Some time ago I was told that the mall, Turf City (now known as The Grandstand), has a lot of food choices to offer, but because it’s located at Bukit Timah, we felt it is a little out of the way and so never checked it out. It was not until National Day when we took Buddy to Jacob Ballas Children garden that we thought we would go take a look since it’s only 5 minutes’ drive away. (I wasn’t even aware of the name change until we were there.)
The Grandstand is situated on a large open land surrounded by lush greenery, and it used to be a turf club for many years. I had a college friend whose dad worked for the club, and they lived in a large colonial house nearby that was provided for by the company. It is a pretty serene environment with lots of space, which is a luxury in Singapore.
But I think the management or owner of The Grandstand is trying maximize revenue while cutting cost at the same time. Shoppers have to park at the upper level open carpark located across the mall while the ground floor covered area is converted into a secondhand car market. So on a hot or rainy day, tough luck to you.
Though half of the mall’s retail space is devoted to kids, little of the facilities are catered for strollers or wheelchairs. There is no elevators in the carpark and the only ramp is for cars to exit it, but now double up for those with strollers or wheelchairs. There are instead lots of steps. There is a ramp built to enter the mall from the narrow road fronting it, but it’s located at one end of it.
On the second floor, there is a baby changing room which is rather big. I’m not sure if there’s any others on the upper levels. The elevators are small and the escalators are narrow, so it appears that there was only minimal refurbishment done to the interior. Anyway most of the second floor retail space is for F&B, and the Giant hypermarket. There are indeed many choices available: Chinese, indian, Japanese, steakhouse, burger joints, a pie shop, and even a small Maison Kayser store. Then there is Pasarbella, an indoor farmers’ market with lots of small stores offering F&B and niche products like organic food, fresh produce and artisanal tea etc.
Pasarbella is where both my husband and I love. It’s like the hawker center of western cuisine, and the first of its kind in Singapore. In fact the website even states it’s unique in Asia. There are lots of wonderful food available like pies, paella, seafood, steak, roasted chicken, roasted pork, pastries, cheese, wine, even a butchery, and Bonheur Patisserie has a small outlet here too.
I first reviewed a cake from Bonheur in my post, ‘Here Comes The Food Critic’ dated 21 Dec 2011. This time, I tried the macarons, and there are various flavors available.
I bought four macarons: pistachio, salted caramel, Kalingco dark chocolate and matcha. The regular flavors like the pistachio and matcha are S$3 each while for the other two which are special flavors, they are at S$3.50 each. My husband, who tried the salted caramel, feels that it’s comparable to Laduree’s macarons, and I agree with him.
It’s very satisfying biting into a Bonheur macaron. The shell is denser than Laduree’s, and the filling is thick. When you sink your teeth into the shell, it oozes out. Call me greedy but I really enjoy the generous dollop of filling. I like the dark chocolate macaron which has a bitter-sweet taste. I’m not too crazy over the pistachio as I can hardly taste the nut; but the matcha is not bad with its light green tea flavor which is not overly sweet. For the prices stated above, the Bonheur macarons are really worth getting.
One cuisine that we have to get at Pasarbella is the seafood paella at Le Patio. So far we had to had it take away instead of having it there. Despite not being warm by the time we had it for dinner, it’s still fabulously tasty because the paella is totally infused with the seafood stock. You can also order a drumstick to go with it. The drumstick is first fried and then placed into the paella, so it’s full of flavor too. Le Patio also offers crepes but we haven’t had the chance to try it.
The store cooks a big batch of paella at a time; so after one batch is sold they will then cook another batch, and they take the time to allow the paella to simmer in the stock.
We also like the restaurant, Ocean of Seafood. As its name suggests, this is the place for seafood and there’re lots of selections, from lobster to crab to clams, and fish etc.
Ocean of seafood offers both western and Japanese style of cooking. We have tried the Red Snapper fish and chip which is really good; the fish is fresh and the fries are chunky. My husband had bamboo clams which he really likes and the price is cheaper than what he gets at the restaurant. I had also tried the lobster bisque which is a tad saltish but full of flavors.
There is The Organic Grocer at Pasarbella which has quite a wide range food and toiletries. Across from it is another store that sells organic fresh produce. When we were there a couple of weeks ago, the organic grocer was selling this French-made cookie touted ‘Best Cookies on earth’.
I had a sample of the chocolate chip cookies and thought it’s quite good though I wouldn’t say it’s the best cookies in the world. Still I feel they’re tasty enough for me to get a tin and besides they’re not as sweet as those available in the supermarket and also softer compared to the ones from Baker and Cook.
A tin costs S$15 and has 8 packs of 4 cookies inside it. The store also sells individual pack at S$3 each, which I feel is a rip-off.
We have only sampled a few stores at Pasarbella, and there’s so much more to try. I’ve already in mind a couple of others, and I’ll make sure I check them out plus a couple of other new ones during the next visit.