It's always surprising to people whenever I tell them that I've made a lot of friends out of my opposing counsel. But seriously, what's so surprising about that? My clients' legal disputes have nothing to do with whoever my opposing counsel is, so no matter how contentious the tussle, it's never personal with my opposing counsel. Well, unless you're a big sissy douche who's the type to storm off the court room after a loss. Or a sneaky slimeball who thrives on cheap potshots. I know some clients prefer their lawyers to take the case as personally as they do, and fight tooth and nail over every inconsequential thing, but in my view, a spoonful of sugar goes a long long loooooooooong way to resolving whatever dispute in the most cost-and-time-efficient way.
CC and I had lunch with A1 and A2, fellow members of the bar that we got to know over the course of a case we had some years back. They're both awesome conversationalists and so fun to be around, so it was expected that time just got away from us. A right-dab-smack-in-the-middle-of-a-frikking-busy-mid-week lunch turned out a 3 hour affair!
A1 is a foodie as well so we got on board with his recommendation: The Market Grill, a new-ish place along Telok Ayer Street, situated next to Gayatri. It was serendipitous that I'd also been wanting to try it for some time now.
The Market Grill is another F&B venture by lawyer-made-good-by-not-being-a-lawyer Loh Lik Peng. I swear this guy has the Midas touch. The celebrated hotelier and restauranteur always opens up restaurants that always serve up seriously good food. Burgers are de rigueur here, but the eponymous grills are real popular too.
The New-York-styled bistro composes of industrial chic sensibilities, but it doesn't detract from the fact that the 30-odd seating restaurant is really space-constrained. It reminds me of a very cramped version of Open Door Policy. I call it a one-bump place. One bump is all it takes to hit another diner along the short narrow alleyway of the restaurant. This is not the place for large gatherings.
The space limitations is exacerbated by the fact that The Market Grill does not accept reservations. We left early for lunch, crossing our fingers the entire walk over from the office. Fortunately for us, we managed to score seats for the 4 of us. Unfortunately for us, these were the counter seats right in front of the open kitchen. We all got a 2-in-1 deal, a FOC steam facial to go with our meal. You fill your tummy and open your pores at the same time!
All burgers are named after their chef, Colin West. I suppose that's one way of putting your stamp on your creations, huh? The CW Portobello ($22) comprising one of the juiciest hand-formed chuck beef patties ever, is layered with creamed portobello chunks, crisp bacon, and refreshingly crisp lettuce. The toasted sesame seed buns serve as fluffy bookends. This was just mindblowingly delicious. BEST portobello burger ever. Great texture, incredible flavour.
The Lamb Rack ($39), dry-rubbed with an American-styled secret-recipe spice mix for maximum flavour, was succulent, tender and fresh, with nary a gamey scent or taste. And grilled to a smoky perfection. All while retaining incredible moisture. Mushy grilled bell peppers, potato mash, and drizzling of lamb jus completed this commendable creation.
The Grilled Snapper ($40), a daily special, was sparkling fresh. The mild, clean and clear flavour of the fish was kept light with a simple salt seasoning. A delicate balsamic emulsion provided additional flavour. I would have preferred the skin on this to be paper crisp, but this was pretty alright fish.
Another popular signature dish is the CW Blue Cheese ($22). Here, the robust burger utilises pungent blue cheese, salty bacon and a burnt onion marmalade to accentuate the flavour of the beef, while a walnut raisin bun lends a rich nutty sweetness. For blue cheese aficionados, this was a perfect balance of savoury and sweet. This was just dripping with awesome juices. You'll be licking your fingers clean off.
A sharing side, the Sauteed Field Mushrooms ($11), was addictively unique. Most sauteed mushrooms are fried with just garlic and butter, but the addition of sweet onions gave The Market Grill's rendition a subtle sweetness.
The Market Grill
208 Telok Ayer Street
Tel: 6221 3323
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch; and 5pm to 10pm for dinner
Closed on Sundays