The bird and the seafood

The bird, in this case, refers to the restaurant, The Pelican Seafood Bar & Grill, located at One Fullerton. A couple of bosses wanted to buy lunch for some of us, particularly for S who has got a promotion. The initial restaurant choice was Sun Moon Japanese restaurant at Wheelock place, where the food is pedestrian to be honest. Lucky for those of us who have a penchant for good food, including S, an Indian colleague doesn’t take Japanese. So S suggested The Pelican where she had dined once and likes the food. Besides it has vegetarian option for another Aussie co-worker.

Both S and I checked out the online menu prior to lunch. She recommends the clam linguine, crab cake and clam chowder, as well as the Cod’s tongues. The restaurant also offers set lunch at S$38++ which includes an appetizer of either a soup or salad, a main consisting of either burger or linguine, and the sweets of the day. I thought that was a pretty good deal, though I wanted to find out first what the dessert was.

The restaurant has a classical setting with mirrors, warm lighting, hanging lamps, padded chairs and padded booth seating at an elevated left section. The bar is located right in front of the entrance. Strangely it doesn’t have any marine theme; instead it can pass off as a steak restaurant. The ambiance is serene and the place has a comfy feel to it. According to S, it’s owned by the Marmalade Group. Another colleague who had also tried the food there told me that it was previously the Pierside Restaurant, and Marmalade Group is now a co-owner.

When we were there on a Tuesday, only a few tables were occupied. I guess they don’t do a lot of lunches on weekdays. The restaurant has a simple one-page menu, which is a good sign. I find that usually restaurants which offer every and anything is an indication of crappy or at best, average, food.

Initially both S and I were considering the set lunch. She was planning to get the white bean soup while I would have the house-cured salmon with salad so that both of us could share, and we were both thinking of getting the linguine for our mains. We checked with the wait staff for the sweets of the day, and it was creme brûlée. S wasn’t enthusiastic as she doesn’t like the dessert, and though I don’t dislike it I was hoping for something more appealing.

After looking through the menu, both S and I decided to follow the rest of the group, no set lunch for us. We wanted the linguine with Atlantic clams which serves two, and that was alright by us. S also ordered the clam chowder like our partner boss. Our two co-workers wanted the tomato soup. The two bosses were sharing two appetizers of crab cakes and Charlie cakes. Our Indian colleague ordered a pan-fried stripped seabass and the Australian girl got the celeriac steak with spinach and red wine-infused mushrooms. The wait staff seemed a little confused with our orders, and couldn’t quite get the quantity of the soup right. We had to repeat our orders a couple of times.

My interest in the dessert selections was piqued when the lady boss mentioned she wanted the lemon meringue. I was tempted by the chocolate whoopie pie and so ordered that. Everybody looked at me, “are you going to have that now? With the main course??” The lady boss remarked, “Maria, you are going against the meal order.” I decided, “alright, I’ll get it later. Actually I don’t mind having it with the main.” I seriously don’t, though I know it’s pretty weird. I was instead surprised by the lady boss ordering a lychee mojito. Hmmmm… Is she going to get tipsy for the rest of the afternoon? 😛

We were served brown bread with unsalted butter; the bread could be wholegrain but I didn’t check with the staff. I like it and was rather pleased it was served warm. This is a mark of attention to details. We didn’t have to wait long for the food to arrive. The appetizers were first served. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to take a picture of the crab cakes, which were quickly chomped down by the bosses. But I did take pictures of the other appetizers, like the clam chowder soup which S kindly offered to share though I only wanted a sip for a taste of it.

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The clam chowder is creamy and really flavorful, filled with potatoes, clams, bacon for a smoky taste and croutons. It’s really yummy, one of the best chowder I’ve taken. My only grouse is that portion is a little small.

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I didn’t try the tomato soup but my colleagues said it was very good, and could taste the fresh tomatoes in it. They also felt the portion is on the small side.

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The Charlie cake (or Johnny cakes on the menu) is something new to me. It’s caviar sitting atop sour cream on a beenie base, sprinkled with chopped chives. But the lady boss realized the base wasn’t beenie biscuit; she couldn’t quite get what it was and said it tastes like tapioca. The partner thought it reminded him of ‘Mee Chiang Kueh’ (面煎粿), a popular local pancake snack, typically filled with crushed peanuts and sugar. I asked the waitstaff, who had to check with the chef. This is a little surprising as I expect the waitstaff in restaurants like Pelican to know what they’re serving the diners. Anyway she reverted to us that the cake base is actually made from polenta.

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The linguine with Atlantic clams that both S and I shared is beautifully flavored with garlic and white wine. The linguine is cooked to the correct al dente texture and the mussels are tasty. In fact the chef is very generous with the mussels. They are small but lip-smacking juicy!

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Our Indian colleague had the stripped bass with braised artichokes and diced carrots. Unfortunately she didn’t enjoy it as the fish was too bland, and even the vegetables were bland as well. Though she did admit that she’s used to spicy and strongly-flavored food as all Indian food are.

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The Australian lady who had the celeriac steak likes her dish. She could taste the celery, though a little bland, but it’s nicely complemented by the flavors from the spinach and red wine-infused mushrooms.

When it was dessert time, most of us asked for the double chocolate whoopie pie, while the two bosses went for the lemon meringue ‘mess’.

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The whoopie pie is fabulously yummy and sinful at the same time! For those unfamiliar with it, it’s like a burger where the buns are actually moist chocolate cakes, and the patty is chocolate cream. The pie is covered with a layer of ganache, and topped with dark chocolate bits. This is honestly chocolate overload, and you
can also call it death by chocolate, but it’s well worth it because you’ll die happy.

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I tried a little of the meringue which comes in a glass container. It’s covered with a light cream and raspberries. I don’t quite like the meringue which has an eggy taste, and that makes it unappetizing.

All in all, the food is pretty good in general though service can be better. I would definitely recommend this restaurant for a special night out, or you can opt for the set lunch if you don’t mind sweets like creme brûlée.

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