We’re no stranger to trendy restaurants popping up now and then in the Kampong Glam district. While some sank to the bottom from waves of Covid-19 restrictions, there are ones who managed to keep their heads above the water. Having garnered many stellar Google reviews and recently celebrating their fifth anniversary last August, one would confidently assume that Brine is one such concept that stood the test of time.
The minimalist interiors have been designed to harness natural light and rustic floral accents to accentuate an airy yet inviting dining experience that is perfect during lunch but comes sundown, its soft rustic charm quickly fizzles away to reveal a poorly lit space boxed in by stale concrete walls. While we recognise the minimalistic practice, the menu could have used a little more clarity as deciding on what to order felt as if we were in the midst of a guessing game.
The Charred Cauliflower and Hummus ($12) was a beautiful work of art when presented upon us, highlighting mixed textures of the cauliflower – some delicate and some with a slight bite – and a well–seasoned silky hummus. Mildly spiced, nutty with hints of smoke, each mouthful was greeted with delight. A humble starter that displayed finesse which set a high bar for the rest of the dinner course that evening.
A highly anticipated starter was the Atlantic Octopus Leg with Garlic Oil ($16) however, first bite in and it went from hero to zero in a not–so–hot minute. Sporting a lacklustre char, each octopus tentacle offered a limp and unseasoned bite while we launched a palate-wide search for the garlic oil but found none. Paired with a semi-sweet corn and miso emulsion, the uninviting oatmeal texture definitely failed to complement. A dish that left us both puzzled and disappointed.
Highly raved signature Dashi Risotto ($23) sounds like an umami-delight on paper but yet again, we were treated to another bland expression that had us searching for flavours. The supposedly runny egg was overcooked which resulted in a lack of viscosity as the yolk did not ooze out to bind the dish together. A cardinal sin that ultimately led to a soggy mess of a “porridge” that oddly reflected hints of milk powder that masked the slivers of oyster mushroom and bits of edamame with each spoonful.
Somewhat of saving grace, the Black Onyx Angus Hangar Steak ($39) was tender and generously seasoned but we collectively agree that the char could have also been more liberal as it would have given the meat more depth and character. It came paired with a bizarre curried carrot puree which had an unwelcomed mix of spice and tang that did not tango well with the beef jus. Definitely an overall unpleasant surprise.
With its open concept kitchen that centres the chef at work, which also allows diners to have a peek in as to how the chef–on–duty interact with our food – we could hardly feel the ethos of the space it was once built upon as the bulk of what we ordered didn’t exactly exude passion and soul. Perhaps revisiting the drawing board to come up with a less complacent menu is desperately needed. But until Brine can find their beat and live up to their hyped reviews, it’ll be hard to convince anyone to roll in with just uninspiring nosh.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional