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Meat matters at The Feather Blade
The Feather Blade
90 Club Street
Open for dinner only Tues to Sun: 5.30pm to 12am
THE Feather Blade isn't so much a restaurant as it is a therapy centre for the chronically indecisive. It's a place for you to banish dining companions who can't decide whether their two-course set should be an appetiser and main; main and dessert; or some other configuration - which not only wastes time but threatens your relationship with them. Especially when after all that, they order the three-course set instead.
At The Feather Blade, you can only order one thing - its titular feather blade or flat iron, which is the poster steak for off-cut meats. You get a steak for S$21 and that's it. No appetisers, no other main courses, no desserts. There is a burger, but that's off the menu, in case you get the wrong impression that it has a repertoire.
They also don't take reservations at this successful pop-up-turned-permanent-eatery, which takes over from the former Zui Hong Lou - a Chinese fusion tapas bar in Club Street. To save costs, nothing has changed, hence the Oriental murals and extra long bar that eats into the dining area. If you're late, you'll need to queue to get a spot among the chrome tables and chairs packed tighter than Killiney Kopitiam and with the same agenda - funnel people in, feed them, get them out and repeat.
Why do you even want to eat here at all, you wonder, as you struggle to find some personal space in the sea of cold metal and tableware. But a lot of people (mostly young) do, and there are a few good reasons. One, it makes steak-eating more affordable, although Aston's has already beat them to it.
Two, there is the worthy mission of promoting the integrity of off-cuts like the flat iron - the unfashionable cousins of rib-eye, striploin and tenderloin. Three, the steak tastes good - thanks to the sous vide treatment, which is not a great test of skill but it ensures a consistently medium-rare, lean but tender, 200gm piece of meat. There's only a superficial char for aesthetics so forget about enjoying any pleasant smokiness from fiery charcoal. From a price-quality ratio, you get what you pay for - grain-fed, Australian beef with no pedigree. Calling it wet-aged is more marketing ploy because all meat is already wet-aged between slaughter and sale (unlike dry-aged which takes it a step further).
When you question - or in our case sputter in incredulity - why there aren't any options on the menu, our friendly server suggests we return on Thursday to Sunday, when the kitchen brings out a bavette or other surprise cuts for variety.
One bright spot is that it offers four different sides - so to exercise our freedom of choice, we order all of them. And the burger. And the onsen tamago that she fleetingly mentioned as a special for the day. If she had hinted they had kaya toast left over from the staff meal, we would have ordered that too.
The sides cost S$7 each and come in small cast iron casseroles. The best are the smashed potatoes deep-fried in beef fat which are satisfyingly crunchy on the outside and all buttery fluffiness within each decadent nugget.
Creamy spinach is rich with parmigiano-reggano cheese, while creamy corn niblets are a variation of the same theme, without any truffle scent as promised in the menu. Meaty mixed mushrooms sauteed in olive oil round off the quartet of sides. The onsen egg (S$7) is a sort-of Japanese take on coffee shop soft-boiled eggs, with a sweetish nori-bonito mixture in place of black sauce, and the crunch of tempura batter crumbs instead of toast. It is slightly odd but not unpleasant.
Apart from our steak, simply served on a wooden board and sprinkled with coarse salt and served with a bearnaise sauce (S$2), we have the burger (S$21) which is a sturdy meat patty given a good broiling till quite charred and dry on the edges but moist enough within, slathered with the same bearnaise sauce and packed between a toasted brioche-textured bun.
Being thirsty will add to your bill and negate any savings you might enjoy from your steak. A coke costs S$7 and a beer S$13 - add another dollar and you could have another steak.
As we mention earlier, there is no dessert on the menu. "We give it to you to go," explains the server. Why can't we have it here, while we're still sitting down? But she shakes her head, as if gently correcting one who has just made a damning social faux pas.
We find out later that The Feather Blade is not just influenced by fellow off-cuts eatery Flat Iron in London, it is almost a direct copy - from the free mug of popcorn at your table to the takeaway ice cream after your meal. But unlike the hand-scooped ice-cream cones we see in the London shop online, we're handed cups of Udders ice cream - the kind you get in economy class on SIA - after we've paid and are heading out into Singapore's ice-melting weather that is nothing like London's temperate conditions.
Faced with a choice of standing outside to eat it or risk it melting before we get home, we tell them to keep our share.
The Feather Blade is good for what it is - cheap, friendly, targeted at the youth crowd, and not their arthritic, variety-loving elders. To a certain extent, it does off-cuts a disservice by associating them with budget meals, when the better way to promote such flavourful but not flashy meats is to put them on the same table as a top-grade rib eye. Still, it's a clever concept for its time - almost cutting-edge, if you think of it that way.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good
Our review policy: The Business Times pays for all meals at restaurants reviewed on this page. Unless specified, the writer does not accept hosted meals prior to the review's publication.