Food boost in The Woods

Food boost in The Woods

This is an excellent takeaway item for home parties or picnics.

When Shelter In The Woods opened early last year, I gave the restaurant a good review for its warm, rustic ambience, friendly service staff and a menu with more hits than misses.

However, with an update that included renovations and a new chef, the restaurant in Greenwood Avenue reopened last month with quite a few changes.

The mood, while still rustic because of the use of heavy timber in the decor and furniture, is a little lighter, with brighter lighting.

And the bar counter seating has been removed, reducing the interactivity between diners and staff.

The food, however, has become even better. New consulting chef Masashi Horiuchi has taken the cooking up a few notches without losing its hominess.

The Japan-born and French-trained chef has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in Switzerland, France and Britain, including at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London for five years just before coming here. And his training in fine French cooking shows.

His wide range of pates is not to be missed. My favourite is the Pate En Croute ($18 a slice), a blend of veal, pork, foie gras, mushroom and pistachio baked in a pie pastry.

What makes it special for me is the thin layer of aspic between the pate and the crust, which melts the moment it enters the mouth, giving the dish a flavoursome punch and moistening the pate.

Get it as a starter, sharing it around the table and pairing it with perhaps a salad to balance the heaviness and freshen up the palate. The Lyonnaise Salad ($12) and the Endive & Roquefort ($14) are good, though the strong blue cheese may not be many people's cup of tea.

If you are really hungry or in a big enough group, get the Rotisserie Suckling Pig ($35) too.

The three chunks of tender meat are topped with crisp crackling, and accompanied by sweet wedges of grilled pineapple and tart pickled onion. You not only get a range of textures, but the sweet and sour flavours in the garnishes also make a good counterbalance to the fat in the pork.

It's good to share this, though, because you want to have enough room for the mains, which are mostly meats.

The standout main course for me is the Rotisserie Rack Of Lamb ($39). If you dislike lamb dishes because of the meat's strong smell, you may change your mind after eating this.

Not only is there no offensive smell, but the meat is also so tender and moist, and so fragrant from being encrusted in herbs, that it is hard not to like it. The other meat dishes, such as Duck Leg Confit ($28) and Rotisserie Chicken ($19 for half), are good but this is what has been filling my dreams of late.

Non-meat eaters have the Seafood Casserole ($19 for individual, $35 for sharing portion) to enjoy. The scallops, prawns, fish, clams and mussels come in a full-flavoured broth flavoured with herbs and a hint of spice.

You can dunk in pieces of toast topped with herb butter to soak up the broth or just drink it direct from the pot. Either way, it's delicious.

Desserts are okay but not the highlight here.

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