Crispy Jurong frog legs, root vegetables & lemak inspired curry, garden curry leaves – $26
Farm-to-table cuisine seems to be the trend these days with more restaurants championing the use of local produce in the dishes. After Wildseed Cafe, I had the opportunity to visit Open Farm Community, a dining concept by Spa Esprit Group that celebrates eating local with familiar flavors and ingredients close to home. In fact, the cuisine was nothing short of bold, delicious flavors and I was impressed by how local produce can be so versatile.
For instance, the Garden Pea Soup ($22) is a creation that literally walked us through the outdoor garden with the garden knife beans soup base topped with super snap peas. It was at the right consistency and seasoning level, injected with an intense salty twist by the Jamon Ham.
As the name suggests, the "lemak inspired curry" (see top pic) is none of those Chinese or Indian style curry we are familiar. I would say it's a more reduced, or simplified version of curry that is truly heady on the aroma of curry leaves and coconut milk. Filled with root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, the curry is so gentle on spices that won't leave your belly burning. But the danger here is that you might only recall the curry but not the crispy frog legs from Jurong farm after the meal.
I usually prefer a Steak to a tuna tartare because the flavors are stronger minus the fishy smell. Here, the chef has done an excellent job for this Steak Tartare ($26) by marinating the beef with ginger chilli, spring onion and coriander puree. Meshed it up with the organic egg yolk and there's you go- beef tartare on crispy garlic crouton. Fresh but not muddled.
From the mains, I was terribly fortunate to try two fish items. The Roasted red snapper ($32) is just like those served in most western restaurants but localized with the garden roselle & hibiscus ketchup. The calamansi & sesame cucumber salad helped to cut through fishiness, if any at all. But flavor-wise, I prefer the Red Grouper burger ($30) with its sharp, tangy chucky tartar sauce paired with pickled cucumbers. A pity that the squid ink bun was dry and rough, otherwise this would score well in my books.
The BBQ half chicken ($36) was a terrific dish with its robust sweet-smoky hickory sauce and tender meat. Even the sweet corn ragout on potato fondant was so highly-executed that I won't mind having a plate of that alone.
While I only had one dessert that night, I can safely conclude that the desserts are no less remarkable. This Lemon Grass Sago ($18) looked like a typically avant- garde dessert but the taste would spark an instant deja vu on the palate. The sago seeds are being cooked down to a soft creamy mash in three kinds of milk, served with pandan banana custard (think kaya but uber fresh and aromatic), banana chips and cocoa cookies.
Some people might wonder why the price is still quite high despite the use of local ingredients. My wild guess is that the prime location in Dempsey Hill does affect the pricing as well. It is most certainly not a place for everyday dining. But for those looking for quality food in a comfortable, close-to-nature, environment, I can say this is one of the top options in Singapore.
Reservations highly recommended
Open Farm Community
Address: 130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819
Mon-Fri 12pm to 4pm, 6pm to 10pm,
Sat-Sun 11am to 4pm, 6pm to 10pm
Tel: 6471 0306
Tel: 6471 0306
This is an invited tasting
steak tartar marinated with ginger chili, spring onion & coriander puree, garlic crouton, organic egg yolk – $26
Garden holy basil gnocchi, pickled okra, lemon grass dressing – $26
Red grouper burger, chunky tartar sauce, pickled cucumber, local green salad – $30
Roasted red snapper, calamansi & sesame cucumber salad, garden roselle & hibiscus ketchup, pickled cucumber – $32
Pandan & banana custard, ginger biscuit, lemon grass sago, sugar cane sorbet – $18