Saturday, 19 February 2011

Binge - It's All About The View At Salt Grill

Such an influx of high profile chefs into Singapore, it’s hard to keep up! Plus loads of really great, non-celeb restaurants opening up around town as well…one thing I realised a long time ago…..celebrity status doesn’t always translate to a better experience.

Salt Grill opened not long ago at the top of ION Orchard. Honestly, I don’t like going to that mall as it is such a labyrinth, and the journey to this new restaurant is no different. You go up to the 4th level of the mall, squirm past the info counter, down a narrow side corridor that looks like an afterthought, then take the lift up to the 58th storey.

The lift lobby is interesting – so dark and disorientating that I almost walked into a wall, but I guess the contrast makes for a dramatic entrance. For when you finally get to the top floor, the blast of light and visual feast from the spectacular floor-to-ceiling glass walls, soaring ceiling and gobsmacking, wraparound bird’s-eye view of Orchard Road and the central district is truly a moment of orchestrated drama. Must get a window seat, as the view is absolutely fabulous.

It’s all Australian stylishness in there, from the smart waiters to the tablescape set in front of you. Of course, Mangan himself isn’t here and the kitchen is helmed by Kathy Tindall, head chef and Mangan protege.

We started with the yellowtail kingfish sashimi with ginger eschalot dressing ($29) – a fresh, lightly balanced morsel of tender firm slivers of fish that went down well with our sauvignon blanc – and the Salt Salad ($28) of vegetable with poached eggs, mozzarella and walnuts. It was a moderately sized portion, with crisp vegetables, but nothing out of this world except for its price. The crab omelette ($29) was surprisingly bold – something so simple yet well executed, sitting in a mellow broth redolent of miso and a slight tinge of mustard. Not too bad and makes for a light meal.

For mains, the snapper ($49) with tomatoes, capers and parsley presented a fairly large portion of delectably juicy fish, while the ribeye ($49) was pretty decent. I must say the mains, while good and pleasant, was nothing to shout about.

The mains are not served with too many sides, so order a few extra if you’re hungry. Particularly good were the thick cut fries with rosemary salt ($7) and the carrots with dukkah. The latter is also served with bread and is particularly delightful. I wish the restaurant bottled and sold it for it’s definitely worth bringing home!

We had a tangy passionfruit soufflé ($18) paired with banana ice cream – an odd couple which actually worked very nicely together. Chocolate 3 Ways ($18) was good too – a Valrhona fondant, wattleseed chocolate mousse and white choc salted caramel semifreddo – but once again, nothing to knock my socks off. I am told the liquorice parfait is also excellent, but we didn’t have a chance to taste it.

The restaurant serves degustation at $140 per head, and a two course lunch set at $40. Wines by the glass is steep – pushing $20 per glass of Aussie tipple, and $29 for Champers, but per bottle pricing is all right. No surprises that most are new world wines, mainly Australian and NZ.

As for the service? Hmm…..Put it this way. We had a waiter forget to clear the table after he asked us if we wanted it cleared, and went on his way to chat with colleages at the bar instead; and when he finally got round to it, dropped a plate on the table almost having the remaining gravy splashing out on us.

In subsequent days, I asked around, and those who had gone shared similar views. The final verdict? Be prepared to pay a premium for the view, get decent food and don’t expect stellar service. With that mindset, you won’t be disappointed.

55th floor ION Orchard
Tel: 65925118

By the way, do migrate with us to our permanent website at Joing our mailing list and stand to win a Club Med holiday! We'll be posting here til 15 March after which we will be posting only on our website. So come over to our new place. It's loads prettier and all are welcome!- EW


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