Relaxed Fine Dining at Sorrel

I’ll pre empt this post with a warning of what not to do before embarking on a gastronomic experience at a good restaurant. Don’t go for whiskey cocktails prior to dinner, then follow up with a five course meal that includes wine pairing and a generous dose of whiskey chasers and then head back to the first bar for another whiskey cocktail. I don’t think I need to explain why it is a bad idea. Oh well, live and learn I guess. Or probably not

Anyways, luckily the food at Sorrel stood out enough amongst the inebriation to allow a half decent review. Incidentally sorrel is a green, leafy herb. Sorrel has been written up a lot recently. It’s the latest F&B venture by the Unlisted Collection, the outfit responsible for several popular choices on the Singapore dining scene like Esquina, Cocotte and The Study. I’ve also seen Sorrel mentioned by several chefs and people in the business and so far the press has been pretty good. I can see why. The concept is fine dining in a more relaxed environment. Sorrel pulls this off with aplomb.

The comfortable seating, open kitchen and fast pace all create the feeling of a bustling bistro. It doesn’t take long to discover though that the bustle is more frenetic and the general hum is the sound of the more competent staff trying to help the less competent staff to get their shit together. We had a few mishaps to start, the table setting was dismantled only to be re configured three minutes later. No drama but it was a little embarrassing for the staff and it just gave that air of incompetence. We waited a good 10 to 15 minutes for our first drink (which was probably just as well in retrospect 😉 ) but at least it gave us time to peruse the set menu and decide which option to go for.

There are only two choices on any given evening, the five course ($88++) or the seven course option ($118++). You can also choose to add cheese onto either for an extra ($20++). Thankfully we went for five courses which was more than enough with the extra course of cheese we opted for. In addition there were also ‘snacks’, an amuse bouche, a pre dessert and petit fours. You can also choose wine pairing for an additional $65++.

Sorrel is all about fresh produce and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Presentation in general was outstanding and although the food looks meticulous it’s not unapproachable, if that makes sense? They don’t mess around with the food so much that you forget the key components whether it’s a vegetable, seafood or a cut of meat.

Snacks and amuses were all good and beautifully presented. The lotus root crisps were moreish, the bite sized fried cheese was delicious and the mouthful of beetroot had a beautiful mouthfeel.

The first of our five courses was smoked eel, served with cauliflower, romanesco, Thai basil and turmeric. I really enjoyed this, amazing since I don’t like cauliflower. I didn’t eat the shavings of white cauliflower, but I loved the romanesco, the nuttier flavour and the combination of herbal accents from the Thai basil with the turmeric made this an interesting dish, not to mention beautiful in appearance. And the delightfully smokey eel definitely stood out. One thing I will say is this was one of those plates that seemed disappointing when it arrived with the giant white plate overshadowing the teeny portion. The flavours however packed so much punch that it didn’t matter.

The kohlrabi with radish and sesame was not my favourite although the combination of flavours did work well and it was certainly pretty to look at. The tagliatelle more than made up for that though. The colours were deep and velvety looking and the squid with chunks of lobster were fresh and light. I couldn’t pick all the flavours in this dish but the sauce was gorgeously moreish and slightly herbal and I tried my best to scrape the plate clean. I think sorrel actually featured in the sauce although I can’t be sure.

Next up with the surefire winner of the night. The wagyu beef cheek with hay smoked bone marrow, sweetbreads and corn was marvellous. The unctuous and fatty marrow was only surpassed by the richly flavoured meat that was melt in your mouth soft. The sweetbreads also weren’t too offensive, I’m not a huge fan of offal but the combination went beautifully with the plate and was complemented by the crunchy corn.

A palate cleanser was followed by our cheese supplement. A New Zealand blue cheese called Kapiti Kikorangi was a gorgeous blue, soft and smooth in texture with a punch from the blue veins. The cheese was accompanied by a Comice pear chutney and mulled wine jus.

Dessert followed and although the unusual combination of white chocolate, parsnip, hazelnut and black olive wasn’t my favourite, it was interesting to say the least. Madeleines as petit fours followed but by that stage we were suitably stuffed and really not in need of extra space being filled in our tummies. This was also the point where everything went horribly wrong with the alcohol consumption. We’d had a bit of banter with our waitress so the whiskey that was our last wine pairing was topped up at least two times, tipping me over my limit. I haven’t mentioned much about the wine pairings, mainly because I didn’t get all the names, but what I do remember is that each wine was paired well with the course it was chosen for. What I like about wine pairings is that the wines chosen are different to the wines I usually drink, and even if I wouldn’t normally choose them I usually enjoy the way the wine complements the food.

So all in all, Sorrel is definitely worth a try, it’s very reasonably priced for the quality of food and the unusual dishes that you’ll try here. The cheese course is something to think about. If you’re a real lover of cheese it’s worth going for, but if you’re on the fence I think $20 is probably pushing the boundaries of value. The menu changes frequently so I’ll be heading back to try it out again, once I’ve given them a bit more time to sort the staffing situation out.
Sorrel
21 Boon Tat Street, Singapore, 069620
phone +65 6221 1911

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