Treat yourself to Italian desserts, pastas and handmade pizzas at Lenas, the Italian dining joint by local company Ministry of Food.
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Like Swensen's, But Better
Lenas seems like the kind of nondescript restaurants people just walk past and don't take notice. Even if they do, the outlook of the restaurant doesn't incite curiosity enough for an average person to patronise. I had my first meal there entirely out of the need for novelty, and I'm glad I did, because I've chanced upon a hidden gem. That was quite a while back, when Lenas wasn't as popular as it is currently. Now, getting a table in Lenas at Nex on any regular evening would require queuing for at least 15 minutes.
The long queues serve as a really good advertisement, and it is a testament to their food quality. Many of the patrons are recurring ones, like myself, and I would attribute it to the fact that they serve high quality food, with a respectable level of consistency.
The Western food options are really the best. It is not unlike Astons (http://www.thesmartlocal.com/sg/fastfood/293-astons-specialities) in a way that they serve a main course with a choice of two side dishes, and that the side dishes do not feel like an afterthought at all because of how good they taste. However, Lenas is different because it has much bigger portions, and it is something you would go for if you're feeling hungry and craving for food that actually fills your stomach with immense satisfaction.
The standard of service is where Lenas starts showing inconsistency. During peak hours, you'll inevitably feel like you're part of a product line in a factory, and the service crew would tend to neglect you. However, when there are few people dining in the restaurant, you'll get to speak to the service manager and she really makes you feel at home and welcomed. It really can't be helped that the service would take a dip when restaurants get popular and it is evident here, but I think the effort is still pretty commendable.
All in all, Lenas is a restaurant that I will continue to visit and recommend it to all who love Western food. Just try to avoid the peak hours if you want a really pleasant dining experience!
Average Italian And American Food, But Great Variety
Part of the Ministry Of Food, Lenas is their Italian and American concept offering. The array of available menu options boggles the mind, but the actual quality and execution of each dish leaves a lot to be desired.
Ambience at Lenas is rustic, with wooden furniture and low lighting. Most Lenas outlets share floor space with other Ministry Of Food outlets, which result in a much more spacious layout and bigger dining area. Generally, expect Lenas to be noisy and crowded, partly due to its rather affordable and reasonably priced dishes.
Service at Lenas revolves around quick and efficient. Product knowledge isn't a given, it depends on the seniority and experience of the staff serving you. Don't expect much conversation too. Most dishes can be served to your table within minutes even during peak periods (except pizzas), which is great.
While the menu is vast, food at Lenas can be simplified as a choice of mains (fish, chicken, beef, pasta), and a choice of sauce (normally more than 10 varieties). The menu is huge because each main, paired with each sauce, is a different menu item. Dishes are considered cheap, especially for those with Lenas / Ministry Of Food membership, around SGD $15 - $20 per person. Taste and quality is where Lenas falls short, most of their dishes are just average, and some below average.
Personally, I prefer the Pizzas and Sundaes at Lenas over any of their other menu items. The pizzas have a lovely, crisp thin crust, and are generously topped with ingredients. The sundaes come in a few different combinations, but the gelato ice-cream is pretty good.
The Super Supreme Pizza, suitable for those feeling carnivorous, with its topping of pepproni, ham and sausage, along with favourites like pineapple and mushroom. Well worth ordering, especially if you're unsure which pizza flavour to go for.
While I love the taste of the homemade pesto sauce in the Pesto Genevese Spaghetti With Chicken And Tomato, the overall dish is disappointing. The texture of the sauce could be slightly smoother, instead of grainy, and the pasta is weak and flat.
I liked the refreshing Ice Mint Limonata Tea, which is served in a jug! The flavours of mint and lime go well together, but I felt that the mint could have been infused as leaves, rather than the pulpy mash which looks off-putting.
Breaded Crispy Banana Fritters are a specialty here. Similar to the local Singaporean Goreng Pisang, except they use breadcrumbs, which give it a different taste and texture. Ice-cream pairs well with it, though I suggest going for the gelato instead of the soft serve.
If presentation matters. :)
Lenas is but one of the cozy places to eat. Although my first experience was just average I wanted to come back once in a while.
Its interior is elegantly designed for a fine dining. The menu was good and tempting yet it is not as expensive as those served in other cozy restaurants. It is such a nice place to eat and relax. It is a place where a family could sit and talk about almost anything while waiting for the food. Indeed, it is a pleasant place for a small family gathering.
The foods however are not that special. It looks good on the menu but tastes like ordinary. Well, I say that the food tasted better because of the plating. It is presented in a very nice way making it appealing. The service was also good although quite slow but the desserts are truly awesome.
Don't judge this book by its cover
It had a great start, I suppose. The main reason why I was so drawn to it was the decor and all the promotions and such that it had going on. The menu was also very encouraging, since it had many pretty photos of all the food they had available. Even up to the point when the food was being served I found that it looked great.
It would have gone swimmingly well if not for the taste. I ordered myself a nice crab pasta with red sauce but I had no idea what I was eating. Plainly put, pasta should not taste this funky. Pasta is THE easiest dish to cook next to instant noodles with eggs. I'm judging, Lenas.
But I have to admit, it wasn't all that bad. They do have this fried banana thing with vanilla ice cream which is super yummy. All in all though, I won't go back there until they settle their pasta chef.
Slow service, high pricing
We chose to go to LENAS for a quick lunch before our movie at Tampines 1. I was put off by the speed of their service. We placed out order at approximately 1:30pm, and our food only arrived a while before 2:30. Our movie was at 3:15 and we had to rush our food down.
Despite several prompts, the speed of the preparation of food did not improve. What really put me off was the charging of plain water. Really, 30cents for each glass of TAP WATER? That was really a definite no.
Food was slightly over priced, about $20 for a chicken thigh. Serving was also quite small considering its price. Do not go there unless you're willing to pay.
I've been eyeing the outlet at Tampines 1 for a pretty long time, and I finally got a chance to try this restaurant out recently, and it certainly didn't disappoint.
At the odd hour of 3pm, the restaurant was still pretty crowded, which was certainly surprising. Thankfully, there were still a few empty tables, so my family and I were shown to our tables quickly. Upon flipping through the menu, I was definitely spoilt for choice, as LENAS offers not only western food like pasta or fillets, but also asian style cooking such as claypot and rice. LENAS also offers their customers a chance at customizing their own pasta, as customers are allowed to pick the pasta of their choice, as well as the base of the dish, so this restaurant certainly caters for different tastebuds!
Food was served up relatively quickly, and it certainly met my expectations. My carbonara was creamy, but it didn't leave a queasy feeling in my gut after finishing it, which is commendable as most plates of carbonara that I've tasted in the past tend to leave me feeling sick in the gut due to their excess creaminess.
My mother's salmon fillet was delicious as well, and even came with cheese sauce that went extremely well with the fish. The portion was a little small though, so I wouldn't quite recommend that particular dish for folks with larger appetites.
I'd thought that the prices of food at LENAS were within an affordable range, though I don't think I will be coming back all that regularly as doing so might potentially burn a hole in my wallet. The drinks were a little pricey, and they charge 30 cents for a cup of iced water, which is certainly a no-no in my books. Come on, surely a restaurant can provide free water!
Chargeable plain water aside, the food was absolutely delicious, and I'm definitely going back for more in the future.
Hmm, and so, "Can I have the chawanmushi?"
"Sorry, we ran out."
"I want this pancake with blueberries and soft serve"
"Sorry we ran out of pancakes."
+ another dessert item.
Much as i do not want to be an unreasonable customer, I really couldn't help but feel annoyed. We went to the new branch at Jurong Point where MOF and Lenas were linked, so we could order from two menus(it was a whole lot of flipping and deciding to do). The pancakes took up 3 full pages of the dessert menu and i was really craving for some pancakes for dinner just now, which explains my major disappointment. All in all i thought the food was nothing to wow about, the omelette soba came with an overly salty stock and a tad too salty. Well actually all the dishes were too salty. The bibimbap wasn't authentic at all, albeit tasty. No gochujang sauce in my bibimbap? What a bummer. No wonder I felt that a factor was lacking in the dish. If they had named it as stone pot rice i wouldn't be that annoyed.
The dessert we ended up ordering was some breaded bananas, aka goreng pisang for us locals. Think 2 little breadcrumbed bananas, a little pot of soft serve and some mini chocolate chips sprinkled over and a dollop of whipped cream and a spiked red cherry to top it off. Not too bad, but wasn't wow-ing. Well, you can even DIY! Hawker centre's goreng pisang + macs soft serve = 2 portions of $6.80 dessert.
Lives up to expectations.
I've walked past this place many times and have always wanted to try it, but I haven't really gotten the chance to until recently.
Being a subset of Ministry of Food, which has always lived up to my high expectations, I expected the food at LENAS to be equally delicious and their service just as impeccable.
Safe to say, it did not disappoint. I visited the outlet at Bugis and somehow, despite the peak hour period, it wasn't too crowded, possibly because it was a weekday. I ordered the baked rice, and it arrived pretty fast, about 5 to 10 minutes after I placed my order.
I found the dish to be absolutely fantastic. Despite the generous toppings of cheese, I managed to finish the entire thing without getting sick of it, a common issue for me with anything involving cheese.
The prices are also reasonable and a meal there would not burn a hole too large in my student-sized wallet.
All in all, I would visit LENAS over and over again.
Great food at somewhat affordable rates
You'll have a hard time deciding because the menu is just huge and everything looks so appealing. We ordered a lot, including pizza and some grilled fish with a side of fries and coleslaw. Everything we had just hits the spot. Nothing, as far as I can recall, was under-seasoned and lacked flavour. It's hard to give recommendations because we had a lot on our table and found everything quite satisfying. And I think most people would agree seeing as how there was always a crowd each time I was there.
Spoilt for choice
One can be sure to enjoy fine-dining experience here at Lenas with affordable prices. I was fully enticed and absolutely spoilt for choice after one look at the dessert and drinks menu. It was filled with photos of awesome "chocolatey" drinks, and various selections of ice-cream. My favourite is the thick velvety Banana milkshake with the smell of bananas and vanilla rising to greet my aroma senses.
To satiate my hunger pangs, I would go along with a plate of bread fried Salmon. Their salmon has a very smooth texture with also matches along with their specialized sauces. Pesto would be my favourite. I love their criss-cross fries served together with their creamy yellow cheese sauce that enhances the taste of the fries. Cheese lovers would definitely love this dish!
Be sure to sign up for the membership as you will be entitled to many benefits! Whenever I dine at the Tampines 1 outlet, the queue would sure be a long wait, so be sure to arrive there for early dinner in order to maximise your enjoyment!