Salt Grill & Sky Bar
Salt Grill is one of those fabulous date-night places, by virtue of it being perched on the 55th floor of ION Orchard. With double-storied ceilings and glass windows cladding the entire length of the dining room, the slick restaurant offers a truly spectacular view of the downtown shopping belt. It's not the most tranquil of restaurants though, the glamourous restaurant is always bustling with diners.
Being a "celebrity chef restaurant" (that's celeb chef Australian Luke Mangan just in case you didn't know), I thought Salt Grill's modern Australian fare over-promised and under-delivered. It's not to say the food was awful, but it was nice in an ordinary way, and I'd expected much better, simply because it's supposed to be a "celebrity chef restaurant". In this regard, I've often wondered if the sheen of a celebrity chef-helmed restaurant only serves to place unrealistic expectations on the restaurant's food. Often times, I find the food at a "celebrity chef restaurant" disappointing, having been hyped as helmed by a "celebrity chef". But, this is an opinion I'll leave to expound on for another day.
Service was gracious, but the wait between the starters and mains was excessively inordinate. We discovered, to our dismay, 30 minutes after we'd finished our starters, that there was a private function that clogged up the kitchen. BUT, the service recovery was excellent. When informed that we would like to cancel the rest of our orders if they weren't going to be ready in the next 5 minutes, our waitress extended her profuse apologies and offered a complimentary dish to tide us over till our mains could arrive in 10 minutes.
The amuse bouche was a crisp tomato and cucumber dice with pickled cauliflower and herbed goat's cheese.
For appetizers, the Seared Tuna ($32), plump and meaty, was served atop a bed of refreshingly chilled soba dressed in a light wasabi sauce, and sprinkled with fried onion crisps. I would have liked a more generous lashing of fried onions.
The meltingly soft Beef Cheek ($34) was slathered in a boozy red wine jus, and paired with a duo of grilled prawns, smooth carrot puree, crispy hazelnut granola, and showered with pickled radish.
A weekly special, the silky Confit Trout ($29), an intoxicating balance of the salty and smoky, was contrasted with the crunch of pork crackling, and the mild bite of mustard creme fraiche.
As for the sides, the Heirloom Tomato Salad (complimentary, but usual price $14) with crumbed feta, sweet onions and fresh basil was juicy and sweet, but easily forgettable.
The Truffle & Parmesan Fries ($14) was aromatic but pedestrian.
Onto the mains, the Ricotta and Sweet Potato Gnocchi ($42) with broad beans, peas, blue cheese cream, and shaved truffles was delicate and clear. I liked this.
The Market Fish was a Mauritian Red Drum Fillet ($56 for 180gram) with a minty pea mash and shredded crabmeat. The fish was a smidge fishy and the skin could have been more crisp.
The white and herbed bread, crusty on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and piping hot, was enlivened by the smashing nutty spice mix and olive oil.
Salt Grill by Luke Mangan
Salt Grill & Sky Bar
ION Orchard, #55-01
2 Orchard Turn
Tel: 6592 5118
Open daily from 11am to 2pm for lunch;
6pm to 10pm for weekday dinner;
6pm to 10.30pm for weekend dinner