Many would naturally associate Royal Selangor with their fabulous pewter wares, so it's truly surprising to discover that they've recently set up a wine cellar cum restaurant, Vintry at Royal Selangor, adjacent to their school of hard knocks showroom at Clarke Quay.
CC and I brought our intern there to take advantage of the Clarke Quay $15 set lunch promotion that's been going on forever. I suppose it's because Clarke Quay on a weekday afternoon is like a ghost town, compared to its bustling atmosphere on weekend nights. Without this ridiculously cheap set lunch, the restaurants would probably have a much higher turnover due to a lack of a weekday lunch business. As a further enticement, parking is free during the weekday lunch hours of 12 noon to 3 pm, excluding public hols of course.
The menu's decidedly fusion, simple straightforward western cuisine with an Asian twist. The food is generally pedestrian but generous in portion size, especially in view of the attractive pricing of the set lunch. Notwithstanding the generous portions, if not for the $15 set lunch promotion, I don't think I'd dine here. The food's decent but not outstanding. The focus is clearly on the wine, which they have a lot of, and the food menu's merely present to soak up with alcohol with. To be fair, it is afterall, first a wine bar, then a food joint.
Apparently, the $15 weekday set lunch promo does work, Vintry was almost a full-house on a sweltering weekday afternoon! As a result, service was very slow and harried. The wait staff and kitchen were, unfortunately, unable to cope with the size of the lunch crowd.
The dining area is designed like an actual wine cellar, with lots of decorative oak barrels and wood paneling. A decidedly haphazard layout provides lots of nooks and crannies for that little bit of privacy for diners. But, what strikes you is their wine serving system, meant to keep wine bottles that have been opened for sale by the glass fresh, running the entire length of the dining area. That, and the clear glass partition looking into the school of hard knocks workshop, where you get a first-hand view of tourists and school tours pewtersmithing.
Vintry Set Lunch is a 5-course affair ($15), including coffee or tea at the end, making this one of the cheapest lunch deals in town. For starters, you get fresh crisp Salad greens drizzled in a tangy vinigrette and sesame seeds.
And a small bowl of the Soup-of-the-Day, which was a robust Minestrone that day. This was choc-a-bloc with diced vegetables, in a clear tomato-based broth.
You get 6 choices for the mains here, Vintry Caramelized Roasted Pork Rice was a modern take of the typical "shao rou fan". A sweetish marinade was brushed on the fatty pork belly, making for a smoky charred flavour and a sticky texture. This was decent but would have been better with some gravy to balance out the drier elements of this dish.
The Tangy Baked Dory Fish in a lemon caper sauce would have fared better on its own, or have the rich gravy served on the side. The thick creamy lemon caper sauce overwhelmed the delicate mildness of the fillet.
For dessert, you can opt between the classic vanilla and a scoop of Coconut with Gula Melaka Ice-Cream, which was our unanimous choice. The gula melaka lent a smoky sweetness to the milky coconut ice-cream.
Vintry at Royal Selangor
Blk 3A, River Valley Road
#01-01 Clarke Quay
Tel: 6338 2808
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 11.30pm for dinner;
Fridays and Saturdays from 12noon to 2am