Brown Sugar Cafe Bistro

FW and I had lunch at Brown Sugar Cafe Bistro on Saturday afternoon. The ambience is reminiscent of Marmalade Pantry @ Palais Renaissance, only its alot less open and smaller. I loved the chalkboard, which lines the passageway leading to the dining hall. The menu is written on the board for those who prefer to read off the board as opposed to the regular menu. FW and I were very appreciative of the minimalistic and modern decor. Now onto the food for having arrived at 2pm, meant that the last order was only half an hour away and we were famished.

FW ordered the Salad of Deconstructed Apple with Walnuts, Brie & Arugula tossed in Apple Dressing ($9.50). She had been indulging quite a bit the entire week and wanted to go light. I thought it was a great idea but I was distracted by something else on the menu. Anyway, FW's always so sweet, she offered me some of her salad. I guess its not meant to be a variation of Waldorf Salad but I could not help drawing a comparison to it. I like that this salad has Arugula (one of my favourite salad greens), slices of Brie (one of my favourite cheeses) and walnuts (one of my favourite nut). The smooth and creamy texture of the Brie goes very well with the crunchiness of the walnuts and apple slices. The mildy salty flavour of the cheese helps to dull the slightly bitter taste of walnuts and enhance the sweetness of the apple. Its a change from lettuces and mayonnaise in Waldorf Salads. This salad was most enjoyable, if only I didn't feel so bad munching from FW's plate. Fortunately for her, my starter arrived at the same time so I was busy offering her some and enjoying it myself. Hmm...I don't see much signs of teething problems here, maybe its partly because it was not terribly crowded when we were there.
Having indulged quite abit myself over the last few weeks, I would have gone light if only I wasn't so drawn by the Lobster Bisque with Prawn Ravioli ($12). Its tough to find good lobster bisque in Singapore but I'm most happy to report that the lobster bisque here is definitely one of the better ones. I am glad this place doesn't serve foie gras because I would not have discovered just how rich the bisque tastes since I would have been "blinded" by the presence of foie gras. Many bisques that I've tried are either watered down or have so much cream such that I feel stuffed even before the main course arrives. The bisque here is not exceedingly creamy but it is chockful of lobster sweetness. The taste of cognac added a touch of refinement to the flavour and I wished that I had a breadroll to clean my plate up. Ok, that's not very ladylike, I know. Private thoughts, but you get the idea about how much I loved the bisque. According to Peter Mayle, that's how they clean their plates between courses in Provence. Sounds like a great environmentally friendly idea...only if the course is worth polishing off. I expected the ravioli to be a little soggy but was pleasantly surprised to discover that the ravioli was still pretty much al dente and the prawn chunks that filled it were fresh and firm to the bite. This is looking like a very good meal is on the cards.

FW in her quest to eat a light meal, ordered a Pan Roasted Salmon Fillet with Steamed Baby Vegetables & Lemon Beurre-Blanc ($23). I'm not a huge fan of cooked salmon as I prefer to eat salmon sashimi or sushi, however the grilled salmon skin looked tantalising. FW loves grilled salmon skin and as she wasn't up to eating much that day, I didn't prey on her salmon skin. I did try a little of the salmon though. It was not overly done, so the flesh was smooth and the sweetness of the fish went perfectly well with the tangy richness of the lemon beurre-blanc sauce. FW loved the grilled potatoes that accompanied it too.

I had ordered one of the specials, which was Wagyu Beef ($28, I could barely believe my eyes!). It arrived on a long plate flanked by sides of yam crisps and Arugula salad. I'm not much of a chips or crackers person, so I hardly ate the crisps. I love arugula and so I enjoyed it thoroughly. The serving was rather generous considering that its just a side if only there was a little more balsamic vinegar in the dressing. The Wagyu Beef wasn't served in the form of a steak like I was hoping it would be. I should have read the menu more carefully, no wonder the pricing was so much cheaper. There were 2 slices of Wagyu beef atop toasted bread, which was spread with aioli (Provencal garlic mayonnaise). I guess this is meant to be more of a brunch menu. The beef slices were not as rare as I would have like them but then again, its hard not to slightly overcook beef slices. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the beef because they were juicy and sweet though I felt that the caramelised onions was a little overpowering. FW felt that the beef could have been a little tastier. I think I would have been happier if there was just a little more salt on the beef but its pretty good for a sandwich as the aioli enhanced the flavour.

FW ordered the Chocolate Fondant with Raspberry Coulis, Toasted Almonds & Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream ($12). So much for eating light. This was decadently rich with the luxurious flavour of dark Valrhona chocolate. The vanilla bean ice cream was a sweet accompaniment to the exquisitely strong taste of the chocolate and the sweetish-tartness of the raspberry coulis helped to intensify the flavours. I liked the presentation too because with my vivid imagination, I saw the vanilla ice cream on a raspberry coulis path towards the chocolate fondant.

I had the Sticky Date Pudding with Brown Sugar Butterscotch, Walnuts & Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream ($9). As with all sticky date puddings, this is sweet stuff! I liked it for its rich flavours and the beautiful presentation. It looked like a star burst to me with a little mountain of sweet divinity in the middle. My friend, SS, who tried this on Sunday, told me that she loved this dessert because it reminded her of the sticky date pudding at Marmalade Pantry. I however, still prefer the one served by PS Cafe because it comes with a topping of chopped pistachios and is a little more moist.

By the end of the meal, I was feeling terribly sleepy and had to get a cup of Latte to wake me up. How does FW stay so wide awake after such a substantial meal and the Moscato d'Asti?

Brown Sugar Cafe Bistro

277 River Valley Road

#01-04 Stardus Clubhouse

Singapore 238318

(between Kim Yam Rd & Mohd Sultan Rd)

Tel: 6333-6612

Ambience: 3.5 out of 5

Food: 4.5 out of 5

This article was published by AsiaOne Wine, Dine & Unwind on 5 December 2006.