April's L.A. Lunch was held at Bistro Soori, one of my favourite places for modern European cuisine. The hole-in-the-wall teeny tiny restaurant, located in the up-and-coming Keong Saik area, is a sophisticated space with clean lines and chic design sensibilities. It's really to do with its ownership by SCDA Architects, who also designed the so-chic-I-could-cry Alila Villas Soori Bali. I'd enjoyed a fabulous dinner here previously, and was eager to see, a year on, what their lunch was like.
Although we'd submitted our lunch orders the day before (seemingly to facilitate the churning out of dishes for our lunch group of almost 30 persons), service was, unfortunately, ridiculously slow. I didn't notice that the last time I was here, because it was dinner, I had loads of time to spare and I was too busy chatting to notice if service was slow. But, lunch was a different matter.
We, as busy employees and not bosses of our own businesses, have time constrains for lunch. At most, I suppose we could take a 2-hour lunch, but we'd be pushing it, but this took us almost 3 hours. We were there by 1pm, but only got our mains at 2pm. The problem was that they wanted to serve us all at the same time, so we had to wait for everyone to arrive before the starters were served. Then only when everyone had finished their starters, soup was served. The gaps between the courses also took too long. Service was just too slow, we were left hungry between courses, and antsy (and anxious) towards the end of the meal. We didn't quite get to enjoy the dishes because we were all so worried about the inordinate time taken for lunch. Whatever good things they did with the food was marred by the slow service.
That said, I'm not ready to write off the restaurant just yet, mostly because the food was still delicious, but the management will need to improve on service to entice me back there for lunch.
Please note that it's best to order from the set lunch menu because
every item on the ala carte lunch menu is also featured on the set lunch
menu, albeit in slightly smaller portions of course. Still, at only 39
bucks a pop for 4 courses, the Set Lunch ($39) was quite a steal.
We kicked off on a very high note with the duo of Scallops, succulent, plump and sweet, with perfect searing, served with a nutty pistachio tapenade crust, bunches of peppery arugula, a drizzling of truffle oil and cubes of pear vinegar gelee. A wonderful medley of flavours working harmoniously here. Little wonder it was the most popular starter of choice amongst my colleagues.
The bread, of the oat and foccacia varieties, were served next, when I thought they should have served this first when we arrived at the restaurant. Time could have been saved here.
An espresso cup of tomato soup, with diced cherry tomatoes, was up next, and although simple in theory, was masterfully-executed. Rich without being overwhelming, this was a nice balance of the sweet and tart.
The Cured Roasted Pork Tenderloin, perfectly pink in the middle, was tender and soft, set atop braised red cabbage, a drizzling of grain mustard and sprinkles of raisins and diced pears for a fruity essence. Very nice mix of flavours.
The Fish of the Day, was a fillet of seabass, with artichokes and a tomato cream sauce. Too bad the fish had muddy, fishy overtones. Even the sweetish creamy sauce wasn't enough to musk the fishiness of the seabass.
For dessert, some of us had the Chef's Selection of Cheese, with crusty olive oil-stained baguette, a honey saucer and blackberries. I loved them all, tart, pungent and delicious. I have to admit though, I've never dared to try blue cheese, and this time was no different. It's really about the look of fungi on the cheese.
The Chocolate Mousse with fresh berries was by far the most ordered dessert option, the mousse was airy and so light in texture, while balanced and controlled in sweetness. A perfect counter to the juicy, fruity, tart-ish berries.
2 Teck Lim Road
Tel: 6438 3802
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch;
Mondays to Saturdays from 6.30pm to 10pm for dinner;
Sundays for brunch from 11.30am to 3.30pm