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Review of Sweetwater Restaurant in Johor Bahru

Friday, 2 September 2011


Fillet of fresh sea bass on a bed of roasted sauteed vegetables with
a balsamic reduction.
The problem with eating at a restaurant that has an interesting menu is deciding what to have. Thankfully my wife and I were rescued by the hostess, who calmly recommended a couple of starters, mains and desserts. Her recommendations sounded delicious so we ordered our whole dinner there and then.

Not long afterwards the hostess, who turns out to be the owners partner, returned with a basket of hot breads straight out of the pizza oven. Soon after that a bottle of Durbanville Hills Cabernet Sauvignon was shown, opened and poured.

The restaurant itself is modern, trendy and airy. Different sections have definite feels about themselves. Walls are artfully decorated with huge portraits of interesting characters caught in intriguing poses. The kitchen is shiny, clean and open; a definite plus on my list: I like to know that the place my food is being prepared is clean and I enjoy watching the chefs at work, it adds a vibe.

Starters of grilled scallops set on a spinach Rockefeller with burnt orange vinaigrette and a calamari ripieni arrived. The scallops were delicious, the combination of scallops, spinach and the orange vinaigrette creating a very unique taste. Cindy's calamari ripieni in salsa di pomodoro all olio was equally delicious. The calamari tubes were stuffed with clams and a tomato salsa and I can't remember when last I had calamari that tender. Not having calamari, or any dish for that matter, crumbed, deep fried or spicy as hell, was a pleasurable change.

Cindy and I were able to soak up the atmosphere, chat and enjoy the very drinkable red wine while waiting for our mains to arrive. The table next to us was a family of four adults celebrating the moms birthday. There were a few tables of couples and other younger families in the main section
and in the bar lounge, hidden from view by the colourful glass bar shelves, a large table of bankers were celebrating something.

Cindy enjoyed a Spanish Paella for her main course. We were both impressed by the generous portions of large prawns, calamari and cubes of chicken mixed in with the perfectly cooked rice.
My duck was out of this world. The young rotisserie duckling was tender inside, crisp on the outside and the red cabbage, pear and orange sauce served with it was incredible.

The waiters serving us were efficient but lacking personality. In fact, I couldn't tell you who was meant to be serving our table, they did not introduce themselves, never once asked how we were doing or if we needed anything, they simply just dropped off food, cleared plates and poured wine. Stephanie, however, was a great hostess, popping around with each course to make sure we were enjoying our meal.

I'm glad that we ordered the chocolate-hazelnut souffle for dessert, for two reasons; it takes a while to prepare, allowing our food to settle and because it was to die for – bittersweet chocolate, nutty, moist and served with fresh whipped cream.

By the end of our meal the restaurant had quietened down considerably. The owner and executive chef, who had been busy in the kitchen up until then, went around to all the tables. He is a German named Hans. We had an after dinner drink and chat with him and he told us a few interesting stories of his experiences as a chef in hotels all around the world and of how he ended up in Johor Bahru.

Overall, our experience at Sweetwater Restaurant was very enjoyable.

The positives were:
  1. The restaurant is spacious, trendy and decorated sensuously.
  2. Suitable for lunches, dinners, business meetings, corporate functions, family occasions and romantic dinners.
  3. Hostess did a good job of making us feel welcome and had a thorough knowledge of the menu.
  4. Very good wine list.
  5. Basket of fresh, hot bread served on the house.
  6. The menu is extensive.
  7. Food was well presented, interesting and delicious.
  8. There is a waiting bar and bar lounge.
  9. Kitchen is open and the owner is the executive chef.
  10. The owner/chef went around to chat to the guests.
The negatives were:
  1. Mostly centered around the waiting staff; didn't introduce themselves, didn't know who was meant to be serving us, they didn't interact with customers at all.
  2. The upstairs section of the restaurant is not completed yet, so there is still blue sheets covering up parts of the wall.

Prices:(Given as an average between Cindy's meal and mine)

Starters RM24.00
Mains RM45.00
Desserts RM22.00

* Prices exclude government tax and service charge.

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