Marmalade Pantry at the Stables

Fairways Drive
Fairways Drive, Singapore

17th July 2012. Written by Liang Wei and Xin Li.
Invited Session
Xin Li and I were invited to a tasting session at the Marmalade Pantry at the Stables on a rainy Tuesday evening. Most would be familiar with its sister outlet at Ion Orchard and I must say that there are few (albeit extremely compelling!) reasons for going to the Stables one. Because it is located deep into the horse-riding area (and hence, its name), it offers a nice getaway from the bustle of Bukit Timah - a perfect place to chill out after work for dinner and drinks.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Lantern

The decor and lighting also lend themselves very well as a good place for romantic dates on weekday evenings. On weekends, with riding school going into full drive, lots of families will be in the area for brunch, so... you get the idea? It is also a popular venue for birthdays - in fact, a group was celebrating a birthday when we were there! It is also more understated than the Ion outlet, so anything between casual and smart would pretty much fit in here. 

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Alfresco

Xin Li : Located in at the end of the secluded Fairways Drive, and housed in a refurbished old (colonial?) building. The interior reminded me of Spruce (not the Bukit Timah one). Unsurprisingly this place gets rather crowded on weekends during brunch timings.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Interiors

We arrived relatively early and settled down to peruse the drinks menu and check out the interior of the restaurant. Our table was near the windows that led to the outdoor dining area and had cushioned seats, which were lovely for a relaxed evening. The waitress who attended to us was equally welcoming, enthusiastic and impeccable to the extent of saying, "It's my pleasure", in response to every word of thanks. There were slight lapses in service thereafter from other members of the waiting team - for example, one of the waiters was looking at the ground before I was to make my drink order. It is not a major issue but it can give the impression of self-absorbed oblivion, a potential dampener to any patron. That said, the rest of the evening went by fine with progression towards attentive, non-intrusive service from the entire waiting staff.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Passionfruit Mojito

Drinks
I started with a Passionfruit Mojito ($16), which was a refreshing twist to the standard mojito. The subtle notes of mint paired nicely with the rich flavours that came from the passionfruit. It was also not too dry and made for easy drinking, even for those who usually avoid alcohol for the throat-burning sensations. Minor quibbles would be the scrunchy-looking leaf garnish and the use of ice of a very small size, which made it melt much faster than larger cubes, diluting the cocktail too quickly and weakening the flavours substantially. Otherwise, I thought that it made a very good aperitif.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Joy

Xin Li got a Joy Smoothie ($9) that was a blend of banana, mango, honey and soy (good news for the lactose-intolerant!). The fruits' flavours were very distinct from each other and did not overwhelm each other. Best of both worlds at the same time! Yes, those two fruits make up a very common tropical combination, so you might find that the drink sounds quite pedestrian. Not quite! Unlike milkshakes and smoothies at other places, the Joy Smoothie was very light, in part due to the soy. If you are a hardcore milkshake/smoothie lover, then this won't satisfy you at all.

Xin Li : In short, I enjoyed this smoothie alot (besides the fact that its base is soymilk). Normally banana, mango and yoghurt give drinks a very rich, creamy and heavy taste and texture. The sourness from the mango and yoghurt definitely helps to lighten the intensity of the flavours.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Indoor Dining

FOOD
Each item has very generous servings and sharing is very much recommended to get at the range of food offered and yet not tax the stomach (and wallet) too greatly!

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Pan-Seared Haloumi


Starters

Pan-seared Halloumi 
with roma tomatoes and watercress herb salad 

The halloumi had a smoky flavour and was firm to the bite, with a texture that resembles compacted tofu, which would be suited to people who prefer their cheeses to be more solid in character. I prefer creamy cheeses but the halloumi was pleasant and not cloying when taken by itself. The sliced tomatoes were very juicy and its slight acidity went well with the cheese.

Xin Li : This is my first encounter with halloumi, I am embarrassed to think that "halloumi" (think halibut) was a fish until I saw the salad. I agree with Liang Wei that it resembled a firm tofu with a smoky flavour. The roma tomatoes played an important role in this dish as they were very sweet and juicy hence complement the smoky and firm halloumi cheese.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Mexican Chicken Salad

Mexican Chicken Salad 
with crispy tortilla, avocado, spiced corn and salsa

For something Mexican, it was not too spicy and sat well with Xin Li, who does not usually partake of spice.  It was actually very colourful and appetising, despite it being made up of things that people in Singapore generally do not have much liking for, such as chicken breast, chickpeas and kidney beans. If you notice, those ingredients generally do not have very strong flavours and both Xin Li and I agreed that it was to the chef's credit that the dish rose above expectations to deliver flavours and textures that were unexpected. The chicken breast was very tender and carried a good mix of spice and acid from the large amounts of bell peppers in the dish. The addition of kaffir lime leaves also imparted an intense, aromatic flavour - and an Asian twist - to the salad.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Crabmeat Linguini

Main Courses
Crabmeat Linguini 
with pine nuts, tomatoes and chilli

The pasta itself was nothing to rave about but I was fairly intrigued by the crabmeat, which tasted like a milder version of hae bee hiam (spicy dried shrimp) in terms of texture and flavour. However, once I got over the similarities in taste and the initial novelty of the texture, it became a fairly ordinary pasta dish. I would have preferred a more prominent sweetness of the crabmeat, which seemed to have been masked by the spice in this particular instance. The shredding of crabmeat into fine fibres also meant that juices were lost in the process of cooking and the natural sweetness of the flesh was consequently lost in the cacophony of flavours.
Xin Li: The crabmeat linguini was very delicious and it has a kind of Asian flavour to it, like a milder form of chili crab/prawn pasta?

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Pork and Fennel Seed Sausage Lasagna

Pork and Fennel Seed Sausage Lasagna 

I found this dish easily the best of the main courses that we tried. It was essentially a Western version of bak chor mee (minced pork noodles) with the sliced mushrooms, pork mince and a tasty béchamel sauce that was reminiscent of the black vinegar and soy sauce that hawkers would add to bak chor mee. I liked the wholesomeness of the flavours (I admit that I am a bigger fan of bak chor mee than hae bee hiam, heh.), which were amazingly retained from the dish that inspired this course. 

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Beef Cheeks

Braised 120 Days Beef Cheeks 
with horseradish mash and an orange and melon sauce

Horseradish mash? Sounds like a very drastic departure from the usual potato mash that our palates are used to... It probably also does not help that horseradish is most often associated with mustard and wasabi. Well, the good news is that the horseradish mash was not so harsh to the palate as one might imagine it to be. Yes, it was a lot more fluid than the ordinary potato mash (not surprising, given the difference in starch content) and had a tinge of sour to it (hello, mustard and wasabi!). But taken together with the melt-in-your-mouth beef cheeks, it proved to be quite an underdog combo that actually worked. In fact, those two ingredients combined nicely with the orange- and melon-infused sauce, giving the dish measured splashes of savoury, sweet, sour and citrus. The asparagus tips were a nice accompaniment to clean up the grease of the dish and also to provide contrast in sweetness and texture to the beef cheeks and mash.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Crispy Pork Belly

Crispy Pork Belly
with celeriac and apple slaw, French mustard and natural jus

I would have preferred it to have had a crunchy, sinful layer of crackling and sumptuous fat. The meat was too dry for my liking and both Xin Li and I thought that it was a tad too oily, which was not salvaged very well by the accompanying mustard and celeriac and apple slaw. It also paled in comparison to the pork belly that I had at Momofuku in New York, which was more flavourful and less greasy. (That said, I thought that the Momofuku pork belly itself was over-rated.) It will probably impress Western tastebuds but not anyone who has ever had a worthy kong bak (Chinese braised pork).

Xin Li: This dish would fare very well as a snack shared by a table of dinners.

 
Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Beef Cheeks

From the drinks to the starters and mains, it should almost be evident that the food and beverage unique to the Stables outlet revolve around themes of fusion and re-invention of tastes. A lot of the items sampled involves the melding of familiar Asian flavours into classic Western and Latin American dishes. Nice if you are happy to explore something that is not too far from your comfort zone in a laidback setting. Otherwise, you might leave disappointed!

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Elvis

Desserts

Selection of Cupcakes

We sampled three different cupcakes, namely Elvis (dark chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting), Red Velvet (red velvet cupcake with a coconut cream cheese frosting) and Hummingbird (cupcake of the month; don't get confused with London's famous South Ken bakery!). 

 
Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Cupcakes

Before I start on this, I have to say that I do not see the big deal with cupcakes. Girls do go gaga over them but... I am a guy. Maybe all we care about is protein, not sugar and hidden carbs. Anyway, for guys bringing girls to Pantry at the Stables, remember to let them indulge in their cupcake fantasies.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Cupcakes

Well, they looked nice, tasted all right and were sufficiently moist. But is that not what a cupcake should really be like? We did not find anything much to really rave about, since the combinations that we tasted were safe options (like, chocolate and peanut butter can almost never go wrong).

Xin Li: For me, I could comment on the flavours and combinations of the cupcakes. The Red Velvet was the weakest of the lot as the coconut shavings on top seem in be in conflict with the buttery cheesy cream and cranberry sponge. The Elvis is quite a safe choice if you love peanut butter and chocolate combination and it is on the richer side. The Hummingbird is perhaps be best of the lot for me because it was rather light in flavour. 

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Sticky Date and Toffee Pudding

Sticky Date and Toffee Pudding
with vanilla ice cream

We were expecting a heavy pudding and boy, we were pleasantly surprised! The sticky toffee pudding turned out to be a very light and airy dessert and the saccharine toffee was not too cloying. The hot pudding came with cold, quality vanilla ice-cream - a fail-safe combination in terms of flavour, texture and temperature and a winner for Xin Li.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Lemon Brulee Tart

Lemon Brulée Tart
with crème fraîche 

The tart did not endear very well with Xin Li, who thought that it was monolithic in taste and too sour for his liking. In contrast, I found it fabulous for its intensity, good custard-to-crust ratio (not a usual term to use but I thought it to be a convenient and snappy parameter, heh) and the satisfying contrast between the hard caramel and the creamy innards.

Xin Li : I don't enjoy Lemon Drizzle Cakes and expectedly I did not enjoy the Lemon Brulee Tart, I found the sourness to sharp for my taste and the overall flavour too rich.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Bread Pudding

Caramelised Pear and Salted Caramel Bread Pudding 
with vanilla ice cream

I personally thought it to be an average attempt to deconstruct the classic British dessert. Nonetheless, it was quite a different experience in terms of texture, with the pita bread-like outer covering ensconcing the core of caramelised pear. I also did not find the sweetness of a level that sufficiently complimented the saltiness of the salted caramel sauce, which resulted in the latter dominating the overall taste of this dessert.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Bread Pudding

It is almost apparent that there is much, much less Asian influence in the dessert department. In that respect, Pantry's desserts are really just barely-new interpretations of British and continental European classics, which are not really exciting. The combinations of flavours and textures are also not as bold or experimental as that seen elsewhere on their menus. Classics will easily satisfy the traditionalist here, but for the well-travelled sweet tooth, there are better places out there to nurse their cravings.

 
Marmalade Pantry @ Stables - Singing in the Rain

Tea and Coffee
The Espresso ($6, single shot) was from the local roaster, Oriole Coffee and came across as exceptionally smooth, albeit a lot less intense in flavour, due to the low-pressure extraction.

Marmalade Pantry @ Stables uses Gryphon Teas and Oriole Coffee.

 
Eng Neo Avenue

Many thanks to Jasmin, Janice and Amanda from FoodNews for hosting and inviting us to the tasting session at Marmalade Pantry @ Stables.

55 Fairways Drive
Singapore 286846




1 comments:

  1. Nice thought I like you thought I also tell you something. Standing or tie stalls need to be wide enough for a horse to lie down in comfortably. Depending on the size of the horse they should be at least 4ft to 5ft (1.5m) wide and 8ft (2.4m) long. There is usually a manger for hay at the front of a standing stall, so the width of this should be considered. A pony will need a shorter and narrower standing stall than a larger draft breed.Horse Stables

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