Had lunch with some friends at The Market Grill just this week. It’s always a treat to head down to Telok Ayer, which has become Singapore’s ‘gourmet central’ with the opening of many hip eateries there over recent months. Market Grill itself is not new, but this is the first time in ages that it has rolled out new offerings on its menu.
We had a corner table in the narrow pre-war shophouse restaurant. The setting is predictable — noisy, close-quarter seating and open kitchen seem to be the pre-requisites of a hip restaurant these days. Pity we couldn’t hear the music until the restaurant emptied out after 2pm. It was lots of rock and 1980-1990 hits that are, admittedly, quite my time. All around us was an edgy industrial-meets-retro decor including vintage bar stools. It made us feel ‘cool’.
On to the food. The Market Grill, as its name suggests, is mainly known to be a carnivorous place. But also for its lobsters. Our meal took a lighter direction.
First up, was chargrilled artichokes with an anchovy sauce, which was nice but a little dry.
Then came the best lamb koftas ($19) I’ve had in ages. Crisp fine batter on the outside, and juicy, smooth minced lamb inside with light touch of spices, and served with an enticingly piquant dish of pickled beetroot and the same anchovy dip. (It’s not easy to find good koftas, which tend to be dry, gristly and grainy oftentimes.) Godzilla-sized mussels came after that, served in a pot with seafood bisque and baguette. The mussels were pillow-tender despite their colossal size, but a tad briny in flavour.
I really liked the main course of grilled seafood platter (market price). The whole Atlantic lobster was incredibly fresh, with delightfully firm, sweet flesh; the chargrilled seabass was good too. There was considerable charring outisde, but the white flesh inside remained moist and flaky. For dessert, we had the fromage blanc ($12), a light cheesecake-like slice delicately sweet, served with fruits, granola and candied nuts for a lovely counterpoint.
Good to note: Wines by the glass here are limited — one choice only for bubbles, white and red. The rest are by bottles but prices are decent. Also noteworthy, they serve lobster rolls ($48) if you’re in the mood.
208 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068642
Tel: 6221 3323