It's the 30th of the month again, haha! Finally managed to upload our morning express highlights over the long weekend :) Tracy did an awesome job with our videos & a couple of my friends engaged her service after my recommendation.
The lovely package that she hand-delivered to us :)
3 sets of video (for each side of the family + yourself), divided into day & night.
Watching the video 19 months later brought back all the fond memories of that day. We still laugh @ Leecher's countless "painful" expressions whenever he had to eat his worst nightmare. I still shed a tear or two at the part when I had to serve tea to mummy dearest. I've embedded the video below your viewing pleasure :)
To me, Botanic Gardens has always been a place for picnics (our experiences here, here, here and here. Leecher's step-by-step guide to making 爱心 sandwiches). I've never set foot into any of the restaurants @ Botanic Gardens. In fact, I did not know they existed till Leecher told me that he was invited to Au Jardin for an event during NTU days #truestory. To think I always claim to be more "informative" about Leecher, lol!
One of the restaurants that I always wanted to visit was Halia @ Botanic Gardens, but never found the time to do so. Thus, when they opened a new branch @ Raffles Hotel, I just had to head there over a weekday & of cuz, with the BFF + Leecher to rock the night away!
Be greeted with lots of greenery when you step foot into the restaurant, mirroring its famous twin @ Botanic Gardens. Being the early birds, we had the privilege of selecting where we wanna sit too, haha! We choose the cosy garden area, underneath the tree :)
#glutton Leecher taking over the menu. The standard routine for us whenever we settled at the table - Leecher looking through the menu, while I'll snap pictures of interior, menu and everything else.
Artistic shot of the menu #self-praised, lol! At Halia, there are 2 menus to choose from: pre-theatre menu and ala carte menu. The pre-theatre menu is a set dinner, where you can choose to be served with either 2 or 3 courses.
A separate menu for wine, but we were more keen to try out their cocktails concoction!
Why I sit against the light :( #poor lighting!
Leecher is always a sucker for anything that screams "recommended" on the menu! He ordered one of their classics item Heavenly Halia ($20), which consisted of fresh ginger, pineapple, peach liqueur, blue curacao & sprite.
I went with Somersby Apple Cider ($16) instead, as I wasn't in a drinking mood that day.
Minqian ordered Halia Sunset ($20), concocted from Southern Comfort, Lychee Liqueur & Cranberry juice. This was way more punchy that Leecher's gu-niang drink.
BFF brought along her new toy & boy, I must say I'm really tempted! Check out her contributions to my entry (w/o watermarks).
Pondering over what to eat ~
Self-proclaimed models for her new toy.
Being our 1st visit, we went for 2 set dinners + 1 ala carte main course. That means we get to try every dish on the set menu :) #cheapthrill! Pre-theatre dinner set is available from 5.30pm till 7.00pm.
Appetizer dish: Gratinated chevre goat's cheese, tomatos, shallots, toasted sourdough and olive oil (above) Chef's Soup - tomato (below). The manager served the dish to the table and introduced the dish to us in a professional way. I'm starting to like my dining experience here! First time trying out goat cheese and my, I'm loving it! I was expecting the smell/taste to be overwhelming, but my fears were uncalled for. It has a smooth texture and pairing it with toasted bread, yummy! Soup was extremely light & we finished every single drop!
Main courses were served together. Once again, the manager gave us a brief run-through on how the dishes are prepared by the chef. He also recommended the order on how we should consume the dishes, starting with dishes that are lighter in taste.
Being the only guy, Leecher claimed he had exclusive rights to pick an item for his main dish, lol! So, he ordered another "recommended" dish, so predictable. Chilean seabass en papillote , served with sushi rice, wakame, shiitake, mirin broth, shallot butter, truffle aioli ($46). This dish came out piping out but strangely enough, the food was lukewarm. We informed the manager and he sent the dish back to the kitchen. When it arrived 10 mins later, boy, the meat was tender and fresh!
Sous vide Baharat chicken leg, with butternut squash puree & roast, ginger, coriander red pepper salsa ($28). As per the manager's advice, we should eat this after seabass. The vibrant hues already made this dish a pleasure to look at :)
This made it to my instagram (follow me @caihonglim)! One of their signatures, Halia Chilli Crab with spaghettini, spring onion and egg ($25). BFF had tried this dish 3 times, only to be disappointed once. For me, I like this dish best! "Buffet" style eating, lol!
Ginger nougat parfait (caramelised pineapple, puff pastry, almond, anise, cinnamon) ($10). Another of Halia's classic but this didn't go well with me. As much as I love halia (the name), I wasn't keen on trying anything gingery. I took a small bite and was overwhemled by the ginger taste. I'm pretty sure ginger lovers would welcome this fusion dessert.
Sticky toffee pudding - date, butterscotch sauce, sea salt, vanilla ice cream ($10). I have to confess: I was never a fan of puddings, but Halia executed this so well that I have a craving for this now as I'm typing the entry. Go try it!
You can also pop by the Halia Bar for a drink or two at the al fresco area. Try out the Singapore Sling @ the Halia!
White vs Black, haha!
Another one with the love. Is it me or this camera lens made Leecher's tummy looks more profound?
Always a pic to show the height difference, lol! Think Leecher has resigned to his fate and stopped tip-toe-ing to score in the height department.
This time round, we headed to B @ Rochester for our dinner. The last time we came here was to celebrate our 1st year anniversary (when we were still pator-ing). Fast forward several years later, we arrived here as a married couple :)
Don't be deceived by its colonial outlook. B @ Rochester is actually a modern Japanese restaurant & bar. The restaurant is helmed by Chef Joseph, who has worked in various restaurants (Shima Restaurant @ Goodwood Park Hotel, Meritus Mandarin Hotel & Majestic Restaurant) in his decade of professional experience. He is widely advocated for his impeccable infusion of diverse culture into Japanese cuisine.
Let's get the night started! From the outside, this is the only tell-tale sign that this is a Japanese restaurant.
Leecher with the ala carte menu.
Check food blog for recommendations, then flip flip, see see. The chef preparing the sashimi platter, which we ordered on the ala carte menu.
Waiting for our food.
We ordered salmon & tuna to kick-start the evening. Salmon slices were thick & fresh, much to my delight!
3 course dinner was priced at $35 per person, we started the course with a complimentary entree - mixed kinoko of enoki, shitake and shimeji, mixed mesclun, yakiniku dressing. In short, a mushroom dish which I enjoyed tremendously.
Next came the starter, which was a seafood combination of baked diver scallop with cod roe, mayonnaise and swiss emmental cheese, spicy lemon soft shell crab with diced strawberry. I'm not a fan of (any) soft shell crab as I dislike the oily after-taste in my mouth. Scallop was juicy, but a tad salty.
2 choices of mains available, so we went with both: I went for alaskan black cod with akadashi miso, sauteed portobello & baby spinach. Leecher had rack of lamb with homemade black pepper sauce, sauteed portobello, arugula and fondant potato.
The mains were average in taste, nothing particularly wow-ed our taste buds. Dessert came in the form of homemade warm bread and butter pudding (with vanilla sauce). I wished we had time to linger on for a drink @ their bar, but we had to rush off for another appointment. Strolling down to carpark area. You could literally walk in the middle of the road! *love* Got a shock while we entered the carpark area. Wa, which car so garang go and bump against the barrier?