My friend suggested dinner for tonight and since it was the last few days Restaurant Week, I decided to check out of one the restaurants. Among the available options I picked Violet Herbs because it was new and there had been somewhat good reviews on Instagram. The restaurant is located along Tras Street, which is not exactly famous for having a lot of restaurants but there are more and more good ones there nowadays. I was glad to see that it was located very near the exit of Tanjong Pagar MRT so it’s very easy to spot and locate.
I made my reservations for 6:30pm. When I arrived, they told me something unheard of before – that there were 2 seatings and I had to vacate by 7:45pm for the 8pm reservations. Now this may seem acceptable and I didn’t think too much initially but soon I realised that this is questionable.
When I arrived, the restaurant was entirely empty save for one other table.
Digressing, the furnishing is really purple! Those who dislike this colour may want to pick some other place. Personally purple is one of the colours which I do not really fancy but I guess I can overlook the furnishing for a dinner session. My dining companion’s favourite colour is purple so I thought she may like this set up. The place was evidently very new but the tables were too close together for a “semi fine-dining” setting which they want to be. This place has a dress code of no slippers/ shorts (sloppy dressing) and does not cater to children. Diners are advised not to bring children. Also, the laminate flooring resulted in loud footsteps heard throughout my meal. Perhaps solid wood or tile flooring would be a better idea? A crowded and noisy restaurant certainly doesn’t resonate with the “semi fine-dining” theme even though the food may qualify.
So the thing is, I realised that people started streaming in one by one after 7pm and the place was full by the time I left at 7:45pm. Surely these people aren’t being asked to leave by 7:45pm for the 8pm “second seating“. It is also not possible that these 7pm diners are booked for 8pm and happened to arrive early because if that’s the glitch which could allow them to enjoy the dinner longer, I would have just booked 7pm instead and not be rushed to finish my meal within an hour odd. I suspect this is the simple case of them being overbooked and they targeted my table because I happened to book a 6:30pm slot and they thought it may be easier to rush me off than the people who book 7pm and later. Apparently they had tried to call me earlier at 5pm+ to inform me that I had to leave by 7:45pm but I was having yoga and was unable to receive calls. If it was a rule set for everybody I would have heard from them in the confirmation email sent days ago and not be (attempted) informed an hour before. Still, I think this practice is not one which is acceptable as I feel it’s unfair.
The service I got was quite hurried, especially since my dining companion is not one which likes to be rushed. While we were finishing up our appetizers, they started clearing the plate which was finished. Fair enough I guess, but to my horror they also took away the other plate – which was soup, when we were still having it, with spoons in our hands even. It happened too quickly that we were beyond words and could just look at each other and laugh it off because, well, we didn’t need to finish it all anyway. There was only a little left but we were still having it and they did not even ask before taking away the dish!
When we were still having our mains, we were asked whether we wanted dessert to be served. I feel they didn’t have to do this. Obviously dessert can only be served when the mains are cleared and if it isn’t there’s no point asking. On the other hand, I did appreciate that they were all polite even though I was not too pleased with the actions.
Perhaps they should have better control over the service to make the dining experience better for diners. Service and impression aside, here’s the review about the food.
The restaurant week menu cost $35.00++ for dinner and it is of good value. According to the website, their weekday set dinner is $42.00++ for 4 courses which is quite a rare find for a restaurant in the CBD area.
Bread and duck rillettes was served first. I liked that the bread was warm and crispy on the outside.
Roasted & Poached Foie Gras
This foie gras was well executed and the texture inside was squishy and oily like it should be. The shiitake mushrooms matched really well with it too. It was my first time seeing this combination.
Jerusalem Artichoke Velouté
There was crispy duck confit in it but I felt that it didn’t really make the dish any better. The soup on it’s own was nice enough, though not the best Jerusalem artichoke velouté I’ve had. The edible flowers and herbs contributed more to the aesthetics than the taste but that’s fine because it’s always delightful to see flowers.
Marinated Cod Fillet
This dish is more Asian than European (in fact, this could be totally Asian) tasting with the ginger broth and isn’t what I’d expect in a restaurant that’s not really Asian but it was very tasty. The broth was so good, we had to get spoons to finish up every single drop!
Char Grilled Tenderloin (120 days grain fed)
I ordered medium rare for this.
The doneness was perfect and the beef was very tender. In fact, I think this steak was really good! The accompanying vegetables especially the baby spinach was good as well, soaking up the sauces.
Lemongrass Panna Cotta
With rosemary ice cream and coconut palm sugar sauce. The first impression was ‘this is tom yum!’ because of the lemongrass and coconut flavours. I mean this in a good way because it was interesting, refreshing and the whole thing worked. The texture of the panna cotta was smooth and silky too. The berried did not really blend in at all and I would think it’s more for decorative purposes.
Fig & Thyme Cake
I liked the thyme ice cream! However, I don’t really taste the thyme but the ice cream still tastes food, especially with the crunchy bits below. The cake was alright too.
Overall the food here is really good, though not very interesting in terms of creativity or plating but taste and quality wise it is definitely good. The options on the menu are all quite safe and familiar dishes, with exception of desserts which are more adventurous somehow. The service doesn’t match up though, with my not so satisfactory encounter explained above. Perhaps this restaurant still needs more time to get the hang of running smoothly. After all, they’ve only been open for like a month or so? On account of the good quality food I wouldn’t mind trying again in future!