Parsley & Thyme
The buzz: You’ll find this six-week-old newbie in a nondescript shophouse, serving up both European- and Mediterranean-inspired dishes courtesy of Dutch chef and owner Dennis Kool.
The vibe: A cozy 30-seater with dark wooden furnishings, punctuated with a red feature wall and rubescent tealights; jazz music playing softly in the background completes the desired romantic effect.
The food: Expect oldies but goodies such as thin-sliced home-cured gravad lax with dill sauce, crème fraiche and salmon roe ($15) and French onion soup ($12). If you’re after something more unusual, give the poached veal tongue with capers and tuna sauce ($15) a go. For those of you with voracious appetites, the liberally-portioned mains are a real bonus. Chef Kool has decided to bring a little taste of his birthplace to Singapore with items that showcase his roots. The char-grilled grass-fed Hereford tenderloin steak with thyme-infused sauce is topped with Delft (Kool’s hometown) blue cheese ($34), while the duo of pork cutlet and pork sausage pair comes with hete bliksem—a Holland specialty of mashed potato and apple ($28). Get a sugar rush with rich chocolate mousse ($12) or a refreshing trio of homemade sorbets ($12) to conclude your meal.
The drinks: About 30 different wines from New Zealand, Italy and Australia, most of which are under $100 a bottle, and from $9/glass.
Why you’ll be back: Simply, for well-executed fare that’s affordable to boot. Their lunch set is a real steal at just $14.80 for three courses, including coffee or tea. Not to mention it’s a charming spot with all the necessary trappings for an intimate evening. The rest is entirely up to you.
Pity the places not caught up in the Duxton renaissance. Even wonderful venues like after-hours spot Speakeasy struggled to pull the crowds because Blair Road remains off the radar (no wonder they’re relocating to 50 Tanjong Pagar Rd). But at least they have their loyal following. It’s harder to be so confident about the prospects for this Mediterranean/Euro joint just around the corner. Their location is even worse—slap bang in the middle of the karaoke bar stretch facing out on Kampong Bahru Road—but even that could (just about) be overcome with real inspiration.
While our visit was far from unpleasant, we simply couldn’t muster the enthusiasm you’d need to make a repeat trip; a spartan room, menus roughly put together, the food good but not outstanding. To be fair, Chef Kool (formerly Singapore Polo Club’s F&B manager) has a few tricks up his sleeve—we really enjoyed both our full-flavored French onion soup ($12) and char-grilled grass-fed Hereford tenderloin steak ($34)—and goes out of his way to welcome guests. And they do have a pretty competitive three-course set dinner for just $37.50. Were it just a few notches more consistent—service was eager but hesitant, the duck a l’orange ($30) was disappointingly overcooked—we might instead be raving about a secret, home-style gem amid all that sleaze.
But if you’re going to go out of your way (and not get sidetracked by the bright lights of Duxton) then you need to know it’s going to be something special. Sadly, that was not what we found.
Eat this at Parsley and Thyme: French onion soup. It's one of I-S Magazine's 50 things to eat in Singapore before you die (2012).