It is a foodie’s worst nightmare to step into a new school and realize that the seniors affectionately call the cafeteria The Suckmit. A year later, I’ve only met one person who remotely enjoys the food there. ‘It’s awesome,” quipped R, and is immediately diagnosed with a case of Stockholm’s syndrome. But before we launched into a passionate discussion about who to sue for her clear recognised psychiatric injury, she added the caveat: “it’s so terrible that I don’t eat anything all day! Best diet ever!”

Since the new management took over (see the previous article on the Summit Sweethearts), things are slowly improving. But in the spirit of Restaurant Week and the hopes of better days to come where you don’t have to watch a small Chinese man sweat into your bowl of noodles while preparing them, here’s Heidi’s & Stacey’s Alternative Food Solutions, for those of us with a caviar taste, but who are on a fishstick budget.

GUILD HOUSE

A mere 30s walk from the Summit, step into a vortex that takes you to a breezy patio shrouded in the greenery of the botanical gardens where food is beautiful and nothing hurts. It is a great place to escape the horrors of school just 30m away. We’ve always preferred the alfresco sitting, since there is no dress code. Further, the interior doesn’t even attempt to go beyond the pseudo-fancy vibe.

We had their 3 course set lunch – appetizer/soup, mains and dessert with a free flow of drinks for $25. Their 4 course meal is priced at $28, and the menu changes every month, available on their website. (Photos courtesy of Stacey Fernandez)

Prawn on bed of mango salsa accompanied with Mixed Mesclun

A light, refreshing appetizer, the freshness of the prawns went very well with the fruity salsa!

Mixed seafood pasta flavoured with white wine bush herb sauce

The best pasta is always slightly al dente, and this hits the texture right on the spot (possibly the only one out of 3 places on campus that serves pasta). The seafood was very fresh and pretty generous. (Unfortunately picky eater YK who had this gave away all his scallops and clams). The only complaint was that one clam was overcooked (the middle one in this photo) to the point of having shriveled up like my soul after every company tutorial.

Roulade of Beef with Asparagus served with Baby Potatoes and glazed with pepper sauce

This was absolutely perfect – the beef had just the right distribution of fat, the sauce was not too salty and the asparagus added a crunch and less guilt to each delicious mouthful.

Banana with Cocoa Mouse and Rum served with Crystalised Hazelnuts

This wasn’t as good as the other courses, definitely too ordinary to be worth much mention. What is worth a mention however is their Battered Valrhona Chocolate Balls with Raspberry Coulis and Vanilla Gelato which I tried in another sitting, and available on the permanent menu:

What’s good:

English Tea Set! (Photo courtesy of Lim Zhi Kang)

 $16 for 2, and available between 2:30PM and 5PM on weekdays. The tea serves up a platter of pretty desserts and a free flow of drinks.

Also, Guild House is a hidden gem for cheap alcohol on campus – its atas looking exterior is merely a foil. Drinks are about $6 a glass, and cocktails about $10. The martini madness ($18 for 3 martinis) is great for girly catch-ups, and before anyone objects, I am over 18 and can legally drink.

What’s bad:

SERVICE. It’s about as easy to get the attention of a waiter as it is to get a copy of Halsbury’s during LAWR open season.  Even after request, they take painfully long to deliver. Be wary of your cutlery, many stains have been spotted. Thankfully, there is no service charge.

If you have: About an hour or two. The Guild House is only 30s away from the Summit yet the service takes so long, you’ll have to wait longer to get served than it is to eat the (albeit delicious) food.

Will cost you: $10-15 for a few drinks, or $25-$40 for food. Do note that the Guild House only accepts payment by credit card (no cash or NETS accepted), so go with someone who can sign the bill.

 

CHOUPINETTE

Located at: 607 Bukit Timah Road, #01-01 (Beside Coronation Plaza)

A few bus stops down Bukit Timah road sits Choupinette, a homely quiet diner that serves hearty French food. Choupinette is not for large crowds – its tiny interior better suited for intimate conversations with a close friend or that special someone. The décor is nothing fancy but very comfortable, almost as if I am sitting in someone’s living room and somebody will disappear back in the kitchen every now and then and return with delicious food made especially for me.

What’s good:

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Served warm and very comforting after 2 hours of torturous Company Law tutorial, I loved how it is completely free of MSG or watery nonsense and the natural sweetness of the pumpkins really comes out and greets your pallet like the first dew of morning on a grassy field.

Le poulet a la Dijonnaise (which is a fancy term for chicken in mustard)

Grilled chicken breast served with Dijon mustard sauce and homemade mash potato, the Dijon mustard sauce is tangy and sweet and very robust. Can’t get any simpler than chicken and sauce but it was very refreshing and homely.

Also try their brunch menu, featuring lots of poached eggs and toast, with fresh fruit and cheeses:

(Photo courtesy of Alyssa Leong (Law 3), #1 law school foodie)

Don’t bother with:

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a French cold tomato soup, but that’s where it stops sounding delicious. Unless you’re a fan of a raw oniony taste, this goes down your throat like a watery grave of sulfuric acid. Probably more of an acquired taste, I expected more fresh tomatoes with a hint of basil, kind of like pesto – but this was more of a puree of 1 part tomato blended with an onion the size of the moon, diluted with water, chilled and served.

If you have: An entire afternoon or evening to spare. Choupinette is a great place to wind down and relax over food that should not be rushed. If you’re in the area, pop down to the German supermart beside it, where we found something that ignited hope in our hearts again:

Nutella & Go! , $4.90 (an atas yan-yan, imported straight from Europe)

Will cost you: $25 – $35, but look out for their Restaurant Week bookings, where you can sit for a 3 course meal for only $25++

 

GASTRONOMIA

Located at: 501 Bukit Timah Road, #01-01 Cluny Court (The white building next to Serene Centre)

Gastronomia is the pretty little place at Cluny that runs the takeout deli for De Paolo next door. Prices are definitely cheaper than De Paolo, and everything is pre-made and ready for take out! Even the Tupperware they use to pack your food is the good quality kind.

Watching enough Gordon Ramsey would teach you to recoil in horror away from anything prepared in a microwave, yet although most of Gastronomia’s food is pre-made and reheated, it’s so good the non-Michelin chef that is me forgives them. The variety is fantastic – the freezer is stocked with pasta sauces and soups, single slices of cakes and profiteroles, or you can order from the counter freshly cooked food (think a up class zhi-char), pizza, giant meringues and cupcakes.

What’s good:

Beef Lasagna

One of my favourites in the menu, the beef lasagna doesn’t photograph well, but is so wholesome and good that you can actually taste the pasta and cheese and beef and bolognaise. Given it costs as much as the beef lasagna at Sapore, my bets are on Gastronomia’s. (You know, unless you like your lasagna with a hint of cardboard box and possibly made by a machine 3 months ago.)

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

(Both photos courtesy of Alyssa Leong (Law 3), #1 most chio law school foodie)

Self explanatory.

Also try the smoked salmon pizza, and profiteroles. Their double chocolate cupcakes are so good each bite sends you into an abyss of an opium dream.

If you have: An hour or less. It takes about 10 minutes to stroll through the botanical gardens to get to Cluny, have your order heated up and take it back to school and be the envy of all your friends. Choosing what to get because everything is awesome is the main challenge though.

Will cost you: $5 – $10 for desserts, and $10 – $15 for food. In our opinion, totally worth it.

Since this article sorely lacks dessert places and actual fishstick budget alternatives … stay tuned for Part 2! Between now and then, we’ll be exploring new places (as research for Law Annual, so we don’t see why we shouldn’t get reimbursed). You’re more than welcomed to join us in our exploits! (People who drive please apply.)

Bon Appetit!

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Article contributed by: Heidi Tan (Law 2) and Stacey Anne Fernandez (Law 2)

Photography by: Stacey Anne Fernandez (Law 2) and Alyssa Leong (Law 3)