As a general rule, I hate restaurants that don’t allow reservations…but I’ve had to make a massive exception for a delicious new one, nestling on the corner of Telok Ayer Street, that I have fallen in love with. And I challenge anyone not to feel the same way.
Although I do sometimes groan inwardly at the opening of yet another restaurant, this one really is different. It’s hip without trying too hard, the food is excellent…and, perhaps most surprising of all, it’s not over priced.
The restaurant I’m talking about is The Market Grill.
The decor is perfect, to my mind anyway. The slightly industrial feel is off-set by white walls dotted with old fans, old ads and retro lighting. The fans are straight out of the 1950’s and oscillate quietly on the minimalistic walls. They are of the dangerously delightful don’t-touch-or-I’ll-slice-your-fingers-off variety and mixed in with lots of old-fashioned lamps on zig-zaggedy arms, casting a glow over metal ads of brands from times gone by.*
We had a Robertsons Golliwog at our table…and I loved the Bisto gravy sign above the glass doored fridge behind the bar, groaning – appropriately – with all manner of meat.
Lobster, as well as beef, is quite a big deal here although you’d be forgiven for not initially realising that. I loved their lit, way-around-a-cow centrepiece:
I still do maintain (without wanting to whine) that their no reservations policy IS super annoying if you want to book a table for, say, a business lunch, but it’s not all that bad for an impromptu dinner. Plus it does help to channel the casual vibe; it’s a jeans and heels place for sure. No chiffon please!
The menu is classic and unfussy and the food really does deliver. My lobster was grilled to perfection and – almost more remarkably – cost just $46. That’s a startling similar price to what they cost live and kicking from the tanks at Cold Storage.
I also loved the ketchup on the table. Some things in life – like burgers, which I’ll have to try next time – do call for ketchup and it’s not the same when it is brought out from the back kitchen, with eyes downcast, in a small little ramekin. Its use should be unapologetic (just please don’t eat it with steak).
There are a few dishes that really tell you the quality of the chef. To me, none more so than crème brûlée. If it’s too sweet, it’s unbearable, ditto if it’s too vanillary…and if you can’t crack the thin, burnt sugary shell with a single light tap from the back of your spoon, forget it.
I was almost afraid to order one, but felt compelled to see if it would pass the test…
…and it did. A 9/10. No horrible fruit hiding in the bottom, it was just custardy-perfection with only a hint of sweetness.
And although it was big enough to share, I scoffed it down all by myself.
All boxes ticked. I will be back!
More details on The Market Grill can be found here.
*DF, do not panic, there is aircon too. The old fashioned fans are just for effect.