Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and [email protected] Boat Quay
An Introduction to Mediterranean Cuisine
Mediterranean cuisine hails from the Mediterranean Basin. The region spans a wide variety of cultures with distinct cuisines, including (going anticlockwise around the region) the Maghrebi, Egyptian, Levantine, Ottoman (Turkish), Greek, Italian, Provencal (French) and Spanish. The historical connections of the region, as well as the impact of the Mediterranean Sea on the region’s climate and economy, mean that these cuisines share dishes beyond the core trio of oil, bread and wine, such as roast lamb or mutton, meat stews with vegetables and tomato.
Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar
I visited the Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar at Boat Quay with a friend. The restaurant is located just behind the Law Society of Singapore at South Bridge Road. Opened in July 2018, this restaurant serves an array of Mediterranean cuisine such as dips, skewers, kebabs, wraps and stews.
The kitchen is helmed by Chef Hany, an Egyptian and a body builder and whose health conscious ethics are reflected in his cooking. For example, he uses less oil in his Biryani and this was evident by the lack of residual oil on the plate after we finished the Biryani! Chef Hany also skips dipping his kebab in butter, a practice common in many restaurants. Instead, he allows the kebabs to cook in their natural oils. Surprisingly, the kebabs were still moist and flavourful!
Mixed Dip Platter ($29)
We started our meal with a mixed platter. (As a general note, all the pictures you see in the review were food review tasting portions – that means you will get a larger portion than that in our pictures!) The platter had Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Spicy Eggplant and Labneh. What struck us was the freshness of the dips. We were told that all the dips are produced daily and hence the daily portions do sometimes run out.
Of the four dips we tried, the Spicy Eggplant Dip (4.5/5) won hands down. Chef Hany fried the eggplant and blended it after grilling it with red peppers, garlic, salt, pepper and olives. This signature dip was an explosion of full-bodied flavours that surprised us. The spiciness was beautifully balanced with the creaminess, and the dip paired well with the soft and chewy pita bread served alongside. Spice and chili lovers – don’t say we didn’t warn you, this dip was addictive!
Many people judge a good Mediterranean restaurant by its Hummus. The hummus (4/5) we had was thick and creamy, and not diluted as you might find in some less reputable restaurants. The drizzle of olive oil over the hummus made the already creamy hummus smooth and comforting.
The Baba Ganoush (eggplant and sesame) (3.5/5) was also lovely. The eggplant mash had a char-grilled flavour that was surprising and tantalising at the same time.
We were however not so thrilled by the Labneh (thick yoghurt cheese) (3/5). The thick creamy yoghurt tasted ordinary to us.
Kibbeh ($12) and Falafel ($9)
We were also not too thrilled with the kibbeh (minced lamb and pine nut patty) and falafel (chickpea cutlet). Both felt dry and the crusts were hard.
Another classic Mediterranean dish we had was the Tabbouleh (3.5/5), a salad of finely chopped Italian parsley mixed with onions, tomato and bulgur (a grain with a nice bite that closely resembles semolina). The parsley was a sharp and refreshing intermission, but not something that stood out for us.
Grills & Kebabs: Garlic-Yoghurt Chicken ($13/skewer), Lamb Kubideh ($14/skewer) and Shish Tawook ($21)
Next up were the grills and kebabs. The garlic-yoghurt chicken skewer (4/5) was delightfully tender. Even though the chef used chicken breast, the meat was tender and moist. We were told that this was because the restaurant uses fresh and not frozen chicken which are procured every morning! And the chicken is marinated overnight. The marinade consisted of well-balanced spices, sufficient to bring out the flavours and yet not overwhelm the natural sweetness of the chicken. The char on the surface of the chicken added an additional texture and taste dimension to the dish.
The Lamb Kubideh (3.5/5) was a skewer of minced lamb. We would have preferred it if chunks of lamb were used instead of minced meat, but this was done in traditional Persian style.
The Shish Tawook (4.9/5) was an absolute winner! This was a Lebanese dish with tender boneless chicken thighs marinated with saffron and spices. We loved the different layers of complexity of this grill. First, we could smell the saffron on the chicken. Then on the first bite, we could taste the freshly charred surface of the chicken. And as we continued to masticate, the well-balanced spices continued to develop and fill our mouths with full-bodied aroma. This is a must-try!
Arabic Lamb Shank Biryani ($38 for two pax)
This was the restaurant’s signature dish, and we could see why. The Arabic Lamb Shank Biryani (4.8/5) was mouth-wateringly good. The lamb shank had been cooked for four hours, resulting in meat so tender it literally fell off the bone. The waiter shredded the meat off the bone and stirred it into the oven-baked basmati rice. All this time our eyes were peeled to how good the steaming dish looked. When we finally tucked in after the “show”, we were surprised to find that the rice was sweet. We were told that it was due to the raisins and julienned carrots cooked with it. But for those who prefer their rice savoury like us, we would recommend stirring the savoury tomato gravy that came along side with the dish, into your rice. This totally changed the character of the rice to tangy and savoury – absolutely delectable! This dish was an aplomb of deliciousness and heartiness. It was almost perfect and we would rate it the best lamb shank biryani in Singapore! The only reason why we did not give this dish a full mark was because we preferred our basmati rice a little firmer and the grains more separate. But it is only a small minus and we are certainly returning to Pita Tree for more of their amazing lamb shank Biryani! For those who would like to try the lamb shank, please note that it is only available at dinner.
Pistachio Ice Cream ($9) & Turkish Baklava ($9)
We must say that desserts aren’t their forte. Having sampled Pistachio ice cream from many parts of the world, the Pistachio ice cream (2.5/5) at Pita tree lacked the fragrant nutty pistachio taste one would expect from a good Pistachio ice cream. If not for the crushed pistachios sprinkled on top of the ice cream, one may not have known it was pistachio ice cream.
Middle Eastern desserts are usually too sweet for most Singaporeans and the Turkish Baklava (3.5/5), though meant to be sweet, was way too sweet for our “siew dai” taste buds. But for those who love baklava, this was a decent rendition.
Ambience at Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar
We visited the restaurant on a workday evening. When we arrived at 6.30pm, the restaurant was relatively empty, imbibing it with a quiet and cosy feel. However, by 7.30pm, the crowds started to pour in, making the place buzzing and a hive of activity. According to the restaurant, the busiest times are during lunch, where the restaurant draws a decent crowd of office workers from the nearby Raffles place. Our advice is to make reservations for larger groups especially if you are meeting at peak hours!
Lunch Buffet ($17)
Besides the ala carte menu, the restaurant also has a lunch buffet that serves up a hearty spread of salads, soups, dips, pita bread, dessert and soda. You can also order one grill from the kitchen as part of your buffet.
Law Society Promotion
Law Society members enjoy a 15% discount off food and beverage. Simply show your UOB-Law Society credit card or law firm business card. Promotion is valid till August 2019 and only at the Boat Quay outlet. Not valid on Friday/Saturday, eve of public holidays and other major holidays/events such as F1, Valentine day, etc. The offer is also not valid in conjunction with other promotions or vouchers.
While there were a few misses, Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar generally serves good Mediterranean food at affordable prices and in a casual family setting. Those who would like an introduction to Mediterranean food would also find this a good place to try out the cuisine. Those who would like to “spice” things up would also find this an affordable date night spot. They currently do not charge for service or GST!
A good gauge of how good a restaurant is, is whether we would go back there – and yes we would! Then comes the next most important question – what would we eat again? We would order the following and we would also recommend it for those going there with a party of two to four pax:
- Spicy eggplant dip ($8)
- Shish Tawook (chicken marinated with saffron and spices) ($21)
- Arabic Lamb Shank Biryani ($38)
Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar
Address: 14 Lorong Telok, Boat Quay, Singapore 049027
Mon-Thurs 11.30am to 10pm,
Friday 11.30am to 12 am,
Sat 3pm to 12 am
Tel: 6532 2098
- Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar does not have GST or Service Charge.
- Pita Tree Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar uses halal ingredients but is not halal certified as the venue also serves alcohol.
- This was a sponsored food tasting.