Anti:dote Lounge, located at the lobby of Fairmont Singapore is one of the newest and most stylish cocktail bars to open on our island. Known for both their experimental mixology techniques and modern tapas by two extremely talented and young craftsman and chef, this snazzy lounge has become the place to be at and to be seen in. And most recently, Anti:dote has upped the ante by launching an All-New Afternoon Tea Experience that is simply charming, chic and practically everything you can dream off for an indulgent sweet afternoon with the ladies.
For starters, the canapes, scones, finger sandwiches and the usual suspects are presented sophisticatedly in an elegant leather-clad white jewellery drawer-chest (because three tier displays are so yesterday). Simply a treasure trove of goodies and treats. Every “drawer” you pull out reveals a whole different set of sweet and savoury surprises.
Celebrity French baker Gontran Cherrier loves and knows his breads. The best croissants, he says, are the ones that are moist in the inside.
The bread guru behind the Tiong Bahru Bakery brand was born into a family of bakers and pastry makers. He is known for his innovative, modern incorporation of flavours, while staying true to the tradition methods of French bread making. Having worked at the Michelin-starred L’Arpege and Lucas Carton as well as training apprentices and setting up production centers in Russia and Romania, this fourth-generation baker shows he is unafraid to venture into the unknown.
The 33-year-old gamely tried sambal chilli at 10 in the morning. While admitting it was rather spicy, this resulted in a creation of sambal egg mayo, char siew slice with bits of carrots and cucumbers on top of miso rye bread, a surprisingly savoury combination. He offers a simple rule: Always pair stronger flavoured breads with stronger tasting ingredients to bring out the flavours.
For Gontran, Asia is an exciting place for a baker like himself because of the different flavours it offers. However, he confesses that he hasn’t been to Asia for a holiday. “Whenever I am in Asia, it is always for work,” he reveals. Nevertheless, he found some time during this trip to Singapore to visit the wet markets, discover new ingredients and savour our local delicacies. We hear that his sambal egg mayo with char siew concoction may be on the menu in Singapore soon.
Backstage Cafe has been around for more than a year now and considering its rather secluded location and inaccessibility, I must say they have done quite well for themselves. Located in the industrial area, the cafe is known for its spacious area and high ceilings. I for one, was very impressed when I first stepped in because the space felt like a huge warehouse which was both inviting and comforting without being stifling. A great place to spend the weekend catching up on your reading or work with ease and not having to worry about the person from the next table looking over your shoulder.
For the food, I was told that Backstage Cafe had recently welcomed a new chef and so there was a whole new menu of savouries launched as well. And instead of plainly serving the usual cafe grub, Backstage Cafe actually does “serious” food such as Spring Chicken $15, Breaded Pork Chop $14, Angus Ribeye Steak $23, Pan Fry Salmon $16 among others at pocket-friendly prices that have no added GST or service charge either. Drop by for lunch between 11am-2pm and you get to enjoy a complimentary soup and ice-cream too. We had the Duck Confit $18 and both agreed that it was honestly tasty. The duck which had been marinated in red wine was roasted to a crisp and had meltingly tender succulent meat beneath. The duck leg itself was fleshy so there was sufficient to share. Served with mashed potato and a honey balsamic glaze, this dish could possibly be passed off as one from a restaurant.
I have long been a fan of Antoinette Restaurant, Pâtisserie & Salon de Thé since they opened back in 2011. Founded by the Godfather of desserts- Chef Pang Kok Keong, Antoinette is not only his playground to experiment with a variety of sweet concoctions and creations, but also a full-fledged restaurant that serves timeless French classics. But while I was a frequent patron of their Mandarin Gallery and Palais Renaissance outlets especially for their luscious and creamy scrambled eggs, I never once stepped into their flagship store at Penhas road- not till a few weeks back at least when I made a trip down specially to try their brand new menu of savouries.
No idea what took me this long to visit the Penhas outlet but I am glad I finally did because it was so exquisitely furnished, laced with gold and pastel trimmings, complete with that late-eighteenth century Neo-Classical charm that is so alluring. And yes even though the other 2 restaurants are similarly elegant in aesthetics, dining at the flagship store is an experience in itself.
Onto the food, Antoinette has recently unveiled a brand new classic French menu which features a whole new cast of newcomers but still keeping the familiar favourites around. The all-day expanded menu of savouries and sweets is said to be a tribute to the timeless French dishes that have stood the test of time.
It is hard not to draw comparisons with London’s iconic Burger & Lobster when you are at Pince & Pints. They do after all work under a similar concept- a modest menu of just 3 items and each sold at the same fixed price. Also, since the day it opened last month, Pince & Pints has had the legendary queues which Burger & Lobster is infamous for. As the former only opens at 5pm for dinner, it is quite safe to come down about 1/2 hr before that to queue. Chances are that you will probably get a table when the doors open. Just make sure that everyone in your party has arrived or they will not allow you to be seated.
As mentioned earlier, each of the 3 items on the menu at Pince & Pints is at a fixed price of $48++. The first choice is a Whole Lobster (steamed / grilled), served with a side of fries and salad. For 600g of lobster especially in Singapore, it is honestly a pretty good deal. We picked the grilled option and had a satisfying time peeling off the lobster flesh from the shell. The herbed clarified butter for dipping was a little disappointing though- too watery and not thick enough. But the lobster flesh was sweet enough to eat on its own so nothing much to fret about.