Tag Archives: oysters

More Marvellous Sainte Maxime

The best oysters I have ever had (fine de claire No3)

OK if you are ever in Sainte Maxime, in addition to La Maison Bleue, you mustmustmust go to La Reserve, on the main stretch facing the sea.

I went specifically because I wanted oysters (tick) and also a bouillabaisse (tick), which not many cafes served (they serve mostly the more simple soupe de poisson).

La Reserve is a restaurant, rather than a cafe, although everything in this town has that wonderful seaside-relaxed feel to it.

Oysters on the menu were Fine-de-Claire. I am a huge fan of oysters and try them almost every where they are offered. These, arguably, were THE best oysters I had ever tasted (backed up by the fact that the next night we tried the same oysters at another restaurant and they simply weren’t as good). Hard to describe why they were the best – the balance of the sweetness of the oyster and the saltiness of the sea was just PERFECT. I smile just thinking about them now (and my eyes have gone into a reminiscent blurriness).

Deboning the dazzling array of fish for my bouillabaisse

So, I had pretty high expectations for my main course – the bouillabaisse, and I was certainly not disappointed. The waitress appeared with multiple pieces of crockery, and then proceeded to debone an amazing array of local fresh fish, caught that day, onto a soup plate, before ladling a rich seafood broth from a tureen over the deboned fish.

ladling the rich seafood broth over the deboned seafood

I literally ate myself into a food coma. I simply had to eat as much of that dish as I could in one seating – it was, in a word, divine.

My amazing bouillabaisse at La Reserve

We also watched as other French classics such as beef tartare was prepared tableside to each person’s liking. I think the other testimony to La Reserve is that we went probably at the tail end of “the season” – not a lot of tourists were around, yet La Reserve was at full capacity with locals. Lots of cheek kisses and friendly conversation surrounded us. Happiness !

Restaurant La Reserve
8 Place Victor Hugo, 83120 Sainte-Maxime, France
Tel:+33 4 94 96 18 32


Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse

The amazing shellfish plateau

Nestled in Gemmil Lane, Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse welcomes you in with its clean lines of decor, high ceilings, and flooded with natural light.

The menu is clean and simple, and sticks to it’s “chop house” roots. We decided to go with the two specialties of the house, starting with the seafood platter, and then Luke’s bone-in tenderloin au poivre.

The shellfish plateau is one of the best we have ever had. And we’ve had our fair share of seafood platters in Sydney, which has access to the most amazingly fresh and delicious seafood.

Chilled whole lobster, giant shrimp, two varieties of oysters, tuna tartare and fresh crab salad. There were dipping sauces for the the lobster, shrimp and oysters but honestly all they needed was a good squeeze of lemon to appreciate the delicate sweetness of each. Absolutely divine.

Luke’s bone-in tenderloin with a peppercorn crust and mustard cognac jus 

We ended up sharing the tenderloin for our main, cooked on the bone for added flavour. Unfortunately I didn’t read that it came with a peppercorn crust & mustard cognac jus. It’s not at all that it tasted bad, but both seemed to challenge the bold flavour of the tenderloin. But kudos to the selection of meat. Tender and absolutely delicious.

I’d like to try other the other items they had on their menu but to be honest, I’d find it hard to go past that shellfish plateau again. And again. And again 🙂

Luke’s Oyster Bar and Chophouse
20 Gemmill Lane, Singapore
Tel: 6221 4468

 Open: Mon-Sat 12.00 – 24.00 (closed Sundays)

Brunch @ the Greenhouse @ the Ritz Carlton

Caprioskas waiting to be mixed

I’m going to attempt writing this post while trying to sober up from a food and cocktail coma from 3 hours of indulgence at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. There for a friend’s birthday, the festive atmosphere was surely enhanced with freeflow champagne and a choice of mojitos, caipirinhas, Bloody Marys and caprioskas (most of which were doubles). Aside from the drinks, the choice of food we had available was impressive.

“Buffet hack” – chawanmushi with caviar

The best thing about buffets is that you can have a little bit of a lot.  The ability to sample as many dishes as you can want appeals to someone like me who has difficulty making her mind up on what to order and often ends up with food envy for my friends and their choices.  The birthday girl added more choice with her “buffet hacks”, my favourite was her topping chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg) with some caviar from one of the cold starters – perfect.

We all started with cold seafood.  I was focused on oysters, trying the eight varieties of freshly shucked oysters from France and New Zealand and then I spotted a tray of jamon de iberico, of which a small pile made an appearance on every plate I brought back to the table the entire meal.

The awesome roast pork with crackling

My favourite little things at the buffet were a four cheese tart with fig and walnut, the wagyu roast with the best Yorkshire puddings and gravy, the roast pork (mainly for the super good crackling I have to admit) and the very tart lemon meringue dessert.

Four cheese tart with fig and walnut

The four cheese tart came in a pastry shell that was just firm enough to not crumble and was a terrific contrast to the creamy cheese filling, which was the perfect partner to the sweet fresh fig on top.

Yorkshire pudding with wagyu roast

The wagyu roast was so tender – no matter if you sampled a more well done slice from the edge, or an almost blue slice from the middle – and the Yorkshire puddings were the perfect “mop” for the puddles of gravy that were generously ladled over them.

We finished the meal with a generous sample of the 50 cheeses on offer.  I have to admit, after a good camembert and brie, and a wonderfully tangy roquefort, the rest of the cheeses on my plate were there more for the fact that I could actually have that many varieties on one plate.

Lemon meringue

For a five-star establishment, the design and decor of the Greenhouse gives it a slight feel of a buffet in a cheap Caribbean resort – not helped by the live band playing songs like “Guantanamera” – and I think that detracts from the appeal of the whole experience, which is a slight shame, because the food is really very very good.  Perhaps I’m spoiled by the Raffles Hotel Bar & Billiard Room’s more personal serving of their food, along with the more sedate ambiance, but after all those cocktails, I’m sure no-one cared much, and also, for our boisterous birthday table, perhaps it was the best place to celebrate after all.  Happy birthday Chrissy !

The Greenhouse @ the Ritz Carlton Hotel
7 Raffles Ave
Singapore
Tel: 6337 8888

Sunday brunch: 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m


Australia Day lunch from the Sydney Fish Markets

Cooked large king prawns

Such a famous name, such a fantastic array of fresh seafood, so disappointingly “grotty” – the only word I can think of to describe the place.

I do love walking around the Sydney Fish markets, looking at the amazing selection of fresh seafood, but I’d highly recommend taking away and eating it in the comfort of your own home, or taking to a picnic somewhere more scenic (of which there are plenty of options in Sydney).

Sydney Rock and Pacific oysters

Australia Day in Sydney was last Wednesday and I went with my dad to pick up lunch before I flew back to Singapore.

We kept the selection simple – fresh cooked large king prawns, a dozen Sydney Rock oysters and another of Pacific oysters, tuna and salmon sashimi, with some fresh damper rolls, lots of lemons and salad ingredients to make a fresh salad of avocado, roma tomatoes and cucumber on a bed of mixed leaves, dressed simply with a good squeeze of lemon juice and drizzled with olive oil.

Our deliciously simple salad

Nothing to cook (Pete did make his own seafood sauce of mayonnaise, tomato sauce, lemon juice and salt and pepper), just simply plated up and served with a nice cold bottle of prosecco for us to enjoy the sweet sweet flavours of the sea in front of us. Happy Australia Day !


Oyster Bar at Customs House

Salmon toast with ikura

If you want somewhere to go around the Marina Bay area that isn’t mobbed but still has a great atmosphere, head down to the Oyster Bar at Customs House.  It’s unfortunately surrounded by construction at the moment, and think once that’s completed it will be revealed in all its glory.  For now, just go to enjoy a similarly intimate atmosphere of Lantern next door at the rooftop of the Fullerton Bay Hotel, but this has the added bonus of having an indoor (read: airconditioned) area.

We went there to celebrate D’s birthday, so there was significantly more drinking done than eating, but food-wise, we ordered oysters (of course) which were freshly shucked, tasting exactly like the sea and actually shucked properly so they were detached from their shells, ready to be slurped directly from the shell.

Salmon toast and Bellota Iberico crostini

We also ordered some nibbles – I use this word loosely because they were the fanciest hors d’oeuvres I have seen in a while.  Thin slices of Bellota Iberico ham on top crostini and drizzled with truffle oil, and beautifully presented salmon toast –  salmon rosettes topped with tartare and ikura.

The staff are friendly and helpful and our only complaint was that they seemed to only have a very limited supply of champagne that cost less than $200.  If you are going to have bottles of Taittinger and Delamotte on your menu, then have enough to last a Friday night.  It just means that the evening becomes a bit pricey at the end by drinking Bollinger all night.  But after enough champagne in that place, it almost doesn’t matter.

Oyster Bar
70 Collyer Quay
01-01 Customs House
Tel: 6534 5534

Operation Hours:
Sundays through Thursdays and Public Holidays
11.00am ~ 12midnight

Fridays, Saturdays and Eve of Public Holidays
11.00am ~ 02.00am


Sunday brunch at Raffles Bar and Billiard Room

Cream of asparagus soup with soft boiled eggs and freshly shaved black truffles

I think that today D, my brother in-law and I broke a record for continuous eating at brunch.  Four hours.  FOUR HOURS.  The food was just so well done and there were so many choices that it almost didn’t seem like enough time.  Add free flow Billecart-Salmon champagne, and those four hours became even more pleasurable.

The Sunday brunch is something that seems to be quite uniquely Singaporean (I am not entirely sure of this and happy to stand corrected as I think Sunday brunches should be enjoyed all over the world).  Essentially it is a buffet spread, usually in five star hotels, where there is free flow alcohol – usually champagne.

D and I have been to many over the years, with our previous staple the Mezza9 Sunday brunch at the Hyatt Hotel.  We’d been to the Bar and Billiard Room at the Raffles Hotel a few times now and it has clearly evolved to become our firm favourite.  It’s not cheap in comparison to other brunches (although as an FYI, we found out to our delight that Platinum AMEX card holders get a 25% discount, making it about the same price as others, so no excuses now), but the selection of food that is presented to you is just of a different class to anything we’ve experienced anywhere else.  And where we used to like the buzzy ambiance at Mezza9, today the penny finally dropped and we agreed that the much, much more relaxed atmosphere at the Bar & Billiard brunch means that you are able to take your time and really enjoy all the truly gourmet food that surrounds you.

You have the usual suspects – cold seafood to start with oysters and prawns and Maine lobster – all of which were good, but nothing you cannot find anywhere else.  For cold appetisers, there was an array of marinaded vegetables – antipasto-style, along with a caprese salad, duck rilette, smoked salmon, seared tuna nicoise, beef carpaccio (so thin you could barely pick up a slice from the plate without tearing it) – the list went on, but that’s what ended up on my plate.

Scraping the risotto from the parmesan wheel

From here our table split up and I went for what was my clearly my favourite station, where they were serving cream of asparagus soup, a parmesan risotto, and smoked salmon on potato rosti (served on top of a thin layer of crip potato rosti, with a swirl of creme fraiche and caviar atop blini).  The asparagus soup replaced what I remembered to be my favourite dish at the brunch, a rich lobster bisque, but chef Gagan Bhatnagar explained that he put asparagus on the menu as he was taking advantage of them while they were in season.  The soup starts with the chef slicing the top and bottom off a perfectly soft boiled egg, placing it on a dollop of creamy potato, carefully ladling the rich green soup around it, arranging two spears of asparagus on top, and then drizzling truffle oil and shaving fresh black truffles on top.  Just remembering it is making me smile !  D even used the asparagus as soldiers for dipping into the soft boiled egg yolk.

Parmesan risotto with freshly shaved black truffles

The risotto is freshly made – stock is added to pre-cooked risotto rice in a pan, cooked for a few minutes until the grains absorb the stock, to which is added a cube of butter, double cream, then at the last minute “acidic butter” and finely chopped chives are added (the chef explained to me that acid butter is butter that has had white wine vinegar mixed into it, and which, when added at the end of the risotto cooking process, helps to “lift” the dish).  The molten mix is then poured into a large wheel of parmesan cheese, from where the chef scrapes it and onto your plate.  They were also kind enough to shave fresh black truffles over my dish and presto – one of my favourite (and repeated) dishes.

Grilled scallop with Iberico ham

There was also a cured meat station, where they serve thinly sliced Iberico ham (which paired perfectly with seared scallops from the cold appetiser station), Serrano ham, Parma ham and bresaola with pickled onions and gherkins.

For warm meats there was a foie gras station – where they pan-fried the foie gras to order and then serve it on top of thin ribbons of apple, with a drizzle of passionfruit coulis, lamb – leg and herb crusted rack, pork knuckle, roasted duck breast, roasted Bresse chicken and two types of beef.  One was a tenderloin, which was lovely and tender but the winner for me was the beef rib – a much less lean piece of meat, but roasted so perfectly that the meat was meltingly tender and flavoursome, even without the Bordelaise sauce that was meant to accompany it.

Five textured chocolate

Desserts were many, varied, and interesting.  Not all of them were loved at our table (we pretty much tried everything between the three of us), but complete respect goes to the dessert chef who took a few risks and also designed delicate treats like five textured chocolate, panna cotta with fresh strawberry coulis with a sherberty meringue stick, creme brulee, a “modern twist” on blackforest cake, which was essentially a large rectangular log of rich chocolate mousse with marshmallow inside, a perfect sphere of chocolate filled with honeycomb froth and the winner at our table, a simple but superbly done bread and butter pudding with creme anglaise.

There was also a huge selection of pastas and cooked vegetables, as well as an impressive spread of cheeses.

Need I remind you that we got there when the brunch started, and left four hours later ?  Just do it.

Bar and Billiard Room and the Raffles Hotel Singapore
1 Beach Road
Tel: (65) 6412 1816
Brunch on Sundays 11.30am – 3.00pm