D'Bell Tasting Session

August 07, 2014 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

D'Bell Tasting Session - Closed
43 North Canal Road

Opening Hours:
Mon - Thu: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 6pm - 11pm,
Fri: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 6pm - 12am,
Sat: 6pm - 12am,
Closed Sun



http://www.dbell.sg/

This was an invited media review. I did not pay for the meal during the free hosted tasting session, but I did pay the standard price during subsequent visits.
Attended with representatives from HungryGoWhere, Fundamentally Flawed, and Epicurious Caniggia.



Modern Indian Fine Dining

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 9
Ambience & Setting: 9
Food & Beverage: 9
Service: 9
Value for Money: 8
Budget about SGD $40 ++ per person.


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First established in November 2013, in Lower Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, the D'Bell Cafe & Lounge quickly garned rave reviews, packing in the crowds. The owners behind D'Bell have since expanded their operations to Singapore, with their first D'Bell outlet in 43 North Canal Road. Styled as a modern Indian fine dining restaurant, lounge, and party area, D'Bell looks set to establish its claim on the modern Indian dining niche.

D'Bell Exterior


D'Bell Interior


D'Bell Lounge



D'Bell isn't your typical Indian restaurant, and the ambience reflects that. Elegantly designed, with blended elements of East India and East Asia, don't expect to find drapery, carved statues, or mosaics here. Instead, the interior features plush velvet banquettes, elegant wrought iron vintage chandeliers, gold rimmed mirrors, and modern furniture befitting a classy, sophisticated Western fine dining restaurant. Sleek silver chairs line the marble bar counter. Their Indian roots are evident in the ethnic pillow designs, soft, plush and colourful, contrasting well with the dark toned lounge chairs. However, I didn't quite like the overall dim lighting, though staff say the level of brightness is adjustable.

The 1st level of D'Bell differs greatly from the 2nd level. While the 1st level is laid out in a stylish fine dining restaurant style, the 2nd level doubles as a classy, chic, sophisticated lounge and private function area, with a private bar, and a private VIP party room that is soundproof. Projector screens display sporting events, while the awesome sound system makes the place seem like a club, playing anything from the latest Bollywood club hits, to classy International music. The luxe surroundings here are very inviting!

Dining Table


Dining Corner


Dining Booth



The service at D'Bell rest-o-lounge is impeccable. As befitting its fine dining status, staff are friendly and polite, offering greetings upon entry, and are able to hold conversations with you. They seem well versed and knowledgable on the history of D'Bell, as well as its menu, being able to describe the roots / inspirations behind each dish. Efficiency is great, offering more drinks proactively, topping up water discreetly, and clearing empty plates relatively quickly. Also noticed that during events, staff will go up to guests with empty hands to offer drinks and canapes. Excellent service, professional and courteous!

Executive chef Satish Madaan heads up the D'Bell kitchen team, bringing to bear his 14 years of experience to create great tasting and creatively plated dishes. This 3 time Gold medal winner of the Food Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge is known for his use of fresh ingredients and authentic cooking methods that result in flavourful dishes.

Mirrors


D'Bell Bar Seats



D'Bell specialises in Modern Indian cuisine, made using authentic Indian recipes, but plated in contemporary Western style. While the taste of each dish remains traditional, D'Bell refrains from using butter or ghee in their cooking, choosing to prepare dishes using olive oil instead. This makes D'Bell food healthier than other Indian restaurants, and you can barely taste the difference! The extensive menu is an eclectic mix of North Indian and Western (American, Italian) cuisine, available in both regular portions, and canape portions for events. D'Bell also has off-menu items, depending on what chef Satish feels like preparing!

D'Bell encourages communal dining, so regular sized portions are sufficient for 2 - 4 people to share. I noted that most of the dishes tasted authentic, even without the use of butter or ghee, and were very flavourful. Some had been purposely toned down to suit the Western / Singaporean palate, but staff assure me that you can still request for these to be prepared the classic, traditional way it's served in India. Prices at D'Bell are very reasonable for a fine dining restaurant, budget about SGD $40 - $60 per person. I daresay this is considered a low price range for a fine dining restaurant that provides this high quality of food and service.

D'Bell Private VIP Party Room



The Cocktail Golden Moment (SGD $20) is a refreshing summer drink, made with vodka, fresh mango juice and pulp, fresh passionfruit juice, and a hint of kaffir lime and chili. An excellent thirst quencher!

Cocktail Golden Moment (SGD $20)



The Cocktail Masala Punch (SGD $20) has a deep flavour of spices, and warms the body. Made with house bourbon, a secret masala mix of Indian spices, and stirred with a cinnamon stick, the flavour is deep and rich, with a slight heat at the front.

Cocktail Masala Punch (SGD $20)



An off menu item, the Lamb & Couscous Kofta With Lime Juice is served as an amuse bouche. Little balls of minced lamb are rolled in a fresh tomato paste, then coated with perfectly cooked couscous. Taste is like a cross between a kebab and a pasta, akin to an Italian meatball. The home made lime juice, while refreshing, acted as a palate cleanser, but I couldn't see how it paired with the Lamb & Couscous Kofta.

Lamb & Couscous Kofta With Lime Juice



The Western style Lobster Bisque (SGD $12) is excellent! Rich and deep with the flavour of the ocean / crustaceans, the texture is thick but not gloopy, and the taste isn't overpowering. Warm, hearty, and satisfying, I could drink bowls of this! The crisp garlic bread that accompanied was great for dipping, though the texture is softer than typical toasted garlic bread.

Lobster Bisque (SGD $12)



The D'Bell Kofta Kebab (SGD $18) On Plain Naan (SGD $5) was served as a canape / tasting portion. The Plain Naan was good, with the correct doughy texture and bite. The D'Bell Kofta Kebab, made with minced beef stuffed with cheddar cheese and prunes, then dusted with semolina, was tasty and flavourful. I felt that while the exterior was rather moist, the small size made the interior somewhat dry.

D'Bell Kofta Kebab (SGD $18) On Plain Naan (SGD $5)



The Tawa Wali Fish (SGD $22) was excellent! Firm, meaty butter fish cubes are glazed in coconut milk and curry leaves, then grilled to perfection. The moist, flavourful fish was among the outstanding dishes I tried here!

Tawa Wali Fish (SGD $22)



An above average rendition, the Tandoori Chicken Tikka (SGD $16) features boneless chicken leg cubes, marinated in a mix of Indian spices and yoghurt, then cooked in a tandoor. Unlike other Indian restaurant versions, this isn't dry at all, being somewhat moist in the middle, an example of the skill of the chef.

Tandoori Chicken Tikka (SGD $16)



The Crispy Veggie Relish Pappadum Cone, With Tamarind Fruit Chutney, Minty Yoghurt, Indian Pickles (SGD $5.80) is a signature appetizer here. Fresh bell peppers / capsicum, onions, carrots and arugula are stuffed into a crisp pappadum shell that shatters when bit. Fill it with the tangy Tamarind Fruit Chutney, delightful Minty Yoghurt, or crunchy Indian Pickles for bigger flavour!

Crispy Veggie Relish Pappadum Cone, With Tamarind Fruit Chutney, Minty Yoghurt, Indian Pickles (SGD $5.80)


Crispy Veggie Relish Pappadum Cone, With Tamarind Fruit Chutney, Minty Yoghurt, Indian Pickles



The Amritsari Dal (SGD $12) features a mix of split Bengal gram beans and whole black gram beans, simmered overnight on a charcoal flame. While more grainy in texture than other versions elsewhere, the flavour is intense and full, thick and savoury with some chew. I like that it's not too salty, which is a common mistake. Pairs well with Indian bread or rice!

Amritsari Dal (SGD $12)



The signature Chilli Cheese Naan (SGD $8) is a unique item, combining the best of cheesy pizza-like dough, with heat from Indian spices. Stuffed with cheddar cheese, onion, bell peppers / capsicum, and studded with fresh coriander leaves, the result is a filling and satisfying staple, that pairs well with any curry, and can also be eaten on its own!

Chilli Cheese Naan (SGD $8)



Among the best dishes we tried, the Kadhai Vegetable (SGD $12) features a medly of fresh vegetables, including cauliflower, bell peppers / capsicum, tomatoes, onions, cooked in a mild curry of Indian spices, garnished with coriander and cashew nuts. The result is a savoury dish, rich in fragrant spices (not spicy). The curry paste coating the vegetables is complex in flavour but light on the palate, instead of heavy or cloying. Although it's cooked in a Kadai / Kadhai metal pan, the plating and presentation is Western style. Excellent!

Kadhai Vegetable (SGD $12)



The rather healthy Pudina Paratha (SGD $7) is made with whole wheat, cooked in a tandoor oven without any butter or ghee, and dusted lightly with mint. This light Indian flat bread is perfect for light eaters, healthy eaters, and everyone in between!

Pudina Paratha (SGD $7)



The heat from the Kerala Fish Curry (SGD $18) has been vastly toned down to suit local palates, though you can still request it done the traditional, classic, tongue numbing way. I loved the firm, meaty, fresh butter fish used in this dish, slow cooked in a mix of coconut milk, curry leaves, and masala spices, giving it a rich, deep flavour with only a hint of spicy heat. The curry is thick, and goes great with rice!

Kerala Fish Curry (SGD $18)



The Mutton Rogan Josh (SGD $20) is served in a tomato and masala spice mix based curry, and the mutton has been slow cooked within till the flavour infuses the curry gravy. The meat itself is soft and fork tender, pulling apart very easily. The level of salt in this dish clings to you though, and the more you consume, the more it builds thirst.

Mutton Rogan Josh (SGD $20)



The Basmati Rice (SGD $4) is fragrant and fluffy in texture, cooked with bay leaves, star anise, and cardamom. The rice grains are well cooked and seperate easily.

Basmati Rice (SGD $4)



The Kashmiri Naan (SGD $8) differs greatly from other versions elsewhere, which typically use 1 or 2 dried fruit like cherries or raisins. Here, there is a greater variety of dried fruit used, including apricot, and the overall taste is sweeter and more fruity. A very good example of what a Kashmiri Naan can be!

Kashmiri Naan (SGD $8)



Considered the best dish we sampled, the Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani (SGD $15) has fragrant, aromatic rice that is flavourful and satisfiying. The chicken is cooked within the rice, infusing it further with flavour, while keeping the meat moist and tender. Currently only available on the set lunch menu, it's served with Raita (SGD $6), a dip of home made yoghurt whisked with fresh cucumber and tomatoes, and Pappadum (SGD $6). Now if only they made it available throughout the day!

Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani (SGD $15) With Raita (SGD $6) And Pappadum (SGD $6)


Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani



The Gulab Jamun (SGD $7.50) feature reduced milk balls, served in a fragrant rose syrup. I thought the texture of this dessert was more firm than it should be, and not as easy to eat. But I loved the rose flavoured syrup, as well as the addition of chopped pistachio nuts. But overall, not that great a dessert, I've had better elsewhere.

Gulab Jamun (SGD $7.50)



A decent Chocolate Brownie Topped With Strawberry Gelato (SGD $8.50), for those seeking a Western style dessert. Pretty good, the brownie is moist with good chocolate flavour, but overall, it's rather average. The touch of strawberry gelato does lift the flavour though.

Chocolate Brownie Topped With Strawberry Gelato (SGD $8.50)



Ras Malai (SGD $8.50) is an East Indian dessert, consisting of a cream coloured ball of paneer cheese, served in a sweet clotted cream and cardamom flavoured syrup. I love that the version here retains its chewy texture, without being crumbly, and is much lighter and not as sweet as other versions elsewhere. Very good!

Ras Malai (SGD $8.50)



I thought the Masala Tea (SGD $6) was decent. Loved the presentation akin to a Western cuppa, with a biscotti and cinnamon stick for stirring! Pity the biscotti wasn't too good.

Masala Tea (SGD $6)



Overall, D'Bell makes a strong case for healthy, yet authentic, classic Indian food, that still tastes great. Prices are reasonable for the thought and effort put into each dish. I definitely plan to return to D'Bell, if only to relax in their luxurious lounge, feast on the fantastic Indian and Western bar food, and soak in great music!





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