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Where to eat and what’s new in Singapore: The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, Lino, and Caffe Cicheti

Where to eat and what’s new in Singapore: The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, Lino, and Caffe Cicheti

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Text: Janice Sim


Where we dined this week...

The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar

Even with stiff competition in the Dempsey enclave, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar holds its own. Part of it admittedly goes to chef Jean-Georges's namesake, but the other alludes to the restaurant's ethereal façade as well as its European-Asian grub. Think billowing lanterns and a tasteful sheen of white filling the entire space — it's where languid meals were made for. Ringing Autumn in, the expanded menu features seasonal ingredients at their very best. In place of the typical Caesar, their hamachi salad was a refreshing sight. Thinly sliced Japanese hamachi tossed with a savoury dressing of white soy sauce, rice vinegar, yuzu juice and chili oil. There was spice and bold flavours, but mostly we appreciate a good slab of sashimi any day. While more and more restaurants are including pesto on their menu, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar's caters to the vegetarians. Handmade tagliatelle cooked with a good blend of lightly toasted pistachios, basi, garlic, green Thai chili, lemon peel, and olive oil. The generous serving was accompanied with caramelized brussel sprouts that made the absence of protein almost obsolete. Pizzas would typically be a mainstay here; but in our opinion, they fell a little short amidst the other highlights on the menu. A couple of stellar mains followed: Comprising of veal (panko-crumb and laid over a bed of arugula salad, sweet potato cubes, and dried cranberries), roasted chicken with an Asian sweet and sour Sichuan glaze, and last but not least grilled pork chop. The last was undeniably our favourite. The Australian free range kill was juicy, succulent, and tantalising with every bite. It also came with a delightful sauce of stewed peppers, habanero, red cherry tomatoes, and sherry vinegar, resulting in a bright savoury concoction. Then, a salted caramel dessert to potentially rule all caramel desserts. To our surprise, the sundae straddled on the savoury nutty end instead of the mind-numbing sweet result you usually get in a bag of Garrett Popcorn. But if you're looking for something a tad more refreshing to sum up the night, order the strawberry sundae instead. It features various version of fresh strawberries — a sorbet infused with red wine, an ice cream made with puree and berries, and a delectable jam showered over.

The Dempsey porkchop

Hero dish: Grilled pork chop
Estimated calories: 402

Block 17D Dempsey Rd, Tel: 1800 304 5588
Opening hours: (Mon-Thurs)12pm-3pm, 6pm-12am, (Fri) 12pm-3pm, 6pm-1am, (Sat)11.30am-4pm, 6pm-1am (Sun)11.30pm-5pm, 6pm-10pm

Chimichanga

This Mexican joint is far out, our favourite to frequent on the enigmatic Dunlop street. Where you'll also find plenty of Indian food options around the corner. It's grungy and plastered with pop art promos of happy hours and celebratory events typically revolving around tasty bites at enticing prices. Even the tables resound a retro vibe here with printed covers alongside a photograph album that opens up to the menu. Here you'll find a fuss free approach to Mexican grub — nothing jazzed up — displaying the usual favourites of quesadillas, burritos bowls, tacos, enchiladas priced at a friendly number, as compared to most Mexican places out there. There's a healthy spread of sides to choose from but we encourage to start with their loaded nachos – that comes with one of their marinated proteins, creamy guac, salsa over a bed of tortilla chips. You'll find that most fixtures whether it be a protein or a veg (for a meat substitute) tend to repeat themselves in variations of either a quesadilla, chimichanga, grain bowl, burrito, and taco. Somehow that pattern works in Chimichanga's favour; it's nice when you get to have the same options just so you can easily swap within a blanket burrito or laid atop a plate full of grains and greens. As for as tacos go, opt for their beer battered fish, lined with just the perfect ratio of batter and fish. There's also a drizzle of sriracha mayo to elevate the entire bite. Vegetarians can opt for the guajillo roasted cauliflower. In the bowl section, their slow-roasted pork that's slow-cooked for five hours sits well with the staples of amarillo rice, pico de gallo and a medley of greens. Quesadillas? Go for the ancho beef — beautifully rubbed in a delectable union with grilled melted cheese. Honestly, you can't really go wrong with that. Our only gripe might be that they just have one dessert. So we've learnt to get our sugar fix from the cocktails instead. Bring on the frozen margaritas — the more the merrier.

Chimichanga

Hero dish: Ancho beef quesadillas
Estimated calories: 357

36 Dunlop Street, Tel: 6293 3314
Opening hours: (Mon-Tue)11am-11pm, (Wed-Sat)11am-12am

Lino

A sense of calm takes over when you're in the residential enclave of Binjai Park. You're not bothered by towering skyscrapers or the incessant human traffic, which also means you're in a safe space free of triggering work stressors. Here's where you can also find hearty Italian grub in the comforts of Lino, a restaurant from the Les Amis group. Its recent set lunch menu is laden with tastefully curated specials, fit for anyone feeling up for a moreish, treat-yo-self kinda day. With starters like melon and sliced prosciutto ham and Caesar salad paving the way, we found ourselves leaning towards wholesome plates like a perfectly pan-seared sea bream dabbled in a delectable caponata stew. There's also the duck leg confit for anyone up for a French classic — paired with braised lentils and a refreshing sherry vinaigrette. But while you're there, call for the wood-fired pizzas too, which happen to be Lino's signature. Each and every one are specially handcrafted with an airy crust we just couldn't bear to leave behind. While most flavours will by default, be delicious, make sure to order the mixed mushroom laid atop a cream truffle sauce. The next best option is the margharita. There's just something about the deft combination of basil, tomato, and cheese that can't ever go wrong. While you're on the carb roll, take a swing at one of their pastas. Their vongole came generously laden with a bevy of clams, but we also have plans to come back for their tagliatelle cooked down in a rich lobster bisque and of course, topped with maine lobster for a great finisher. Our decision to hold off on that second pasta paid off — ultimately we were rewarded with the sweet ending of tiramisu, which held the perfect ratio of alcohol, cream, and espresso. To that we say, keep it coming.

Lino mushroom pizza

Hero dish: Mixed mushroom pizza
Estimated calories: 200 (per slice)

7 Binjai Park, Tel: 6243 5282
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri)12pm-2.30pm, 5.30pm-10.30pm, (Sat-Sun) 9.30am-10.30pm

Where we're looking to dine...

Caffe Cicheti

Goodbye Fynn's, hello Caffe Cicheti. Yes the modern Australian restaurant closed its chapter earlier this month, just to ring in a new child from the Cicheti clan. But don't worry, a few brunch favourites from Fynn's like their ricotta hotcakes will be retained. As part of the efforts to align all the restaurants (namely Cicheti and Bar Cicheti) under the same arm, expect this space to feature more of the pastas we love and a strong focus on the wine programme — of natural and indie labels.

Caffe Cicheti

26 Beach Rd, South Beach Tower #B1-21

Ding Dong x Aux Deux Amis

We know Ding Dong as the go-to spot for an inventive Asian meal. Now in an interesting turn of events, they will be welcoming a wacky natural wine bistro Aux Deux Amis from Paris for a two-day pop-up. ADA's chef Matthieu Perez and Ding Dong's Miller Mai will present a six-course dinner comprising of dishes like buah keluak and somtom. Safe to say, an interesting wine pairing will definitely be in store for the night.

Ding Dong pop-up

Reservations can be made here.
26-27 November, 7pm-10pm, $85++ for six courses (supp. $55++ for 4 natural wine pairings)
115 Amoy Street, #01-02

*All calorie tabulations are derived from MyFitnessPal and are estimated per serving.

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