Founded by the makers of The Humble Loaf who closed down the establishment at Katong Shopping Mall in favor of a bigger space to better accommodate its regulars, GastroSmith Bistro & Bakery, though comparatively more spacious, is unexpectedly still quite intimate with no more than a few indoor tables.
What I like better now: The casual bistro occupies the corner unit of Marrison Hotel at Beach Road, along Tan Quee Lan Street which faces an open field. Less of the claustrophobic feel than previous, more bright and cheery with natural daylight streaming in.
The alfresco area along its corridor adds a little to the seating capacity, and the adjourning unit where the coffee bar stands provided an "express" takeaway service for those in need of a quick caffeine fix. Brewed using blends from Highlander Coffee, my Latte ($4.50) was full bodied and glided smoothly down the throat without much acidity. If you're feeling adventurous, the Shoyu Caramel Latte ($5) would be a very interesting try!
Foodwise, GastroSmiths aspires to bring us globally-inspired comfort food. I would take that to mean a fusion of East and West flavors, as well as familiar favorites, which more or less make up their menu of great-for-sharing Snacks/Starters, 63° Eggs, Sandwiches/Bruschettas served on freshly baked breads, Pastas, Mains, and Desserts/Pastries which are crafted in-house.
I would highly recommend their Sea Salt Fries ($7.50), a perfectly hot and crispy delight with option of added truffle oil (+$2) and parmesan (+$2). My advice: Just add both! Truffled Chopped Eggs & Caviar Bruschetta ($12) would be another decadent treat for fans who like anything truffled.
Though a tad disappointed to find the tempura wings (highly raved by Daniel) already taken off the menu (after receiving feedback that these are too cumbersome to eat) by time of my visit, I was very much consoled to find its reincarnation - Crispy Chicken Bites ($10), chunks of juicy, tender boneless meat encased in a crunchy batter - very much an enjoyment too.
Nothing can be faulted of the Slow-cooked Pork Collar Pasta ($21) and Onglet Steak ($25.50). Though beautifully executed, they did not leave as much of an impression when compared to the other two main dishes, Atlantic Cod Fried Misua ($24) and Hokubee Ribeye Don ($28.50) which we had the good sense to order and would definitely wanna order again on our return visit.
The Atlantic Cod Fried Misua ($24) had me hooked at first mouthful. I couldn't stopped my fork from reaching out to those strands of thin wheat noodles which was cooked till soft yet still retaining a springy bite and wonderfully infused with subtle spiciness of homemade kimchi puree and sweet mirin. Paired with Atlantic cod which is another well-prepared component flaking to layers of moist goodness, the whole dish came across as an comforting amalgamation of textures and flavors. This is a must-try!
Another main which had my friends and I gushing over its deliciousness was the Hokubee Ribeye Don. ($28.50, +$2 for 63° egg), a bowl dish brimming with Japanese rice spiked with doses of furikake, lightly seasoned with rice vinegar and topped with 200 grams of thickly-sliced Hokubee beef and 63° egg oozing with yolky creaminess (must add the egg!). Though the Hokubee beef is not a premium cut, being injected with soluble oil to yield a more desired marbling and is often refered as "poor man's Wagyu", it nevertheless won us over with its melt-in-the-mouth juiciness and well-charred exterior.
We rounded our meal with their daily dessert special, a very refreshing Lychee Shaved Ice ($11) with lychees, pineapples and lemon tea jelly, as well as the Strawberry "Shortcake" ($12.50) which came nothing like what we expected, but were all pleasantly surprised by it. It looked like a deconstructed version of sorts, featuring cubes of light fluffy Japanese cheesecake, cookie crumbles, strawberries, blueberries and served with pistachio ice cream. Very prettily plated indeed, and we polished it off in its entirety.
Feeling thoroughly satisfied as we left GastroSmiths, it's nice to have another place on our list which serves both good food and coffee. Go before it gets too crowded!
GastroSmiths Bistro & Bakery
Address: 103 Beach Road, Tan Quee Lan Street, Singapore 189704
Contact: +65 6336 3680 / +65 9772 9511
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 11.30am-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm / Sun 11am-2.30pm / Closed on Mon