After a year or so of anticipation, Bread Street Kitchen finally opened its doors to much hype and excitement – as well as a long list of advanced reservations. It didn’t need much vigorous marketing or PR efforts; cause let’s face it, Gordon Ramsay is the pulling force. The celebrity chef and boisterous TV personality needs no introduction especially after the Hawker Heroes challenge held in Singapore last year.
With that popularity comes the question: is visiting his new casual-dining establishment worth it? Location being MBS, Gordon Ramsay being Gordon Ramsay, it wouldn’t be cheap to say the least. By virtue of it being his restaurant, it warrants a visit, no?
BSK Singapore is helmed by Executive Chef Sabrina Stillhart who has spent nearly a decade with the Gordon Ramsay group, and worked with Ramsay in London’s BSK and one Michelin-starred Savoy Grill. We decided to check it out after half a month of operation, hoping there’s been enough time to smoothen out the edges.
The complimentary bread basket of crackers, bread sticks, focaccia and bun, served with a slab of President salted butter, was nothing much to rave about. The bread, though fresh, were not toasted nor heated before serving. The slice of focaccia was especially dry.
Old Fashioned (S$23++)
To start, we tried the classic Old Fashioned and a glass of wine. The cocktail was light and very palatable; pretty well done but slightly pricey. The latter was a wonderful full-bodied glass of Benzinger Cabernet Sauvignon (S$28++).
Roasted veal carpaccio, dill pickles, quail's egg, tuna dressing (S$26++)
BSK Singapore offers a fairly extensive list of hot and cold appetizers. From carpaccios, Asian-inspired Spicy Tuna Tartare (S$19++), and California Maki Roll with blue swimmer crab (S$18++); to Seared Scallops (S$24++), Tamarind Spiced Chicken Wings (S$18++), and Garden Pea soup (S$18++) – one’s definitely spoilt for choice. A selection of salads is also available.
Out of the three starters we had, this Veal Carpaccio most impressed. The thin slices of veal were meaty and smokey, yet light and not at all gamey. The tangy pickles added a wonderful crunch and great flavour. All of that was brought together beautifully by the creamy tuna dressing. The flavour and textural combinations of this dish were amazing, and nothing short of what I expect of Ramsay.
Potted salt beef brisket, grain mustard, piccalilli, Caraway crackers (S$19++)
This would be the starter to try if you’re a mustard fan – and a huge one at that. The brisket was tender, well-seasoned and lightly dressed with a mustard mayonnaise. The accompanying piccalilli (essentially Indian pickled vegetables with copious amounts of turmeric and mustard) was a real punch. Eaten together, each bite was a burst off salty, sour, and spicy.
Seared scallops, carrot purée, treacle cured bacon, apple, celery cress (S$24++)
Several reviews criticised the scallops for being overcooked and rubbery. While ours weren’t that bad, they were pedestrian at best. The small scallops were served lukewarm and was very nearly fully-cooked, thus lacking that soft melt-in-your-mouth texture. The remaining textures and ingredients may be decent, but the star of the dish was a let-down.
Slow-roasted Dingley Dell pork belly, spiced apple purée (S$28++)
For the entrées, choose from a variety of seafoods, meats, and grills. Several other dishes beyond what we ordered that caught our eye were the Roasted Baby Chicken with chimichurri (S$34++), Irish Angus Rib-Eye 28 days aged (S$68++), as well as the Roasted Black Cod (S$44++). A Surf and Turf (S$25++) option of any grill, half lobster, or king crab is also available.
This Slow-roasted Pork Belly is so named after the Dingley Dell farm the meat's exported from. While special attention to produce translated to succulent and tasty meat, this dish was on the whole slightly disappointing. The crackling was decent if not a little hard, the apple purée not too sour but fell flat, and the watery pan sauce did nothing to round up and elevate the dish. Apple and roast pork being such a standard pairing, the mediocre interpretation was unimpressive. Keeping in mind the thin slices of pork, half of which was fat, and the chef behind this, I'm not too sure it's worth paying for.
Traditional fish & chips, crushed peas, tartar sauce (S$26++)
Crisp, thin, delicious batter, encasing a thick and firm slab of fish, this was the better of both mains. The accompanying fries were fried to perfection and well-seasoned, the crushed peas were heavy on mint to keep the dish light and refreshing, and the accompanying homemade tartar sauce was nothing short of stunning. There's simply nothing bad about this.
Cappuccino (S$8++) and Americano (S$6++)
Served in beautiful china, the coffee was over-priced, bland and diluted. That and the coffee-stained cup was quite astounding; I would expect Ramsay to pay attention to the slightest detail such as coffee and tea.
BSK's dessert is fairly concise, offering classic English sweets such as the Banana Sticky Toffee Pudding (S$18++) and Treacle Tart (S$18++), as well as more European creations like the Ricotta Cannoli (S$20++) and Pineapple Carpaccio (S$15++).
Treacle tart with mascarpone ice-cream (S$18++)
We were celebrating a birthday over the meal, and the staff very kindly piped the words "Happy Birthday" on our order of the Treacle Tart, and topped it off with a candle. So sweet of them!
Great service aside, the treacle tart was a grand disappointment. The dry frangipane filling atop a rock-hard tart crust was not what we expected. The crust was so hard we had problems breaking it to smaller pieces, and the simple sugar syrup did nothing for the sad frangipane. The best things on that plate would have to be the mascarpone ice cream and the garnish of grounded nuts.
Coffee and white chocolate parfait with poached blackberries (S$18++)
Yet another anti-climax was this room-temperature parfait. To say that the flavours were subtle would be an understatement: we could barely taste the coffee, let alone the white chocolate. For once the cloyingly sweet chocolate would be a welcomed addition, just so there would be some flavours.
Banana sticky toffee pudding, muscovado caramel, clotted cream (S$18++)
Dry and dense banana cake, grainy caramel, tasteless cream - is this how sticky toffee pudding in Britain's like? Even the local cafés do better than that. Shame on you, Gordon.
Being very objective, the meal was decent and acceptable for a casual diner. It was the expectations held that made the meal feel much worse. Considering how critical Gordon Ramsay is of others' foods, we expected him to hold his food to similar - or higher standards; and when these standards are not met by BSK Singapore it's a huge let-down.
Among the two of us we tried as many dishes as we could stomach; still there are many we haven't tasted. To write BSK Singapore off so quickly would be premature. They are definitely deserving of a chance. And who knows, maybe standards will improve after a few months of feedback from the local diners.
Bread Street Kitchen
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
Bay Level #01-81
Lunch -- Daily from 11.30am-5.30pm
Dinner -- Sunday to Wednesday: 5.30pm-10pm
Thursday to Saturay: 5.30pm-12am
Bar -- Sunday to Thursday: 11.30am-1am
Friday to Saturday: 11.30am-2am