Seven & Ate: Or perhaps a 7.5, if you go for the burger
I must admit feeling rather uninspired when it comes to dining out of late. I mean, there's only so far eggs on toasts, pancakes, burgers, and the usual lot can take you. After awhile it all becomes a tad dry and repetitive don't you think? But the problem with being a foodie is, when friends gather and make plans to catch up over some chow, you're the first person they look to for recommendations. Doesn't matter if you've got nothing in mind: you're expected to know all the good spots and I must say that's quite a fair bit of pressure.
What if they don't like your pick? What if it ends up exceeding their budget and they go "meh this ain't really worth our buck"? Lots of self-doubt and as much as food can often fall down to personal preferences, the possibility of these what-ifs and how much they can undermine your credibility of a foodie is extremely daunting.
More often than not I end up suggesting a new spot I've not yet tried out myself. Kinda takes the weight off my shoulders, and I get the chance to check out more items on the menus — a straight win-win if I may say so myself.
Nachos (S$9++) — Housemade guacamole, salsa
Only thing is it's always going to be a 50-50. Hits and misses in general, even with me doing my homework, which pretty much describes our experience at Seven & Ate. For starters I'd think it hard to dish up a disappointing bowl of nachos, but was proved entirely wrong with theirs. If you're wondering why there's no guac in the photo, it's cause they completely left it out, and only served it 15 minutes after we pointed it out to them; by the time which our other appetisers have already been wiped clean. Looking past that major boo-boo and being entirely objective, the nachos was still nothing worth even talking about. Plain old chips topped with a miserly drizzle of equally commercial barbecue sauce, a pointless handful of shaved parmesan, and a very very very meagre portion of albeit decent guacamole. To say we were highly unimpressed is a total understatement.
Eggplant Stack (S$8++) — Deep fried eggplant, house-made chilled bell pepper sauce, fresh basil
When I ordered this I had in mind something like a deconstructed eggplant parmigiana, with a little more crunch from the breaded eggplants. The reality: really thin strips of eggplants with a thick coat of hard breading (it cut the roof of my mouth) made the dish way too dry — something the sauce could've alleviated, should they be more generous with it. And though for that very reason we mopped up all the sauce, it was too acidic and honestly one-dimensional. Adding on to my frustration were the basil leaves: if it ain't incorporated into the dish and just thrown on, why is it on the plate? It really isn't that pretty a garnish and does nothing for the plating.
Scotched Quail Eggs (S$7++) — Deep fried meat wrapped quail eggs, Sriracha mayo, chives
At this point I almost gave up hope of a decent meal — till this arrived at the table. I was pretty impressed with how they managed to keep the yolks molten and soft in these tiny quail eggs, when others can't even nail the regular larger scotched eggs. The downside? They definitely lose out in the flavour department with these bite-sized treats cause you can barely taste the components. None of that spiced, moist and juicy mince. Nada. Doesn't help that the Sriracha mayo was also more mayo than Sriracha.
Duck confit (S$17++) — Confit duck leg, poached pear, potato puree, red wine sauce
(See what I mean by that redundant garnish of rosemary sprig again?) The price was what got us leaning to this dish, though in hindsight you really do get what you pay for. Skin was nicely golden and crisp, but pull that apart and the meat was depressingly dry and tough, worlds apart from that luscious melt-in-the-mouth texture we were expecting. The mash was passable, sauce well-seasoned, poached pears cold af...need I say more?
The Gringo (S$15++) — Honey mustard port patties, brioche bun, house-made guacamole, fresh salsa
The one dish I did not expect to be wow-ed by, but seriously knocked my socks off, was this burger. Let’s be real: see a burger on the menu and anyone would expect a badass beef burger with juices spilling all over and food-porny melted cheese begging to be licked. So I didn’t quite know what to expect when I saw this pork patty burger. But trust me: these honey mustard pork patties are mad good — and I would stake my foodie name on this. Unbelievably juicy and tender, lovely charred crisp, and a good balance of sweet and savoury that’s kept in check by creamy guacamole and fresh pico de gallo. Never expected to like a honey mustard (and pork whatmore) marinated patty, but this one’s totally worth a try.
Suffice to say my opinion's split on Seven & Ate. On one hand they did make what was possibly the best pork patty burger I've had, but on the other everything else was a massive letdown. Perhaps we didn't pick the 'right' items, cause I've heard they make fairly mean quinoa bowls; but for now, should I ever choose to return, it'd be for the burger and that only.
Seven & Ate
78 Horne Rd