Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Brunch at Shelter in the Woods - Refined Elegance Incognito

Without missing a beat, he moves with immense grace and serenity. And with great care he dresses each plate he puts out with the utmost of precision. Nothing is left to chance.

Yet, as the dish forms slowly in front of your eyes, there is a sense of natural beauty and sublime elegance. This is the work of Chef Masashi Horiuchi.

Shelter in the Woods is one of few places in Singapore that really deserves the utmost of accolades from any serious food connoisseur.

Chef Masashi's pedigree cannot be doubted, yet he has decided to dish out classics instead of fancy modern fusion plates. And for that, we should be eternally grateful. We should be equally fortunate that Shelter has decided to extend their menu to include a selection of brunch items.

Each of the brunch selection is a carefully thought out dish. You won't see a silly cafe gimmick item here either. Yes, no ridiculous truffle fries platter for once.

Shelter Eggs Benedict

This gorgeous looking eggs benedict is as good as it gets. Every component on this dish is perfectly executed. The bacons were perfectly done and retained a nice chewy texture with that distinctive smoky note. The hollandaise was made from scratch and tasted beautifully rich with a slight touch of acid.

After consuming so many generic egg bens elsewhere with pale and bottled hollandaise that was just plain bland, this was a refreshing change and clearly showed the difference when a michelin chef makes this classic dish. Everything was just perfection on a plate.

Oven Baked Chorizo Eggs

I enjoy baked eggs dishes at home and was overjoyed to find this dish here. Baked eggs is a French breakfast staple and here, it is presented simply with all the rustic charm you will expect from the French countryside.

Farmhouse eggs are used and the yolks were visibly larger and more orange colour in appearance. It also had a stronger depth of egg flavours which was perfectly cooked with a runny yolky center. The spicy, meaty tones of the chorizo coupled with some nicely caramelised onions and toasted potatoes makes this a hearty dish filled with rich and robust flavours.

Croque-Madam

From the description, this should have been a classic and straightforward dish of toast, cheese, ham, tomato and sunny side up. Chef Masashi has taken each component and ensured that every item on the dish is taken to its fullest potential. No compromises here.

The Gruyere cheese and the smoked ham gave this the savoury punch to put the cynics down, and the crispy excellence of the toast provided the requisite texture. The sublime sunny side up was just the bonus to clearly demonstrate the exquisite levels that Chef Masashi's cooking can achieve.

Clam Chorizo Spaghetti

Clams and chorizo provided yet another classic flavour combination that will thrill and be comforting at the same time. But what was even more thrilling was Chef Masashi's ability to cook like an Italian master.

His pasta was not only al dente, it was also lusciously coated with the meaty oils of the chorizo and clams to a creamy goodness that only the best pasta chefs can muster. Each strand was relaxed and superbly flavoured with the aglio olio technique, and the flavours of the sweetness of the ocean meeting lovingly with the spicy meatiness of the chorizo. Magnificent.

Shelter Sunday Roast Beef

It is hard to find good roast beef here, and probably even harder to find a decent Yorkshire pudding as well. The plate looked simple enough and you would think that this is a straightforward dish. But deconstruct it carefully, and you will notice the meticulous efforts needed to create this plate.

From the perfectly buttered kai lan, to the perfectly cooked doneness of the roast beef and the excellently executed confit of garlic, everything was faultless. The veal jus that was made from veal bones had that robust body of flavours that will linger on for an eternity.

And yes, a well made Yorkshire pudding that was fragrant and fresh and had a good texture to match. A plate of roast beef that is as sublime as it can be. And then some.

Chestnut Tiramisu

As for the sweets, nothing captured my palate more than this elegantly looking glass of chestnut tiramisu. The dessert was rich with the classic flavours of coffee and marscarpone cheese and that unique addition of confit chestnuts give it some lovely earthy, sweet tones to counter the richness.

The Talented Mr Masashi

Dining here is not only a joy, but an experience in what truly good, soul food is about. It is not about eating something new or fancy, but understanding how classics should look and taste like.

Too often, Singaporeans only crave for the latest and trendiest in the food scene here, and that is so short-lived. At Shelter in the Woods, Chef Masashi's skill and passion is on show on every plate. He is a man of few words as he lets his cooking does most of his talking for him.

If you fancy sous vide food with iberico and waygu brands and white truffle inclinations, this is not the place for you. But, on the other hand, if you are endeavouring to find what truly great cooking is about in Singapore, Shelter in the Woods is probably one of the handful of restaurants that can accomplish that lofty goal.

Do not be fooled by the straightforward sounding menu and dishes here, for underneath each plate of Chef Masashi's food is a level of refined elegance that has been humbly disguised. Beautiful soul food is the order of the day here.

Oh, and you cannot miss that amazing smile from Chef Masashi too.

Shelter in the Woods
22 Greenwood Avenue

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