Judging by the name and what you may have read about the newest resident to the Duxton Hill community, I thought it’s about time someone shed some light on a fact that is grossly overlooked at Praelum…
Yes, they have an awesome selection of wine. Yes, they have those cool oenomatic machines which use a card system for selecting loads of different pours. And yes, it’s a great place for a drink in general. What nobody seems to be noticing is that their food is pretty damn good as well!
To be honest, when I initially started writing this review, the slant was going to be how the guys (and gals) behind Praelum: Liz, Gerald and Amanda, are down-to-earth, awesome and funny people, who in my opinion are an integral part of a community of Singaporean wine specialists shaping the wine scene here for the better.
This all still stands true and it would be a crime to totally neglect that fact in this review but what I want to stress that what totally stunned me on my visits to Praelum is the food!
Accompanied by a superb Viognier from Seresin Vineyards, New Zealand my latest visit began as we were treated to a barrage of dishes.
The menu at Praelum is quite varied and is clearly designed to be paired with wine. There’s a number of twists on French classics, but moreover there’s a selection of regional dishes with origins from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
To start with, we were served up a traditional Tarte Flambé (flammkuchen for zee Germans out there). Effectively a thin-crust pizza made with cream, cheese, onion and bacon or ham (there’s also a vegetarian mushroom version available). With a light, crisp base and savoury flavour, what was a great touch was the ‘plaster’ on top. For those non-Singaporeans reading this, the ‘plaster’ refers to the common way of serving up roti prata when an egg is cooked directly on top.
As for wine pairing, I’d go for a rich white – Pinot Gris or Chardonnay would be good, but you might even be able to get away with a Pinot Noir or Barolo on this one if you fancy a red.
Next up is one for the pork-lovers – the Roasted Pork Parcels consist of pork loin and sauteed mushrooms, all wrapped up in a bacon bun – seared and then slow-roasted. Served with apple sauce on a bed of fresh salad.
For this one, try a medium bodied red.
And here comes the cheese…..
Oh mama! This dish is a whole round of Baked Brie with a topping of roasted nuts and garlic served on a drizzle of fruit coulis….simply magic! Lathering my slices of baguette with far too much cheese was a pleasure, and the combined texture of the dish is phenonemal. Just think, soft, gooey cheese…oh yes, here comes crunchy, salted nuts and garlic. So, so, so recommend this!
And then came one of my firm favourites (for the second time having at Praelum), the Escargot – six juicy morsels served up with those delicious buttery baguette slices. What I love about the Praelum style of this dish is that added into to the mix of white wine, garlic and butter…they also use fresh basil which gives the snails a strong pesto taste.
Does it work? Well let’s just say I was literally using the left-over baguette slices to lap up the remaining sauce. 🙂
Moving over to the spicier part of the world, we sampled a rendition of a Thai Mango Salad, cut with fresh, young mango and sashimi prawns, it was a beautiful dish. Fantastic crunch of the mango with the suppleness of the prawns, throw in some sweet, spice and sour notes and there you have it.
For a truly exceptional wine pairing, sweetness is the way forward – think Late-harvest, Dessert wine, Riesling or Gewurztraminer.
So, do we at City Nomads like Praelum? A resounding HELL YES. It’s young, fresh, relaxed and you can get great food and wine without breaking the bank.
Praelum is not just a wine bar. To me, this is somewhere you go with a group of friends, order a crazy amount of food from the diverse menu, grab an oenomatic card from the staff and go to town pairing the food and wines together. You never know what pairings might strangely work ;-), and if you feel lost, just ask the guys who work there for some guidance.