16 April, 2008

Friends @ Serangoon Gardens - The Verdict

Things didn’t get off to a good start when my name was not found on the reservation list – it happens despite Charles mentioning in his final email that reservation was done. Thankfully it wasn’t a big issue as the crowd have not set in and they managed to find us a table. It so happen that it was Friends “First Ever Barbecue Party” @ Chomps that evening, and we were told that they were only serving Barbecue Platter for mains and only the appetisers and desserts are available from the regular menu. As we were scrutinising the menu on what is available, one thing we did realise was that the tables were a little too close for comfort. Despite the classy décor and nice lighting to create a lovely ambience, the strident environment that evening marred it - in fact it stayed raucous throughout the whole occasion. Upon ordering, we were served the bread and butter almost immediately – it didn’t came cold but it wasn’t exactly warm either (I was actually looking forward to it as I clearly remember her mentioning “Enjoy your warm bread!”). Other than being soft, there wasn’t anything else noteworthy to mention about it.

Soon after, the Assorted Salad Platter with Condiments and Dressing came – straight forward dish as well and nothing much to compliment or picked on.

Then came the ½ dozen of Seasonal Oysters ($29.40), and I have flattering remarks for them – they were big, the flesh were plump and it was very fresh, although personally I would prefer them to arrive more chilled – and if they were any cheaper, I could have easily gulp down another dozen.

We waited a little while more before our platter arrived. For a platter for 2 ($49.90), diners have a choice of 3 items from the Hot Items (Roast Potatoes, Corn on the Cob, Grilled Tomatoes, Grilled Pumpkins, Grilled Peppers) and 2 items from the Grilled Items (Rib eye Steak, Lamb Shoulder Chops, Assorted Sausage (veal or course pork), Grilled Chicken, Grilled Fish Fillet). A platter for 3 will set you back another $20 with an additional item from the grilled section. We opted for the potatoes, corn and peppers from the hot items list and rib eye steak and lamb shoulder chops from the grilled items.

The platter didn’t exactly impress me when it was served to be honest. Aesthetics wise, it didn’t look appetising, furthermore the whole plate was drenched with the meat’s natural juices that only signifies that the chef did not rest the meat before it was served. But at least the chef did managed to get his medium rare this time round for the steak.

Special mention also goes to the lamb chops, as it was char grilled nicely on the outside and succulent on the inside – and what’s best was the layer of marbling fats that was ever so flavoursome. We wrapped up the dinner with a similar dessert I had the last time – Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake served with Vanilla Ice Cream ($12.90).

And my mate who was not present at the previous outing gave the same conclusion that the aftertaste of the molten chocolate lava could be better (compared to this one, which she had tried with me).

Overall, this wasn’t as bad an experience as the previous one, but there are definitely rooms for improvement. Also, considering that this was the first time they are running this sort of operations, perhaps I could be more forgiving. Nevertheless, I feel that serving barbecue fare is displacing the original business model, which prides itself as a semi-fine dining place – where you do not need to dig deep into your pockets for good food.


Food: 3.5/5 (Oysters and lamp chops were great, but others can be improved)
Service: 3.5/5 (Staff was generally efficient although we have to remind them on 3 occasions that we were having warm water instead of iced water)
Ambience: 2.5/5 (Nice ambience but too noisy - would not recommend this place for dates)
Price: 3/5 (Barbecue food outside is not worth the money)
Total: 12.5/20
1 Maju Avenue,
#01-01A Serangoon Garden Village
Singapore 556679

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JOjo said...

Quite disappointed in their service if he already confirmed that he made the reservation for you...
I thought special arrangement of signature dish would be provided or something along that line would happen @@"
Were they really trying to redeem their repu?

His Food Blog said...

Hi jojo! Nice to hear from you again.

I was kinda surprised actually when they say my name was not in the list - the fact that Charles came over to say hi to me shows that he was expecting me - but anyway not a big deal since there were tables available. I was rather more appalled that my meat was soaked in juices - a clear indication that presentation and quality was not a concern to them.

To be honest, I rather not expect a VIP service (if you have read my email to him you would know this).

Firstly I think I would not be used to it (will feel awkward) and secondly I prefer reviewing them as who they really are -> not them putting up a show for me.

JOjo said...

Yup Yup, totally agree on the presentation of the meat part. I used to take home-econs in my secondary sch days and we were told to wipe the side of the plate clean b4 serving =p

Btw, i will try ur cream brulee when i head home after exam period =p

Till then...

His Food Blog said...

Study hard!! :)

fuzk said...

The plate looks like you're having stew. Hur.

"Excuse me ah.. I never order stew leh.. why you give me ah?" Heh.

I have to agree it's a bit.. much.

Maybe they want to give you ALL the natural goodness of the meat. Juices all. Heh.

His Food Blog said...

*Ouch* heh.

BBQ food aside, if they could iron out the negatives that is currently balancing out the positive, they can be a pretty good place for semi-fine dining.

E.g. if the presentation was better, the steak and the lamb chop was actually pretty good. Also if they use better chocolate for their dessert, the chocolate cake will be enjoyable.

I do see a potential in them but it will take time to iron out these operations issues.

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