Chez Dré – South Melbourne

I went back home for a short trip and for RX to finally experience Australia. It was a long 2 year wait before I went back; partly because my parents are no longer there, but also because there are so many other new holiday destinations near Singapore that I wanted to save my limited annual leave and hard-earned moolah for.

We went on a whirlwind trip around the east coast; from Sydney to Canberra to Melbourne to Brisbane; and other towns in-transit. This wasn’t an easy feat to achieve in just 2.5 weeks without a car to adequately cover everywhere I wanted to go!

I didn’t really like Melbourne when I went there 5 years ago; maybe it was something to do with the fact I went in the middle of the bitter winter temperatures?! And I didn’t really get to do much tourist/foodie exploring that time as I was only visiting family. So I was a bit of a Melbourne snob, dismissing it as just a pretentious hippy city… I had always liked Sydney more: the temperatures are nicer, there’s more of a metropolitan buzz, and my grandma is there so it’s always been like my home base in Australia (even before I migrated over).

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My second trip back to Melbourne and I have officially found my ideal foodie paradise. I am being serious, the food there is ah-ma-zing. I only had a few days there but I stuffed myself silly… and I came across my favourite brunch place in the whole world (no kidding). Chez Dré came as a recommendation from many of my Melbournite friends so I knew I had to try it, and boy am I glad I did. It’s a Francophile atmosphere with ingenious sweet and savouries inspired from France and made with local produce. Opened by patisserie chef Andrea Reiss, their pastries are excellent, with a huge variety of tarts, madeleines, gateaux and macarons. Come early if you don’t want to miss out on the best ones though as they may sell out quickly!

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After a short trip on the tram from the CBD, we reached the quaint area famous for the South Melbourne Markets. Chez Dré is immensely popular and we had to wait for about 15 minutes before we got a seat (it was a weekend morning…).

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The interior is grand and classy chic yet with a warm cosy feel and inviting breezy atmosphere. There is a curved design of the open kitchen for all of its patrons to stare in amazement, and beautiful window displays of the dainty desserts it is well-known for.

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My friends and I (all of them who were formerly Brisbanites; my old high school friends 🙂 ) decided to choose from the dizzying array of desserts staring at us as we were waiting for our friend to arrive. All the petits gateaux (small cakes in French) are priced at $9.50.

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Our first pick is the pretty strawberry & vanilla fraisier: orange financier, vanilla mousse, basil-olive oil biscuit, strawberry jelly. It was a great juxtaposition of textures and flavours, with the contrasting tang of strawberry and orange layers and sweet creamy goodness of the vanilla and crunchy biscuit.

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Sacher Torte is a chocolate mousse and apricot gelee on a chocolate sponge base, fresh apricot, gold leaf with a white chocolate curl on top. This was good quality chocolate mousse, light and airy yet creamy, with a pleasant apricot fragrance.

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GREEN TEA CHEESECAKE: RASPBERRY CRÉMEUX, ADZUKI BEANS, GREEN TEA MOUSSE, GIANDUJA SABLÉ

I have found my favourite dessert ever, it is the green tea cheesecake here. Absolutely amazeballs. The base is addictive, being extra crunchy and nutty compared to your typical buttery graham crackers. The cheesecake itself was not like any other cheesecake I had; it was not the firm cheesy type that I usually like, yet it was not the mediocre creamy mousse types that I don’t like; it was luscious and light with a rich matcha taste. The core embraced a cluster of the speciality hazelnut chocolate (gianduja) and adzuki red beans, and the dollops of raspberry cremeux just worked together so well to create a sublime dessert. I just can’t get over it!

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The pastries on the wooden board it was supposed to be presented on 🙂 My friend wanted it packed in the cardboard takeaway box for some reason haha. IMG_0484

Roasted eggplant and buckwheat salad ($18.50): Smoked eggplant puree, wild rocket, pomegranate molasses & rose water vinaigrette, dukkah and spelt flat bread. I loved this breakfast item I had. They may not have it anymore as it was seasonal special, but it tasted delightful, with the smokey undertones of the moreish eggplant contrasting against the clean cut and tangy pomegranate and vinegar. I loved their spelt flatbread too, being much thinner and airier than a typical pita and a more wholesome taste too (I love breads that use grains other than the typical wheat). It may have been vegetarian, but it was very satisfying.

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?Persian spiced tomato soup with fish – I honestly forgot what it was called haha and can’t find it on the menu. But it tasted like assam… trust the Singaporean to choose this! It was basically fresh fish fillets cooked in a hot stew with onions, garlic, parsley, turmeric, chilli, tamarind, coriander and tomato (similar to the ingredients of assam). Clean and fresh tasting with a twist of sourness from the tamarind/tomato, RX enjoyed this stew more than I did.

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The peach and mint house-made iced tea ($6.50) is also recommended, being refreshingly light, natural peach and minty fragrance and just the right amount of sweet. I got the last order as they had run out of ingredients to make anymore! And the ice cubes were cute big spheres. 

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Yep, I think Chez Dré is the best brunch I’ve ever had in my life.

Chez Dré
Rear of 285-287 Coventry St, South Melbourne, Australia
Tel: +61 3 9690 2688
Opening hours: Mon to Sun 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
Website: http://www.chezdre.com.au

The Soup Spoon Union White Sands

White Sands Mall at Pasir Ris has a unique Soup Spoon Union that has exclusively debuted two new concept stalls The Grill Knife and The Salad Fork. My friend who lives in the eastside sent me many appetising photos of her dinners enticing me to go. Unfortunately it’s not available any other Soup Spoon outlet except in the ulu Pasir Ris, so I so trekked all the way to the end of the green line to try it out.

According to the mall’s Facebook page, ‘Pasir Ris’ means ‘White Sand’ in Malay, named after a stretch of white beach that makes the North-East Coast of Singapore.

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The menu, in addition to the usual Soup Spoon favourites, has an array of fresh salads (The Salad Fork) and grilled meats (The Grill Knife).

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My boyfriend ordered the salad bowl ($8,80): with mesculun mix (+$1.50), hummus, whole egg, sunflower seeds, falafel balls, cauliflower rice + quinoa and carrot sesame dressing. Every component was fresh and generously packed on the plate. With over 40 fibre, protein, carb, and house-made sauce options to customise for your own salad/wrap, you’re spoilt for choice. And unlike some salad shops, I’m really glad that the menu allowed enough flexibility to allow a significant amount of protein in the dish. My main gripe would be that the falafel balls, although served hot, lacked the crunch and spice-filled infusion I’d had in other shops, but then that’s being nit-picky since it’s obviously not specialising in Greek/Middle Eastern. What I loved about the dish was the cauliflower ‘rice’ and quinoa: basically there is no rice, but it is replaced with crumbled cauliflower florets, edamame + quinoa, an innovative healthy way to add fibre that I approve of (taste-wise too; it’s like crunchy light-tasting fried rice!). I also enjoyed the unique carrot sesame dressing, which tasted like sweet juicy grated carrot with some tahini mixed in. Salads usually bore me but The Salad Spoon managed to create some twists and make things interesting.

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I got the chicken combo with grilled chicken breast + portobello mushroom set with a pesto penne and ponzu miso ($12.80). The grilled chicken breast was done well and again I was happy to see they were generous with the portions. The marinade of the chicken allowed the natural grilled flavour of the poultry to come through, although without a sauce it felt a bit dry (perhaps choosing thigh would be a better bet if grilled). The ponzu miso sauce was alright but it wasn’t really that to my liking; perhaps being a mix of sweet, sour and salty  in a Japanese style tastes a bit strange to me? But I heard the house gravy is good. The portobello mushroom is a bit small and slightly parched, but again well-seasoned. Luckily olive oil is available at each table, which I doused and made the whole dish taste good (yep, I love me olive oil. Nope it’s not because of Jamie Oliver). The pesto penne had a good pesto taste (although perhaps not as much cheese as the European standard?), but it was a bit too soft in texture. Nevertheless, each ingredient combined to make a pleasant dish, although not quite at fine dining standards.

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The Grill Knife also has other options available including the salmon ($15.80), steak (flank $12.80 and ribeye $15.80), and pork cutlet ($12.80), as well as various combos of these for hungry ones. Each grilled meat comes with your choice of a side (mixed green salad, basil pesto penne, cauliflower rice with quinoa and edamame, chunky fries) and a sauce (ponzu miso, Japanese curry, house gravy, mushroom sauce). Customisation at its finest!

I thought it was a good idea for the menu to include the kcal count for each dish, although it was only for the two concept stores.

I like both stores at the Soup Spoon Union White Sands: fresh, innovative, wholesome, generous, affordable and yummy. It’s no-frills at its best. But with a caveat: with these prices, don’t expect gourmet food. However, the main problem is that it’s too far away from where I live: Soup Spoon Union can you please bring it over to the central area?! 😛

Prices not inclusive of 7% GST (no service charge)

Soup Spoon Union White Sands
#02-33, 1 Pasir Ris Central Street 3, Singapore 518457
Opening hours: 10.30am – 10.00pm daily
Telephone: 6585 0898
Website: http://www.whitesands.com.sg/stores/the-soup-spoon-union/ / http://www.thesoupspoon.com/home/our-brands/the-grill-knife/ / http://www.thesoupspoon.com/home/our-brands/the-salad-fork/