Chef Ratha Krishnan serves familiar favourites at YWCA Cafe Lodge
One of my best food finds from the past year has to be the Cafe Lodge at YWCA Fort Canning. It is behind the UBS Building in Penang Road, sandwiched between Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and Fort Canning Park.
The restaurant was renovated recently, now featuring a modern European feel. Sunlight streams in from the floor-to-ceiling windows, and there is enough blond wood to furnish an Ikea store.
The big surprise, for me, was the better-than-expected food.
I ordered based on the waitress's recommendation (here’s a TikTok of my meal), and it turned out great.
Do head down to try the menu of reasonably-priced comfort food. I recommend the claypot laksa because it has an unexpected addition of abalone.
Another bonus to dining there: All of YWCA Fort Canning's net proceeds go towards funding YWCA's community service programmes, so there’s less guilt about the calories.
Cafe Lodge recently launched a Guest Chef series, a collaboration with local chefs where they will serve their signature dishes.
Ratha Krishnan, formerly from The Black Sheep Cafe, is the first chef to be featured.
Chef Ratha began as one of the chefs at Raffles Hotel and won the prestigious Runner Up Young Chef of the Year presented by Chaine de Rottisier. He also received the Outstanding Performance by An Individual award from Raffles Hotel.
Unfortunately, The Black Sheep Cafe was a casualty of the Covid-19 pandemic and shut its doors after 16 years in October last year.
I did not have the chance to dine at The Black Sheep, but I was invited by the YWCA to sample Chef Ratha's dishes from the set menu.
The three-course meal ($48) starts with a choice of French Onion Soup or the Baked Brie in Pistachio Crust, Pomelo Citrus Salad. I recommend the latter.
The mix of gooey and crispy is interesting, thanks to the nearly melted cheese with a crisp coat. Throw in the chomp of the nuts, and it is a party in the mouth.
The soup is a visual treat but turned out rather heavy - almost stodgy.
Picking the main dish was a more painful decision because the offerings are classic dishes that people love.
I chose the Duck Confit on Apple Roesti and Tangy Mango Relish for that full-on tenderness of the duck and that crisp skin.
Another choice would be the lamb shank. You could cut into the meat with just a fork. The meat is braised in red wine and apricots, served on a bed of mashed potato, with seasonal vegetables on the side. The depth of the flavours drew me in.
The Wagyu Beef Cheeks is probably the most predictable dish. Beef cheek is an easy choice for many, and it has been cooked with great success by many.
Chef Ratha’s version does not veer from the norm, and the truffle scented red wine sauce enhanced the dish.
The winning component was the gratin potato, which was buttery and creamy.
The meal ends with the Chef's signature Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake. I was told that many came to Cafe Lodge to have a slice.
Unfortunately, that won't be the situation for me because it was not memorable. A couple of days after I ate this set menu, I was struggling to remember how the meal ended.
The promotion with Chef Ratha ends on May 15. It is priced at $48 a person and runs only on Saturday for dinner and Sunday for lunch. All other times you will get the cafe’s regular menu.
YWCA Fort Canning Cafe Lodge
6 Fort Canning Road
Opens 7am to 10pm.
Reservations: Call 6335-8008 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org