Hung proudly on the photo wall are the numerous photos of Romanian owner Cris Stinga’s smoky soirees of grilled meats. There’s even a shot of his own shed where the chef-owner prepares and cures his own meats and sausages. Grill Central at Tanjong Pagar, which took over Charcoal Pit, is his gastronomical culmination promising honest, rustic, and comforting grills of well-seasoned meats and homemade sausages.
Tonight’s omakase of grilled meats range from their Mixed Sausage Platter ($17++) to their Fort Knox Rib Eye ($45++, below). All recipes from the chef-owner, Grill Central’s sausage platter is a must-order for first timers to the place. They are rustic, comforting, gamey without being overpowering or funky. The Boerewors is beefy and the chorizo though dry isn’t necessarily a bad thing because all the saltiness and meatiness are concentrated without the unctuousness of fat. The skinless Mici in particular (top piece, closest to the mustard) has a lovely concentration of porki-and-lambiness with a distinct earthy aroma of nutmeg. That is the standout for me.
But between my dining companion and myself, our favourite for the evening is the Dracula’s Nemesis Garlic Pork ($26++). While the pork itself could have done with more salt, the perfectly cooked pork collar, still pink in the middle, is wonderfully tender and that more than made up for the lack of salt. The uncompromisingly garlicky and buttery garlic sauce greatly enhances the porky profile.
Our host’s favourite is the Drunken Romanian Pastrami lamb ($32++, below) which he feels has the savoury gaminess of lamb that he loves so well. But my companion and I beg to differ. It is slightly overcooked and dry. If it were thicker, it might have made the mark. Not the most remarkable presentation that night.
Both the Peri Peri Chicken ($24++, below) and Rib Eye are excellent presentations too. The chicken is moist and tender and the steak is faultlessly medium rare with just enough bite and beefiness. The peri-peri sauce that comes with the chicken is clearly homemade, it has the freshness and brightness of ingredients that the Nando’s counterpart lacks. The béarnaise with the steak on the other hand is oddly viscous than what I’m used too. It has all the thick creamy butteriness without the bright zestiness of lemon and vinegar that I expect of a béarnaise. The steak pairs better with the herbaceous chimichurri.
While the meats are pretty much spot-on, there is much that is lacking in the execution of this grilled meats joint. The Grilled Halloumi Salad ($18++) is a haphazard tossing of greens and a grilled halloumi that does not transport one to under a Grecian sun. The Salata Vinete ($12++) is a simple Romanian eggplant puree that lacks the toastiness it promises. The pita bread that comes with these feels store bought. It also isn’t toasted well – too bready without a crisp crust. The greens that come with the all the meats are not thoughtful complements. They are greens, just in case you want them, just so they make the dish feel complete.
Grilled Halloumi Salad
The place too feels like an aspiring mash-up of sports bar, canteen and pub – not here, not there, not sure what it’s trying to do. So do the presentation of food on the melamine plates – not here, not there. What Grill Central needs is to really focus on its meats and let them shine because that’s the pride of the owner and that’s what you should come here for.
Realty Centre #12-01, 15 Enggor Street, Singapore 079716
tel: +65 6909 7701
M-F 11:30am – 12am, Sat 4pm – 12am, closed Sun
Food: 7/10 (meats), 4/10 (starters)
Price / value: 6/10
You may be interested in…
–Nude Grill, Marina One: Contemporary Asian Grill House Serves Fantastic Food
–Garang Grill by New Ubin Seafood, Swan Ave: Full House At Pop-Up Restaurant by Slake Chef Jeremy Cheok
–The Market Grill, Telok Ayer
–Bedrock Bar & Grill, Somerset
Written by Paul Ng. Deathrow meal: steamed uonuma koshihikari rice, sunny side up eggs drizzled with slow-rendered pork lard, kicap cair dark soya sauce with a side of gribenes. And a bowl of uni. Aspiring taitai. Also co-owner of Provisions Food – local maker of baked goods, snacks, condiments and sauces inspired by the flavours of Asia.