Friday, 15 June 2012

DINE@LXG: Spruce

In the chaos and confusion that is Orchard Road on a weekend morning, it really pays to know of some places where one can retreat to, when all the crowds and traffic jams in Singapore's Shopping Capital become too much.

And better yet, a place where one can also relieve mid-morning hunger pangs without having to resort to the 50-cent upsize options so easily available on every street corner…

One such retreat from the city can be found just a few minutes away from the centre of Orchard. Tucked away in the Phoenix Park complex along Tanglin Road lies Spruce, a hardwood hideaway surrounded by greenery and sheltered on all sides by trees and shrubs. Although just a stone’s throw away, all traces of the city are gone, and it’s a relief to just step into the restaurant’s open-planned entrance.

Originally created to represent the flavours and influences of classic American and European dishes, the menu has evolved to include more exotic ingredients into the mix. I’m here for Brunch, and at the top of the menu is the House Special, Spruce’s Signature Burger. But for all its popularity, I’ve been fore-warned that it’s a monster, and I’ve come here with the intention of getting through more than just one dish!  So I give that a miss and scour the menu for my favourites…

A sure sign of a good restaurant is the freshness of its seafood and the subtlety in the way it is prepared. Strong favouring is not required and of course over-cooking is to be absolutely avoided. And so, with this in mind, I choose my starter:  the Ahi Tuna Tartar…

This dish is served with chunky slices of Ciabatta and Avocado, but I first sample the tartar on its own. It’s literally a taste explosion – with the various spices and distinct flavours of lime, chilli and vinegar igniting on the tongue. The texture of the finely chopped tuna combines perfectly with the buttery avocado and chewy, freshly-baked bread.

This dish definitely goes into the ‘must-have’ list. The only problem is that it’s over too soon. But that was down to my own greed; the serving was a generous one.  

Carrying on with my need for seafood, the main course is soon decided: Cajun Prawns Eggs Benedict.  Served on a toasted Bagel, and drizzled with Hollandaise Sauce, a piquant Hot Sauce and a sprinkling of chopped Dill, a generous serving of juicy prawns shares centre-stage with poached eggs; the contents of which run wild as I eagerly dig in. The combination of texture and taste is wonderful, and no flavour outdoes the next. Again it’s a generous serving and I am left completely satisfied with my two choices… 

But of course… there’s always room for dessert!

My meal is finished off with another Spruce favourite – the Steamed Ginger Date Pudding with Chocolate Toffee Sauce.

This little piece of heaven is a contrast in hot and cold. Rich vanilla ice cream slowly melts and absorbs into a sandwich of warm ginger pudding. The chocolate toffee sauce adds further decadence to the dish. Just forget about the calories – it’s the flavour that counts here!

The Lunch and Dinner menus at Spruce build further on these combinations of texture and flavour, and ‘East meets West’ fusion.

In a drive to further whet the palates of their clientele, Spruce have also built an impressive wine collection, sourced from select wine-producers from around the world.

Spruce is open during the week from 10:30am to 10:30pm, and during the weekends from 8:30am to 10:30pm. They also have their own in-house bakery and even an outdoor Taqueria, serving tacos during the week.

Check out the complete Spruce menus at www.spruce.com.sg