After a year in Singapore, we now have a few favorites - Luke's, for when we're feeling flush and then there's the "cheap and cheerful" version of Luke's - The Market Grill - part of the Unlisted Collection of seven boutique hotels and fourteen restaurants mostly in Singapore but also in London, Shanghai and Sydney. In Singapore, they also manage other trendy restaurants Bincho, Esquina, Pollen and Cocotte and the funky Majestic Hotel in Chinatown.
Located on bustling Telok Ayer street, The Market Grill is in a converted shophouse. A long narrow room lined by a few formica-topped tables with a long counter making best use of the space. Behind the counter is the open kitchen and grill. They also have a large chiller where the different cuts of meat are displayed just like at a butcher which is why they specialize in grilled steaks.
I first went for lunch in the middle of the week with some friends and we made it a point to arrive early so we could get a table as they don't take reservations. Good thing we did, as the place was packed by the office crowd by 12:30. We started off with the artery-clogging oven roasted bone marrow (S$25) which came with caramelized red onions, a parsley and shallot salad, sea salt and two large marrow bones which we slathered onto slices of crisp toasted sourdough. We never fail to order this when we eat there, even our 12-year old son asks for it when we're there. This was followed by two side dishes - the crispy pig's ears (S$18) with a garlic and herb vinegar dip and the onion matchsticks (S$8). The pig's ears were superb - not greasy at all and still crispy, like chewy chips (much better than the soggy battered version at Pizzeria Mozza). The onion matchsticks were addicting - I could have eaten a whole bowl on my own. The three of us shared the lobster roll (S$45) - a soft sweet buttered roll filled with mayonnaise tossed lobster chunks served with fries and a green salad and a medium-rare 200-day grain fed, 200 gram Wagyu rump (S$40) which was served plain with a dollop of caramelized red onions. Too full for dessert, we walked off our lunch and had a post-lunch coffee nearby.
On another occasion, I lunched with another friend and we sat at the counter and had another enjoyable lunch - the usual bone marrow to start then I had the grilled Maine lobster (S$45) about 500 grams, served simply with butter, lemon, a green salad and mashed potatoes which they gladly substituted for french fries while my friend had a 400-day grain fed, 200 gram Black Angus bavette (S$40) with fries. No dessert again.
We've been back again several times with the kids (for dinner and we always had to sit on the counter) and tried the 150 gram CW (Chef Colin West's initials) Burger Breakfast (S$23) which comes with a sunny side up egg, bacon and aged cheddar. Their beef burgers are available in either 150 grams or 200 grams (from S$22 to S$33) and they also have a cod fish burger and a chicken burger for those who are avoiding red meat. We also had the Terres Major and Lobster - a 300 grams artisanal cut of beef with a 500 gram lobster, both grilled and served with a green salad, french fries and strangely enough, just red wine sauce for the meat, you'll have to order the butter sauce separately and pay extra for it. The kids had to have dessert so we all shared a plate of churros which could have been perfect except for the non-traditional covering of cinnamon sugar (proper churros are served plain) and a tiny pot of melted chocolate. Trust me, you'll have to ask for more chocolate to dip the churros in as there isn't enough for the three large churros.
The Market Grill is our go-to when we're hankering for a grilled steak or a lobster and with the usual prices for steak and lobster at other high-end Singapore restaurants, this place hits the spot and doesn't leave one with a hole in their pocket. We'll definitely be coming back.
208 Telok Ayer Street
Telephone: +65 6221 3323
*Open Monday to Saturday for lunch (11h30 a.m. to 2h30 p.m.) and dinner (6 to 10 p.m.).
*No reservations, street parking only.