TAB!

16

17th November 2010. Written by Mu Yao and Xin Li.
*This is an Invited Session.*

Facade
Coming to this new establishment along Orchard Hotel saw me getting a little lost. My hopeless taxi driver didn't know where Orchard Parade Hotel was, (which self-respecting taxi driver doesn't!) and I was running late. Xinli was trying to find the place too, until my taxi finally dropped me off at the doorstep of TAB, with its prominent yellow signboard emblazoned on the facade of Delfi Orchard. Goodness, how do you miss such a place? Got escalator go up somemore.


15

The Interior
First impressions - a little spartan, perhaps due to the lack of people. A decor of warm utilitarianism spunked up with some classic diner touches. Okay, fair enough, its nothing to write home about. I was greeted with a group of people drinking cocktails till the friendly Vivian (did I get her name right!) approached us and gave us a short introduction to the place. I came away with the vague impression that this was some upper class timbre. Or rather, this new establishment made timbre look like her ugly cousin.


14

The Bar
So TAB's came across as a remarkable cross between Home Club and timbre, focused more on playing up the gastropub vibe. Its less clubby and more homely than the Home Club, and definitely more than an up-classed cabana timbre is. All of them focus on showcasing "local indie acts" and international indie acts - commendable, for I quite dig indie music. But I can't talk about anything related to music here since I didn't hear anything except Mariah's Carey's "Vision Of Love" belted out as piped music. So I guess I shall talk about the food!

TAB - Stage

Xin Li:
Mu Yao has pretty much sum up about the environment TAB has to offer. I would like to point up that one thing I like about TAB is that it was located away from the busy area around ION or Cineleisure hence it was relatively quiet here. The overall décor reminds me of a New York Diner.

TAB - Studio

Xin Li : I was informed that TAB can actually accommodate up to 600 people (standing) and hence be able to hold concerts and act as an alternative to say Esplanade Theatre and such. Having been through a 200 crowd packed 2012 Gallery during the Epicurean Soiree, I hope TAB is more competent than TimeOut in handling such situations.

TAB - Lounge

Xin Li : TAB also has a nice comfy lounge upstairs, sort of like a VIP corner equipped with studios for practice, restrooms and a Green Room for the artistes. On the topic of artistes, am told that TAB has been getting upcoming foreign and local artistes to perform, as part of their effort to create exposure for these artistes. You could look up on the upcoming performances on their website. Some of the people who have performed at TAB include local artistes like Daphne Khoo, 53A and Michaele Theresa. Foreign artists include David Knight and Jamie Drake.


1

The FAN-TAB-BULOUS! ($15)
We had a grand total of 4 starters, 4 mains and 5 cocktails. We'll start with what I had first - the FAN-TAB-BULOUS, apparently one of their signature cocktails. Flowery, elegantly refreshing, it tasted something between some alcoholic Ricola sweet freshened up with mint. I'm personally not a fan of gin - so I guess you can treat this as a compliment because I think Ricola sweets (Elderflower flavour) doesn't taste that bad for me. I guess for those who drink - its somewhat of a cross between a mojito (sans the tartness) and manhattan (the sweetness) with a elderweiss put inside as garnish.


2

The Cinammon Sugar Cheese Tortilla! ($10)
Next up was some pub grub. The cinammon sugar cheese tortilla was certainly really interesting for me. I guess most gastropubs usually have their own creative culinary creations, this was TAB's I guess. The taste was well-balanced and played out - the sugar and cinammon complemented the dry flakiness of the tortilla well, played out with the savoury saltiness of the cheese. The only downside I find is that I found it a tad too tough for me, especially the tortilla skin. A thinner skin would have made it less like a doughy pastry, and chewing it wouldn't require such an industrious effort. Good try though, I was impressed.

TAB - Cinnamon-Sugar Cheese Baked Tortilla

Xin Li:
As Mu Yao had mentioned, the tortilla was too tough. Nonetheless, I enjoyed how the cheese and sweet sugar syrup mingled together with a fragrant cinnamon background. I can have seconds of these especially if they improve on the pastry.


4

Fried whitebait ($13) (Right); Fried Calamari ($12) (left)
The fried whitebait was ho-hum, didn't really taste the fish/herring flavour. But then again who really cares about what they eat in pub grub when its really meant to be food that's a complement to the performance? Once you take that into account, I guess the taste is understandable. The pairing of the citrus mayo - would have preferred it to be more tangy with more citrus zing. (but it might spoil the composition of the mayo, I don't know) It goes acceptably well with the fried whitebait, although the sweet thai chilli sauce that went later with the Tab burger would have been a much better complement.

The calamari was... big. it had big rings but at 12 bucks it had better be big man. The squid was pretty fresh though, bouncy and slightly firm but not turgid like rubber. I'm not a big fan of calamari... so I'm gonna pass on this one. The citrus mayo was good though!

TAB - Fried Calamari

Xin Li:
Between the Fried Calamari and the Fried Whitebait, I will go for the Fried Calamari. The white bait was tasteless, no sweetness etc. I felt that it was simply overpowered by the seasoned crust and the citrus mayo did not help this particular dish.
As for the calamari, Firstly, I am glad that its fresh, not the limpy ones that tasted like seawater which I normally get. Secondly, the crust was crispy and there is seasoning on it, which gives it a mildly sweet & spicy flavor (it reminds me of Cajun seasoning). Nice snack with the citrus mayo.

3

Buffalo Wings! ($12)
Buffalo Wings. They come everywhere as part of standard pub grub fare. But its slightly different here, their version's alot more tart - perhaps they don't lather on the sour cream that's why. I have come across wings in the states that are slightly sweet to counter the sour cream that's literally lathered on them. I like their version - quite appetitzing, meat's tender and evenly cooked, and the color's about right. Its something like a kaffir lime tandoori chicken, but better coz its BUFFALO WINGS BABBEHH. Oh, and its not so spicy lah. (Xinli's spice tolerance levels are just abysmal.)

TAB - Buffalo Wings

Xin Li:
My threshold for spiciness is indeed low, but it has increased a lot. Hainanese Chicken with chili sauce used to be a no-no for me in the past. The Buffalo Wings are indeed different, it has a sour aftertaste (in a pleasant way) and the meat was quite moist and tender.


5

The Hansel & Gretel cocktail ($18)
The Hansel & Gretel cocktail - inspired by a "blackforest fairytale" - sees lots of fruits, jam, cream and vodka. It tasted more like an fruit orchard than forest - a fruity explosion, that was pleasantly well rounded with cream overtones. Its like a bad-ass version of Aunt Mathilda's English tea. Spiked by eccentric Uncle Vladmir's vodka by a curious teenager. Funky, pretty well done actually. Would be a favourite with the ladies, but guys looking for harder options should look elsewhere.

TAB - Hansel & Gretel

Xin Li:
Hansel and Gretel….Cocktails wise, for a person who seldom drinks alcohol, they somehow just reminded me of alcohol swab they used during injections, perhaps it’s the smell. However, besides the part that reminds me of alcohol swab, I didn’t know cocktails can be that interesting. The Hansel & Gretel reminds me of a chocolate milkshake. The general trend with the cocktails we tried was that they were quite light.


6

7

The Tab Burger! ($16)
Then came the main courses. There was the lovely Jamie-Oliverish burger (who else puts rosemary in their groundmeat for making burger patties, huh!) that had lovely buns (I'm not kidding, there had this fresh organic sweetness to it), beautiful tasting ground beef (not dry, moist and packed with savoury goodness), with that hints of sweet caramelized onion and salty cheddar mixed into this gastropub powerkeg. Awesome stuff, the burger, although I fault it due to the onions that were way too oily (I know, its very hard for a chef to caramalize onions while using less oil all the time). The homemade fries tasted vaguely of sweet potato in its crust, which sadly hid the quality of what seemed to be like good, solid US russet potatoes. (or were there too white to be russet!) I thought that it was a bit of a mismatch when paired with the sweet thai chilli sauce, thought it ought to go better with the fish and chip's curry mayo sauce instead. But its my personal view that It would be good if the chef could offer the choice of sauces in the menu. In all, the Tab Burger was pretty well done to say the least.

TAB - Tab Burger

Xin Li (actual serving and samplers in the background):
The TAB Burger is one of my favourite dishes for the session. I just adore that well minced beef patty which was moist and they added rosemary to it too. It was different from all the burgers I had before and the caramelized onions and cheddar cheese only made this item even better. The pity however is that the onions were too oily, that the burger bun was drenched in oil. However, Mu Yao has a point that it is not easy for the chef to caramelize onions while using less oil all the time.

TAB - Tab Burger

9

17

Chicken Parmigiana ($18)
Sad to say, the Chicken Parmigiana wasn't exactly well received by our dear friend Xinli. It tasted too much like "xiangjipai" from taiwan. The chicken was well, normal to say the least, but I appreciated the nice tomatoness to counter the otherwise heavy cheese that's usually overdone in this dish. The portion was pretty big though, to say the least! I thought it was okay.

TAB - Chicken Parmigiana

Xin Li:
I am not a fan of tomato-based pasta sauces and breaded chicken. Chicken Parmigiana with its strong tomato flavour, is sadly, the combination of two of my dislikes. Objectively, it was decent. I actually thought of having more when after the whole session. Hmmmm…. Potato mash, I prefer it to be more chunky (a personal preference) Love those sautéed onions and peppers though.


11

Fish n' Chips! ($16)
The Fish and Chips was great! I was quite pleased with the slight malt ale-ish taste of the crust, which meant that it's really battered well. He used this Mexican dark lager called Negra Modela, which I thought was quite a pleasant surprise from the lightish, slightly acid lagers like Corona Extra that most chefs I know use to batter their fish in. I guess it paid off because the fish crust beautifully complemented the softness of the dory fish flesh. Which explains why there's that maltish taste - I found out later that these brewers also make the maltish Mexican beer called Corona. There's this slight, very faint flakiness of dory meat I like that went well with his hard crust that wasn't oily at all. That I love - this is fish and chips to a gourmet level I guess. :) Brilliant.

TAB - Fish & Chips

Xin Li:
Fish and Chips with Curry Mayo - Interesting combination, it seemed to combine the joy of having fish and chips and prata dipping together. Perhaps its inconsistency, the sample plate of fish and chips was quite oily but the main plate and Mu Yao’s were not.


13

Seafood Marinara Pasta ($20)
The Seafood Marinara Pasta was generally graced with pretty fresh seafood - dory bits, mussels, prawns and even a scallop. All were pretty fresh, especially the mussels (maybe I got a good one) that tasted sweetish and un-sandy. The texture of the pasta was excellent too - I thought it was hand pulled pasta as there was this nice springy punch to the pasta. And the sauce was well done - right amount of sweetness and tarty tanginess. Classy execution too.

TAB - Seafood Marinara

Xin Li:
The Seafood Marinara Pasta was well-executed. It has a strong peppery tinge together with the tomato based sauce. While I dislike tomato based sauce, this pasta managed to overcome that dislike, it was good. The seafood was fresh, prawns were succulent and juicy, and same goes for the scallops and mussels. Once again, seawater is not part of the ingredient too, another trademark of fresh seafood and proper cleaning.

8

First Wives' Club ($18)
Wooops. I forgot about the 3 other cocktails that came midway too. There's the "first wives' club" which tasted alot like a "tai-tai" drink as they said. Its described as what "plantation taitais of the slave trade era" would drink during their "afternoon soirees" as their "husbands go out gallivanting". Bourbon, mango and rose make this a like a more feminine version of maitai (with rose!). Quite okay, didn't really catch my tongue.

10

Caipirinha De Maracuja ($18)

12

The Charlie Brown ($18)
There's the Caipirinha De Maracuja which was basically a caipirinha with passionfruit. I've not had a caipirinha before, I would just think that the sweet smell of the passionfruit went very well with the citrus outburst that was with the caipirinha. Would liked it to have been sweeter though, but i'm fine with it as it is too. Lastly, the Charlie Brown - almost like a dessert drink, less like a cocktail. The peanut butter creaminess was the dominant taste on the palette, but I could taste hints of vanilla and chocolate with a very faint vodka overture. It was pretty filling to say the least, so this made a good substitute for dessert I guess. Haha, but seriously, this cocktail inspired from the famed Peanuts series ought to take the cake as my favourite cocktail. Who would have thought of peanut butter and vodka?! Genius.

TAB - Charlie Brown

Xin Li:
For the alcoholic drinks, I prefer the Charlie Brown and Caipirinha de Maracuja. Like Charlie Brown for its peanut butter and mild chocolate flavors, a rather smooth creamy concoction and the Caipirinha de Maracuja that reminds me of a fruity, sour, refreshing sorbet.

TAB - Caipirinha de Maracuja

There's no doubt on the quality of food that this "gastropub inspired" restaurant - seems even gourmet to a certain extent. At worst, it serves up some well-executed comfort food that you can find joy in good company and music. At best, it integrates soul and flavour with one's food, pushing the envelope on the culinary boundaries of pub grub. This is an establishment not content with mediocre food under the mask of good company and good music. It adds a whole new culinary dimension and one more aspect that we can all enjoy while chilling at the pub. Whatever the label or identity TAB aims to give itself - its all good and wholesome, and best of all, its constantly improving.

TAB - Board

Xin Li:
The Signature Cocktails are priced at 18.00++ each and main courses from 18++ to 20++. According to them, the portions you see in the photos (except for the TAB Burger samplers) are reflective of the normal portions they served. While sets were not available yet, there are promotions going on.

Mu Yao

One thing I enjoyed about attending this session, is that we finally got the chance to meet other bloggers beyond the virtual realm such as Charlene from Foodoshoot and Daniel from Memoirs of Food.

TAB Doodles

Lastly, this is my first time attending an invited session. It was only after much hesitation that I decided to attend the event. Honestly, “free food” comes with much ethical implications and I felt very uneasy about it. Having witnessed how this had led some bloggers astray, I do not wish that this will happen to this blog and become a “classified advertisements” page that I have sadly witnessed elsewhere.

TAB - Facade

What was written above is our truthful feedback from the session. I hope the restaurant would take our feedback with good faith, keep up with the good work during the session and continue to deliver quality food to the patrons who decided to visit TAB upon reading this.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Vivian and Kimberly for their invitation, Adrian, the Director as well as the people at TAB for organizing the event. Finally, thank you Chef Edwin Tan, for preparing the food for us.


TAB Restaurant
Address: 442 Orchard Road
#02-29 Orchard Hotel
Singapore 238879

Tel: +65 6493 6952
Email: info@tab.com.sg

Website: http://www.tab.com.sg

Opening Hours
Tues to Thurs: 5PM - 1AM
Fri to Sat: 5PM - 3AM
Sun: 5PM - 1AM
Monday Closed.
Main courses will be served till 11pm daily.
But the small plates will still be served until 12.30am on Fridays and Saturdays


10 comments:

  1. Wow, thanks for the drawing! It was great to finally meet up with you too, and Chris as well! =)

    Yes, invitations might become uneasy as more of them arrive in your mailbox. But really, I think its all about our mentality towards them. As long as we give opinions true to our character, I'm sure readers can tell the difference between a sugarcoated write up from a honest one.

    ReplyDelete
  2. the burgers and fish and chips look good! i need to try them soon~~

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  3. Heyy Xinli! Great writeup by you and Chris! Zhihao and I were glad to meet you two at TAB :) Lastly, I really think your drawings are awesome, they never fail to wow me!

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  4. I was already craving for some decadent fish & chips recently; and wow, TAB does seem to do a mean rendition!

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  5. to Daniel: I will keep that in mind ;)hopefully we will get to meet again once exams are over. have you been to dozo yet? Safra offering 20% discount.

    to Harris: The burger was really good! portion wise, I might not be satisfied with one heh.

    to foodoshoot: thanks! nice to meet you too! may we meet again for a gathering after the exams!

    to Glenn: yeap indeed they do. If I wasn't so full, I could have finished it, curry mayo is something different from the usual fish and chips =d

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  6. oh there's such a promo? didn't know that.. I have been wanting to try their 7 course dinner for quite some time, but always held back by the price.. haha. Hmmm now its worth some serious thoughts again! Thanks for the info! =)

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  7. to Daniel: yeap grab it before Dec ends ;) its applicable to Tao's as well.

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  8. Anyone planning a Dozo trip? Hmm Hmm.

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  9. nice review. not to mention the great photos.

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  10. to Glenn: too bad Daniel got something on on the 1st of Dec. =/ probably heading for Nazt.

    to ratatouille: thanks! =)

    ReplyDelete

 

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