Thursday, November 28, 2013

Sunday Lunch 6: L'entrecote - a birthday steak

So you remember my birthday? The one in July that 99% of you forgot/ could not be bothered to wish me for. (I'm having a snarky day - live with it). (Thank you to the 5 people who did wish me)

I had wanted a quiet day of some contemplation about various things going on in life at that point. The honeymoon period in Singapore was over. I hadn't quite found my footing as surely as I expected. And various things were bugging me immensely. I was not in a good place and rather than have a massive celebration I wanted to be allowed to sit and stew in my own steam. 

Of course none of that happened. I turned 38 and spent the morning running errands. Then I got invited to lunch with my sis-in-law, parents in law, nephew. Then we rushed off to collect Kid and proceeded to have a noisy old afternoon at their house. Helped set up my own afternoon celebratory tea and get kids involved in it. It was lovely and thoughtful but I was shattered. By the Kids bedtime I was ready to go to bed myself. And so came to pass a day where the focus was on such busy-ness that I had no time to sit and stew. 

V kept promising me a birthday lunch and of course even though we proceeded to eat many a lunch since none of them really qualified as my birthday lunch. 

Life in Singapore settled down and all the angst and trepidation that followed the lovely 6 month honeymoon soon dissipated. I find over the last few months that my footing is more sure and I'm once again enjoying the many many comforts and interesting things this city has to offer. The 3 awful months in between deserve their own post. I promise.

This Sunday we booked a last minute table at L'Entrecote. And because Steak is one of my top favourite meals V declared that this was my birthday lunch. It's pretty amazing that in over 14 months here I have not had a steak. My last great steak was in London - and just where we lived we were spoilt for choice with 3 steak places. So I've missed a good steak, to say the very least.

Duxton Hill is in the Central Business district. A narrow walking only path, this small leafy lane could easily be mistaken for being located in a suburb and not bustling WorkTown. I suspect it bustles a bit more on weekdays. This Sunday we got there just as rain clouds were gathering overhead. 

L'entrecote is a few doors up the path. Set in an old shop house this is a fairly narrow and dark restaurant. They have a big skylight which really only brings light to one side of the restaurant. The other lighting was not helpful. While they have tried to recreate some of the ambiance I thought they left something to be desired. The numbered bench along one wall was beautifully done but they had stuffed so many tables in front of it that it looked like one table for a group of 50 rather than individually inviting tables. The dresser (on which the second half of the Steak rests) looks worn rather than shabby chic (which is what they usually tend to veer towards). Workable but not a pleasing ambiance.

It began to pour with rain as we squeezed ourselves into our table in the completely empty restaurant. The menu is much the same as London although I think they had more by way of appetizers here. We ordered a pork pate and snails as a starter. Both came quickly and beautifully presented. The pate was delicious and the Polaine bread with it a treat. The snails were hot and bubbling in their little baking dish. They were a bit overpowered by the sauce but tasted fine.

Then arrived the lovely fresh salad and the Steak. It looked exactly as it should - half a steak sliced and covered with the signature sauce and accompanied by a pile of thin fries. We tucked in. The steak was cooked perfectly as we asked (medium rare) and the fries were thin, hot and salted just right. The sauce however, which is what makes the meal, was disappointing. 

How do I explain it? The sauce in all the places we have eaten before has been buttery artery choking goodness. This was not smooth and looked a bit curdled, as if it had been cooked with a bit of yogurt. It looked wrong and tasted average. It made the steak good not great. Nonetheless I ploughed through my first steak in 14 months with speed. No sauce was going to stand in the way of my birthday lunch thank you very much. 

Kid had eaten lunch so chose a scoop of vanilla ice cream to ignore while he played with the trains and wrote numbers all over the paper tablecloth. We finished up and wandered through the (now) drizzle to get a taxi. It was a good meal, a fitting birthday lunch. It was symbolic in many ways of my life in Singapore - pretty perfect with a dash of the odd oddity to keep things interesting. I'm not complaining. Just saying. 

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