Booked Salt for Restaurant Week because 14K has been wanting to go but we haven’t contacted for about 7,000 years, so I went with Mr. NGFL. It was quite frustrating because I made the reservation at 7pm but I think later on, the restaurant wanted two seatings for dinner, so they only allowed 6pm and 9pm bookings and the restaurant pushed back my time to 9pm without informing me. Mr NGFL and I met at 8pm, thinking we’d drink at the bar first, but our seat was ready. I think many people cancelled their booking at 6pm–people need to work to pay for such meals, you know. I drove 20 trips of Lorry Cargo to be able to come here.
To get to Salt, you’ve to go to the 4th floor of Ion. There is a huge wooden reception counter and a concierge will point you to a secret lift to Salt. So fun, I felt like a superstar. On the 55th level, you’ll be greeted at the black marble facade of “Salt Bar & Grill.” Very posh and exclusive. Dress Code: no shorts and slippers.
The ambience is fantastic: comfy leather arm chair; fantastic lighting to ensure your photos turn out brilliant without photoshop; and even though the restaurant was about 80% packed, it felt intimate although the tables could be further apart. One problem, however, is that whoever designs the place is an idiot. She or he designed it with the ramp that leads to the second floor (where bar is) by the window so the diners are blocked by the ramp. Such a waste of a beautiful night scene of Singapore. To make up for the stupid design, there is a binoculars-like computer machine at the ramp which identifies the places in Singapore as you swing the machine to view the night scene. But then the patrons risk looking like suaku, standing there playing with the machine. Never see Singapore before is it?
Amuse-bouche was a beet-root juice in a shot glass that tasted like soil at first–clean soil–but had a sweet aftertaste. Moral of the story? Endure to reap sweet fruits. The complimentary bread was the bomb! Curry-favored bread! It’s like eating naan dipped in chicken curry without the guilt of excess calories. I ate a loaf of it! Hookerlily would have loved it; she loves bread.
However, the Restaurant Week Set Menu was very limited: there were no choices for starters and desserts and for the main, there was only a choice between fish and beef.
Starters: three types of seafood, carpaccio-style in three different sauces. The kingfish came in a surprising and wonderful Singapore-influenced sauce that tasted like cai-po used in chwee kueh (preserved radish). The scallop, in a Western sauce, was Mr. NGFL’s favorite because he deemed it freshest, although all three were quite fresh. The tuna was Japanese-inspired, with a wasabi fish roe and seaweed.
“OMG OMG!! The chef just walked past!!! Wow, he’s quite cute, ginger hair. I wanna take photo with him!!!”
For the main, Mr NGFL continued his seafood theme with Barramundi Fillet with eggplant, coconut broth, lime and Sydney spices…and of course Sydney Spices means the fish tasted like thai green curry. Mr NGFL relished it.
From the research I did, steaks seem to be their speciality. The Maori Lakes beef tenderloin, grilled with celeriac puree, beans and BBQ spices, was enjoyable but not out-of-this-world. The smooth mashed potato–and my friends know I hate potatoes–was very excellent with the right amount of savory butter and salt. The french beans had more cai-po on it. Lovin’ it.
Licorice is very unpleasant to me, possessing a strong bitter taste. But the licorice ice cream, for dessert, was very agreeable, because much sugar was added–sorry, kidneys, you’ll get diabetes–but the lime slices, lime peel, and lime sauce counterbalanced the sweetness, adding sourness to the bittersweet. Refreshing and innovative.
Service: a mixed bag of monsters. Some great parts included putting the napkin on my lap, always folding the napkin when people leave to go to the bathroom, refilling water. There was a very friendly female waitress who remembered things and asked after us. But there were some unforgivable mistakes for a restaurant of this class: never explained dishes to us; didn’t serve the steak with condiments when other tables had the condiments; delivered food to the wrong table; getting Mr NGFL’s and my order mixed up.
In conclusion: great ambience but bad design; mixed service; and food ranges from acceptable to innovative. Cute ginger-hair chef! Including two alcoholic drinks, we spent $177, that’s almost $90 a person for restaurant week which is supposed to be cheap. Ouch. Why I give a “not sure” instead of “recommended” rating on HGW despite having a 3.227/5 rating is because for a restaurant of this stature, the standard of the food was expected to be good but it didn’t go beyond the expectations. Besides, the experience was marred by the service. Not likely to return if there is no offer. I need to go drive lorry now. BB.