I’ve been a fan of District 10 every since I tried their fish & chips at the Clarke Quay outlet awhile ago and have been waiting to bring the BF there. Had been procrastinating cos le BF is a carnivore and doesn’t appreciate fin so the new District 10 Bar & Grill at Suntec was one of those things that happened at the right time.
The new outlet specializes in nothing but the dry-aged meat (which Mr BF has recently taken a rather hoity-toity liking to). The small and neat 1,800 square-foot restaurant (including alfresco area) comes complete with a European meat showcase and chiller for its premium meats such as 45 days home dry aged corn fed US Prime OP Rib, US Prime, 30 days corn fed dry aged traditional Fiorentina and other cuts.
We read a few reviews and were sold, so off we went!
We chose to have an indoor seat cos it was a little warm and hazy. The interior is nicely and cozily decorated – not unlike a beautiful ristorante on the sidewalks of Italy. Not so much homey feel though – there’s an impressive counter of meats and a specially built chiller that spans the width of District 10’s inside.
It has a good mix of modern eclectic mad scientist laboratory combined with dark wooden furnishings that scream “good food here!” when one looks upon it as a whole. We got lucky and were ushered into the only indoor dark alcove meant for private conversations on sly footsie under the table.
We also saw Meat Surgeon and Co-owner of the Bonta Group, aka Executive Chef Luca Pezzera, wielding a saw and explaining the various cuts to several regular customers.
I was watching him through the window as he checked on his sous chef’s cooking from time to time. I saw various instances where all he did was to take a whiff of whatever was being cooked, and add spices to the dishes without tasting. He would then toss/saute/fry the dish and taste it after. Super skill. Nose works as tastebuds!
And then it was order time! Here’s what we got:
- Seafood Squid Ink Fettucini (which has been taken off the menu so I’m not 100% sure this is the correct name)
- 45 days Home Dry Aged Corn Fed US Prime OP Rib
- Creamy Truffle Mash
- Hibiki Harmony
There was a minimum order of 500g for the beef so we went the safe route and ordered light first. We could always get another steak or something if it wasn’t enough.
One of my favourite parts of these types of meal has always been the bread. We were served a deliciously warm crusty on the outside, soft and chewy with tomatoes interspersed throughout on the inside type of loaf that was made inhouse. It was a good distraction from the pique I was feeling after our order.
Let’s see, the restaurant had 4 tables full (including ours) when we were ordering. The other 3 tables were already well into their meals. The waitress we had flagged down to take our order was the same one who greeted us at the door.
At the door, we had to repeatedly tell her our name, spell it out, and give her our number about 10 times before a supervisor came out to verify our reservation even though we had pointed it out to her in the book. When ordering, she repeatedly ran off after taking one order, and when she came back we would have to repeat the previous order and the new one again. This happened 3 times. She ran off to clear empty plates. There were adequate colleagues around to do the job.
The first Hibiki came wrong. We asked for Harmony and got 12 years instead. She asked if we could accept the 12 but I was pissy and insisted on Harmony cos I haven’t had it before. When my Harmony came, it was with normal ice cubes though we had requested for whisky ice (which came with the 12 year). They were quick enough to spot their error but took the glass out of the BF’s hand as he was raising it to his mouth. We were a little stunned that they could be that abrupt, and not say anything before removing the glass.
Photo: The Smart Local
Oh, and she asked us what doneness would we prefer our meat. We had assumed that all the dry aged meat came in medium rare since every review (and a few articles that I personally wrote for other websites) mentioned this fact. We asked for medium rare then. I’m not a fan of dripping blood. Pink/crimson is fine and the pictures we saw online had pretty much the type of meat I love. See above. I’ve probably had enough dry aged beef to reconstruct a cow so I knew exactly what I wanted.
(On the rare occasion, I do go for rare. Rare occasion ma.)
Anyway, this came.
Visually, this already wasn’t medium rare to me but I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt cos I’ve eaten medium rare steaks that look like that. The BF wasn’t so willing though. He flagged down Ms Distracted to ask her what this was, and she said rare (<-remember this). We’re all like “oh… but we asked for medium rare”. Kept this in the end cos we were gonna watch a movie after and didn’t wanna wait anymore. The deep red parts sweated blood and some would even ooze pink when our forks stabbed it. It was pretty much leaning towards rare, though not a true rare and definitely not medium rare. The BF choked down as much of the bits I refused to eat as possible.
The actually medium rare parts though, were an absolute delight to savour. Gorgeously beefy with a hint of subtle smoke and a nice giving bite that gushed with marvelous dead cow juice with every chomp. We had asked for some sea salt too – and the combo sent our tongues into orgasmic overdrive. The accompanying salad was also a good palate cleanser for all that beefiness. It was lightly tossed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt.
Later that night, I put up an Instagram post cos I thought my photo was pretty and added a small story about the rare-medium rare thing. Then this happened, and it got me confused.
#1 Why were we asked doneness then?
#2 Why did your waitress say rare?
I agree that some dry aged meats look very rare when they’re actually not. I put up my post as a share-and-share-alike cos it really was a surprise to me that we didn’t get what was advertised and being a blogger… sharing is what I do. I didn’t mean it as a complain though. Another interesting fact: I own two Instagram accounts and District 10’s media team bothered to ask for the full story on one, and replied like this on the other. Buck up guys. I’m a marketer too. Apologizing is great but where’s the consistent follow up action?
Everything else was perfect though.
I loved my pasta. The sauce was zesty and clean. No fancy overload of herbs in there to take away from how a good hearty pasta should taste like and the ratio of sauce to solids was perfect. The seafood ranged from normal prawns, to juicy sotong, to omg so good scallops.
The scallops were really good. They were either fresh flown in from somewhere, or good quality frozen shellfish. And cooked well too. Some places tend to over saute this mollusk but District 10 does it almost to perfection. One thing I didn’t enjoy but the BF did – there were A LOT of garlic in there. He ate most of them. He obviously didn’t get kissed much that night. Other than that, this is very close to my ideal pasta.
The truffle mash looked a tad boring and was boring on my first spoonful. I left it wallowing sadly by itself on he side of our table while I happily indulged in my fettucini.
Halfway through, I grudging started on this again cos the BF was nagging at me cos I was the one who wanted this. I don’t know what happened but it tasted better and better with every bite I took. Not very memorable though cos I hardly have any recollection of it right now other than that we were drowning the “not rare” beef with this mash to hide the taste.
One last thing, a big shout out to the restaurant manager – a young malay man. I think he sensed that I was unhappy from all of Ms Distracted’s antics (she also took away my bread before I was finished, and spilled water twice. Once across the table and once on me) and he did go out of his way to come talk to us and make sure everything was okay. I saw him intercept her from approaching us to. I thought this was highly intuitive and observing of him
All that being said, I probably would go back one more time to try cos nobody I’ve spoken to had bleeding beef (but they have had instances with Ms Distracted) and I really want to have what I saw in pictures. Maybe not so soon though. This was a $300-odd meal and we’re saving up to go on vacay again.