There are two restaurant crtieria that seldom marry well, that is: a restaurant with genuinely good food and a beautiful setting. Too numerous are the restaurants where you will find an utterly beautiful atmopshere only to be flatly disappointed by the cuisine, service or value. In the past I had heard that Eco was known to be one of them. So after a wonderful Calvados paired dinner hosted by Straits Wine Company a few weeks ago featuring food from Eco Gourmet Cafe’s new Chef, I couldn’t resist the temptation to come back, this time trying their on-menu items.

Eco is no easy venue to find or get to. Located at Labrador Villa Rd, it’s about 1km away from the nearest main road, Telok Blangah, which in honesty lends an air of mystery to the place as when you finally arrive you feel more like you’re arriving at a Spa retreat in Bali.

What has struck me most on my two visit to Eco is the service. It’s fantastic. The guys and gals who work there are friendly, helpful, yet do not overwhelm you. As soon as I arrived, a cool and refreshing drink was offered to me before being seated. A nice touch.

As you might expect, the restaurant itself is stunning. Surrounded by greenery, this is a total escape from city life. You can’t even hear any cars from the main area. Think dark teak wood, soft white materials and a lush green atmosphere. A slight point to make is that the fans are very well poisitioned. Despite the seating being entirely outdoor, I never once felt overly hot, nor did my food blow away with ill-positioned industrial strength fans. It was just right.

Eventually sitting down after a lovely, refreshing watermelon, rum & basil cocktail called Springtime in Milano ($14), I eagarly anticipated the food to come, especially after being so impressed on my previous visit.  To show you what I mean, here is a little picture summary of the last visit…

So, back to the present. First up was a plate featuring three of their starters (all around $20). The first of these to catch my attention, and my fork, was the Tuna tataki, a sliced and full flavoured seared piece of tuna which combined well the fresh orange and subtle ginger notes of the marinade. Good start.

Next up was the Medley of root vegetables, just to make things a bit healthier ;-). Whilst not my ideal appetizer, this dish would definitely be something I’d share with a group. Served with almonds and walnuts, the texture was varied and has a good bite to it. Tossed in a mirin/Japanese style vinegrette, it was very fresh.

What you see is something I would never have thought I’d like. Cauliflower veloute served a with a scoop of black sesame ice cream! Absolutely fantastic. The hot and cold temperature makes for an excellent dance in the mouth and the flavours surprisingly paired fabulously – but then I do love sesame ice cream!

First of the mains to arrive was the Sea bass loin ($26) – pan-roasted and served a bed of soft green beans. The interesting feature of this dish is that it’s served in a mild green curry sauce. Not only does this work, but the herbal Thai ingredients work extremely well with the nicely cooked fish and beans. I would order this again no doubt.

Next up was something I was most excited about, Seared duck breast ($32) – glazed with honey and served with asparagus, whipped potatoes with a chocolate-port reduction. I have to be honest, while I loved the idea of having chocolate flavoured duck, the reduction was a little overpowering. The duck was perfectly cooked and so enjoyable to eat in its own right, as were the potatoes and asparagus. Whilst I happily would order this again, I would be inclined to see if the Chef could substitute the sauce.

Saving the best for last, it was time for dessert (all around $10-$15). I cannot deny it was the two desserts that really ‘took the cake’ for me. The Earl Grey & Brie Tart was like the tea version of tiramizu. Yes please! Light, fluffy with subtle tea flavours. I’m actually considering getting my next birthday cake made from this!

The Macerated berries was also somewhat of a winner, mainly because I am totally not a berry person and yet demolished the entire contents most happily. A delicious and refreshing cleansing of my pallet.

Eco is definitely somewhere I’d recommend and I am keen to come back and try the pasta dishes which look very decent. This is a great weekend brunch place, or if you are lucky enough to have the time, come during the week and try their 3-course lunch for $25++.

Personally this is somewhere I’d either take date for a romantic dinner getaway, or bring my family here. It’s just got great atmosphere and the food and service to match.

Written by The City Nomad

Meal hosted by Eco Gourmet Cafe.