Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Pasta Bar, Drunken Farmer, The Bravery, and more
Where we dined this week...
This travelling wine bar has been pretty much everywhere, within the likes of the Spa Esprit F&B concepts. From Tiong Bahru Safari to The Butcher's Wife, the natural wine bar has been nomadic since the very beginning, but now it seems to have finally found a permanent home in Common Man Stan. As an evening takeover switcheroo, the café gets an eclectic facelift come 5pm — where lights are dimmed down, a projector screening of retro mishmash, and where funky wines and a sourdough-driven menu comes out to play. The chef at the helm is Paul Albert, who employs wild fermentation techniques in his ingredients — mainly the famed sourdough, stemming from a 159-year-old starter. A basket of sourdough focaccia is pretty much unmissable here; not only does it eschew the typical baker's yeast as a proofer agent, the sub is in fact a 100% natural starter. It comes with house churned butter with smoked Maldon salt and house fermented pickles for a tart crunch. For lighter bites, the squid ink crackers were a lot of fun to demolish. Like papadum, but made with fresh squid ink and a flavour jolt from prawn heads and shells, which extends to its dip. A briny umami pool topped with sago pearls, mimicking caviar with its seasoning of soy sauce. All of that defty paired with a glass of Blanc de Noirs Brut, a champagne sitting pretty light and fresh with a medium body. Sourdough karaage also came up top, kudos to a light batter with a sour advantage from sourdough discard and a locally produced pilsner style beer. Crispy chicken thigh dipped in a kimchi mayo? That was quite the duo. It was also matched well with an orange wine, Si Rose — laying on floral and spicy notes on the tongue. Of course, don't miss the sourdough pies while you're here. Their Margherita sees fresh stracciatella made using locally sourced cow's milk and a good drizzle of EVO and huge fragrant basil leaves from Open Farm Community. —JS
11 Stanley Street, Tel: 6877 4855
Opening hours: (Tues-Sat) 6pm-10.30pm
At this point, we've lost count of the surge of new tenants on Amoy Street. But trust us when we say we're not complaining, albeit the heavy traffic and extended waiting time just to get seated. The Bravery happens to be a relatively recent addition, occupying a two-storey shophouse — a step up from its humble café at Lavender where it stood for seven years before the big move. A bigger premise wasn't just it in the grand scheme of expansion, but a bigger, more developed menu for the Muslim-owned brand. A full-service team, where one could have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at The Bravery. Also, their in-house pastry kitchen for the dessert fix. From mushroom toast dabbled in truffle oil to the hearty steak and eggs accompanied with house-baked sourdough bread, The Bravery did make sure not to lose the brunch element even in the new space. For heavier bites into the night, starters like Gambas Al Ajillo do set the tone for a classier approach. Tiger prawns slow-poached in garlic oil arrived seasoned well, but perhaps missing the heat aspect, with the dish served close to room temperature. They do a mean Crab Cake, with a sizable portion, filled with succulent crab chunks. A surprising highlight definitely had to be the Cod en Papilloe, with a baked cod fillet delicately cooked in a paper bag and steeped in a warm soy broth joined with fennel, seasonal greens, and herbs. Neither too heavy or loaded with excessive gravy, in fact, the broth eschewed most of the oiliness and creamy fat that tends to be present in most cod dishes. Unpopular opinion: forget the signature Lavender Latte and opt for the Hojicha Milk instead. You might take to a newfound favourite quencher here. —JS
50 Amoy Street, Tel: 9388 2973
Opening hours: (Tues-Thurs) 8am-6pm, (Fri-Sun) 8am-9pm
While there isn't exactly a scarcity with reputable Italian restaurants on our shores, Pasta Bar has long earned its namesake on Keong Saik street — simply for its handmade noods and since been quietly collecting a loyal fanbase of gourmands. This season, the restaurant reinvents its offerings with a brand new spring menu by chef Vikk, paying homage to Italy's varied seasonal ingredients in a bid to bring lesser known delights to our distanced shores. Showing off a wide range of textures and flavours in each dish, the new menu already had us hooked from the antipasti. A fresh medley of sweet flavours coated our taste buds with each bite of the Sashimi grade Hamachi Tartare, mixed in with mascarpone, cucumber, dill, chilli, and bursts of tobiko ikura. For diners looking for a more savoury touch, the softened crunch of the Grilled Leek, paired with a bed of sweet corn, miso aioli, kaffir lime zests and grated parmigiano will do the job. They had our appetites primed for pasta with a punch. And the brilliant smokiness of the Lumache followed up perfectly. Creamy shells of the small, ridged pasta sat amongst small slices of smokey parma ham with thin cuts of asparagus in a light sauce that allowed the distinct flavours to flourish on the plate. Each of the three components melded harmoniously. The Crab Pappardelle is not to be missed as well, served in a smooth saffron cream with supple crab meat tossed between the wide, long noodles. Nothing like umami of fresh seafood to transport us to the colourful banks of Italy's famed beaches. It seems that the theme of spring is kept collectively within lighter flavour profiles, as seen in the Reginette with Spring lamb "bianco" ragu, which offered a pared back mouthfeel as compared to the heavier tomato-based lamb ragu that most Singaporeans would be used to. The most divine dish, however, had to be the Charcoal grilled Short Rib that made its way across the counter to our seats. Its dark, crispy hue hid the most tender cut of beef, which paired splendidly with a splash of beef jus, baby carrots, and thick, creamy polenta. The meal finished off with an indulgent serving of "Zabaglione Freddo" — frozen Italian custard perched upon the sweetest macerated berries with a drizzle of aged balsamic. —MH
55, 01-05 Keong Saik Rd, Tel: 6222 0627
Opening hours: (Mon-Wed) 6pm-11pm (Thurs-Sun)12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm
Where we're looking to dine...
Located amidst the hustle and bustle of Robertson Quay neighbourhood is the first Asian outpost from the Barcelonian concept, Tapas,24. Created by Michelin-starred Chef Carles Abellán, expect an extensive menu of Spanish bites, wine, and drinks such as a refreshing cup of sangria. If cocktails are more your speed, there's a bevy of Spanish Street tipples to choose from.
The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay #01-04, Tel: 6513 6810
Opening hours: (Tue-Sun) 11:00am-11:00pm
Raffles Courtyard x FatFuku
Adding another collaboration to the star studded line up, Raffles Courtyard is collaborating with chef Annette Tan of FatFuku to present a unique spin on the traditional Peranakan dishes. From the 12th of May to the 11th of June, tuck into dishes like chef Annette's signature Nasi Lemak Buah Keluak — featuring sambal made from buah keluak, minced prawns and pork, served on top of fragrant nasi lemak that is then steamed in a package of banana leaf. Or desserts like Pandan Kueh Koh Swee — kueh stuffed and infused with pandan juice and coconut.
Raffles Courtyard, 328 North Bridge Rd, Tel: 6412 1816
Opening hours: (Mon-Sun) 3:00pm-10:00pm