(THE NEW PAPER) - I had no expectations when I walked into The Spot.
It is a nice-looking space with five concepts - including a restaurant, cigar lounge and wine store - located at the gorgeous Marina One building and it feels like an after-work chillout place because the first thing you notice is the number of drinkers at the alfresco area.
I did not expect to eat well, but I did. It was good to be proven wrong.
The food was - pardon the pun - spot on, combining European cooking techniques and Asian ingredients.
The Charred Grilled Octopus ($25) is not an easy dish to make, but you will be thankful the chef made an effort.
The octopus was marinated in an oil infused with kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic and shallot. Then it was seasoned, grilled and served with a peanut and red miso emulsion. The accompanying preserved green papaya slaw is bright, and the whole dish is like a dream.
I love buah long long (a tart fruit popular as a drink in Penang), so the idea that it was used as a vinaigrette for the Scallop Carpaccio ($30) was exciting. The tartness came through and in big doses, although the egg and dijon mustard emulsion took some of the edge off.
One of The Spot's best offerings was the Pan-fried Red Snapper ($28).
For me, it was largely thanks to the green curry emulsion and the side of ping pong eggplant cooked confit-style for nearly an hour. It was a simple-looking dish with lots of lovely, yet tedious to execute, components that actually worked.
Another good seafood offering was the Local Skate ($25). The fish was pan-fried and served on a bed of risotto cooked with fish stock and a delicious dried sole coriander broth. It was a comforting dish that warmed the stomach.
One of the rare misses was the Glazed Local Duck Breast ($28). It was unremarkable, except for the fragrant housemade chrysanthemum honey glaze.
What was memorable and truly remarkable was the Licorice Root Ice Cream ($15).
Licorice is a hit or miss ingredient, although it is the latter for most people because of that sweet herbal taste that seems to stick to the roof of your mouth. But the ice cream gave just a hint of the distinctive licorice taste and it managed to not overwhelm.
I am such a fan of this, I might return for another scoop.