Mykonos on the Bay
#01-10 Quayside Isle
31 Ocean Way
Open Mon to Wed for dinner only: 6pm to 11pm Thurs to Sun for lunch and dinner: 12pm to 2pm; 6pm to 11pm (open at 11am on Sun). Closed on Tues.
LIKE the giant Merlion, Quayside Isle in Sentosa Cove has that aura of artifice about it that makes it difficult to see it as a serious dining destination. Pretty little eateries, all in a row, in a picturesque marina setting that look good on the resume of a hipster foodie or the post-its on the fridges of well-heeled residents.
While the likes of Saint Pierre and Chinese restaurant Blue Lobster - with its signature chilli crab and pomelo - have done their bit in raising the credibility of the complex, the self-styled Greek taverna Mykonos on the Bay always seemed more like a typical expat magnet than a serious Mediterranean concept. Kitschy sea-shell decor, basic white tables, smiley but slightly clueless staff and barely any Asian customers never quite inspired confidence, even though Mykonos has been around since December.
But you know what they say about first impressions and stereotypes. In this case, we're guilty as charged as Mykonos proves that you can't judge a restaurant from its tacky travel posters.
Much of the credit goes to the bona fide Greek chef you can see calmly and methodically toiling away at the back of the breezy, open eatery, dispensing unpretentious Mediterranean standards at a steady clip with a confident and experienced hand. There's solid foundation behind his cooking, with barely a false note as he nails down a happy balance of flavours, textures and seasonings.
The poster sea creature of Greek cooking - the octopus - doesn't get short shrift here. Grilled and marinated octopus ($21.90) is done hot and cold - tender, yielding bites of char-grilled tentacle on salad greens tossed in a sweet balsamic dressing, and a slightly more tart mixture of chopped up mollusc and peppers in vinaigrette.
This pleasing starter is well matched by the unctuous, guilty pleasure that is graviera saganaki ($15.90) or pan-fried slabs of Greek cheese that's crisp on the outside and meltingly gooey-chewy within. Graviera is a pretty common Greek cheese - second only to feta - which tastes like a riper Gouda or Gruyere but without crossing the line into stinky cheese territory. To temper the rich cheesiness, a red vinegar glaze made with traditional uozo liqueur is drizzled over the cheese for colour and acidity.
The Gyros platter ($27.50) looks like a big mess of dry meat shavings and french fries, but dig into it and you'll find a generous pile of well-marinated, tender grilled pork belly haphazardly sliced and hiding atop a refreshing mound of tzatziki or cucumber yoghurt, toasted pita wedges and skinny chilli-dusted shoestring fries. There doesn't seem to be any delicate way of eating this apart from stabbing with your cutlery or using your fingers to enjoy the sticky-tender pork with its gelatinous skin, cooling yoghurt and spicy potatoes that taste pretty good even when cold.
If the grilled seafood or meat platter seems too ambitious for your appetite, the grilled sea bream ($43.50) impresses with its perfectly grilled, almost crusty exterior and creamy flesh within. We pretty much luck out as the fish is super-fresh and meaty, the slight over-seasoning on the surface not detracting from the sweetness of the meat. The side dish of crushed potatoes and beetroot is no afterthought and is delicious with its light lemony dressing, as is the briny fish roe enhanced mayonnaise that complements the fish.
With every dish a lucky pick for us, the baklava registers a slight dip on the enjoyment meter. Rather than shattering-crisp filo layers ($15.90), you get a flimsy strudel filled with chocolate and nuts, served with vanilla ice cream and cinnamon scented crumbs.
While we don't quite appreciate the Germanic slant, we're more open to the fact that Mykonos is actually Italian-owned - by the folks behind Cugini and Sole Pomodoro. With the Spanish Los Primos also under its wing, it looks like they've got the Mediterranean well covered. And in Mykonos's case, raised the cache of Quayside Isle by another notch.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good