Teranga for Senegalese Food

Monday, May 31, 2010

Teranga Restaurant
1746 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118-1828
(617) 266-0003

Service (3.7/5.0)
Food (3.3/5.0)

I'm not sure I will be going back. Why the ambiguity?
Service, while not bad, was not great either. We came in a big group of 10-12 people and the food was very very slow. We waited for more than 2 hours on a quiet Sunday evening from 7 pm and didn't leave until 10-ish. The restaurant was nicely-decorated with African art but for me, whether it is street eats or 5-star restaurant, is all about the food. 
Which brings me to the food--My experience with Senegalese (and West African food in general) is embarrassingly marginal so while I can't say for sure if the food is authentic or not, I just didn't enjoy it as much as my friends. Teranga's food for me, boils down to personal preference, and specifically, I found most of the lamb I sampled to taste rather "game-y". Since it didn't do much for me, I don't think I will miss it that much.

(Mafé-Lamb stew with carrots, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and cabbage in a ground nut sauce and served with jasmine rice. Best-tasting out of the whole lot. Tangy gravy tended to be more appetizing.)
(Michoui-Marinated roasted lamb shank stuffed with herbs and served with a caramelized onion sauce and Moroccan couscous. Ok I suppose.)
(Brochettes-Grilled skewered cubes of filet mignon served with yucca fries and onion & mustard-spiced sauce.)
(Dibi-Grilled marinated lamb shoulder chops with an onion and mustard-spiced sauce served with sweet potato fries)
(Thiébou Djeun (National Dish)-Herb-stuffed white fish cooked in tomato stew with broken jasmine rice served with cassava, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, and pumpkin. So-so.)
(Beignets that weren't very good.)
(Bouye (fruit from the baobab tree) juice- mixed with pineapple juice and flavored with orange flower water and vanilla sugar. Too sweet + I don't like creamy and tangy together. but David seemed to enjoy this.)

Chef Tasting Menu-Fifty-three Singapore 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

53 Armenian Street
Singapore 179940
6334 5535

Service (4.2/5.0)

Food (4.1/5.0)

During my annual visit back home to Singapore early this year, B and I made arrangements to go try out Fifty-three, a restaurant touted as Singapore's answer to "Fat Duck" (
Heston Blumenthal's). Not a far stretch, since ex-lawyer, now-Chef Michael Han was an alumnus of FD.  In a renovated colonial shop-house along Armenian Street and right by the Peranakan Museum, the restaurant boasts white-washed, Scandinavian-minimalistic walls and furnishings. I thought that the food, execution and plating were well-done for the prices. I'm a sucker for presentation and I can appreciate the TLC the chef put into each arrangement of food. For example, doesn't each potato crisp (below) feel organic as if they were meant to grow out of the charcoal serving block? Taste-wise they were ok.
Service was competent and our server was well-informed and pleasant. That said, he tended to hover around one time too many in the name of being attentive; I was interrupted more than once for a refill of water.We settled for the 5-course SGD 78++ (about 55 USD) menu instead of the 3-course one..well might as well treat ourselves since we're on vakay! Actually, I thought that the prices were reasonable compared to the dinner prix-fixe. The lunch prix fixe menu was interesting and incorporated elements of molecular gastronomy like foam and sorbet (a little overkill in this menu).  I would go back again to fifty-three for carefully-prepared and thoughtful food, although I think that the menu appears a little sterile and lacking in character. Allegorically, the courses seemed like distant, barely-speaking neighbors of an affluent, gated community. It definitely needs to evolve and integrate a little more, me thinks. 

(Potato Crisps-beautiful and delicate folds.)

(Bread - The buckwheat and charcoal potato bread rolls served in a special sack that promised to keep the rolls warm by way of heated stones. Although nothing revolutionary about it, it was a nice, thoughtful touch from the chef. Fluffy and moist. Served with a dish of butter sprinkled with buckwheat/toasted barley.)
(Close-up of the charcoal version. I like black foods :). Excuse my greasy finger!)
(Course #1-Scallop and Buckwheat, Chicken "Oysters*"- extremely tender bites of chicken, I liked the scallops which were cooked perfectly. Tendrils of watercress caressing (pun) the chicken oysters made it seem somewhat suggestive/seductive, no? *FYI: Chicken oysters are round pieces of dark meat close to the thigh and are considered the best part of the chicken, kind of like how fish cheeks are considered the best part of the fish)
(Course #2- peeled Japanese tomatoes with horseradish sorbet, compressed watermelon and strawberries. To cleanse the palate, the icy horseradish sorbet was fresh and tart, and accompanied the cooling fruit medley of tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries pretty well. Thin cookie wafer added a nice amount of crunch; the thin stem of a leaflet threaded within the wafer was very pretty :D)

(Course #3-escabeche of mackerel, kyoho grape and fennel. Seared mackerel was served on a bed of quinoa and with fennel(?) foam. Truth be told, the grape didn't make an impact on me and certainly I felt that for a flaky meat like mackerel, it doesn't compliment the texture at all. The foam was ok.)
(Course #4-chicken & wood sorrel, parsnip. The chicken breast was cooked sous vide (i.e. slow-poached for a longer time instead of high-heat, speedy cooking) and then glazed at the bottom with pine-nut puree (ala satay sauce haha) and parsnip foam on top (again foam!). This is my least favorite dish because the sauces, meat and garnish seem confused here and didn't really harmonize well.)
(Course #5-dessert of pickled cucumber, celery sorbet, drenched in lemonade spray-foam (again) melted away into a refreshing and tangy soup. Celery and pickled cucumber gave a satisfying crunch. At this point, I appreciate the lightness of dessert which didn't cloy my tastebuds with cream and excessive sugar.)
As a accompaniment to the bill, we were served delicious apple-alcohol gummies. I found it amusing/unnecessary that the server had to advise us to let the gummies sit on our tongues and let them melt...It's a gummy for crying out loud!  
The after-meal tea was very very good-mildly bitter and fragrant! Loved the pottery it was served in. I'm stuffed~!

Birthday dinner 3 at Garden at the Cellar-Great food, Not good for Groups, Service so-so but will be back in a heart beat!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garden at the Cellar
991 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138-5328
(617) 230-5880

Service (3.9/5.0)

Food (4.0/5.0)
*Good for Birthdays?: No, small groups and full parties only. No reservations either.

Even though it was a chill chill dinner on a weekday and the place was hardly full, we were not seated until our full party of 4 arrived, which was uncomfortable since 2 of us were standing for 20++ minutes in front of a restaurant of seated people. Finally, my friend and I hopped on to newly-available bar seats and then waiting became more bearable because we didn't stick out as much. Service was friendly enough but the host, although somewhat cute, didn't seem to care. He seemed distracted in a mindless, drone-y way. Our waitress looked bored as she rattled off the specials for the evening on a notepad. The same waitress later spent a good chunk of her time at the door with her friends who came in just to chat (not dine), a foot away from our table. Yes its a chill gastropub, but when we're close enough to hear full details of your life when we don't know you, it's not that ok. Now if your convos was interesting, then...maybe fine.

First off, good good food. Reasonable prices, execution and technique, plating, seasoning were all faultless. I consider G@TC a relatively undiscovered, Cambridge neighborhood gem. Only gripe I have is that they don't have dessert!!! What a waste of the full dining experience, even with their complementary Taza chocolates. But like Russell House Tavern, I will be back for more. Berryline is around the corner! I opted for small plates while the rest of my party had main entrees, which were surprisingly more delicious and interesting-tasting than how they were described on the menu.

Famed Rosemary-Truffle Fries. FYI we ordered 2 servings because they were so hot and crispy and there was intense truffle flavor that i liked.)

(Chickpea Fries brown butter, fried sage, preserved lemon. Fresh and hot and was surprisingly firmer than  expected, thinking it was chickpea paste they were deep-frying. The fried sage gave the earthy chickpea an interesting flavor)

(Pork Rinds, compliments of the chef. Was good but forgettable. I prefer my Singaporean rendered lard-on's in oil)
(Seared Foie Gras & Doughnuts rhubarb, pickled ramps-one of my favorites. The doughnuts had a nice custardy center and the fluffyness of it de-cloyed the richness of the foie gras when taken together. The pickled ramps, while nice and pretty, were too crunchy and over-powering for the delicate silken texture of the seared foie gras.)

(Bacon Wrapped Dates goat cheese and curried apple hash- I disliked this dish the most because the dates were sweet + curried apple hash was sweet + bacon was sweet. I felt like I was eating dessert, and not in a good way.)
(House Special. Ragout of Rabbit with Poached egg.-Rabbit was tender. Loved the poached egg! Alas I slurped it up in 1 sitting, leaving behind broth that was flavorful but was TOO salty.  Perhaps buttered toast might do the trick.)
(House Special. Blue Fish Pate with toast-Very light and chewy chunks of fish. I like! Not at all paste-y and doesn't stick to your tongue/teeth like other glue-y pates. Pine nuts added an unexpected buttery crunch.)
(Bucatini “Carbonara” smoked onions, spring vegetables, Parmesan, poached egg-This was ok, but needs more salt. )
(Pan Roasted Grouper celery root purée, asparagus, pea shoots, salsa verde-Nice pairing of fried slivers of fish and a swipe of celery root puree.)
(Slow Cooked Chicken Breast.artichokes barigoule, leek cream, fregola, lemon.-This was OBVIOUSLY cooked Sous Vide! because it was very tender and had a tiniest hint of pink in the center! I almost never order chicken breast and this surprised me alot because it was so so good and moist. WOW!)

Birthday Dinner 2 at Oceanaire Seafood Room-Good Food, Horrendous Service and Bad for Groups!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

(My Matcha green tea chiffon cake with red bean cream layers from Yi Soon Bakery. Complete with incorrect spelling. LoL. 21th? You mean 21st. And stop guessing my age :D)

The Oceanaire Seafood Room Boston (negative reviews are not tagged)
40 Court St
(between Cambridge St & City Hall Ave) 
BostonMA 02108
(617) 742-2277

Food (3.9/5.0)
Service (1.5/5.0)-see below.

*Good for Birthdays?: NO, incompetent wait staff unequipped with dealing with large parties (of 16) in terms of food recommendation and billing. To be fair, our party wasn't faultless either; the entire guestlist was not completed until 1.5 hr later. That said, thank you to the hostess who was thoughtful enough to give me a menu printed with "Happy Birthday" on it, rolled up and wrapped in a cute, curly black ribbon + no plating fees for bringing your own cake (*Bonus: 1.5 points to the restaurant for trying to be birthday-friendly)

(Yes, these are my hands)

My Birthday Celebration. Mood Ruined. Thanks, obnoxious waiter. HORRIBLE HORRIBLE SERVICE. Instead if rehashing what I wrote, I shall link you to my Yelp review here, and Tiffany's reviews here, and Josephine's reviews here. This experience was nasty and vile and left a bad taste in my mouth because of 1 person-yes all it takes is 1 person for 16 people to feel bad. I really enjoyed the food so why would you sabotage a good thing by hiring rude and incompetent wait staff to serve a huge party? Also no credibility when you tell me that "all riesling's are sweet" and when you don't know what you are serving. He even had to double-check when we told him that Cioppino is a seafood stew. Really? For equally good food, similar prices and service, I have Atlantic Fish Co. and Turner Fisheries, so no loss there.
Instead of focusing on the negativity of this waiter we had, I am going to be positive and  talk about the food that my party of 16 ordered. I pretty much had a taste of everything, lucky me :)
(Fried Asparagus.Parmesean-crusted with Bleu Cheese-tomato Fondue- Andrew and I agreed that we could totally do this on our own and it's really delicious and unexpected because I never really thought of asparagus other than steamed with butter or Hollandaise.)
(Maine Smoked Seafood Trio-Cherrywood smoked salmon, trout and scallops, pickled red onions, grain mustard and pita chips-The plate was very sharable and the scallops were a nice touch. All smoked meats were tender and well-seasoned. Loved the scallops especially. They were bite-sized little morsels.)
(Escargot Bourguignonne, burgundy butter, puff pastry-very good but their snails were too tiny in comparison to the proportion of puff pastry, so i had predominantly pastry.)
(Jumbo Lump crabcake appetizer-chockful with meaty sweetness of crab. Sauce went really well with the dish, I considered ordering another one)
(Cioppino. San Francisco Fisherman's Stew. Very flavorful and hearty, perfect for supper or a pick-me-up moment)
(Seared Rare Hawaiian #1 Bigeye Tuna. Pickled ginger, wakame salad, wasabi and soy sauce. It was good and hearty and totally reproducible on my own. Nothing extraordinary about it, especially execution because you don't need skill to quickly sear, right? Minimal heat or time control required)
(Georges Bank Sea Scallops-well done and reproducible too, although a little harder than tuna since the scallops have to be cooked perfectly)
(Grilled Bay of Fundy Salmon.King trumpet mushroom, ramps, smoked bacon, mushroom and truffle nage.- What's not to love about bacon and truffle? I liked the jus especially. Would slurp it up if it came in a soup broth)
(Seared wild Alaskan Halibut. Grape tomatoes, frisee, leeks, white basil balsamic vinaigrette-Flavors complemented the fish well. Nicely seasoned. Plating though, looks messy and hence, not as appetizing-looking)
(Fried Fisherman's platter. of cod, shrimp, oysters, calamari with matchstick fries-Fish fry. As long as it's fresh, hot and piping, this is pretty standard anywhere)

PS: Thanks to B for putting all of this together!

Birthday Dinner 1 at Russell House Tavern-Good Gastropub Food

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

(My Finale Birthday Raspberry Cheesecake 1)
It's been a couple of days since my last entry...that's because it was my Birthday and it's been a crazy string of parties last weekend :) In trying to maintain intimacy of my groups of friends while dining, I've taken to holding multiple dinners. For the most part, the restaurant choices were all very very good in terms of food. Sadly, the service at some of them were very lacking.
The first dinner was recommended by my friend Jenni who attended a Yelp Elite event at Russell House Tavern. We were gchatting and the following convos came up:
Jennifer: OH! russell house tavern! i had drinks/small plates there last week. the upstairs is farmhouse industrial chic, downstairs is cozy industrial sexy.
me: hahaha industrial sexy
Jennifer: and downstairs can easily handle a party of 15-20 at a single table. you know what i mean ;)
me: oohthat's good to know

So I went ahead and called them up and they were really chirpy and helpful and offered to plan the party with cake for me. My party planner friend tells me later that they wanted $60 for a cake for 8 people + plating fees of $2.50 per person. Too unreasonably pricey. I'm better off just ordering dessert and plunking a candle on my plate, no?

14 JFK Street Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 500-3055

Food (4.0/5.0)
Service (3.8/5.0)
*Good for Birthdays?: Questionable if you want cake but most likely ok for groups. We had a party of 8. The place is large enough for a party of 20. Perhaps go at a less busy and crowded time.

We had a clear reservation of 8 but were seated at a table for 6. No matter right, I assumed that they would pull chairs up later. It was a little frustrating but my guests arrived up to 45 minutes late. When they finally assembled, one of my friends tried pulling a chair from an empty table but was told off by the hostess who grabbed the chair back.(???) She was brusque and and her response made it awkward, when it shouldn't be. She could have explained the situation better, dealt with it with more grace and everyone would be happy. The still-standing and embarrassed guy friend then squeezed with 3 other girls in a cramped cushioned space until our waiter arrived. The waiter we had was friendly and helpful but bordered on being persistently annoying when he came by one time too many to ask if I was going to order. At that time it was 2/8 who were present. RHT was overall ok, but there were no special touches that made my birthday dinner different from any other dinner + thoughtless seating + the ridiculous plating fees make it not-so-birthday-friendly (referring to cake).

Food-wise, I thoroughly enjoyed the small plates and entrees RHT had to offer. The prices were very reasonable and I would come back again especially for their OZARK PORK TRIO, perhaps at a less busier time. I heard good things about their brunch so I am looking forward to it as well. I didn't try the dessert since we had a Finale's birthday cake waiting for us at another friend's apartment so I can't tell for sure so we'll see. 

Individual reviews to follow:
We also had the chicken sandwich (not pictured) which was kind of dry but the fries were delicious. Just so you know. The House charcuterie board (also not pictured because I forgot) is a must try because the rilette and the duck prosciutto are amazing!

(Short Rib Wellington 10 Slow Braised, Roasted Mushrooms, Puff Pastry Crown. No beef so no comment but people liked it)
(Jonah Crab Cake (1) 8 Sweet Pickle Tartar, Herby Gala Apple Salad. Very tasty and meat was very tender and umami :D)
(Chicken Liver Crostini (3) 6 Prune & Honey Jam. This came also with another order of the House Charcuterie Board 10 Chicken Liver Paté, Duck Ham, Berkshire Rillette and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture. They were amazingly good)
(Redondo Black Serrano Ham 9 House Pickled Pears, Honey Torched Manchego. Meh. This was passable and the most boring plate we had)
(Salt & Pepper Shrimp 11 Tabasco Aioli, Lemony Greens. Good and forgettable)
(Cast Iron Seared Arctic Char 22 Roasted Apples, House Pancetta, Warm Wheat. Char looked and tasted alot like salmon. It came slightly pink in the center, the way I liked it. I liked the crispy greens, I don't supposed they are warm wheat? Didn't taste the pancetta; roasted apples were good)
(Ozark Heritage Pork Trio 23 Loin, Belly, Shoulder with Grits & Sauce Vinegar. OMG THIS IS THE STAR OF THE NIGHT. Get it! There were 3 different cuts of meat, and each and every one had a different texture that was surprising and welcoming. Amazing pairing. I would go back for this. My party agrees)

PS: Thanks to Catherine for organizing this!
Related Posts with Thumbnails

wibiya widget

Ooh Mummy! Copyright © 2009 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template for Bie Blogger Template Vector by DaPino

Creative Commons License
Ooh Mummy! by Winnie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.