Tag Archives: Clarke Quay

Singapore Daily Deal Review – Fern & Kiwi

50% off Fern & Kiwi: $10 for $20 Cash Voucher for Food Items at Fern & Kiwi, Clarke Quay – Use Unlimited Vouchers Per Bill & Enjoy Mouth-Watering Dishes Like Oysters, Mussels, Pork Belly, Ribs, Beef & Many More!

Fern & Kiwi is a Clarke Quay restaurant that sits breezily along the river’s glitzy, touristy main watering hole. It aspires to embody everything New Zealand, from its national symbols, sports, and uh, cuisine, whatever New Zealand food is supposed to be. After dining at this blissfully nationalistic establishment, I’m sorry to say I’m still none the wiser as to what Kiwi food is, besides nebulous generalizations like indistinct at best and disappointing at worst.

A quiet evening with lovely ambience, and the promise of delicious food.

A quiet evening with lovely ambience, and the promise of delicious food.

I guess if I was forced to conjure a description of ethnically Kiwi food based on my experience at Fern & Kiwi, I would go with Western with delusions of fusion – the restaurant has a heavily meat-centric menu (all good, in my book. It only tastes good if it bleeds sums up my food philosophy) with seafood and pizza thrown in for good measure. But at almost $20 a starter, $10 a side and $30 to just under $50 mains, that certainly made me feel slightly queasy.

That being said, if the food was worth the price tag, I would definitely find myself returning. For a quiet afternoon, a small gathering with friends, or a romantic night out (I could easily envision a girl being impressed with fancy restaurant prices and the fancy restaurant that came with them) it was perfect.The dining area upstairs had large windows framing lush, street side greenery, and  letting in lots of natural light into the spacious interiors. The tables were dabbed with small, classy touches, like white table linen, flowers, and complemented with wood paneled walls adorned with themed abstract art.

Keeping it classy at Fern & Kiwi.

Keeping it classy at Fern & Kiwi.

I was equipped with a $40 voucher dining deal (which I paid $20 for), and I figured that would trim down the bill somewhat significantly. The dinner party comprised a friend of mine, me, and my husband. We had had a late tea shortly before so we ordered food to share – a Crusty Cheese Loaf, a cauliflower gratin, a main course of Classic Pork Spare Ribs and my fine dining staple, truffle fries. Truthfully I am in search of the perfect truffle fry, and once I catch a whiff of the oil wafting out of the kitchen, the impulse to order it is a purely physical reaction.

The Crusty Cheese Loaf - simple and good.

The Crusty Cheese Loaf – simple and good.

First to arrive was the Crusty Cheese Bread which was described as a freshly baked “Vienna cheese and garlic loaf” with “whipped garlic butter, olive oil and sea salt”. And it was all of those things. The texture was light and fluffy, and the bread pulled apart gently and easily, as if it was baked two minutes prior to serving.

Classic Spare Ribs with Fries. The fries were the better half - a carnivore's tragedy.

Classic Spare Ribs with Fries. The fries were the better half – a carnivore’s tragedy.

The ribs soon followed, served with a side of “rustic, hand cut ‘lady claire’ potato fries”, for we all know that the best potatoes are named after people, and the upper crust of that cohort are named after nobles. The fries were good, served in nice chunks of universal appeal. The Classic Pork Spare Ribs, however, was merely a pretender to the throne – baked in honey, hoisin and orange glaze, I highly doubt the pedigree of the dish and its classicalness. The meat was tender, but was sadly outstripped by the cloying sweetness of the glaze, and the Asiatic notes of hoisin, when doused disproportionately in honey, ring too close to US Chinese take-out.  And at ~$35 a plate, I expected something a whole lot closer to unadulterated yum.

 

Cauliflower gratin - Something I Would Eat.

Cauliflower gratin – Something I Would Eat.

The cauliflower gratin with Upper Moutere cheddar performed more solidly, but frankly speaking I can’t say I was expecting a whole lot from cauliflower, but it made the prospect of eating something good for you at least somewhat enticing, which I suppose passes for success in the vegetable arena.

And finally, my resident truffle fries review. At first I couldn’t tell the difference between the truffle fries and the regular (but delicious) ones. Only occasionally when the stars aligned were the fries adequately baptized with truffle seasoning and worth remembering; subtly and deliciously flavored, with crisp, generous wedges of potato with the privilege of playing conduit to this perfection. But I would take this with a pinch of salt, however, as I only had maybe three to five truly truffle fries spread out through a serving of normal ones that I diligently worked through.

 

NZ beer - it's just beer.

NZ beer – it’s just beer.

According to my husband, the NZ beer was just what it professed to be, stark, modest, and naturally brewed, and nothing much to write home about. The service, however, was pretty abysmal even by Singapore standards. Water took ages to be served, and when it was, they forgot to mention it was $12 a bottle, I suppose it just slipped their mind. Perhaps it’s just too classy a place for me – maybe the patrons who aren’t clutching dining deals have too much money to notice the price, the poor service or the lack of (justifiably significant) quality. I had expected a Kiwi restaurant to feel more like New Zealand – pleasant, laid-back, presented with fresh, unpretentious food, but perhaps it’s my fault; I should have known better than to trust a predominantly European country with fusion.

Rating: 3/5 stars

This daily deal review was posted by Janice

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Singapore Daily Deal Review – 4 & A Half Gourmands

Only $9.99 For 3 Martinis or Margaritas purchased from Plus.Bigdeal.sg

Four and a half Gourmands on Hong Kong Street is a strange little space that feels too enclosed to succeed as a restaurant/bar hotspot, in spite of its central Clarke Quay location. Its roadside al fresco dining area may provide a more promising proposition, perhaps on days where one is not strangled by the unholy trifecta of heat, humidity and haze, but truthfully speaking, were it not for the “3 Martinis/Margaritas for $9.90” I had purchased, 4 ½ would never have been on my wining and dining list.

The choices that were advertised were strawberry, lime and lychee for either cocktail, with the additional option of espresso and chocolate for the martini range. I’m all about drinking dessert, so I was palpably disappointed when the wait staff informed me that only the fruity options were available. I had a strawberry martini that was solidly all right (especially for the price) but my two companions’ lychee margaritas were quite insipid. It could just be that martinis are far harder to mess up than margaritas, but I have tasted far, far worse (and far, far more expensive) drinks on this island.

We had the option of ordering an order of truffle fries for $5 (between $1 or $2 off the normal price) which we took up, and we ordered some other dishes to supplement this – Vietnamese chicken wings, garlic prawns, shepherd’s pie, quail’s egg wontons and Wagyu beef cubes (between $5 – $7.50 a dish). These appetizers ranged from pretty delicious to thoroughly lukewarm and finally, a pointless waste of money.

The truffle fries were good for fries, but truffle fries are like fry royalty, and come with imminently high standards. They were tasty, but the seasoning lacked either enough truffle oil or additional seasoning, and weren’t anywhere close to as pungent or addictive as truffle fries are supposed to be.

The meat appetizers were the highlights of our meal. South East Asia sure does a mean deep fried chicken wing, and the Vietnamese wings put on an excellent showing – when I was a child I had a Thai domestic helper and she made my favourite chicken wings in the world, and while these didn’t come close they reminded me of my childhood in all its glory, succulent, and perfectly fried. The Wagyu beef cubes were moist and good, if conservatively portioned (and they did look rather sad sitting quietly on the limp lettuce leaves).

Garlic prawns, quail's egg wontons and Vietnamese chicken wings.

Garlic prawns, quail’s egg wontons and Vietnamese chicken wings.

The quail’s egg wontons were just intriguing; what a bizarre idea, encasing quail’s eggs in wonton skin and deep-frying them, but then again, perhaps anything wrapped, presented as a dumpling and deep fried can’t go too far wrong. I liked them, although I still can’t wrap my head around them.

Quail's egg wontons - surprising, but good.

Quail’s egg wontons – surprising, but good.

The shepherd’s pie was pretty abysmal, with the thinnest layer of meat I have ever seen, and topped with processed, powdered cheese that shouldn’t be allowed near a pie. And the garlic prawns, well, they should speak for themselves visually, small, sad little things beached on a lonely plate that only seems to get larger the longer you look at it.

Shepherd's pie, drizzled with obviously canned cheese.

Shepherd’s pie, drizzled with obviously canned cheese.
Garlic prawns, passable but frankly I would have passed.

Garlic prawns, passable but frankly I would have passed.

I did, however, enjoy how quiet the place was, and my friends and I had a really nice, laid back evening. Furnishings-wise 4 ½ tries to be a classy place, with a monochrome colour-scheme, lush sofas and designer seats, but has too much going on, coming off as classy for a KTV lounge at best. (It doesn’t help that its neighbour, Fragrance Hotel, is in clear view of its patrons.) I would recommend sitting near the window and facing the street to alleviate the claustrophobic feeling of the interiors somewhat.

The bar for bar food in Singapore really isn’t set very high, but if you avoid my mistakes (the shepherd’s pie, prawns) and go for 4 ½ ‘s simpler, greasier offerings, you might have a reasonably enjoyable night that is, at the very least, affordable. It’s a pity that its Hong Kong Street location will never amount to a legitimate drinking hole, on the strength of its bar alone and the pokey-ness of the interior space, otherwise its decent bar food menu might be quite a boon. That said, they do advertise an alcohol buffet deal that I may return for, if I want to get plastered really, really desperately.

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This daily deal review was posted by Janice

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