Fratelli’s Colossal To-Die-For Veal Rack

Located in Hotel Michael in Resorts World Sentosa, Fratelli has made it to my personal list of ‘must go’ restaurants in Singapore, and definitely worth the drive to Sentosa.

This celebrity chef restaurant — backed by brothers Roberto and Enrico Cerea of three-Michelin starred Da Vittoria in Lombardy — is a contemporary Italian restaurant that serves up creative, contemporary yet authentic fare with fundaments firmly based on the traditional cuisine. The cooking here is delightfully precise, and the dishes impressively done (and I’m not easily impressed these days). Helming it is Chef de cuisine Davide Bizzari, and together they have just rolled out their new menu, with most items from the ‘mother restaurant’ in Lombardy.

If there is one thing you must order, it is their colossal 1kg bone-in Milanese veal rack. Juicily tender and sweet, the meat is coated in breadcrumbs and crushed breadsticks, then deep fried in clarified butter. You could smell the butter wafting in like a herald as the cutlet was hauled in; then it was assembled at the tableside – with roasted tomatoes, crushed potato wedges and lemons arranged on top. Bite into it, hear the splintering crunch of the breaded coating, inhale the buttery aroma and the experience brings tears to your eyes. It’s true. I thought I heard a choir of angels sing. On the menu, they call it “elephant ear” and it is almost that large. The bone runs on just one side of the cut and the rest is beautiful meat. As the only main course, it could easily feed six conservatively. This is a seasonal item — read ‘short term’ — and the meat is from native Italian Piedmontese breed called Fassone, known for being lean and tender.

Another must-have is the Pizza Oro Nero, a squid ink pasta topped with mussels, salted cod fish, clams, baby squid, plump orbs of trout roe, tomatoes and topped with gold dust. Set against the black ink, it is the most glamorous looking pizza I have ever encountered – and it was good too.

The chittara pasta ($34) is worth having for its uniqueness. It is handmade, and shaped by pressing sheets of fresh pasta through metal strings strung across a wooden frame — quite a tedious process. This results in a spaghetti that has a square rather than round cross section, with a firm, short bite. Served with braised short ribs ragu and shards of truffles, it is a very rich, thick, hearty dish which, while delectable, is best eaten in small doses, in my view. Lovely as it is, it can easily become ‘jelak’ as we say here in Singers.

For appetisers — sorry, we seem to be working backwards here — go for the steamed Boston lobster ($48) with avaocado wasabi cream and red capsicum mousse. Everything on the plate is as it should be in its best rendition — juicy sweet, lightly chewy lobster; and intense, smooth, luxurious mousse and creams which must not be wasted.

A highlight for dessert is Rosella’s Strawberry Planet, a meringue sphere which you break open to get to the strawberry inside. All in all, a fabulous meal, even if the interiors had a somewhat bland 1990s look.

Good to know: If you’re driving, just park like how you would go to Universal Studios, take the escalator up and walk along Festive Walk towards the hotel. Fratelli has an entrance facing Festive Walk, obliquely opposite Osia. That’s probably the most straightforward path to the veal rack.

Tel: (65) 6577 6555 or email Fratelli@RWSentosa.com
Closed Tues

A New Concept For Dan Ryan’s In Hong Kong’s City Plaza!

For me, the 90s marked the era of the American diner, grill and steakhouse. I remember the excitement when Dan Ryan’s first opened in Singapore next to the Regent Hotel.

Famous for its free kid’s balloons held down by a free collectible logo key chain, paper table clothes where you could doodle endlessly on and innovative kid’s menus – no one would have guessed that this restaurant chain was actually born and bred in Hong Kong with its first outlet opened at Pacific Place in 1989.

Dan Ryan, it seems, was a Chicago politician who lived in the 1940’s.  He was renowned for his ability to get things done through his close contacts in Washington D.C, mainly local political and social leaders. Why this particular American diner chain was actually named after him remains a mystery to me – but his name has undoubtedly lent authenticity to the Chicago grill concept that has since stood the test of time.

Today, there are solo outlets in Singapore and Taiwan with three restaurants in Hong Kong at Harbour City, Festival Walk and a new outlet at City Plaza in Tai Koo Shing which opened in May this year. We popped in to check out the new concept at the latter and to try the newly minted signatures off their menu which has been tweaked with healthier ingredient and superfood options.

How different was it from its parent concept that featured a good vibe, upbeat background jazz music, a drinks bar with a choo choo train track, paraphernalia up on the walls and huge portions of American style fare – to be truthful, all of that was still there – the only change being a longer track train and the more colourful paintings on the wall by American artists Leroy Neiman and Steve Penley. Instead of having a closed entrance where you walk into the bar, the new concept feels more ‘open’ where you can easily check your reservation at the entrance and walk into the thick of the action.

The kitchen also has gone from a back of the house feel to a lighter more open show-kitchen feel.  We popped by just before the recent Fathers’ Day weekend and what greeted us was a restaurant packed to the brim – a convivial atmosphere with families, balloons at each table, crayon canisters amidst a blurr of efficient waiters moving platters of steak and generous mountains of American salads, sides and sandwiches efficiently around the room whilst the queue outside kept growing longer. The place was buzzing!

The biggest change is noticeably its menu. No longer a grill room style listing that steak houses normally favour but a menu that features photos of its signatures which have also notably changed – keeping the hearty but introducing the healthy.

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My favourite item – the Dan Ryan’s muffin arrived before the rest of the meal. If I could sneak one or two into my bag, I would – as in my humble opinion, Dan Ryan’s makes the best muffins I have ever eaten. The taste is made complete when complemented by one slice of slightly melted salted butter or whipped butter.

 

 

We picked a few items to share starting with the Super Green Salad (HK$188) which is a very large salad that you can order to share between 3 to 4 people. It  has a base of fresh baby spinach, quinoa and rocket leaves, complete with avocado, broccoli, pears, fresh blueberries and toasted pine-nuts for added crunch and sweetness.  I really liked this and made a mental note that I would pop into their Harbour City outlet again soon to grab this one for a quick and satisfying takeaway.  The salad comes with a homemade wild blueberry dressing is drizzled on top for maximum flavour.

This was followed by the Chi Town Combo (HK$298), a signature big sized combo platter of Baked Potato Skins, hand breaded Onion Rings and Buffalo Chicken Wings. Great with a glass of wine except for the Onion Rings which I prefer to be crisp rather than soft and mushy like these tended to be.

The choices on the Hand Cut Steaks and Chops were outstanding. I was tempted to order the US Tomahawk 32 oz Steak to share (HK$998 – pictured above) but it was sold out for the day.  So instead, we ordered the US Prime Flatiron Steak (HK$328) which turned out to be an excellent choice and featured a melt-in-your mouth ‘butchers cut’ of hormone free beef, char-grilled to perfection served with Tomato Vinaigrette salad and mashed Chipotle Lime Buttered Corn and Sweet Potato Fries.

We ended the meal sharing a Salted Caramel Double Fudge Brownie (HK$78) which maxed out my calorie count but made a perfect ending.

Things I would have ordered if my stomach had the capacity : the Deluxe Chili Burger,  the Seared Hokkaido Scallops and the Dan’s Dessert Sampler (pictured above). Definitely reason to return!

Dan Ryan’s Chicago Grill at Cityplaza is at:
Shop 311, 3F, Phase 1, Cityplaza, 18 Taiko o Shing Road, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2845 4600

Click HERE for a list of the other Dan Ryan outlets in Hong Kong, Taipei and Singapore.

 

Restaurant Review: Cook & Brew – Great Value For Steaks

Cook & Brew at The Westin Singapore - Copy

It’s always a challenge for me to decide on a restaurant to go to. Despite there being an over-abundance of good restaurants in Singapore, it is not easy to find one with the magic formula of good food + good value. When we have to think of which restaurant we want to go for a personal dinner, many of my food journalist friends and I often take a long time to come up with an idea. Because in all honesty, there’s just a handful where I am truly happy to spend the money.

Good service is even harder to find, so when I encounter it, it is often a pleasant surprise. That’s not good news, as it reflects the state of restaurant service in Singapore. But more about that another day.

Cook & Brew at the Westin Singapore is one of those few restaurants that checks my two most important boxes of good food and good value. And a few more.

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The Good & Bad First
The expansive gastrobar on the 36th floor of Westin Singapore is a relaxing physical space though done up in strong masculine tones of wood and leather. The floor-to ceiling windows that stretch the considerable length of the restaurant gives a great view of the city especially at night when the city lights come on, and if you want to taste the air from on high, there’s a large, breezy al fresco verandah for rooftop drinks. Just make sure you’ve got your industrial-strength hair spray on.

At the dining area, tables are spaced well apart, making it way more comfortable than hip restaurants where tables are placed just a nail’s-width apart.

Service wise, most of the staff try hard, and the managers are pretty friendly, though you have a gruff one to watch out for. When it’s a little more quiet, say during lunch time, they staff tend to get a little relaxed, and it can be a challenge to get their attention — which is not a good thing.

While the choice and volume of music can be a little trying, and the lights a little too dim at night (bad for long sighted creatures like me), the price point on the menu is spot on. And added draw — Cook & Brew offer nightly promotions which are very well thought-through. Whoever is behind if really understands what the customers truly want.

All things balanced out, I like this place, and have been back a number of times (which I pay for). Most recently last night.

On to the Food
Cook & Brew recently changed its menu to one which is more focused and integrated. What’s the cuisine? Honestly I don’t quite know….American-inspired burgers, mod-Western main dishes, and a particularly interesting plethora of appetisers. They point to easy, happy food to pair with the restaurant’s impressive collection of beers.

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For appetiser, must have the whipped buffalo ricotta with truffle honey and crisp bread ($12). Very simple, yet very clever, every mouthful is luxurious — the creamy lightness of the cheese is enhanced by the aromatic, slight sweet honey and lifted with the delightful crunch of the bread. This was easily the star of my two meals there in recent weeks.

The cardamom roasted beetroot was lovely too, it’s unique earthy flavour delectably paired with peppery pea shoots, rich hazelnuts, creamed goats cheese and caramelised palm sugar. The combination of diverse yet integrated flavours again is thoughtful and delightful.

The ‘poutine eh’ ($16), a messy bowl of pulled pork and fries glued together with melted cheese didn’t do a lot for me, though it probably qualifies as comfort food. And the hawker’s burger ($32) temptingly filled with char siew pork jowl and pork belly with sambal laced mayo, would have been fine had the burger bun not been quite so dry.

Cook & Brew - Hawker Burger - Copy

Last night’s tomahawk rib-eye steak ($126) was superb. At 280g, there was plenty for three of us to share, and could have been enough for four light eaters. Done medium, the meat was tender, juicy and full of rich beefy flavour, with a slight browning on the outside from the Maillard reaction. Lovely. The steak came with a generous pile of fluffy rocket leaves nicely picked (no stems!) and dusted with finely grated parmesan, and a basket of crisp shoe string fries and garlic mayo.

Tomahawk Steak

Cook & Brew’s dinner menu offers a few sharing dishes, the tomahawk being one. Other such platters include Ploughman’s Supper ($24) with cheeses, cured meats and chutneys with grilled bread and Seafood on Ice ($120) featuring lobster, oysters, tiger prawns, clams, smoked trout, etc.

On Friday nights, Cook & Brew rolls out the big guns of good value – including a fabulous deal for the Tomahawk. For $150++, you get the full tomahawk together with a bottle of red wine, and the seafood on ice comes with a bottle of champagne for a total of $180++.

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Good to know: Cook & Brew sports a pretty extensive range of wines in its Enomatic system. You can have a taste of the wines before you decide, and you can choose either a half or full glass of wine. You can also buy a ‘stored value’ wine card to make buying your glass even easier.