Add: 297 River Valley Rd (free parking!)
Website: http://www.fiveanddime.com.sg/ (add them on facebook too)
Type: Restaurant/bar/coffee/bakery/desert place
Opens from: 12pm-12am (Mon-Fri, closed on Tue), 10am-12am (Sat), 10am-10pm (Sun)
Phone: 9236 5002
Just 2 weeks ago, I was driving through the River Valley region when I caught sight of a resplendent white-washed shopfront – the only eye-catching building sitting juxtaposed against a row of dimly lit traditional colonial-style shophouses. The full glass frontage allowed me to take a momentary peak into the interior, which had a brick/wood finishing and was filled with late-night diners. I was drawn to it for that fleeting instance – “Definitely need to drop in one day!” I thought to myself. Alas, just like many other transient moments in life, the once-gleaming image in my mind faded into oblivion as time passed by… Also, my zonked-out goldfish memory didn’t help much, I couldn’t for the life of me recall the name or the exact road/location of the eatery which I chanced upon. The one that got away.
Fast forward 2 weeks.
A belated birthday meet-up for Wq saw J wrecking her brains the whole of Saturday as our original plan of munching at Club Street Social was unfortunately foiled by a private event. Further iterations of dining suggestions proved to be uninspiring until a Whatsapp message by J in the late afternoon “Booked Five & Dime at 830pm, 297 River Valley Rd” closed the issue.
Five & Dime. Hmm. Sounds familiar.
Five & Dime is a gastrobar owned by chef Teng Ei Liang from Truffs (which I should really check out soon). The center piece of the restaurant was the wooden-top bar which was lined with jars of icing biscuits (you know those little biscuits topped with oh-so-sinful coloured icing from our yesteryears?) and delish baked goods. A clever mix of brick walls, colonial-style mosaic floors, wooden table tops and pastel-toned chairs gave a really warm and toasty feel as I settled in. The smartly-dressed service staff who all came with a friendly disposition and an eagerness to serve as they pranced around the cafe was also definitely a plus. Loved the vibe of this place!
Wq and I were famished while waiting for queen J to arrive so we started our night with the Mac & Cheese and Salmon Rocket Salad. Waiting time was not too bad considering the fact that the restaurant was packed. We were tucking in to the Mac n Cheese just 10 minutes after we placed our order.
Mac & Cheese: with creamy lobster sauce under melted mozzarella, parmesan & cheddar.
Our first reaction: “huh? $16 for this? ” However, it was not long after that we begin to realize it was worth every single dime (no pun intended).
The Mac & Cheese was served in a stoneware dish that measured no more than 5 inches in diameter (which explains our initial disappointment). Disappointment soon gave way to delight as we ate our way through the little shell macaroni soaked in the rich cream sauce ladened with tiny bits of lobster. The best part was the melted cheese. Heaven.
Salmon Rocket Salad: flamed salmon on rocket with wasabi marin dressing.
The flamed salmon was done to perfection. Cooked half way through and raw on the underside. We were satisfied with the portion. There were 6-7 huge rolls of salmon placed along side with the salad. Marin dressing was also tweaked just about right.
After much effort (about half an hour worth of it) in restraining ourselves from licking up J’s portion, she finally arrived.. and things went crazy from there. We ordered another 2 main dishes + 1 appetizer + 1 desert! Gosh, just the thought of it is making me feel sick already.
Fish & Chips: mini battered fillets and hand-cut fries
Brit’s pub grub done pretty well I must say. The smaller than usual battered fish (Japanese Sutchi – shark catfish) was juicy and flakey. The batter layer was crisp on the outside but really spongey on the inside. Interesting texture! The tartare sauce that accompanied the dish however, was watery and not that great.
Mentaiko Pasta: pasta in creamy mentaiko sauce and chicken yakitori
What is Mentaiko? Beats me. Googled response: marinated roe of pollock and Chubbyhubby has a write-up on it if anybody is interested: http://chubbyhubby.net/blog/?p=465
I wasn’t really wow-ed by this pasta even though it was apparently Five & Dime’s signature dish. The yakitoris lacked the flame-grilled fragrance and the pasta sauce tasted almost like a more concentrated version of your typical carbonara. Was hoping for more of a distinct taste from the Mentaiko (even though I had no idea what on earth it is when i ate it).
Wings: 1/2 dozen of 9-spiced chicken wings
You could sense the amount of effort taken in ‘spicing-up’ these wings. Like your har-cheong-kai, but 10 x better and juicier. Another 1 of the restaurant’s signature starter dish. But I wasn’t exactly in the wings mood yesterday, so i gave up after eating after 1 1/2. Give me BBQ chicken wings at Lagoon Hawker Centre anytime!
Pandan Creme Brulee
I am not typically a Creme Brulee person but since the desert menu was limited and it was recommended by the staff, caved in and agreed to give it a shot. The fragrance of the pandan permeated the entire smooth custard base. It was served with a handful of raspberries at the side, which I found a tad bit too sweet and failed to complement the star of the show. But of course, the fun part of Creme Brulee always lies in breaking the burnt caramelized top – and feeling it all crunched up within your palette.
In all, i would definitely head back there for brunch, cocktails and some dishes that ran out when we visited (meatballs and braised pork belly). The priciness is more than outweighed by the impeccable service from the staff, effort put into the food and the charming ambience. Of course, to us Singaporeans, free parking always helps too.