Saturday, May 07, 2011

Review: House

You know what I don't like about brunch? I mean sure, you get to wake up late and meet up with friends, sit on a sunny veranda listening to the birds chirping and watching the flowers bloom, and eat a sumptuous meal that would otherwise be the stuff of dreams, but what I really dislike about brunch is that you only get one meal when you could otherwise have got two!

Only joking. I rather enjoy brunch, with its connotations of the weekend's languid embrace. Every once in a while people will ask me where's good to go for brunch. There are the usual suspects, like Rider's Cafe, Jones the Grocer and Mimolette, but each of these has its drawbacks. The food at Rider's is outstanding, but you have to make reservations a year and a day ahead. Jones has great atmosphere but somewhat dismal service, while Mimolette seems to reside in the shadow of Rider's. One of my current favourites, therefore, is House, which I find strikes a happy compromise between atmosphere, food and service.

In terms of atmosphere, the decor is fairly eccentric, with glass, concrete, chalkboards, and stencils all making an appearance. There's even a strange sort of indoor pavilion you can dine under.

A crowd-pleaser is the House truffle fries, which I suspect suffers from a surfeit of truffle oil. It's not bad, by any means, but I feel that for a dish like this, less is probably more - what you want is a truffle aroma, not a truffle deluge.

House has a very extensive menu, but it's comforting to see that they offer a traditional fry-up: toast, scrambled eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and sausages.

If fried stuff isn't your thing, there is also comfort food like bay prawn capellini topped with pecorino cheese. Crunchy prawns packed with umami goodness, and spicy heat from fresh cut chillis, what's not to like?

The mushroom risotto was an attractive dish as well - diced tomatoes and thyme leaves added vibrance, and the risotto is cooked with a rich veal jus. I thought it would have made more sense to cook the risotto with mushroom jus, though, as the intensity of the veal stock rather overwhelmed the delicate flavours of the mushrooms. The risotto however, was well-cooked, al dente and glistening, without being stodgy and filmy.

The warm strawberry shortcake is a (H)ouse specialty - alternating layers of strawberry and cake, doused with vanilla bean cream. I'm not a fan of strawberries, but it certainly looks pretty (though we perhaps could have done with a bigger portion).

My favourite dessert, however, is the bitter chocolate tart, which is everything I think a chocolate dessert should be - intensely dark and decadent, with the right balance between sweetness and bitterness. Big enough so you don't feel shortchanged, but small enough so you don't suffer from a chocolate overdose, it's a perfect way to round off a long, relaxing weekend brunch.

8D Dempsey Road
Tel: +65 6475 7787

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