5th Quarter at Hotel Vagabond: Food cured in scarlet dreams

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-hotel-vagabond-reception

The Venue

The scarlet opulence of the Unlisted Collection‘s new hospitality (ad)venture will wow your senses. With seats and sofas cast in lush, red upholstery and towering gold branches with glittery golden leaves scattering light – you will feel like you’re part of an elaborate set of a mythical movie. Shimmering gold and scarlet red lends the poshness of a high society hideout but the affordable and inventive selections on the menu quickly dissipates that composure. (Yes, the rhinoceros is the reception desk)

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-lounge-area5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-restaurant-interior

The Food

Conceptualised by Chef Drew, who trained under the wings of Unlisted’s Jason Atherton, 5th Quarter’s menu traces back to his roots – preserving the freshest of produce, and a more sophisticated spot of curing to add a different dimension.

The menu was crystal clear as to how the ingredients are prepared and was categorised into: Salted and hung | Fermented, fried or braised | Smoked, brined or cured | Grilled, seared or charred | Roasted and greens | Frozen, churned or baked. So, the prices are really cool with us, especially when it comes with quality. The lowest priced item on the menu was S$5 and the highest was S$56.

Wanting to give as all-rounded a review as possible, we ordered at least an item from each category. And here’s how they each fared.

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-duck-rillette

The duck rillette (S$8) is a must-have. Comparing it with my favourite at Le Bistro Du Sommelier, this has surpassed it for the fact that the crisps that were really a great accompaniment with the texture and nutty fragrance. The rillette was creamy, yet with delectable meat chunks and spiced so well that I didn’t taste/smell the duck (not my favourite choice of poultry).

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-beef-tongue

This is another adventurous dish I must say, since I’m quite adverse to the smells from non-traditional protein parts of an animal. The beef tongue (S$12) came in a rather sizable portion and what first struck me was how tender it was, almost like good quality beef just lightly brushed in boiling water.

My taste buds were first hit by what I thought were notes of sweet dijon mustard but quickly realised (from the menu) it was wasabi. Sweet bulbs of pickled onions were tossed in together to balance the strong meaty flavour which worked perfectly. This was my favourite starter that night.

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-carabinero-prawn

This is probably my first time trying a Carabineros prawn (S$25), a deep-sea species native to the Mediterranean. Larger than the average species, I still found it a tad small for two to share. It was springy to the bite and it was tasty, although I didn’t think a strong tasting, cured sausage like chorizo complemented the more docile seafood flavour.

Pricey yes, but not many restaurants in Singapore serve this so give it a shot and drink up the juices (in the prawn head), because that’s one of its prized qualities.

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-pork-belly-melon-and-onion

I have had one too many pork belly dishes, starting from my favourite Japanese Kakuni varietals that are slowly braised till it literally melts in your mouth. This wasn’t one braised the way I’d have liked but it was so, so good. The pork belly with melon and onion (S$12) is a steal at this price tag. I’d have ordered one for myself if not for the fact that we’ve got so much more to get through.

I know I should have payed more attention to the service staff when they described the plate, but you’ve got to eat everything together, including the nutty paste that looks like a garnish. The pork belly only had a thin, unnoticeable layer of fat which lubricates the entire piece so much that the meat falls off in an easy swipe. You simply have to order this.

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-short-rib-carrot-pomengranate5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-pork-collar-radishes-praline

The mains were simply amazing. We actually went with only the short rib with carrot and pomegranate (S$36) at the start, but because it was so good, we added on another one to risk it a little (everything had been so good). Pieces of sweet bread lent tiny parcels of richness and together with the dollop of light, tangy pomegranate foam, the flavours melded together immaculately.

The pork tenderloin with beetroot and mustard (S$38) was the proper pinkness and had all the juices cooked in. I’d think that it was cooked sous vide first (oh-so-tender), then charred on the outside for the smokey flavour. I’m really running out of adjectives here but please bring more friends so you can try everything.

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-tomato-burrata-basil

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-spinach-radish-cured-yolk

The Roasted & Greens category is probably just the sides. But it isn’t just sides. For the price that you pay in good restaurants out there, almost all of the sides are S$8 other than the tomato and burrata (S$12). The burrata is so crazy fresh and creamy and topped with good quality extra virgin olive oil, I could not get enough spoonfuls of it.

Because the menu is rather devoid of a proper salad dish, this was the closest we could get and it was delicious. The daikon is slightly grilled and sprinkled with cured yolk flakes that gave the dish a sharp, salty tingle.

5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-cured-berries-yoghurt5th-quarter-by-unlisted-collection-petit-four

I was disappointed I didn’t get to try the chocolate salami because the only sweets I indulge in, is chocolate. They were unfortunately out of it. We were counter-proposed with the cured berries, yoghurt and olive oil (S$14) and it ended the meal off nicely for us as a digestive.

The petit four was a crumble with bacon jam, not your usual sweet sweets – but it worked.

Quality of food: 8/10
Value for money: 8.5/10

5th Quarter | Hotel Vagabond

39 Syed Alwi Road
Singapore 207630
Tel: +65 6291 1936
Reservations: By phone or via Chope
Email: info@5thquarter.com.sg

About St. Huan

Travel keeps me alive, and food fills my soul.
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