East Coast has changed quite a bit, it used to be one of those secondary school or JC days place to have BBQ or outings like playing Counterstrike in LAN cafes and steamboat at Marina Bay before the days of MBS and Orchard Ion. The old East Coast Park that I remembered including the “American” town which housed a McDonalds is no more and the Road Safety Park is now a public park instead of the playground for secondary school students and NPCC cadets that I knew then. Changes are happening along East Coast Park all this while.
I found myself re-visiting East Coast Park again at the former waterpark with Peter from YumyumformyTumTum and Kyrin from Cafehopping.sg. The waterpark’s slides have since gave way to a recreation complex with plenty of food and beverage establishments including Brussels Sprouts and Jumbo Seafood etc. The occasion was an invited tasting session at Cotton, which has took over the premises of the former 1-Twenty Six by the 1-Rochester Group. The familiar typography, motifs of its predecessor on some of its furniture and similar layout are just some of the legacy left behind by 1-Twenty Six which marketed itself as the venue to lounge and dine by the beach then.
Our dinner begun with a healthy mix of excellently seared tuna loin mixed with crunchy French beans, potatoes, baby radish and juicy cherry tomatoes. While, the main criticism was centred on the modest servings of the tuna loin, I enjoyed the tuna’s contrast of textures. It has a pinkish, raw tender center and a beautifully seared and lightly seasoned exterior.
The next appetizer was a bruschetta and White Clams cooked in White Wine Broth (Vongole). I sensed a bit of an identity crisis here but I appreciate the attempt by Cotton to come up with a unique pairing of bruschetta and vongole because I see the two as separate appetizers in most Italian-themed menus. To be honest, the bruschetta was decent, the bread remained a crispy and mix of tomatoes and olive oil was delicious. The vongole on it was own was delicious as well. The broth is a thick, rich, sweet clam broth fused with white wine with a hint of spiciness. It was a waste that the Vongole doesn’t come with some crusty bread to soak up the tasty gravy besides the bruschetta.
The mains courses were where I thought Cotton is getting it right. With an expansive outdoor space, a beachside location and a well-stocked bar, this place is perfect for what Cotton is currently doing right, serving competently grilled dishes. This included their whole Snapper Fish which was sourced from the local market. Lightly seasoned and grilled to the right texture, the fish was succulent. With a just the right amount of smokiness from the grill.
The same goes for the NZ Lamb Racks which was similarly done right. Both meats are served with a sauce of your choice including Wild Mushroom, Bordelaise, Lemon Garlic Butter and the unique Pink Peppercorn (instead of the usual black pepper). The grilled items also come with a choice of two sides such as fries, potato mash, seasonal vegetables, asparagus etc. I think the sides could be something Cotton could further improve on in order to better complement the excellent grilled dishes. For example, the potato mash seemed dry (even though sauces were provided).
I had the recommended cocktail, the Jar of Hearts which was a mix of amaretto, strawberries and egg white. The bartender even put in the effort to arrange the strawberries around the circumference of the glass to make look like a jar of hearts. It has an expected berry flavour with a refreshing taste. For me, there was a transition from the light refreshing notes of the berries to a heavy, fruity flavour at the back.
Sweets don’t seem to be the focus of Cotton’s cuisine even though there are a couple of notable ones such as the Profiterole with Rum and Raisin Ice Cream and the Mango Panna Cotta. The Chocolate Lava Cake could have been better if the chocolate lava is more fluid and the cake has a firmer and crispier crust.
The name of Cotton, was inspired by a blooming cotton tree found on-site. Like the tree’s young cotton fruits, Cotton is at its nurturing stage, attempting to keep what is good about the old 1 Twenty Six such as preserving the tradition of hosting wedding events at Cotton while seeking a niche of their own in the cuisine. There are many plans and ideas for Cotton at the moment including a brunch buffet to raise awareness of their extension to day-time operations in contrast to the former 1-Twenty Six which focus on evening operations. The positive energy and commitment by the management is definitely getting excited about the future of Cotton.
902 East Coast Parkway
#01-26 Big Splash