[SG] Fern & Kiwi | a bar and eatery at Clarke Quay that serves New Zealand cuisine!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fern & Kiwi originated from New Zealand, with the management behind opening their first cafe back in 1988. With 25 years of experience and 21 cafes under the brand name Lone Star Cafe, they decided to venture overseas with Singapore as the selected destination last year with its offering of food, wines, beers, music and live entertainment all served in a friendly and fun atmosphere.

Admittedly, I am not an expert when it comes to the authentic New Zealand cuisine. Some research pre-dinner led me to discover that it is largely similar to Australian and British food with influences from Mediterranean and the Pacific Rim. It is also driven by local ingredients and seasonal variations and interestingly, "dinner" (also know as "tea") is the main meal of the day where families typically gather and share their evenings. This inspired restaurants to generally provide a larger proportion of the diet!

So, should we be expecting big portions of food?! Mmmmm...

Split into a bar and restaurant, we went for the latter which was located on the first floor. Upon reaching the entrance of the restaurant, we were given the option to take a manually-operated lift or the flight of stairs. Feeling lazy, we decided to try the lift which involved us holding on to a button to propel it upwards!

Upon being ushered to our table, we were prompted for a bottle of "Still" or "Sparkling" water and I naturally assumed that they do not serve tap iced water. It was after ordering a S$12 bottle of "Still" water did we realise that they actually serve iced water for free.

Sea salt & pepper squid (S$18.5/++)

While the name suggested an Oriental touch since salt and pepper is quite a common method of preparing dishes, this came as a slight surprise to us. Instead of the usual deep-fried version sprinkled with salt and pepper, the underlying dressing was based on a sweetened soy sauce with hint of coriander, chilli and lemon. The squid was beautifully cooked, which retained a nice crunch without tasting too rubbery. This was complemented by the crispy batter coating which unfortunately was falling off the fresh seafood. The portion size was generous and what I particularly enjoyed were the large chunks of squid rather than petite portions.

Verdict: 8.0/10

Kumara mash (S$9.50/++)

This is a traditional New Zealand sweet potato mash. In terms of texture, we felt that Brotzeit and Bistro Du Vin fared better by being smoother but this had a subtle natural sweetness from the sweet potato that kept us going! Surely a very delectable side to warm our stomachs. 

Verdict: 8.0/10

Rustic hand cut potato fries with truffle oil (S$11/++)

Using fresh potatoes to make their fries, it still has potato skin unpeeled! While these fries were perfectly done, golden-brown crispy delicious on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, the fragrance of the truffle oil were sparingly spread across the fries. The distribution was also rather uneven, so most of the time, I felt that I was enjoying a good basket of good french fries rather than truffle fries.

Verdict: 8.0/10

Braised beef cheek (S$38/++)

The slow-braised beef cheek was quite a disappointment. Served on "Lady Claire" mash potatoes (which in fact is a pretty common type of potatoes) and root vegetables such as brussel sprouts and carrots, it gave an "earthy" touch to the dish. While the idea was good, the execution required improvements as the beef cheek tasted too stiff to our liking. In fact you would be able to taste the strands of it. While the jus impressed us with a savoury aftertaste, it was rich and strong.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Pure South New Zealand beef fillet (S$45/++)


While the New Zealanders term it the "Eye Fillet", most people would be more familiar with the term "Tenderloin". Due to the cut being closer to the rear of the cow, the muscle actually does little work and explains why it is usually the most tender beef cut.

We requested it to be served medium-rare and it was perfectly cooked, just the way we wanted. These 225 grams of grain fed protein was nicely complemented with a side salad drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a pot of brown, mushroom-flavoured, creamy sauce which did not quite suit my palate for the evening. Overall, I liked that the slab of tenderloin was carefully handled in the hands of the chef who knew how to handle this protein well.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Pork spare ribs - A Lone Star Classic (S$38/++)

This dish again spotted an element of Oriental cooking as the three tender ribs were slow baked with honey, hoisin and orange glaze. Personally, I felt that the overall taste weighed on the heavy side which did not quite match our palate. The flavours were strong and bold and I found it too sweet for my liking while the taste of hoisin sauce sharply cut through our palate. While it was an interesting twist, I figured that it has an acquired taste and on this occasion my taste buds were in disapproval mode. 

No complaints on the thick-cut fries and the crunchy homemade coleslaw which tasted fresh and crisp.

Verdict: 7.0/10

The Fern (gin, triple sec, cucumber juice, lime juice and mint) & The Kiwi (42 below kiwi, midori, kiwi puree, lime juice, vanilla and basil) - S$19/++ each

The two ladies at the table had the house's signature cocktails. It actually went well with the dishes tried since both "The Fern" and "The Kiwi" had a refreshing twist to the savoury mains. Not quite a connoisseur when it comes to wine, I went for their wine on tap, the "Revolution Pinot Noir". There was also a "Happy Hour" promotion which ends at 8pm and all house pours, beer inclusive, were priced at S$10/nett. The red wine tasted light, clean and crisp which suited my palate for that evening. If you are after a full-bodied or fragrant type of wine, you would be better off seeking other recommendations.

Lemon 7 Yuzu (S$15/++)

This was a rather interesting dessert with a lemon yuzu bar being the main highlight, which had a rather firm texture to it. Paired with passion fruit caramel, crushed candy meringue, freeze dried pineapple, raspberry and coconut soil, expect to be overwhelmed in terms of the different elements offered. We love the acidity and tang from the passion fruit and raspberry which cut through the sweet flavours from the candied meringue and caramel. Served on a stone slab, it was also beautifully dusted and surely won us over in terms of presentation and tastes.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Warm coffee floating island (S$14/++)

While the Lemon Yuzu impressed us, this dessert honestly lacked any aesthetic elements. The espresso float was paired with walnut caramel, chocolate crumble and coffee kahlua sponge crouton topped with vanilla ice cream. There was an interesting blend of textures from soft brownie-alike texture to a crystallized crunch, the flavours were also rather intense but I felt that the overall presentation could be improved to make it more appetising.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Overall, while Fern & Kiwi offers a good ambience perfect for dates and a more intimate level of dining with its carefully decorated interior, it surely does not come cheap. The overall bill came to about S$300 which worked out to be around S$100/pax. The service was tip-top and they would be more than willing to share some of the restaurant's signatures and make worthy recommendations.


It could be a case of mismatched expectations for the main courses at least so while the desserts and appetisers fared above average in terms of quality, we certainly had better mains elsewhere. The ground floor of the restaurant has a bar setting with live DJ providing live entertainment. While it might be a while before I return to the restaurant, the bar looks more attractive!

Fern & Kiwi Clarke Quay - Bar and Eatery
3C, River Valley Road
#01-02/03 The Cannery
Clarke Quay
Singapore 179024
Tel: (+65) 6336 2271

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