Saturday, August 16
One Rochester, Rochester Park
love the ambience
I’m not going to pretend that I was immune to the ambience. The gorgeous leafy foliage against the black and white colonial house was enough to make me excuse the overpriced tapas.
my Nutty Buddy
As night draw nearer, Zhu and I parked ourselves on a couple of synthetic rattan armchairs and had the whole area to ourselves. What I really liked was the tranquility it exuded on a Wednesday night. I mean there are some days where you just don’t want to see-and-be-seen, this was one of them- I didn’t even care if someone saw me slumming in my seat.
The gastrobar specialises in tapas and we had the Rochester platter, made up of (furthest in the picture) wings & drumlets, pork crackles, shitake mushrooms and crab cakes.
In order of memorability:
The pork crackles packed into a shallow pool of kecap manis, piled with fresh chilis and nasty stringy bits that you get at Chinese banquet dinners. Nasty stringy bits aside, the pork crackles were gooood. Yeah, good with 4 ‘O’s for that drawn out sensational effect.
I’m guessing the fat and skin probably out-ratioed the meat but darkness offered its blanket of ignorance, letting me indulge in those crackling squidgy bits with little restraint.
The crab cakes arrived spiffily bronzed and tan, drenched in Thai sweet chili dressing. They were very good but would have been ‘darn awesome’ had it not been for the dressing-induced sogginess that set in after a while.
Breaking open a crab cake and seeing the fibrous crabby threads was like discovering a Lucida® in a Tiffany box- sure the robin blue box is pretty, but it’s what’s inside that matters.
drumlets and wings
Deep-fried and coated with ketchupy sauce, spice purists would probably scoff at the inappropriately-named “hot & spicy wings & drumlets”. As tapas, they were a little tricky to maneuver (hey I might have been “slumming in my seat” but I’m not about to use my fingers anytime soon). They weren’t bad, I would even describe them as ‘tasty but not very exciting’. As home party food or midnight binging snack, they would have fulfilled the job requirements very nicely but as chic tapas, nehhh.
As for the deep fried shitake mushrooms with mayonnaise, the whole tempura-batter-and-mayonnaise formula was rather forgettable; for some reason, they tasted unnaturally juicy or rather, wet. Shudder.
bad foie gras, bad
Zhu absolutely cannot resist foie gras- at least now I know I’m not first in line to hell, so we ordered the foie gras starter that served with a caramelized plum, on top of a brioche toast.
I had issues with the foie gras.
The caramelized plum was pleasant enough but the brioche toast was sliced too thinly. One would normally bank on the suitably cushy comfort of the brioche to balance the richness of the foie gras; for our dish, a plain white store-bought toast could have substituted the brioche and it wouldn’t have made a difference. However, what was hard to swallow (pun totally intended) was the foie gras itself.
The foie gras itself was gamier than usual and possessed a texture that … let’s just say someone left it in the pan for too long and the liver was rendered dry beyond hope.
the offending piece of foie gras
It was unacceptable. Foie gras is supposed to taste like melted butter but this offensive innard tasted like a jerky.
I focused on my ABC*** look -facial features centralized, eyebrows drawn in and lips pursed- ready to send it back; however our bespectacled waiter was most accommodating and apologetic, and snarky behavior would have sent me right to the front of queue for hell.
***ABC being ‘Alpha-Biatch Customer’ and not, ‘American-Born Chinese’. Remember not to concentrate too hard; you are trying to channel Miranda Priestley, not Derek “Magnum” Zoolander.
Nonetheless we sent it back, only to receive another one marginally better. By then, we learnt that no matter how many tries it took, the kitchen probably wouldn’t get it right- not tonight at least.
Lesson of the day: Foie gras should never be order at One Rochester.
Done with novelty, we hopped off to oldie-but-goodie Island Creamery for dessert. Zhu settled for a cookies & cream scoop but I was after a pie-or-cake-something.
There was an inner struggle in my heart caused by the pork crackles. No, I wasn’t having a cardiac arrest. The mud pie was such a tease but the thought of polishing of that hefty slice after pork crackles was enough to make my heart beg for time-out.
Be still, my heart.
I settled for the Nutty Buddy ice cream cake, which on hindsight doesn’t seem any better as a layer of crunchy peanut butter and chocolate drizzle topped the cookies & cream ice cream cube.
But ah whatever… As soon as it hit room temperature, the chocolate sauce and peanut butter melted decadently over the cookie-crumb-filled base, sealing in my love for ice cream desserts.