Our team goes undercover to suss out the latest and most talked about restaurants in town
Just a year since its launch as the glamorous sister to the stalwart The Disgruntled Chef at Dempsey, The Disgruntled Chef (at the Club Hotel) has casually relaunched as The Disgruntled Brasserie with the departure of founding chef Daniel Sia from the group.
The new name poses a challenge—while a person certainly may be disgruntled, how does a brick-and-mortar locale exude disgruntledness? Gingerly stepping into the premises, we were relieved that it retained a friendly vibe, just with the incongruous addition of framed black and white, nostalgic photographs of vintage Singaporean hawkers above the mirrors. Waitstaff are polite and professional, with a few young ones in training blurting out bon mots such as, “Plate is hot, careful ah!”
The menu, now shared with adjacent bar Mr and Mrs Maxwell, has been given an almost complete overhaul. A few favourites still remain—miso cod and mac and cheese. These, it would turn out, are the main things to return for.
On our dinner visit, the steak tartare ($18) was unfortunately half the steak it's supposed to be. Although we prefer the meat less finely diced, our bigger quibble was the underuse of onions and capers. Two quail's eggs were disappointingly overdone with almost solid yolks.
Fans of the bestselling miso cod ($38) will likely find the new version rough at the edges. While the cod itself had good flavour and char, its chunky pea mash is a far cry from the smooth, silky pea puree in the old. We ordered our 250g US Choice Ribeye ($48) medium rare and it was overdone possibly due to the steak being on the thin side, approximately just over 1cm. The gratin dauphinois was slightly dry and didn't have the luxurious feel one expects of the French classic.
Clearly still a popular lunch spot with the business crowd, our small plates of baked king scallop ($18) and French onion soup with Comte toast ($14) during a second visit were followed with a complimentary bowl of truffle tries to compensate for our long wait. The scallop slices were baked on an impressively large shell which was covered by puff pastry (and removed prior to serving) leaving the shellfish pieces tender and moist as they were practically steamed. A brasserie staple, the French onion soup was rich and redolent with a good hit of acidity and peppery aftertaste, a worthy hangover cure!
Being a fan of the Maine lobster and chicken pot roast from the former menu, which had Madeira in the sauce, I had to test the roast spring chicken ($32) which also lists the Portuguese fortified wine. Was it a worthy 2.0 version? Alas, no. While the chicken was passable, the sauce was nowhere as rich. The finely “zested” black truffles did however give the dish a boost it needed.
It's interesting how a curried blue mussel ($24) with fried mantou soldiers made it to a French brasserie menu. While we love the perfectly done mantou, we had nowhere to dip the golden fingers into as we found the curry flavour disagreeably funky. We couldn't be sure if we found fault with the mussels or curry paste. The waitstaff kindly took the item off the bill, nonetheless. Another Asian-inspired dish is the snow crab angel hair pasta and kombu ($29), which had great flavours but limp pasta. A test of the set lunch menu ($32) featuring festive breaded cod cake and turkey roulade yielded generous portions but essentially perfunctory canteen-like food.
It was up to two desserts—the tall, airy Grand Marnier soufflé with vanilla ice cream and chocolate fondant with a lick of peanut butter (both $16) to assuage our feelings for this restaurant revamp. We were left not quite disgruntled, but not quite satisfied, either. 28 Ann Siang Road Tel: 6808 2184
Average dinner bill for two, with drinks: $150
Must-tries: Baked Miso Cod, Mac and Cheese, Chocolate Fondant.
Book a table at The Disgruntled Brasserie with Chope.