19 April 2016

Coney Island

Somewhere I was determined to get to before we left Singapore was Coney Island or Pulau Serangoon as it is also known. So we earmarked a day and headed over there. We decided to get there by firstly revisiting a Red Dot Roaming walk that we'd done previously and entering Coney Island via this route, making our walk just a little longer too. We took the MRT to Punggol and then got the LRT to Kadaloor and from there followed the Punggol Promenade Nature Walk around to the furthest entry point on to Coney Island near the Punggol Settlement, our intention being to walk the island and exit it at the other entrance point. When we first visited that area Coney Island was still in the process of being prepared for opening but we had seen it from our walk along the coast so knew this was one way of getting there.

As planned we followed our previous route until we reached the far entrance to Coney Island. Just a short walk across the previously locked up bridge and we were on the island and ready to explore it further. The island has one main path that runs straight across it more or less and then a number of side paths taking you to the small beaches and coves, picnic areas, mangroves and so on. You can choose whether to walk straight across or you can detour off the main path as much as you want. It is easy to follow the smaller side paths round and back to the main path again. The island is obviously very popular with cyclists (as I said we walked it which is also perfectly doable) and the main path is pretty well laid out with the side paths being a little more rustic.

Despite having already walked a fair distance from Kadaloor LRT we decided we would explore as much of the island as we could and found ourselves wandering off on to almost every side path we stumbled upon. As I said the majority of small paths take you off to small beaches and picnic spots. Despite there being a lot of people on the island (we visited on a Sunday) it wasn't too crazy and if you'd got a picnic I'm sure you could have found a spot to enjoy yourself. I assume, unlike the beaches on Sentosa, that these are natural beaches rather than man-made.

There are warnings up at various points that the island has deliberately been left in a more rustic state and therefore to cover up and wear mosquito repellent, particularly around the beach areas. Personally, we didn't find it too bad but everyone has different levels of tolerance so go prepared if you are susceptible to insect bites. Also there are no refreshment facilities on the island so go prepared with water etc. There are toilets at the first entrance to the island near the Lorong Halus Wetland and some shelters as well as tree cover in places. There are also a number of hides dotted around for those keen on doing some bird watching on the island.

One of the small beach areas

I don't think anyone can have failed to heard about the infamous cow who is resident on the island. Unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly we didn't catch a glimpse of it. I imagine there were just too many people around. Also there is a lot of forest cover (remember the island has been left in a rustic state) so I guess it's very easy for the cow to hide up. Apparently there are also wild boar on the island, there are signs up advising what you should do if you encounter the cow or the wild boar but we didn't see any of those either. Has anyone been lucky enough to catch sight of either on their visit?

One of the more rustic side paths

Alongside the forested parts of the island there is also a boardwalk you can follow taking you through a mangrove area. The perfect way to explore this habitat without getting your feet wet! Before we visited I had also read about the abandoned beach villa on the island that at one time belonged to the Haw Par Brothers, those of Tiger Balm and Haw Par Villa fame. I love abandoned buildings but we didn't go looking for it as it is not safe and is also in a mangrove area subject to high tides. In case you are wondering the mangrove area you can walk through is not the same part of the island sadly. I just have to satisfy my interest in abandoned buildings by looking at these blog posts here and here

Boardwalk through the mangroves
Main path through the centre of the island

As I said we opted to leave the island by the entrance/exit nearest to the Lorong Halus Wetland and from here we walked back past the wetlands towards Kadaloor LRT station. I really enjoyed our visit to Coney Island and am so pleased that I got to go there before we left. It's a great place to spend a day and get back to a more rustic side of Singapore.

09 April 2016

Ash & Elm

I recently got to sample Ash & Elm's lunch time weekday semi-buffet lunch.  For this, Ash & Elm at the Intercontinental hotel, Bugis has taken the best from their signatures and offers diners the chance to enjoy dishes from the Charcuterie & Cheese Room, Wood-Fired Oven and Charcoal Grill. From these stations you can enjoy as much as you like (as you can from any good buffet) but the twist is that you can also combine it, if you wish, with a choice of a main course from a variety of daily options.

The semi-buffet lunch is perfect for those looking for a great venue for a business lunch as well as those looking for somewhere different to lunch with friends. The dining space is open and airy thanks to the skylight roof but also offers up cosy more private spots for an intimate lunch with friends or for enjoying a business lunch with colleagues or clients. 

The salad station

Charcuterie and Cheese Room

As I said, before enjoying your main course you can choose from a variety of appetizers and soups in a typical buffet style set up. We began our meal in the 'Charcuterie & Cheese Room', yes you read that right - a whole room dedicated to charcuterie and cheese! My companion for the meal is a big cheese fan so he was in heaven. There was a good selection of European cheeses, pates, meats and condiments to choose from. We both took an ample range which we then very quickly consumed. To accompany our starters we were given our own bread basket with a variety of breads including sourdough, bread sticks and more. The bread was accompanied by two types of butter one of which contained seaweed. The slightly salty taste to this butter really went well with the breads. In fact in the end I only had the seaweed butter.

Our selection of breads

minestrone soup

seafood chowder

Salad with roast duck 

Fun interpretation of a mozzarella and tomato salad

From meat and cheese we moved on to salads and soups. There were a choice of two soups on the day we went, seafood chowder and minestrone. As I'm not a huge fan of seafood I opted for the minestrone soup. This had just a little warming kick to it and was really good. My companion chose the seafood chowder which they said was excellent. After this we had to try some of the self-serve salad too. The options on the day we visited included a Caesar salad and roast duck which you could add to a base of various salad items of your choice, including beetroot (one of my favourites), sweet corn, tomatoes, lettuce etc. Alongside the conventional salads they also had a fun interpretation of the classic mozzarella and tomato salad which you can see in the photo above. It was fun to squeeze the balsamic dressing over it and then eat it straight off the cocktail stick.

Roasted French Free-Range Yellow Chicken Supreme
Basquaise-style with Basmati rice

Chargrilled Australian Angus Beef Striploin
Potato gratin, pan-seared French beans, natural jus

After all the starters it was time for our mains. As I said previously Ash & Elm are offering a semi-buffet so you get all the benefits of a buffet plus the option of a main course too. Just make sure you leave enough room for it and then desserts too! There is a different daily selection of main courses, on the day I visited the choices were the chicken (above), Scottish salmon fillet, Parma ham flatbread, penne pasta and Australian Angus beef striploin (which my companion chose). The chicken was delicious, nice and moist and the tomato based sauce complimented it perfectly. I also got radishes with my meal, something of a treat in Singapore! I was pretty full by the time I'd finished though, if I'd realised I was going to get three pieces of chicken I'd have held back a little on the buffet. My companion's beef was also very generously portioned, something to keep in mind if you are dining here. 

The fact that the main courses change daily also means you can take the opportunity to dine on other dishes on your next visit rather than having to choose from the same few each time. Therefore you have to return to enjoy some of the other offerings!

Despite the fact that I was quite full by that point, after a short break to let my lunch digest a little, I found some room for a selection of desserts. I have to admit to a sweet tooth so couldn't resist trying a few. The lemon meringue (front of the photo) was particularly nice and zesty but they were all very good. By the way there is also a chocolate fountain for you to dip fresh fruit etc into, how can you resist that at the end of your meal?

I had a thoroughly enjoyable lunch and love the flexible nature of Ash & Elm's weekday lunch semi-buffet, if you want to dine light on just the buffet section you can or else you can enjoy a more filling meal. One that, on the day we went, meant I only wanted a very light bite in the evening. It's a relaxed spot for a different lunch concept serving up some great food at a great price. Go check it out soon!

The semi-buffet lunch is available on its own as a spread of appetizers, soups and desserts for $38 or with a choice of main course at $48.

Level 1, Intercontinental Hotel
80 Middle Road
Singapore 188966

Semi-buffet lunch (Mondays to Fridays) - 12pm to 2pm

Website: intercontinental.com/singapore

Dining reservation (email): intercontinental.dining@ihg.com

Dining reservation (telephone): (65) 6825 1008

Payment methods: Cash and all major credit cards

This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thank you to Ash & Elm for the kind invitation.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...