Ember, Ember burning bright
Ah. Set lunches. Ever promising and ever under delivering. I've had so many bad experiences with 'value set lunches' that I've grown wary of them, and so when I heard about Ember's much raved lunch set, I didn't expect too much.
But man did it blow me away.
First, the menu was ex-ten-sive. With 11 appetizers, 9 mains and 8 desserts to choose from; it offers more choice than some restaurants' entire menu. Reading the menu already got me excited!
Quaint setting with simple basic furnishings, Ember comes across as down-to-earth and minimalistic. Service was warm, attentive and friendly – two thumbs up for the wait staff. Whilst waiting for the food, everyone was attacking the complimentary bread. Fluffy, fragrant and flavoured with a hint of Parmesan and sundried tomato - it was a crowd pleaser.
For the appetizer, getting an upgrade at only $6 seemed too sweet a deal to pass up so I had the Roasted and poached foie gras with mirin and shoyu, shiitake.
People have claimed to return just for this. I had to try it for myself. The foie gras came in a sizeable piece, not the puny micro-sized ones you would usually get, swimming in a luscious sweet and salty sauce of a perfect marriage of mirin and shoyu. The portion was big enough to satisfy, and small enough to finish before the guilt overwhelms the euphoria. My eyes literally rolled back as I slowly savoured each bite - pure decadence.
Feedback was that the other foie gras dish, Pan seared foie gras with fresh orange segments, orange and passionfruit reduction, although less sinful, was not quite as good (such is life).
I also tried thePan roasted scallop with parma ham, citrus and tarragon vinaigrette.Scallops were fantastically done. Plump and sweet - this would have been my second choice.
On to the mains, I picked the Pan seared Chilean seabass with mushroom and smoked bacon ragout, truffle yuzu butter sauce.
The fish was fresh and perfectly executed, skin pan-fried to a crisp whilst its flesh still moist and quivering on the inside. And together with the mushrooms in rich and creamy sauce, it formed a luscious velvety blend of flavour that slid easily down the throat. Too easily - it was sorrowfully all over too quickly. On hindsight though, the main was perhaps slightly too rich to be paired with the foie gras. I was craving for a good Pinot to cut through the cream.
The other hot favourite was the Crispy duck leg confit with new potatoes, caramelized onion- thyme jus. I tried it and it was not bad I must say. One of the better duck confits around.
Although I don't eat pork, I found 12 hour cooked pork belly with savoy cabbage, apple puree and spiced calvados sauce particularly amusing. The presentation was so quirky; I was almost tempted to give it a taste there. (Not!)
Dessert! I picked the cheese platter.
Yes yes, boring I know, but the mouse in me will never pass up chance at cheese. 3 types of French farm cheeses, fig paste and fruit; and I was one happy mouse. I nibbled around and the other desserts were all so good! I was especially taken by the Frozen nougat with seasonal berries,
Lychee sorbet. Not only was the presentation appealing, taste-wise was creamy, crunchy and nougat-y, without being too cloyingly sweet. I wouldn't mind coming back to try this one.
$42++ for 3 courses, with an additional $6 supplement for foie gras appetizers, Ember's set lunch may not be the cheapest of the lot - but the quality it delivers makes it so worth it. The set also comes with tea or coffee, with yet another unending list of choices, to wash it all down. After a 2.5-hour lunch I walked away, tummy and taste buds satisfied. And in relief that all hope is not lost in the 'set lunch scene'.
Written by M.
Photo credits to Christine Leow from SMU Gourmet ClubPosted in: Restaurants Experimental Fusion
Call 6347 1928 for reservations
50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore, 089154.
Opening hours Monday - Friday: 11.30am - 2pm, 6pm - 10pm. Saturday: 6.30pm - 10pm. Closed Sunday
For more information see their website at http://www.hotel1929.com/hotel1929/dining/ember.htm.