Thursday, August 13, 2009

Glad to have Tried Barracks Cafe

My friend SP who has impeccable good taste said some time ago “you must try Barracks Café, it is very good”. I had not been keen to check this place out because it appeared to be an impossibly hip and happening hangout for the beautiful people a.k.a focus more on the décor than the food. But after hearing all the good things that he had to say, today I finally gathered up the impetus to drive down to Dempsey with another friend, Y, for our monthly lunch outing. Boy, am I glad that I did.

Locating the place can be somewhat confusing. At least I had the advantage of having been to the Tippling Club just next door so I wasn’t too disoriented. Barracks Café is actually part of the same mega lifestyle outlet which goes by the confusing and tongue-tying moniker of House, Barracks and Camp. Once inside, it was like stepping out of Singapore and into another world - a very beautiful one. The place is charmingly done up with mismatched vintage chairs and has a wonderful setting looking out onto a lush green “jungle” – I have a soft spot for verdant greenery! Even the toilet was gorgeous, all light and bright, and with wood paneling.

Now for the important stuff – the food. The lunch “box set” (just their cute way of calling the set lunch) was going for $30 for three courses of almost anything from the ala-carte menu, and so that’s what we ordered.

Grilled Figs (me): chargrilled fresh figs served with crumbled pastry goat’s cheese and walnuts. I ordered this wanting to try something different and was very pleasantly surprised. The natural honey-tasting sweetness of those figs was complemented so well by the savoury smooth cheese, and reminded me of the wonderful cheese dish I had at the Tippling Club – no surprise considering that Tippling Club’s chef Ryan Clift is also the consultant chef for Barracks Café.
Sweet Corn Crab Soup (Y): Y said that it was extremely good and finished every single drop. I don’t like corn and thick soup so didn’t try this.

Squid Ink Paella (me): A huge serving came in a paella pan with clams, prawns, squid, black olives, tomatoes and grilled peppers. This was tasty, with a nice crust (although it could have been a bit more crusty) and the taste of the briny squid ink had really seeped into the rice grains.
Bay Prawn Capellini (Y): With chilli, braised baby leeks garnished with micro herbs and topped with pecorino cheese shavings. We both thought that this was superb. The menu blurb highlights the stock as being Asian based. Well I don’t really care how the chef does it, the dish tasted sublime. No wonder they brand it as their “house-proud” dish.

Strawberry shortcake (me): This came in a very cute stainless steel box with a shotglass of vanilla cream made with real vanilla beans by the side. Heavenly - layers of warm soft sponge interspersed with strawberry jam, served with cold cream. No wonder this is the *number 1* ranked cake in Barracks Café.
Pistachio, apricot and chestnut cake (Y): This was the only not-that-good dish of all those that we tried today. The milk chocolate coating over the chestnut mousse was far too sweet, so Y ended up scrape-ing most of it off before eating her dessert.

Barracks Good Ole Fish n Chips (Y’s colleague): Y’s colleague had asked her to pack the fish n chips back for a late lunch. The quantity was huuuge (or that’s how it appears to me, the small eater), and the enticing aroma of the truffle shoestring fries kept on distracting me during the drive back. [Verdict was that it was good although expectedly a little soggy from the inevitable condensation that had formed during transportation.]

We saw a lot more to tempt us on the menu but our stomachs were protesting from being too full (and I couldn’t finish half my paella and half the strawberry shortcake despite them being so yummy). So the skinny pizzas and the truffle mushroom ice-cream that we were eyeing will just have to wait till the next visit. Do go, please.

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