Blue Lotus Mediterranean Kitchen + Bar may not offer the best Western food, but the new restaurant in Alexandra Road will do well nonetheless.
That's because it does many things right for the market it targets - namely, executives working on weekdays in the vicinity, which includes the sprawling Mapletree Business City; and families on Saturdays.
It has a casual, cheerful ambience aided by a pastel scheme that includes sky-blue walls. The furniture is positioned with enough space in between for diners not to be forced to eavesdrop on conversations at neighbouring tables.
The lunch crowd in their office wear will probably opt to sit in the air-conditioned dining room, but in the evening, they can loosen their ties or kick off their heels and lounge on the sofas outside.
On Saturdays, one can imagine families in T-shirts and shorts tucking into platters of barbecued meats, both indoors or outdoors.
The prices are friendly too. A twocourse set lunch ranges from $18 to $24, depending on the main course. For example, $18 gets you a grilled chicken leg with soup or salad, while a $24 set comes with grilled Norwegian salmon fillet. Dessert costs another $3 or $5, so even a three-course meal is under $30.
BLUE LOTUS MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN + BAR
991B Alexandra Road, 01-10; tel: 6665-0880; open: 11.30am to 10pm (weekdays), 11am to 10pm (Saturdays), closed on Sundays
Price: Lunch sets start at $18. For a la carte, budget about $50 a person
On Saturdays, the restaurant does a $48 barbecue brunch that includes a salad, a soup, a grilled platter of seafood and chicken, a choice of grilled meat and dessert - which is more than enough food for me.
But just as important is the cooking, and Blue Lotus delivers well above what you would expect for its prices, including for a la carte orders.
The dishes are meant for sharing, with small plates for starters and big platters for mains, and there is a focus on simple, classic cooking, though a few items are given an original twist.
For example, there is an Octopus & Squid Carpaccio ($16), where an octopus leg is stuffed into a squid before being sliced paper-thin and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. The result is a two-tone texture, with the slightly rubbery squid encircling the more chewy octopus.
Venus Clams In The Pot ($18) is another starter worth ordering, with the shellfish cooked in white wine flavoured with coriander, lemon and garlic butter. The broth, which combines the flavours of everything that goes into the pot, is the main attraction and pieces of bread are provided for you to soak it up. The clams, however, are slightly overcooked.
On some days, the kitchen also has mussels which can replace the clams. Do it because mussels have plumper and juicier meat.
If, like me, you are a fan of octopus, you have to order the Grilled Atlantic Octopus Leg With Herbs ($26). It is the fattest octopus leg I have eaten.
I usually like my octopus sous vide till tender, but the one here is not like that. It has a springy texture instead, which is very pleasant too. It is delicious with the herb sauce served on the side.
The Grilled Meat Platter ($38) is good for three or four people. It's a straightforward dish of grilled beef ribeye, lamb rack, chicken leg and vegetables, with mustard and a housemade spicy yogurt sauce on the side. It also comes with fries.
The beef is middling, but the lamb is tender and flavourful. My favourite is the chicken leg, where juicy, well-marinated meat is topped with crisp skin.
If you need some starch, I'd say forget the fries or sides of rice or mashed potato. Fork out a bit more and use your carb quota on a pizza or risotto instead.
The Serrana ($20) pizza is topped with Spanish ingredients such as Iberico chorizo and Manchego cheese on pomodoro sauce - and their strong flavours make it pop.
The Tiger Prawn Risotto ($28) is worth paying for because the rice is topped with a large grilled prawn. Mixed into the grains are bits of grilled asparagus that provide nice bits of crunch and sweetness in the mouth.
Desserts are not the restaurant's strong suit.
The Pan-roasted Cinnamon Apple Tart ($10) tastes run-of-the-mill, with little cinnamon flavour. The Cheese Cake Cup ($8) gets points for its airy texture, which is more mousse than cake. But flavour-wise, it leaves less of an impression.
Order them if you need to end your meal with something sweet. I'd rather go for another slice of pizza.
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•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.