At last year's Epicurean Market, an annual food festival organised by Marina Bay Sands, a piece of fried chicken from Yardbird Southern Table & Bar that I ate stayed in my mind for a long time.
Its skin was crisp and aromatic, the meat was juicy and it came with waffles and a piece of watermelon. It all went together perfectly.
Founded by American restaurateur John Kunkel, Yardbird has outlets in Miami and Las Vegas.
That was a teaser for the latest restaurant to be brought in by the integrated resort. It opened this month as The Bird Southern Table & Bar (so it would not be confused with a popular yakitori restaurant in Hong Kong called Yardbird).
But when I visited The Bird two weeks ago, the fried chicken wasn't as good. Served similarly with waffles and watermelon cubes as Chicken 'n' Watermelon 'n' Waffles ($45), it was decent, but not outstanding.
The meat was tender and the marinade tasty enough, but it wasn't dripping with juices and fat - which was how I remembered it.
The cheddar cheese waffles tasted good, but felt like they had been sitting around for too long. The watermelon did a good job of refreshing the palate though.
THE BIRD SOUTHERN TABLE & BAR
B1-07 (Galleria Level) & L1-82 (Bay Level), The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue, tel: 6688-9959; open: weekday lunch (11am to 4pm), weekend brunch (10am to 4pm), dinner daily (4 to 11pm)
Price: Budget from $60 a person, without drinks
Just to make sure it wasn't just the cooks' off day, I went back last week for the chicken again.
This time I ordered the Lewellyn's Fine Fried Chicken ($35), which is the same half bird, but without waffle or watermelon. And it was still not mind-blowing, just okay.
In fact, other dishes made deeper impressions.
One is the Fried Green Tomato BLT ($18), a twist on a BLT sandwich sans the bread. Instead, a thick slice of fried green tomato formed the base for layers of smoked pork belly, pimento cheese, smoky tomato jam and frisee lettuce. It was the bomb.
I ordered it on both visits and it was good each time. Eat the layers separately or together, they taste good either way.
I would go back for Deviled Eggs ($14) too. Smoked trout roe, mashed with egg yolks and mixed with dill and chives, was stuffed into the hollows of halved hard-boiled egg whites.
The smoked roe was salty, but the egg white balanced that nicely. The result was a moreish combination of springy egg white and pasty egg yolk that I loved.
Shrimp n' Grits ($39) had really salty shrimps, but in this case, there wasn't anything to tone it down. The grits, ground corn mixed with lots of butter, though delicious, were also really heavy.
So I'd pass on this rich and salty dish, which was a bit of a shame as the shrimps were fresh and firm.
Other mains that I tried, Short Rib ($45) and St Louis Style Pork Ribs ($42), tasted generic. They were fine, but did not stand out from what you get at many other restaurants - basically heavily sauced meat that fell off the bone easily.
Low Country Laksa ($38), specially created for the Singapore outlet, comprised a pan-fried snapper fillet and a poached egg served on a pilau of Carolina rice, sweet corn and spiced pecans.
At the table, the server poured in a caramelised ginger and coconut broth. The result was more like a Japanese curry than a laksa. And if you, like me, are no fan of Japanese curries, I would suggest you skip this too.
Leave room for dessert though. The Flower Pot Mississippi Mud Pie ($18) might not be very original, but having the dessert look like a flower pot filled with soil would still get smartphone cameras clicking and prompt a chuckle or two.
And it tasted good too, with a small piece of fluffy dark chocolate cake covered in a layer of Oreo pecan dirt and stuffed in a flower pot made of crisp chocolate. And the flower itself? It was a marshmallow.
The Bird takes up two levels at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, with the main entrance on B1. Turn right when you walk in to enter the main dining room with an adjoining open kitchen. Turn left and you find yourself in a private dining area. A staircase takes you up to the street level where the bar is.
The atmosphere is fun and friendly, with a mix of booth seats, communal tables and bar counters. I see the place appealing to a casual young crowd for whom ambience takes precedence over food. So don't be surprised if The Bird takes off.
Besides, there is always hope that, one day, the fried chicken will taste the way I remember it.
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•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.