May 26, 2014

GRUB: Eating Responsibly (and Deliciously!)

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(Daddy chomps)

For over a year ever since it opened, I have heard raving reviews and friends had shared their love for this particular makan place on Facebook. Finally, I had my chance to sample its food one weekend ago.

Nestled idyllically amid lush greenery at Pond Gardens (formerly Bishan Park 1) of Bishan - Ang Mo Kio Park, GRUB is the only restaurant there and I have to admit it is actually rather refreshing not to see a McDonald's in the proximity!

GRUB boasts both dining in air-conditioned comfort and al-fresco - it is a tough choice, choosing between the industrial feel of its interior's bricked walls with black-rimmed, floor-to-ceiling glass facade versus the calming breeze in the midst of a luscious green wallpaper.

But that was not the most important bit. The important aspect that I found out about GRUB is that the eatery truly pays attention to the produce that they use. The people behind GRUB strongly believe in eating responsibly. This means cooking with as natural ingredients as possible, without the addition of MSG, artificial preservatives, additives or flavorings. They are also strong advocates of using produce which are sustainable, healthier and natural.

All of which are music to my ears, especially I have three monkies now to feed.

And feed I did, with the Truffled Egg Cocotte (S$7) kicking off our weekend brunch.

Essentially, it is soft-boiled eggs infused with truffle oil and topped off with crispy parma ham, and served with toasted focaccia. An elaborate take on our familiar kopitiam soft-boiled eggs and toast, but the parma ham did raise the taste-stakes a few notches up. The perfectly cooked eggs had a runny center which was a hit with the monkies.

Predictably, the wifey and I hardly had a whiff of the Truffled Egg Cocotte. Luckily, we had the Iberico Sausage Stew (S$14) to take comfort in.

A thick stew consisting of lentils and iberico sausage, it was flavourful and immensely satisfying for a brunch meal. And yes, it is only available for brunch.

Speaking of immensely satisfying, the one dish you can not afford to order when you dine at GRUB is this plate of awesomeness.

The Mentaiko Fries (S$9) - just because Truffle Fries are too mainstream. The specially-concocted mentaiko aioli sauce is the star here, with nori seaweed being generously topped on a mountain of fries. Seriously, it is that good... just ask Ale, who could not seem to stop stuffing fries into her mouth.

Or into the wifey's mouth, for that matter.

The next dish, French toast (S$12, and only available for brunch), had Ayd purring in delight.

It has become sort of a weekend breakfast ritual for both Ash and Ayd to whip up their own French Toasts at home, and it is something that they really forward to whenever the weekend rolls along. So imagine the monkies' delight when something that so familiar appeared before their very eyes.

At first glance though, the sight of French toast with strawberries, sour cream, maple syrup AND a pork sausage may seem rather peculiar. But the sweet-savoury combination did work wonders for the taste buds and I guess Ayd's contented expression said it all.

As for Ash, the GRUB Double Cheeseburger (S$18) did enough to wow his socks off.

Melted with a lava of Monterey Jack cheese over two 100% freshly minced, moist and well-seasoned thick beef patties. What else could one ask for? Definitely not Ash, who gave the burger 98 marks out of a hundred.

I had my eyes set on another burger  - the famous Crispy Fish Burger (S$14)!

Unlike most places that use Dory fish fillet, GRUB uses hake. The fillet was extremely fresh and minimally seasoned to bring out the freshness of it. And as you can probably tell, the serving portion of the fish is generous and served with GRUB's homemade homemade remoulade (a form of tartar sauce but French). All these goodness, sandwiched with one of the softest and fluffiest buns I have ever tasted - which are sourced from a local baker who bakes them to GRUB's specifications.

Vegetarians need not feel left out at GRUB too, because therein lies a kick-ass vegetarian option in the form of the Portobello Burger (S$11).

I have to confess - I will absolutely die if I do not have my meats so I was more than a bit skeptical when this burger plonked right in front of me. After having one bite though, this is easily one of the best vegetarian food that I have ever eaten. The 2 portobello mushrooms were deliciously juicy and the crumbed peta cheese served as the perfect complement to the burger.

Not that I will give up my meats any time soon, but this is a worthy option.

Then, it was time for the wifey to wax lyrical about the newest offering from GRUB, the Sakura Ebi Pasta (S$17).

Available for lunch and dinner, the pasta dish is linguine served with fresh Sakura Ebi, prawns and a hint of Mentaiko. It is a refreshing change from the usual Aglio Olio, with the Sakura Ebi (small shrimps) giving the pasta an extra oomph. In fact, the wifey loved it so much that she finished most of it while I was busy snapping photos! *wail*

Yet another new creation added to GRUB's menu - and yet another dish which Ash and Ayd walloped most of it - is Slow Cooked Pork Belly (S$17).

Available for dinner only, the pork belly was lightly seared until its meat became 'fork tender' allowing for the flavours of the succulent meat to explode in one's mouth. And judging from how I was only restricted to one miserable morsel of the pork belly, I think it is safe to say the boys' mouths exploded more than a few times during our brunch. Luckily though, the sauteed leeks and sweet potato mash provided adequate complements to the dish.

And if we were all feeling extremely full by now, we clearly weren't showing it... not when desserts are involved!

The Chocolate Kladkakka (S$8) is a wondrous mix of sticky chocolate cake and strawberry sauce, topped off with a scoop of vanilla gelato. The result? An empty plate, courtesy of Ash's and Ayd's (mainly him) doing.

The wifey, on the other hand, was kept busy with the Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait (S$8).

Happiness contained within a glass? Definitely, with its heavenly mix of whipped cream cheese, strawberry sauce and muesli crumble.

But for a sure-fire hit to induce a sugary high, there was no way that we could miss out on GRUB’s ever-popular Churros (S$9).

Legend has it that people queue up just to tabao the Churros! And having finally tasted them I can see why. The dough fritters come piping hot, and crispy outside while staying delightfully fluffy inside. Accompanied by the awesome duo of bitter chocolate and crème anglaise, these churros were the darlings of the monkies!

To say they were finger lickin' good would be a severe understatement.

In the end, I guess the empty dessert plates were testament as to how the monkies truly enjoyed them.

The boys washed it all down with a refreshing cup of Yuzu Mint Soda (S$4.50) while the wifey and I indulged in a cup of Latte ($4.50).

All in all, an excellent choice for a weekend brunch. The only downside is that GRUB does not take reservations, so be prepared to wait for a seat if you are there during the peak dining hours. That said, you do not have to wait in line though. Just take a queue number and you are free to wander the park. Once your table is ready, a call will be made to you. And with a water park and playground for the kids to run amok nearby, the waiting time will pass by in a flash!

Oh, and a piece of good news - GRUB is now open for lunch on weekdays too. Perfect if you are looking for an eatery serving natural, affordable and just plain yummy food.

Food that makes one feel all high and want to just drift away.

510 Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 (Bishan Park 1)
Singapore 569983
Tel: +65 64595743
Opening Hours: Tue-Fri: 11am - 3pm, 5.30pm - 10.30pm | Sat-Sun & PH: 9am - 4pm, 5.30pm - 10.30pm (Closed on Mon and last Tue of every month)

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