Sorrel is the latest gastronomic bistro concept in Singapore. Local foodies have been raving about the recently opened venture but in my opinion, like most new restaurants, there's room for improvement.
Located on Boon Tat Street near Raffles Place, Sorrel is the brainchild of famed Singaporean hotelier-restaurateur Loh Lik Peng of Unlisted Group (Pollen, The Library, The Study) and 24-year old executive chef Johnston Teo (formerly of Jaan, Pollen and Tippling Club).
Our table for eight took a lot of pulling and pushing and phone calls to get. Understandably, this 40-seater is quite hot and buzzed about. Their haute cuisine tasting menu offers seasonal ingredients at prices that are quite reasonable: five courses for SG$88 (£42) and seven courses for SG$118 (£58). Not bad, eh? It sounded so promising.
While we all wanted to try different menus, we were told that the whole table must opt for the same number of courses. If we wanted to order a course from the other menu we just had to pay SG$25 per course. I've never heard this type of rule before, quite frankly, as most restaurants I've visited serving set menus would always cater to this type of request and adjust timings for smooth service. We all ended up having the five course menu. Oh well.
We were offered some snacks to whet our appetites including some homemade sour cream onion chips (one piece each) and a yam-filled micro-croquette (pictured) topped with a dot of black pepper sauce.
Next was a foamy, frozen apple concoction served with some apple fizz. This was quite nice and refreshing, an easy mouthful to cleanse the palate.
We were then served some "complimentary" bread which looked like mantou but tasted like normal dinner rolls. Whilst I commend the softness and "straight-from-the-oven" feel of these rolls, I wish they were able to serve more of it. We asked for more and were told they couldn't possibly give us any more than what we got.
For our first course, we had some sort of deconstructed pumpkin soup. The soup itself, served at room temp, was creamy. Textures from what seemed to be chopped up root veg, corn and supposedly smoked eel made it fuller, except the flavour profile didn't change so much.
The kohlrabi salad fared better. I enjoyed the sharpness of the horseradish and mustard seeds. Quite a humble dish that didn't really need more.
The seafood tagliatelle came next. The lightness of the pasta noodles paved way for the creamy sauce to shine. Served with a scallop, a mussel and chopped langoustine, this was one of the more successful dishes of the night. I wish there was more on the plate.
The wagyu short rib was probably my favourite dish of the night. The sliver of beef was melt in your mouth soft and paired with a morsel of rich, salty sweetbread, it was quite a palate party. Whilst my arteries clogged at the thought of the sauce being made with bone marrow, the pairing with polenta and corn complimented the protein.
We were served a palate cleanser made with some mixed milk textures and cucumber jelly. I joked about how it smelled like my Sai Sei seaweed bath soak, it was quite refreshing (just a bit of an acquired taste!)
Dessert came shortly after. I actually liked this humble plate of milk textures. There's a bit of panacotta, a bit of merengue and a bit of ice cream. The subtle flavour of milk and vanilla played well with the bittersweet clementine.
Overall the dishes were okay but I can't say I was mindblown, especially when there are noticeable points of improvement:
portion sizes are quite meager and whilst I reckon this is why the set price is low, I don't think people with massive appetites would be satisfied here;
course turnover took quite a while. I understand degustation menus are meant to be enjoyed in a timely manner but for the portions per plate you could hear our bellies grovelling for the next plateful; and finally,
service was confusing. We noticed the five-course menu changed within half an hour of arrival and nobody bothered to tell us of this change until the early birds asked because a few old menus were still on the table. Also, whilst some servers aimed to please there were a couple who could learn a thing or two about hospitality.
I can't deny the potential of the place because after all the concept of seasonal haute cuisine can be exciting. Just a little honing and tweaking, perhaps, and a little reminder that when it comes to good quality food, people will happily pay more for more.
Table Wait Time: 0 minute(s)
Date of Visit: Feb 07, 2015
Spending per head: Approximately $100(Dinner)Other Ratings: