There was never any doubt the decor at E Food & Wine was going to be anything short of editorial-worthy. Furniture retailer John Erdos fitted out his eponymous restaurant – opened last December – with the kind of furnishings you would find in his neighbouring showroom and art gallery: reclaimed woods, outdoor furniture, paintings, tinted Moroccan wine glasses and finely detailed cutlery.
Inspired by Erdos’ childhood summers in East Hampton, E’s fare is a take on his mother’s comforting recipes. Equally, as the unmissable splashes of local flavours attest, the menu also reflects the American expat’s two decades living in South-East Asia. It’s unfortunate, then, that the decor outshines the menu.
The Chef’s Special plate of mussel risotto ($24) arrived with the missteps so common to this dish: undercooked yet tongue-scalding pasta, overcooked squid, and large but insipid shellfish. Despite arriving mid-meal, the sliders ($12) platter was better: a simple trio of medium-to-well-done, hand-shaped beef patties held together by housemade brioche and a bun-sized ring of raw red onion. The tender yet crunchy two-bite burgers would have been faultless had they not been underseasoned.
The beef rendang ($24), on the other hand, was commendable – a massive heap of fork-tender chunks of spiced lean beef barely contained between two pieces of puff pastry. The spices used were spot on, although the idle garnish of raw daun jeruk (kaffir lime leaves) was puzzling – were we supposed to ingest these? Still, the stew’s pliant textures complemented the authentic flavours of the well-rounded stew, though the pastry was chewy rather than crisp.
The ginger-lime crème brûlée ($8) promised a fashionable fusion of nostalgia and cream, but was let down by its watery texture and overpowering citrus notes. The brownie ($8) would have been perfect, except it was unbearably sweet. Noticing the concomitant flinches my dining partner and I gave, the server graciously and promptly asked for feedback. We hope the desserts will be given a makeover; incidentally, so should the practice of serving their house red (a Hunter Valley cabernet sauvignon, $13) over-chilled.
Fortunately for Erdos, and for us, all is not lost. At the end of the meal, we enquired about the inspiration and origins of the restaurant’s chic dining utensils and teakwood wine-bottle bucket stand, to which our server excitedly replied: ‘Everything can be purchased at the store next door.’ Way to sell the lifestyle, E. Celine Asril
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