January 29, 2015

When you tell someone that you are going to Mohamed Sultan Road, almost instinctively, they assume a bar or a club – involving copious amounts of alcohol. Before you get to that part of the evening’s agenda, fuel is essential and along a stretch of quaint shop houses, lies a restaurant called Table At 7.

Two culinary veterans head this cozy establishment: Karl Dobler and Eugenia Ong and if you add up their years of experience, it’s more than half a century. The setting is very intimate, yet clean and modern – making it perfect for first dates that you need to impress. It’s not too ritzy but with the right amount of posh to score points. What’s uniquely different about Table at 7 is the fact that they offer a juxtaposition of modern European cuisine and traditional Indonesian fare on the menu. Don’t mistake it for fusion food, it’s not. You can either order from Karl’s menu or Eugenia’s menu or both even – depending on your preference.

Eugenia fronts the Indonesian side of the house and her constant fascination with the interplay between the various herbs and spices used in Indonesian cuisine propels her to create intricate yet bold flavours. Karl, on the other end, has spent years fine-tuning European food, perfecting various cooking methods – with a strong interest in seafood, especially fish.

Since it is hard to pick a favourite team, I took the liberty of ordering dishes from Karl’s and Eugenia’s menu. Ladies’ first: the tahu telur was a plateful of crispy fried goodness. The fluffy tofu omelette was textually light and the sweet and spicy peanut dressing, bean sprouts, julienne of carrots, cucumbers and prawn crackers, molded the dish into one that had great crunch – making each bite irresistibly sinful.

The slow-braised wagyu oxtail rendang was decently juicy but there was very little meat alongside the huge bone. Flavour wise, it was relatively underwhelming, as I would have liked more heat in the rendang. The side of steamed jasmine rice and acar vegetables were not particularly memorable either.

The char-grilled french baby chicken did not fare better and was average to say the least. If you are looking to pack on a lot of protein from this chicken, it’s not going to happen. I was starting to see a trend with the sides too: rice being the staple but this time round, raw salad of lalapan instead.

Karl’s next. The charred leek and mushroom tart tartin topped with a soft poached hen egg, crispy serrano ham and hollandaise sauce looked like a breakfast version of an egg’s benedict. It was surprisingly good and carried the right amount of acidity.

House-smoked salmon trout with wasabi dressing, chives, capers and sisho cress had a light and refreshing charisma. The touch of wasabi also helped to balance the smokiness of the trout. The lobster and vongole linguine in a light white wine-tomato sauce wasn’t spectacular as it was slightly overcooked. I could overlook that part but the lobster didn’t taste quite as fresh as I had expected. The only saving grace was the crispy suckling pig with smoked bacon sauerkraut, rosemary potatoes and star anise jus. It’s hard to go wrong when you throw bacon into the mix. The suckling pig had a crackling sound that would send meat-lovers into a state of euphoria.

For desserts, the sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla bean ice cream was warm and comforting and it felt like my grandmother was giving me a kiss on the cheek. Grand Marnier orange soufflé served with mango sorbet was unique, with citrus notes lingering after every mouthful. I also tried the crispy Vienna apple strudel with vanilla Anglaise and ice cream, but it did not leave a lasting impression.

Table at 7 came up a bit short as there were a lot of misses than hits. Perhaps, having two different kinds of cuisine might not be the best thing after all.

For more information, visit www.tableat7.com