FOOD REVIEW: Eatcetera — A traditional taste of Europe in the heartlands of Redhill
SINGAPORE — The idea of traversing the world through food seems rather pointless to me—at least until a pandemic forced all borders closed. Until the year 2020, Singaporeans have always been predisposed to extensive travels, encouraged even by the big G to go out and import novel ideas from overseas home. Though quite a stretch, travelling the world through food, is simply an extension of our insatiable need to move as far and as wide as our passport will allow.
I start with this preamble as a way to frame my travel today to the far West (if you can consider Redhill, West) in search of authentic and traditional European fare at Eatcetera.
As a new entrant into this club of curious and fascinating cuisine of international proportions, Eatcetera has a lot to prove. The restaurant’s concept of serving up European fare on a plate is nothing new, having been attempted by such storied establishments like Restaurant Gaig, Amò, and Caffe Fernet. But Europe is big, and in Singapore’s grander scheme, hardly an overcrowded scene for the F&B industry. There’s always space for one more.
Here, the menu cycles through the regions of Russian, Poland, and Belarus, offering food that is big, bold, and beautiful. Most of the food here takes inspiration from the kitchens of regular European folks who delight in simple, dependable, but incredibly hearty fare. There’s no attempt to pretty anything up at EATcetera, a decision I applaud because sometimes you just want to eat dishes that fill you up, preferably for the next 24 hours or so. In this regard, Eatcetera fulfils.
It’s a menu cooked with love and starts with a classic, simply named Russian Salad (S$18++). Traditionally, it’s referred to as the Olivier Salad, a moniker inspired by a cook, Lucien Olivier, a chef at the celebrated restaurant, Hermitage in Moscow, back in the 1860s. Execution-wise, it doesn’t get simpler than this. There’s potatoes, cucumber, smoked ham, green peas, and boiled eggs, all cubed and slathered in a mayonnaise imported from the European region—a choice that makes all the difference.
Here, the mayo is smooth and incredibly light with nary a hint of cloy you often get with the tub varietal. Chef Patron Christian Bruhns tells me that Russians living in Singapore order this by the kilo and it’s not hard to see why. It pairs easily with most meats and makes for an easy appetiser in a pinch.
There’s a Fish Soup (S$11++) made out of a potato base and liberally filled with smoked Haddock, smoked Trout, cubes of potatoes, and leeks. Like the Russian Salad, this also takes little effort to understand and appreciate, though the approach to seasoning might scare some health-conscious Singapore.
Make no mistake; this soup is heroically salted almost to the point of being too indulgent. A casual diner would say this is salty, but I appreciate this courage at flavouring, finishing the bowl to the very last drop.
Elsewhere on the menu, the Draniki (S$8++ for the sour cream classic; S$11++ for the sautéed mushrooms and smoked salmon) makes for an easy primer of Belarusian cuisine. These potato cakes are soft in the middle and satisfyingly crisp at the edges and are well-loved by the ordinary Belarusian.
It comes as no surprise given that a Belarusian consumes over 100kg of potatoes a year. At Eatcetera, a portion of Draniki comes as a set of 3, a patently ridiculous amount given how addictive these are. I demand more.
No sooner had I internally grumbled and demanded more Draniki, out came the grand show of skewers of meat cooked in every chef’s favourite appliance—the Josper oven. Order this, and you can guarantee all eyes on you when it’s set on the table, hanging from a skewer rack above plates of side dishes and sauces.
The Pork Collar (S$22++) is a hulking piece of pork marinated with a spice rub of chilli, salt, cumin, and coriander. It has been cooked beautifully such that there’s sufficient resistant, so you know it’s meat you’re eating. The rub on the meat is incredibly generous, lending overtones of spice and savoriness to the entire presentation.
The other skewer is the Lamb Rump (S$33++) which is good, but I thought it could be cooked down further. I like this for the intensity of the meat flavour—this is Lamb after all—which, when eaten with the bell pepper-green apple sauce, makes everything much more palatable for the lamb-averse diner.
If I were to compare, I would want the Lamb rump to be cooked to the shockingly soft, tender texture of the meat in the Hungarian Veal Goulash (S$33++). It’s a hearty dish that is big, bold, and unabashed served with vegetables and homemade Spätzle, which, I thought, could do with a little more seasoning.
I’d hate for the spätzle to lean solely on the goulash to shine, no matter how beautifully it's cooked. It might work if you regard the spätzle as a substitute for plain white rice—otherwise, there’s no harm in a tad more seasoning in preparing the pasta.
Desserts come by way of a Kaiserschmarrn (S$18++), a soufflé pancake not unlike the trendy iterations of the Japanese kind. Here, it’s shredded when it has achieved sufficient rise and then tossed until it’s crispy at the sides. Between the batter, the pancake is chock full of raisins soaked in rum. That’s a lot of yums on a plate if you ask me. I only wish people would toss soufflé pancakes more.
I do realise how hard it is to take a restaurant with a name like Eatcetera seriously. Still, if their website is any indication, the establishment uses this moniker as a way to tell diners that, like the linguistic equivalent, there’s always something more here. It could be a Russian New Year special menu or a two-course lunch priced at a jaw-droppingly affordable S$15.80.
It is such a damn shame that Eatcetera is loved more fondly only by the burgeoning Russian expat community here in Singapore. I say if you're around the area and craving for food that's outside of the typical repertoire of Singapore's at times predictable hawker centres, you can't go wrong with Eatcetera and their hearty offerings of cuisine from a place we can all but only dream of—for now, at least.
Website |12 Alexandra View, 01-02/03/04, The Artra, S158736
Daily: 11am – 12 midnight
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