized burger portions are simply distant from what I would enjoy in a delectable, meaty patty. Still, the Pork Belly Sliders, pickled cucumber and chilli ($13++) are a mouthful all on its own with the meat first sous vide at 95 degree celsius for a good 12 hours and then pan seared to give that nice, crisp coating. Though it can get a little dry, the sliders were pretty decent and packed a punch of flavour.
Simply put, I enjoyed the serving of Bone Marrow with Shiitake Duxelle, Holland Potato and Garlic Toast ($20++). Taking Luke Mangan’s creation further, Chef Ronald added his own twist with touches of fried Holland potatoes for a more satisfying and morish portion of bone marrow. The buttery, oily marrow that carries a delicate fatty scent is well toasted and the potatoes in this instance grounds the flavours in. Goes great on toast.
It was my first time having Haloumi and I must say that I pretty much enjoy it. The Haloumi, Eggplant, Chickpea, Dried Tomatoes, Herbs and Tahini Dressing ($13++) is a decadent portion. When contrasted with the side of eggplant, chickpea and dried tomatoes, the cheese mellows out and acts as a great complement to the more zesty salad. The cheese is slightly smoky and deep, with a distinct salty flavour that is almost a close feta-cousin in flavour. I loved this and will have it again.
In this creation of Paella of prawns, mussels, squid, chorizo, chicken, prosciutto and saffron rouille ($39++; Tasting portion depicted), onions, chorizo and bacon are sauteed before adding in to the paella rice to cook together with a portion of chicken stock. The prawns, mussels, squid and chicken are cooked separately, allowing their flavours to develop and intensify before being added to the paella rice. This paella is one of the better ones around. Creamy, and chock full of flavaour that hints of a mild spice, the rice goes exceptionalyl well with the saffron rouille that just completes the overall presentation. Well done.
This serving of Chilli Softshell Crab, Schzewan Salt, Aioli ($12++) was decent but I’d much prefer having the aioli served up by the side. The flavours are good, ranging from a delicate spicy salty to the more seafood rich flavour. However, the chilli softshell crab is by no means close to a chilli crab, and that could probably be why I was a little misgiven about the dish in its entirety.
For something hearty to share around the table, order the Pork ribs with sauteed peas, edmamae and mash ($55++). The meat is tender enough to fall off the bones, and the sauce is finger licking good in all its hearty, sweet and savoury bbq tenderness. What I thought could be better done with to ensure that the meat was buttery and smooth throughout. The portion I had was a touch inconsistent, with some parts being a little dry. Still, a great dish to have and that mashed potato by the side is a must-have.
Churros, Chocolate Sauce and Chantilly Cream ($14++). The picture speaks for itself.
Rounding up the meal with a serving of Gooey Chocolate Tart with Mango Sorbet ($14++) sounds like a perfect way to have something sweet an decadent and yet with a refreshing palate cleanser from the mango sorbet. The contrast in temperatures are excellent, and I must give compliments to the kitchen for the good chocolate consistency in this tart.
New to Salt Tapas and Bar is the Jardin Afternoon Tea available Monday to Friday 3pm to 5pm. Guests can pick either Set A (Camembert with lavosh, Kinako macaron, Honeycomb cake, Choc sable, Jamon croquette, Prawn taco, White coffee creme brulee) or Set B (Parma ham with fig, Pork slider, Mini churros, Purple Japanese sweet potato macaron, Raisin scones, Raspberry rhubarb tart, Matcha orange religieuse) at $35++. Guests can also make their own set by selecting any 7 of the available items at $45++. Each set comes with a choice of coffee, tea or mocktail. I personally recommend having a combination that comes with the Honeycomb cake – the soft sponge cake textures topped with a crispy honeycomb shell, and then accented with a delicate and light sweet flavour through makes it a wonder to enjoy, slowly.
The Australian ($18++) – Cinnamon Stick, ginger, cognac, gin, cointreau, cranberry juice and Luke’s syrup.
Mojito ($18++) – Sugar stick, mint leaves, lime wheels, rum and brown sugar
In all, Salt Tapas and Bar gets a thumbs up for its slightly refreshed menu with a new executive chef on board. I enjoyed most of the dishes, and found their cocktails decent and worth a glass or two. Although some of the dishes like the prawn tacos and pork ribs could be tweaked to be a little better, generally, the restaurant does serve up interesting fare that makes it worth a visit. Some of the tapas are ordinary but the gems in the crowd definitely goes to the haloumi, bone marrow and the range of excellent desserts. I would be delighted to make a return visit and would recommend this place for those in the city looking for a rather decent place to dine and wine the night away.
Thank you Salt Tapas and Bar for the invitation.
|Salt Tapas & Bar|
Raffles City Shopping Centre
No. 252, North Bridge Road
Reservations: 6837 0995
Mon – Thu
11.30am to 10pm, drinks till 11.30pm
11.30am to 11pm, drinks till 11.30pm
11.30am to 10.30pm, drinks till 11.30pm
Sunday and Public Holidays
11.30am to 9.30pm, drinks till 10pm