☆ Chef Tom Kerridge @ 4xFOUR Singapore

4xFOUR is an art cum gastronomy event held in Singapore’s largest ever Pop-Up Restaurant, operating for a 20-day period from 4 – 23 November, along Bayfront Avenue. 5 visiting chefs from 4 world-famous restaurants take turns to present their menus at the purpose built dining hall. Chef Tom Kerridge from The Hand & Flowers, UK – the only gastropub in the world to earn a 2 Michelin Stars, kick-started the inaugural event.

I’m thankfully counting my blessings as lady luck had been shining on me recently, I won tickets to this event via a contest on Hungrygowhere.com. That’s for making online reservation for my dinner at Moi Lum Restaurant (posted earlier). Effectively I got the chance to try the dishes of the first and last featured chef at 4 X FOUR as I’ve personally made booking for Chef Alvin Leung’s dinner from Bo Innovation, HK as well.

The other chefs participating in the event are: Chef Regina Samantha – late Chef Santi Santamaria’s daughter from Can Fabes, Spain (closed it doors a few months ago this year)  and Chef Chris Salans & James Ephraim from Mozaic Group, Bali (visited the restaurant in 2011, see my post here).

Being a Pop-Up restaurant, the tentage was set-up on an empty field across Marina Bay Sands (MBS). Getting there on rainy days would pose huge problem…luckily the rain was gone when we arrived for dinner.

4XFOUR Tom Kerridge_01

After registering our names, the organiser was pretty thoughtful to offer bag holder for ladies to hang our bags from the table and led us to our seats. While the website wrote that table configuration are in groups of 8 guests, somehow my table had 10 pax. Maybe they added more people to the table and I ended up seated right smack at the connecting seam of 2 long tables which had a slight unevenness on the surface.

A quick scan across the hall and its estimated that there were about 100 pax at the event with the spacing of the long tables pretty well spread out. The temperature in the dining hall was also well-controlled at a comfortable temperature for ladies – no need for shawl or cardigan.

We settled down at our seats and ordered a The 4 X FOUR cocktail Belvedere Pink Grapefruit/Blissful Berries Tea/ Fresh Grapefruit and a Red Sangria Rum/ Apple/ Grapefruit/ Orange/ Red Wine. As the beverage was not included in the price of the dinner (which was paid for already – I was already charged for the booking for Alvin at point of reservation); at this point I wondered how would the organiser be able to correctly account for the bill later and whether there would be a mess to pay for the drinks at the end of the dinner…

At around 8pm, the 8-Course Degustation dinner commenced with an annoucement welcoming guests to the event and we saw Chef Tom Kerridge at the front of the hall plating the starting dish.

When the service staff served the amouse bouche, we were slightly taken aback to see the cheese sables & cheddar cream served in a ‘sharing plate’ for 4. However they promptly explained that this would be the only dish to be shared, subsequent dishes would be in individual portions. The sables, also known as French Butter Cookie, was sandwiched with cheddar cream. The cookie was delicate and crumbly.

4XFOUR Tom Kerridge_02

Next dish was Roast cauliflower, ver jus, dried grapes & roast cauliflower puree. I enjoyed the earthy taste of the puree, it was smooth and creamy. However after finishing the dish and staring at the brownish remnants of the puree left on the plate, an image suddenly flashed across my head…thankfully the thought didn’t “a-poo-ear” while I was eating it earlier. (-_-)”

Before the next dish, Chef Tom Kerridge made an appearance to address the guests at the dinner event, briefly introducing his restaurant in London and sharing that the menu today was designed to have big and strong flavours.

Third dish was Peas & malt vinegar jelly. Chef had amazingly turned the distinct flavour of Pea into something that was mild and tasty.  I think this dish would appeal even to kids who hate eating peas.

Next was a classic British dish of Turbot fritter, pont neuf & gherkin mayonnaise aka “Fish & Chips“.  In this case, should be singular “Chip” as it was served with only a precious single piece of potato. The batter was light and crisp while the fish was meaty and firm; paired with the lovely gherkin mayonnaise.

4XFOUR Tom Kerridge_03

“Big and strong flavours” was the perfect description for the next dish of Venison chilli, popped rice & 70% chocolate.  Once served I could smell the gamey taste of the coarse ground venison. It was a rich and flavourful dish.

In contrast, the Treacle cured fillet of beef, roasted onion & onion puree was delicate and refined. The well-marinated beef was soft and tender with its meaty taste accentuated by the onion puree.

Finally we reached the last 2 dishes which were desserts. First was Lemon curd, blowtorched meringue & caramel biscuit followed by Sesame cake & creme fraiche. I loved the lemon curd dessert which was well-balanced, curd was not too citric and the meringue not too sweet. The sesame cake was served with what tasted like Green tea sorbet and I felt the taste was too mild.

Overall the chef and team did a fantastic service, food was served at a well controlled pace. However there are areas for improvement in terms of the service crew. The placement and collection of utensils was somewhat inconsistent, leading to guests having to ask for replacement utensils. At our table a drinks order was left out by the server.

Last but not least, our fabulous experience was totally spoilt by the messy billing. It took us 30 mins to get our bill for 2 drinks settled. We waited 20 mins to have our bill presented to us, but upon checking we were billed 2 extra drinks ordered by the guests next to us. When the corrected bill was presented, we used credit card to settle the bill – another long wait to get our card back. Meanwhile the guests next to us (whose drinks were erranously billed to us earlier) had asked for the bill much later had theirs settled faster than us even though they paid using credit card after us…Apparently there wasn’t a clear queue system to process the bills in an orderly manner.

Hope the service crew can do some AAR and improve on these service lapses for the rest of the event.

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