Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Senso Sunday Prosecco Brunch - A Review

Back in February, during Chinese New Year this year, I wanted to celebrate a milestone in my journey of getting my life back on track. A buffet seemed appropriate, and I was feeling fancy so I decided I wanted an alcoholic brunch. The thing is, they are effing expensive. I was quite interested with the Champagne brunch at Ritz-Carlton but I thought I'd save it for later, when there really is a reason to be so extravagant.

Anyway, most Champagne brunches' prices go three digits these days so I was happy when I stumbled upon Senso's Sunday Prosecco brunch online. At $98++/pax, it was much more my pace.

Senso is an Italian restaurant that I'd never heard of until then. The fact that it is a stand-alone restaurant and not part of a hotel intrigued me. The location also intrigued me. It is located in a somewhat 'sleepy' street in Telok Ayer area. It takes up a row of shophouses and is actually more spacious than it looks.

So I called up to book a table a couple days beforehand and their staff called me on Sunday morning to confirm. So that morning my friend and I boarded the Downtown Line (Our first!) and alighted at Telok Ayer station.
Telok Ayer MRT Station

It was a short walk from there to Senso and we loved how mellow the area was. The restaurant's sign might be easy to miss because it's not too conspicuous but the place is actually not that hidden since it's facing an open field.

We walked in and found ourselves in some kind of a lobby. Very elegant and chic.

A man, whom I assumed was the maître d' then whisked us to our table which included walking around a small courtyard and into another building at the back. Other waiters were quick to get us to settle in, opening up the napkin and placing it onto your lap, helping hanging your purse by the table, and that sort of thing.

Then they poured us a glass of water and bubbly. They were supposed to have two options, the white or the rosé prosecco but sadly they told us they were having issues with the rosé shipment so we acquiesced and got the white one.

Honestly, we were quite taken aback by the formal atmosphere of the place. All the waitstaff were dressed in pants and waistcoats and the maître d' was in a suit. And since it's unlike the usual buffet, we were a little bit unsure of what we should do after we got settled in. We could see the buffet spread but it was confined in another room and we weren't sure whether we were allowed to start eating yet.
Buckets of Prosecco and the buffet spread in another room
Thankfully, a waiter finally came over and upon realizing it was our first time there, he then explained the rules. Basically, all the food is set up buffet-style except for the mains, which we need to order. All are unlimited but they do have three other mains that they charged for $8++ a plate should you wish to order them.
Senso Sunday Prosecco Brunch Menu

We proceeded to order the prawn bisque which was bland taste-wise but it did emanate a deliciously strong prawn aroma. We intended to order three mains to be shared between the two of us but the waiter stopped us and advised us not to order too much at once, citing culinary integrity. We thought this was a bit rude, perhaps he thought we'd have ordered more than three but tout ce que...

Anyway, without further ado, here's what Senso had to offer that day:

Selection of salads and cold antipasti:


Smoked salmon - which is a personal favorite of mine - I kept coming back for seconds! The slice is thicker than most smoked salmon usually served in buffets, perfectly cured and smoked, just squirt a slice of lemon to enhance its sweetness.

Good news for oyster lovers: Senso serves oysters. The bad news: I thought they weren't as fresh as they should be. Not sure which type they served that day and I'm not an oyster expert but I've had oysters before that were just heavenly; sweet with a nice bite to it and with very faint oyster smell. The oysters that day had quite detectable oyster smell which might be a put-off for some and not as 'springy'.

Juice Station
The juice station & bread bar:
Bread Bar

The dessert selection:

Seasonal fruit platter:

My personal favorite: Senso chocolates. Don't be fooled by their simple appearance, these little bite-size chocolate cubes pack a punch; not sickeningly sweet, smooth and creamy with a touch of bitterness from the chocolate and a rich coconut-like aroma.I just realize that day I eschewed other desserts in favor for these.

Meringue cookies, which always taste better in your head than in reality:

Onto the mains now. I actually ordered several mains but only managed to photograph some of them. The first two of the following pictures are from the unlimited list while the other three are the specials.

Here's Ribeye Steak with red wine sauce:

And the Poached Salmon with Lemon Thyme Cream:

We also ordered Seared Red Snapper with Arabbiata Sauce and Crispy Skin Duck Breast with Orange Sauce off the unlimited list. They were all without a doubt, delicious. The Crispy Duck is my friend's favorite, FYI.

And here are the specials which I think you definitely should get because they are really, really awesome. Here's Homemade Foie Gras Roulade with Mango Chutney and Brioche (Not pictured):

Here's Spaghetti with Italian Baeri caviar and Vodka:

And lastly, here's Pan-seared Foie Gras with Poached red Wine Pear:
 I definitely think these specials are worth the extra dollars. The two foie gras mains were just heavenly! The roulade was so smooth and flavorful, perfect to spread over the brioche. They also didn't skimp on the pan-seared foie gras and served you a cut with reasonable thickness so you can really savor the delicate fatty texture. And the simple and somewhat dull-looking vodka spaghetti was actually full of delicate flavor. I could never forgive myself for giving it the cold shoulder when it was delivered to our table.

They also have conveniently located bathroom:
Senso's Bathroom's Interior
 So, there you have it, folks. Thought it's nice to end it one more time with a shot of the menu and the bubbling glass of Prosecco.

All in all I spent about $350 for two persons, and that includes 3 extra mains at $8++ per plate. I mistakenly thought I'd get unlimited supply of the specials with the extra $8++, should've known though, 'coz it was too good to be true so just be careful about this.

To summarize, here's the pros & cons list of Senso Sunday Prosecco Brunch buffet:

- Alcoholic brunch with more reasonable price
- Delicious food of top-notch quality especially the mains because they're cooked to order
- Beautiful and unique setting for those looking to experience different atmosphere
- Easily accessible with public transportation

- Limited variety of food. You definitely don't go to Senso for quantity, you go for quality
- The super attentive staff could become a little bit too attentive it's annoying. If you leave your table to get some food, expect your napkin to have been folded into some kind of origami when you return. Every. Single. Time. This might be fancy for some but it's just not my cup of tea
- The oysters are not that delicious

Will I recommend this to anyone? A definitive yes. The different buffet style and the super - some might say over - attentive waitstaff may take some getting used to but once you're able to get past that, you'll find that Senso Sunday Prosecco Brunch is actually a very good deal.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Breakfast @ P O D I

I usually avoid eateries in downtown Singapore like the plague, mostly because when I do have the time to visit these places, it'll be on the weekends. That means long queues, jam-packed restaurants, and overwhelmed service staff. Never mind that the food are sometimes mediocre and overpriced.

PODI is located in the heart of Raffles City. It managed to nab one of the coveted spots around the fountain so diners will be better shielded from the heavy-traffic area but still be able to enjoy the lively atmosphere. But even then, I never had the urge to eat there.

So, a few weeks ago I took a day off from work and found myself in the basement of Raffles City at 10.30am in the morning, my stomach growling like crazy. I've got a couple of hours to burn and so I walked into PODI. There were not so many people and the waitress happily let me sit in a table for 4 near the fountain. True to my style, I chose the one in the corner, the most secluded one.

To my delight, they have quite a selection for western-style breakfast. I can't remember what they are now but they've got the whole page dedicated to breakfast alone, and what's even better: they serve them all day! (even though for some reason, certain selection are only available up to 3pm).

Anyway, this is what I got:
The dish consists of 2 poached eggs, 2 slices of spinach loaf, a chicken sausage, a spiced sausage, several pieces of crunchy bacon, and a small amount of salad with tangy dressing.

I understand the spinach loaf is their specialty and it goes very well with the poached eggs.

Now, I'm really terrible at remembering prices but I think this one cost me about $18 incl tax and everything. It is not cheap but I personally think it's worth the occasional splurge. Just pace yourself and really enjoy the meal, just like I did with nothing but myself and a good old InStyle magazine.