Restaurant Review: Bread Street Kitchen

How does the food at Gordon Ramsay’s one-week-new restaurant fare?

The Look
The Look
08 Jul 2015

The Look

PHOTO: Gordon Ramsay Group

We survey the dimly lit restaurant. It is full house. Neatly dressed waiters flurry across the checkered floors, loud music pulsates above the buzz of dinner conversation. It is only the second day of operations in Bread Street Kitchen Singapore, Gordon Ramsay’s idea of a casual yet upmarket brasserie serving British and European food. The restaurant is located at the deserted end of MBS where the now-defunct Moluccas Room once stood. But evidently, the name behind this place has no problem drawing the crowds. The windows at the bar open to a lovely view of the bay.

“Let me show you to your table,” says the elegant hostess. Instead of guiding us to a picturesque window seat (we booked more than a week ago), she leads us down a few flights of stairs into a dungeon-like basement. It is cramped but rather cosy. And less crowded too. The only view here is of the mustard-tiled open kitchen. Our table is so close to it we can feel the heat from the oven. But it’s nice to see chefs working the line. There’s no sign of 29-year-old executive chef Sabrina Stillhart (who was senior sous chef in BSK London). Apparently, she’s hidden in the second kitchen in the back. No sign of Gordon too — turns out he flew into town a day after our undercover visit. The calm but intense air here is interjected with the occasional sharp calls of “Service! Service!”

The original BSK opened in London in 2011. The same trendy but slightly dated black-and-white floors and tan leather banquettes are featured here too. The table we are seated at has tall, bar-like chairs that aren’t the most comfortable. They go well with the clubby dance music blaring on the speakers, we suppose. Mercifully, the playlist switches to Motown hits halfway through our meal.
 

The Food on our first visit
The Food on our first visit
07 Jul 2015

The Food on our first visit

PHOTO: Gordon Ramsay Group

The menu of British and modern European comfort food, some with Asian inflections, is long and meandering. To be fair, it is only the second day of the restaurant’s opening. So no surprises that the food is a mixed bag of delicious and… kinda dull. Our two starters are great. The Potted Salt Beef Brisket ($19, pictured above) is reminiscent of chunky shreds of good corned beef counterpointed with a tangy dressing of grain mustard and pickled cauliflower. Meanwhile, the Seabass Carpaccio ($21) dolloped with creamy blobs of avocado purée and grated horseradish is fresh and appetising.

The Food on our first visit
The Food on our first visit
07 Jul 2015

The Food on our first visit

PHOTO: Gordon Ramsay Group

But our main course, the BSK Short Rib Beef Burger ($26, pictured above), is not. The patty is dry, bland, and the bun as stiff as a Brit’s upper lip. We prefer the Roasted Black Cod ($44), an old-fashioned (and pricey) but tasty dish done well: firm, flaky flesh sheathed in crisp, well-salted skin, and crushed potatoes drizzled with a bracing red wine and lemon sauce.

The Food on our second visit, with Gordon Ramsay present
The Food on our second visit, with Gordon Ramsay present
07 Jul 2015

The Food on our second visit, with Gordon Ramsay present

PHOTO: Gordon Ramsay Group

Much better. But of course. Almost everything is good (we were hosted this time) — save for the gamey Lamb Chops. Standouts: the Tamarind Spiced Chicken Wings ($18, pictured above), like an umami Marmite chicken, and the Slow-Roasted Dingley Dell Pork Belly ($28). The crackling on the latter is airy, crunchy and perfumed with charred fat and salt, not tough and gummy as with most non-Cantonese-style roast pork. Its meltingly soft flesh is drenched in a luxurious sauce of chicken jus with sherry vinegar. Get a side of sinfully creamy Mashed Potato ($12) to go with this. After all, Gordon once said he learned “how to make the best mashed potatoes in the world” from Joël Robuchon. If you must have dessert, the Chocolate Fondant with Salted Caramel ($20) is pleasant if predictable. Oozy, sweet and salty in all the right places.

VERDICT: When a restaurant is built around a massive celebrity like Gordon Ramsay, expectations are, perhaps unfairly, sky-high. Even for a casual-chic eatery like Bread Street Kitchen. Give it some time to find its footing because when Mr Ramsay isn't around, it offers only some great dishes — but also a few middling ones — at slightly steep prices.

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