“Do you think they will die early?” Chiobu asked on the ride home.
“Who?” I replied.
“The staff of Lollapalooza! It was so sooty in there. My eyes were watering from the smoke. My hair smells like a furnace. You are lucky you have short hair.”
Here’s a snippet I found on their facebook:
Our cuisine is best described as Free-Style or Borderless. The kitchen constructs a short menu of about 25 items daily that primarily rely on our wood-fired oven which burns applewood all day long. We’ve done away with the formality of course-by-course dining, and will serve dishes as and when they are prepared to be shared family-style.
The handsome chef Issachar Lee from defunct Kaixo helms the kitchen. As we were eating through the meal, we kept comparing Lollapalooza not with Kaixo, not with Lolla, their sister restaurant, but with Burnt Ends which recently entered Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. The two restaurants share a similar concept–using fresh ingredients, cooked in a primitive way over woodfire–but we found Burnt Ends superior in terms of ventilation, and other areas.
This is not to say the food at Lollapalooza is bad; it was satisfactory, and at times brilliant, but the brilliance came mostly from premium ingredients, not from any culinary craft. For instance, wagyu ribeye ($55, 180g, pictured above), the best dish of the night, was delicious because its outside was burnt bitter by the wood-fired oven, while inside stayed pink. Its savoriness came because the beef was from Miyazaki prefecture, grade A4, and because of the equipment. It was overly salted.
Braised tuna eye ($44) – you are looking directly at the bony socket, into the shrunken eyeball. That’s right, Tuna, I’m looking into your eyes as I eat you.
If we were to return to Lollapalooza, it would be only for the desserts by a very talented 24 year-old NUS graduate of food science, Pamelia. We paired the yonic peach tarte tatin ($16) with a scoop of rosewater and vanilla rice pudding ice cream ($9). Chiobu LOVED LOVED LOVED the texture of the very, very sticky pastry of the tart that she wanted to buy it home for breakfast. The ice cream also had a rice-pudding texture–rather fascinating. I want to return to try the Tasmanian leatherwood honey ice cream ($9).
Lamb shoulder and fennel stew ($36)
When I asked the server who the dessert chef is, he said, “She’s Pamelia. Don’t poach her from us.”
I laughed and asked, “What’s her surname?”
“I dunno,” he replied.
Chiobu asked, “Is it Wong?”
He replied, “Wong? Why Wong? Celebrity dessert chef Janice Wong? You think Pam is her sister?”
WOW. That blew my mind away. I think very few people would know who Janice Wong is, and for the server to make the connection so quickly, I was impressed. The service was mostly knowledgeable, friendly, and outstanding, but at rare times, patchy. Like how they forgot orders from the table next to ours. Or that time when we found a hair in our bread. Or when an overzealous server cleared our plate when we hadn’t finished the food.
Skip this: Chargrilled veal rack ($49) – order the Wagyu ribeye instead
Another area that Burnt Ends is better than Lollapalooza: the pricing. My jaw dropped when I saw Lollapalooza’s menu; I hadn’t seen such prices since Zott’s. We paid $255 for two persons, and this isn’t even fine dining. We only paid $120 at Burnt Ends, half price of Lollapalooza!
Peach tarte tatin with mascarpone cream ($16)
Does Lollapalooza hope to replicate the success of its sister restaurant, Lolla, named World’s Best 10 Restaurants by Zagat in 2013 (we also named Lolla Singapore’s Best 10 Restaurants in 2012)? In terms of culinary skills, I don’t think it likely that Lollapalooza can match Lolla. But in terms of popularity, Lollapalooza might be as successful. Exorbitant as Lollapalooza is, it was full house the weekday night we went, and they had to turn away customers.
1A Keong Saik Road Singapore 089109
Mon – Sat 6pm – 11pm
Lunch and Sunday Brunch Coming Soon
T: +65 6221 3538
Rating: 2.969/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.