Wednesday, May 7, 2014

GRUB at Bishan Park - Dining in the Gardens

To be honest, I have never liked Gardens By The Bay that much. It feels forced, and the layout is just horrendous for folks who don't drive.

Bishan Park, however, is a whole different kettle of flowers. It was revamped only a couple of years back, and what was originally just a huge grass patch has now turned into a vibrant park filled with little ponds and walkways.

These days, weekends are packed with people who make use of the greenery for exercise, for their puppies and for other sports and leisure activities.

It is no surprise then that eateries have also flourished in this area, and unlike the high end fare you find in the gardens in Marina, Bishan Park's F&B are mostly family oriented cafes that serve affordable food catered to the heartlanders who live nearby.

GRUB is one of the popular joints here and getting a table here previously on a weekend was quite challenging. Thankfully, GRUB has now decided to extend their operating hours and also operate on weekdays during lunch hours.

The food they serve here is typical cafe fare, but the owners are determined to use as many fresh elements as possible, and also be price conscious at the same time. They are also pretty creative in coming up with some new dishes recently.

Mentaiko Fries

Their mentaiko fries is a particular standout among the hordes of truffle scented fries elsewhere. The dip is the star, coating every golden stick of potato goodness with a combination of sweet and tangy mayo that is very appetizing and addictive all at once.

Truffle Egg Cocotte

For a morning starter, the truffle egg cocotte is something that you do not see often in other cafes. Baked eggs lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and a whiff of truffle oil should arouse any nostril on this island. Served on the side with 2 sticks of gentle toasts, this French classic is a nice twist on your regular local eggs and toast variant.

French Toast

What is more funky was GRUB's take on the french toast. Served with a gigantic pork sausage, strawberries and whipped cream, this eclectic plate seems popular here and whilst the strawberries and whipped cream felt slightly out of place for me, I do see the appeal of mixing these elements together for the younger ones. Sweet, savory and eggy has proven to work before.

Double Cheese Burger

The double cheeseburger was for me, an absolute winner. Using fresh soft buns (instead of the insipid and hard sesame ones), the beef patties were homemade and beautifully seasoned and topped off with chunks of bacon and tomato, this was a fantastic burger. The lovely drooling bits of melted cheese was just the perfect way to finish off this burger.

Crispy Fish Burger

For those who prefer a fish burger, their crispy fish burger was almost as good. I liked how the crisp and well fried fish fillet tasted, well cooked and nicely moist within. Both burgers were also served with a generous helping of fries and GRUB impressed me wholeheartedly with their burgers.

Slow Cooked Pork Belly

As good as the burgers were, my absolute favorite for the day was this beautifully sous vide pork belly with purple mash that both caught my eye and my palate that wowed me the most. Fork tender and melting in the mouth, the beautiful flavors of the pork were intricately captured during the cooking and lightly caramelized at the end.

The purple mash looked psychedelic but otherwise utterly delicious. Finished off with a syrupy sauce like ju, it was an elegant dish that seemed to belong more to a michelin star restaurant than a bistro. A very well cooked dish indeed, and showed the ambitions of the cooking team.

Sakura Ebi Pasta

For those seeking a break from the classic pasta dishes, this newly launched sakura ebi linguine dish might just tickle your fancy. The prawns were perfectly cooked and succulent, and the addition of the Japanese ebi components gave it a very light crustacean touch to the resulting flavors. I did wish it the dish was seasoned a little bit more to give it that extra lift, but otherwise, I liked the subtle and refreshing fragrance of the pasta dish.

Churros

I don't find many places that offer churros these days, and so was pleasantly surprised to find that GRUB has it here. The batter was fried to a lovely crisp and had a nice chewy and doughy texture within. The dips were the classic chocolate sauce and a creme anglaise which I actually preferred more to the chocolate. If you like churros, I think you might like this one too.

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait

The strawberry cheesecake parfait could have done with a bit of presentation, but digging my spoon into it, it was still a fairly decent cheesecake in the end. Perhaps just a little bit too much cheese for my liking, but cheesecake lovers will have little to complain.

Chocolate Kladkakka

This sticky chocolate cake is a favorite among diners here I am told. And it's no wonder, the combination of a rich luscious chocolate sponge, mixed with an ice cream and strawberries is typical dessert fodder for the ladies. And yes, I enjoyed it from a male perspective too.

Cosy Surroundings

GRUB is a great place for the family, and a great cafe in the park. Despite the heavy traffic that passes here everyday, it did not feel claustrophobic at all, and maybe due to the high ceilings, you can still have pretty decent conversations here without being drowned out in human noise.

The prices are all pretty decent and should not really burn a hole in most wallets, and despite the lack of a reservation facility, you should be able to grab a table if you come early during lunch hour on the weekends.

After a full meal here, what better way to burn off that extra fat by just taking a stroll in this beautiful park and garden landscape. We need that, you know. Enjoying the natural sights and a bit of green in our vision.

After all the tension and stress during a work week, having a great meal here followed by a walk is just what the doctor ordered.

GRUB
510 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1
Bishan Park nearer to the Sin Ming side  

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