Gone were the good old days when lunch was just walking down to the school canteen and buying back food up to class to enjoy or walking with a bunch of friends to the nearby Ang Mio Kio hawker centres for dinner. I really missed those good old times with my classmates when school life was about looking for the next place to eat as one big group.
Not that I don’t organise outings after graduated from poly life. But to gather everyone out now when they are busy working and finding jobs is definitely a challenge now. Nevertheless, we still compromise with each other’s timing just for sake of savoury food. And what better place to meet that is central and still convenient for all to meet? You thinking what I thinking?
I’m thinking how about Tiong Barhu or to be more precise, Open Door Policy.
Started by the same people behind Tiong Barhu Bakery and 40 Hands Cafe, Open Door Policy functions more than just another brunch serving cafe that popularise the area but also a modern casual dining restaurant. It was an early weekend evening when my friends and I dropped by for dinner. To my surprise, the place was already running on full-house capacity. It sure speaks of their quality of food I thought to myself.
The three of us were gestured to sit by the glass panel kitchen. It does helps facilitate your decision to order since you could just observe what are the dishes that appeals you more when the chefs are busy preparing the dishes for someone else. Occasionally, you get to see the kitchen staffs mistake and you'd wish you just have a huge piece of paper with a statement “I saw that!” and flash it to the chef as they nibble on the fries off your plate.
I thought our food will served promptly but 30 minutes into our wine-sipping conversations, I realised that our food wasn’t even anywhere near our table. I got a nasty shock when one of the female servers told me that some of the dishes we ordered have a waiting time of 20 minutes on average.
I could totally understand that some places like to prepare their dishes upon customer’s order but shouldn’t these restaurateurs take the courtesy to inform diners about the waiting time? Well, when I first made my orders, no one actually bothered to tell me and that particular female server expects me to know from my first visit and walks away without apologising? In any case, it sure left me with a bad impression of their service that’s for sure.
Our food did came ultimately but unlike Abe’s Diner’s Seafood Gratin, this causal dining place sure wasn’t worth the wait. Their Roast Chicken with Chickpea Cassoulet and Wet Polenta ($26.00)
which was just two slabs of petite chicken fillet nicely decorated with chickpeas and wild rocket leaves sitting on a huge dish plate. It does not help to know that it took them 30 minutes to roast them tough and dry instead of tender and moist.
For that kind of price, I might as well head down to the nearby hawker centre and order one whole roasted chicken to go with a bowl of rice instead.
Next up was their 48 hour Braised Beef Cheek with Mochi Potatoes, Carrot Puree and Pea Tendrils ($29.00)
which I felt was really nothing special even after being braised for two days as they claimed. Surely the meat was tender and soft but that should be expected since it’s braised so long. Just a pity the accompanying sauce failed to bring out the wow factor in this dish.
Among the three dishes we had, I only held in high regards of their Braised Duck Ragout with Pappardelle Pasta and Smoked Tomato Sauce ($25.00)
. I like the fact that the pasta is evenly coated with the smoked tomato sauce with bits of duck ragout with each mouthful but otherwise, I would expect a bigger portion for the price I’m paying.
Their desserts on their other hand were their saving grace. This time, we were informed about the waiting time involved into making of the Chocolate and Pistachio Souffle with Creme Anglaise ($18.00)
. We weren’t disappointed when we saw a cup of creamy custard cream poured into the souffle right before our eyes.
Light and fluffy and still tasted the subtle pistachio from within. I wouldn’t mind telling you this might just be one of the better souffles in downtown Singapore!
The last dessert we had was the Apple Crumble with Vanilla Custard ($15.00)
which was also well-received by the three of us. If only their main dishes could match their desserts then it would have been the perfect dining experience.
I certainly wasn’t impressed by Open Door Policy with what they have to offer. The prices they charge are definitely much more than most places similar to what they serve. I wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon unless I am in search of somewhere with nice coffee to go with souffle. I wouldn’t even recommend this place for a simple light causal meal but maybe their much rave brunch food is more worth going for instead.
But if you do see yourself coming down, do make a reservations just to secure table. Another plus point would be their alcoholic drinks going at $8 after 6pm if you had make a reservation.
For me, I will always be looking elsewhere to meet my friends over meal and I think I have just found another in Tiong Bahru again. Just stay tune and watch this space!