Go big or go home…

The asparagus is dead! Long live the asparagus!

Posted on: June 27, 2009

Pilot review – Supperclub

A Dutch concept restaurant whose supper appeal is a fixed five-course menu, served to diners lounging on communal day beds. The club aspect comes in the form of kitsch cabaret, complete with transvestite staff and toilets assigned by homo or hetero. Exactly the kind of restaurant you’d hope to find in Amsterdam.

I’m not sure it’s quite so comfortable in Singapore. One the Saturday I went only a third of the covers were filled – sad given the staff was so lovely – and all the patrons were white. The echoing school hall feel didn’t stop me enjoying myself and the staff kept on smiling, but the saving grace should have been the food.

Perhaps on any other evening it would have been. This particular night happened to be a celebration of all things asparagus, not least the start of the seasonal harvest. “Vive l’asperge,” the maitre d’ cried. Indeed.

Now, asparagus is a tricky beast. Once you cut the stalk, the shoot furiously starts turning sugars into fibres in a desperate attempt to protect its cut surface. Asparagus contains a lot of sugar, so this process can carry on for quite a while, making the stem tougher all the time.

This is the reason it travels badly, and why local seasonal asparagus is such a cause for celebration. So a menu honoring the asparagus season while necessitating flying the vegetable half-way ‘round the world is ill-conceived from the start.

The next issue – does asparagus really need to be included in every course? “Why yes,” you may shout, “vive l’asperge! No room for half measures.” Why not hear the menu before you decide?

1: Asparagus bitteballen.
Bitteballen are Dutch pub food – an even thicker version of Campbell’s condensed soup, made into balls and deep fried. Adding finely chopped asparagus to chicken ones was a nice idea. No complaints so far.

2: Cocktail Sir Raffles with shrimp.
Basically prawn cocktail. Low on retro irony, high an asparagus.

3: Asparagus soup.
Pretty good. Very asparagus-y. The poached egg was perhaps a bit much for a five course meal. Starting to get full.

4: Asparagus with ham and egg (what, more egg?), potatoes mousseline, green peas and butter sauce.
Ham, eggs and mash. It was tasty enough – I would have been happy to serve it at home but it wasn’t fancy restaurant fare. The portions were huge and loaded with spears of white asparagus so tough they were impossible to slice.

5: Sugared white asparagus with asparagus parfait.
Say what now?
I was a little over-asparagused by this point anyway. And parfait, in case you weren’t sure, is fancy ice cream. No ice cream should have asparagus in it, fancy or otherwise. The sugared asparagus was oooookay, caramelising into something like stewed rhubarb. But the combination made me want to weep, and not in a taste-the-ambrosia way.

Big thumbs down to the asparagus menu, big thumbs up to the amazing staff, and a surprise win for the wine list. I can’t remember anything we drank (except the Moet, darhling), but the waiter matched each glass to our food (no mean feat) and they were all excellent.

I’d go back to the bar, but I’m not in a hurry to go back and eat. Overall I’d say about 6/10.

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2 Responses to "The asparagus is dead! Long live the asparagus!"

Wow, you were asparagised! But the important question is: did it make your wee smell funny?

Yeah, well and truly asparagised. It’ll be a while before I eat it again!

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