Forging ahead with a new identity after celebrating their 1st year anniversary, Serenity Restaurant & Bistro, previously known for their Mediterranean cuisine is now branded as Serenity Spanish Restaurant & Bar. Serenity’s owner and director, Rona, chose a Spanish identity for her restaurant because of its holistic appeal. Spanish culture encompasses a vibrant experience which marries dining, music, and festive dancing—one that suits their waterfront location at Vivo City perfectly. The restaurant boasts a seating capacity of 210 (including alfresco seating), open-concept dining, and provides a variety of latin, acoustic, and jazz music live every night from 7.30 pm. Everything down to Serenity’s staff uniforms (influenced by Ibiza’s laidback party lifestyle) reflect their new image. Most importantly, their Spanish menu offers an extensive array of Spanish cuisines from different regions, with chief offerings from Spain’s third largest city, Valencia.
Before Serenity’s Spanish menu was launched in February this year, Valencian Chef Andrea was specially invited in December 2008 to provide rigorous training for Serenity’s culinary team, as well as tasting sessions to ensure the authencity of all dishes.
Thereafter, Serenity’s Executive Chef, Alvin Tan, introduced his interpretations of selected dishes – tweaking them to suit local tastebuds without compromising their authenticity. A large number of ingredients are also sourced from Spanish food suppliers, such as their chorizo and especially bomba rice which is a staple for their signature Paella Valenciana, other paella dishes, and Arroz con Leche dessert because of its good absorbency (3x its volume). Taking things a step further, Serenity is on the look out for more wines (and possibly beer) from various Spanish suppliers to add to their collection of Spanish liquors (such as 14 flavours of schnapps), after-meal drink Patcharan Olave and even Spanish coffee which contains kahlua. Brandy aficionados will be thrilled to see the 100-year-old Brandy Casajuana ($32, $118, $700), of which only slightly over 1000 bottles are produced and in Singapore it’s sold exclusively at Serenity.
K and I started our lunch with a zesty Sangria ($15) [***.] done Valencian-style with orange peel and lemon slices, and Mama Mia ($8) [****] – a refreshingly light mocktail made of lychee fruit, mango juice and grenadine. Both drinks went very well with our recommended tapas because they were fruit-based and not too heavy on the brandy or gin for the Sangria. While Mama Mia is Serenity’s own concoction, the Sangria and another called Spanish Bullfrog ($15) are authentically Spanish.
Our first two tapas – Croqueta de Pollo ($9) [***] and Spanish Tuna Piquillo ($10) [***] were hot and cold respectively. The former is a spanish chicken croquet, while the latter consists of roasted and chilled piquillo peppers stuffed with tuna and prawn. For those who are worried that the peppers may be too hot to handle, fret not because they’ve been de-seeded and peeled beforehand. Another tapas, Empanadillas or Spanish Tuna Puff ($11) [***] is available on the late-night menu together with the two above. It is a Spanish take on our local curry puff, only this one is baked and filled with tuna, egg, a little red wine, and possibly a hint of potato.
The last 3 tapas are my personal favourites of the lot – the Gambas al Ajillo ($12) [****.], Pan con Alioli ($6) [****] , and Jamón Ibérico ($18 – 25 grams) [****]. Simply seasoned with garlic, olive oil, dried red chilli and parsley, the prawns were succulent and tasty. Pan con Alioli is actually freshly-baked herb bread with sundried tomatoes served with Serenity’s home-made alioli dip (garlic, salt, olive oil, milk) which melts smoothly on the palate. Last but certainly not least of the three, is jamón ibérico or Iberian ham, which is fast-becoming an attraction on Spanish restaurant menus. This special cerdo negro (black pig) is salted for days and cured for 24 months in a secluded mountain cave used exclusively for that purpose. Therefore, the price of this thinly-sliced cured ham whose salty flavour lingers on your tastebuds…is self-explanatory. Our friendly and attentive waitress, Ellen, is pictured carving those coveted slices here.
Next up, our main course was Serenity’s signature Paella Valenciana ($40 – 2 pax / $80 – 4 pax) [****.], which has notably won the Singapore Top 100 Signature Dish Award 2009. Every serving of this colourful assortment takes 30-40 min to prepare, so it’s advisable to order this first even if you’re undecided on the rest of your meal. Serenity’s version is traditionally Valencian, prepared with bomba rice, prawns, half shell mussels, squid, chorizo, chicken, and saffron. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of peas you see here if you’re not a fan of them, I assure you that they taste nothing like frozen/half-frozen peas. Due to the long preparation time, every grain of bomba rice soaks up the individual flavours of the ingredients cooked with it, and is bursting with savoury goodness.
Accompanying our paella, we had the Lubina a la Sal [****] from Serenity’s Chef’s menu. For this weekend only (10-12 July), it is offered as part of a special 1-for-1 promotion for dine in only. Like the Paella Valenciana, this baked whole-seabass requires 30 min preparation time. The fish is hidden beneath a pile of fine sea salt and fresh bay leaves and served with a potato and salad on the side. I’ll let the photos show you how it is served at your table…all you have to do is pick up your fork. While the Spanish prefer to eat the crisp baked skin, I think it’s a tad too salty for our tastebuds. However, the flesh was soft and smooth and very light in taste. A very healthy choice for a main course I must say.
Now moving on to our (for some of us) highly-anticipated desserts…we tried the Peras al Vino Tinto ($9) [****.] and Arroz con Leche ($9) [****]. Tasting the Arroz con Leche was an interesting experience for me. It was one that reminded me very much of Thai mango sticky rice, or traditional Chinese glutinous rice desserts, only this was a traditional Spanish favourite. It consists of bomba rice cooked in milk, cream, and cinnamon (maybe a hint of custard too), served with vanilla ice-cream and garnished with mint leaf. All in all, it was a hearty, wholesome dessert that was surprisingly light.
Peras al Vino Tinto is apparently a popular choice among Serenity’s patrons because of its fruity and thus healthy properties. Poached pear drenched in red wine with vanilla ice-cream on the side is a decadent match in dessert heaven.
Serenity has my thumbs up.
Credit Card Promotions: AMEX cardholders are entitled to 15% off the ala carte menu | Standard Chartered cardholders are also entitled to 15% off.
Mon & Tue (11-3pm) | 2-for-1 ala carte: order 3 dishes & get 1 free
High Tea (2-6pm daily):
Set A | order 1 Tapas/1 Dessert + Free flow of drinks (Student $8.80 | Adult $10.80)
Set B | order 2 Tapas/2 Desserts OR 1 Tapas + 1 Dessert & free flow of drinks (Student $11.80 | Adult $13.80)
3-course set lunches are also available from 11-3pm daily: Pasta Set ($10.90) | Executive Set ($16.90)
/all prices are subject to 10% svc charge & 7% GST
Taste – 8.5/10
Price – $$-$$$$
Service – 10/10
Ambience – 9/10
Accessibility – 9/10
[$]-cheap like peanuts: ($10 & below/person)
[$$]-average Jane ($15-$25/person)
[$$$]-you might wanna tke tht card out..($30-$60/person)
[$$$$]-extremely exorbitant ($70 & above/person)
[* to *****] – rating(s) for individual dishes
No.1 Harbourfront Walk #01-98/99
VivoCity Singapore 098585
Tel: +65 6376 8185
Sun to Thu (11am – 11pm) Fri & Sat (11am -12am)
Dress code: Casual or Smart Casual
Nearest MRT: Harborfront (NEL)
Buses: 57, 145, 143, 65, 61, 855…