Ramsay's pedestrian fare

Bay Level, L1-81
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Tel: +65 6688 5665
Open: 11.30am to 10pm (Sunday to Wednesday), 11.30am to midnight (Thursday to Saturday)

Food: 2.5**
Service: 3.5***
Ambience: 3.5***
Price: Budget from $100 a person, without drinks

Now that the excitement of having celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay in town for the opening of his first restaurant here is over, it's time to address the question of whether the food at Bread Street Kitchen is any good.

I was invited to lunch last Monday, but returned unannounced for dinner the next day to get a more accurate sense of what the restaurant has to offer. Both times, I left the table with mixed feelings.

Bread Street Kitchen is a casual eatery, but when it carries the name of a multi-Michelin-starred chef, you expect more than you would from an average mass- market chain eatery. And yet, while a few dishes are good, too many are not.

The prices are just as erratic. A starter of spicy tuna tartare is $19 and a main course of fish and chips is $26, both very decently priced. But there is also a main course of roasted black cod at $44 and grilled lamb chops at $48, which is what you would pay at a smart restaurant in town.

The fish and chips is the dish to order if you are planning to dine at Bread Street Kitchen. Not only is it one of the better-priced dishes, but it also tastes very decent. The fish is moist under a crisp, golden batter.

It is not mind-blowing, but it will do. And the chips are good - crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, even managing to taste of potato - which is quite rare among the frozen fries you get in casual eateries here.

Another dish that's easy to like is the spicy tuna tartare ($19). Its seasoning of chilli, garlic and sesame oil goes down very well with my Singaporean palate, and the deep-fried wonton skin you use to scoop up the pieces of fish is a boost to the Asian flavours.

Compared with this, the sea bass fillet carpaccio ($21), with avocado puree, horseradish and ginger, comes across as bland and uninspired because the garnishes are too mild to lift the tasteless fish.

And the Alaskan king crab and apple cocktail with pink peppercorn ($28), too, is a boring combination despite the generous amount of crabmeat in it. You expect sweetness from the shellfish, but do not get it.

Even more unforgivable is finding your starter of seared scallops ($24) cooked to the texture of rubber.

And why does the $34 grilled baby chicken taste of the freezer? To be fair, I really like the chimichurri sauce poured over the chicken, but when the main ingredient comes with such a major problem, no sauce can save the dish.

The roasted black cod, too, strikes me as not having been defrosted properly. It has a hint of fishiness, but absolutely no flavour. And the slow-roasted Dingley Dell pork belly ($28), quite amazingly, manages to turn out dry despite the streaks of fat in the meat.

This leaves the grilled Irish Angus rib-eye steak ($68 for 12oz) as the only main course I have tried that I would recommend. It's leaner than most rib-eyes served in restaurants here, but it is not dry and the meat has an excellent, full flavour.

For dessert, get the Monkey Shoulder cranachan cheesecake ($18). It's more cranachan, which is a traditional Scottish dessert of whipped cream, whisky and toasted oatmeal, than cheesecake, but the unmistakable taste of cheese in the whisked creamy dessert gives it plenty of character. The accompanying roasted balsamic strawberries are so good with it too.

Other choices, such as the chocolate fondant with salted caramel ($20) and treacle tart with creme fraiche ice cream ($18), are pretty much what you might find at most cafes around town.

The pineapple carpaccio with passionfruit and coconut sorbet, though refreshing, feels dated. Also, while raw pineapple may be considered exotic in London, it is unlikely to get many diners here excited enough to pay $15 for a few thin slices.

Well, it's early days yet and I don't see the problems at Bread Street Kitchen as being insurmountable. Switching to better-quality ingredients would certainly be a start.

But in the meantime, there are better celebrity-chef restaurants at Marina Bay Sands to dine at.

SundayLife! paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.


Spicy tuna tartare ($19)

It is not gourmet fare, but the combination of chilli, garlic and sesame oil should appeal to the Asian palate.

Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke


This article was first published on June 28, 2015.
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