Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Secret Garden

Last Thursday, my financial planner/agent, Doris, treated Fio and myself to a dinner after working out something new for our investment plans. It was intended as a birthday treat, since both of us are celebrating our birthday in this same week. She took us to a restaurant that is just beside her office, My Secret Garden. My Secret Garden is located in the Sculpture Square, beside NAFA, along Middle Road, at the junction into Waterloo Street, around 7 minutes walk from Bugis Junction. I have always walked past the Sculpture Square during the 'Gunpla Days', but I have never really explored this place. I would never have knew that such a cool place exists! Read on to learn more.

My Secret Garden
161 Middle Road (S)188978
Opening Hours: Sun - Thu: 11am - 11pm /Fri - Sat: 11am - 11pm
Tel: 63348334

The moment we stepped into the restaurant, we were immediately greeted by the cosy ambiance. The tungsten lamps and tea lights illuminated the modern furniture and deco with a dim orange glow. With a slight drizzle outside, we chose indoors over al fresco in the courtyard. We rain drops beating on the cobblestones, and orange glows from the exterior wall lighting, we almost had the feeling that we were in different country. A cosy corner worked fine for us, though the inner 'mini-courtyard' would be a cool place to slouch back on the low couches and 'chill-out' with a few good friends.


Calamari rings are the best starters with any meal. Fresh squid rings coated with batter and fried to a golden crisp. Squids usually have a bland taste, hence the batter is important for making good calamari rings. At least it applies to the ones I had. The texture of the squid rings were neither too mushy nor chewy, which suggests freshness! To add a little more flavour to it, the Thai chili sauce served as a excellent dip.


I had my Rib-Eye Steak served 'done', despite my order being 'medium-done.' I am very particular about how my steak is to be done, as it can dramatically affect its taste. Most steaks are not heavily marinated and since they are usually grilled, they are dependent on the sauce and the freshness of the beef. If the steak comes without a sauce, a rare or medium steak is important in bring out the taste of the steak, as the 'juices' of the meat is preserved within the grilled exterior. The one I had was well done and did not really have much 'juice' within. I was about to complain of its dryness, if not for the brown sauce drizzled around the dish. I could not elaborate on the taste except to comment 'grilled'. The rib-eye steak is accompanied by sauteed potato cubes, bell peppers and broccoli.

Fio had a fresh catch of the Cod Fish. The not-too-big chunk of the cod fish comes served on some greens and mashed potatoes. The mashed potato was intentionally done to have soft chunks within to add a different texture to it. The smooth and flaky texture of the cod fish is preserved as it is gently pan-fried. Most importantly, the fish is fresh and retains its 'milky taste'. Like the steak, a brown sauce encircles the main dish.

Doris gave two thumbs up for her Ox-Tail Stew without much thoughts. The reddish-orange stew is served with the same mashed potato as that from the Cod Fish and zucchini The stew is like goulasch, with a distinct tomato base. I have never had ox-tail before, since I always imagine how an ox swags its tail at flies. The ox-tail come in chunks of meat, cartilage, fat and bones. The meat is tender and goes well with the soft tissues. The best way to enjoy the stew is to soak the complimentary baguette with the heavy sauce.


It is important for the ladies to make the right choice of desserts, since I have no preferences. The brownie with ice cream is always a delightful sweet treat. The brownie is neither too soft like a sponge cake, nor too hard like like muffin tops. Within the brownie itself are chunks of walnut. The best part of this dessert is to enjoy the warm brownie with ice cream! Mocha Irish cream with chocolate chips works beautifully here.

Too much chocolate? How about an apple crumble which is obviously an apple pie, served alongside unsweetened blueberry jam? The crust has a strong buttery taste and it not soggy. I love how the crust crumbles in the mouth. The soft apple chunks bears a strong cinnamon flavour, that just seems to mask all the pre-existing mixed-tastes in my mouth. Those who like their blueberry jam in its natural sour taste, will enjoy their apple pie with it, but not me.

"Thank you, Doris for this dinner treat.
We sure had an enjoyeable evening!"

With prices of the mains ranging from S$20-S$40, My Secret Garden is not exactly considered cheap. I felt that we were paying for the ambiance, more than the food. Despite unwillingly giving it a 3 of 5 stars rating, we enjoyed our dinner. I am looking forward to a gathering dinner tonight at Wiener Kaffeehaus with my UniMelb friends.

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