After working in well-known establishments in Singapore, the following culinary maestros have become proud chef-owners of their own restaurants. Here are the restaurants where to eat and what to expect when visiting.
Top chef Drew Nocente, formerly of Skirt at W Singapore, collaborated with hotelier-restaurateur Loh Lik Peng to set up 5th Quarter at Hotel Vagabond, located not far from Lavender MRT. This contemporary grill concept focuses on meat curing, a skill that the Italian-Australian chef honed when growing up on his family farm in Australia. Besides being surrounded by fresh produce, he also learnt about cooking and charcuterie from his family members. At 5th Quarter, Nocente takes cuts from all parts of an animal and uses methods like smoking, curing and pickling to prepare them.
Between you and your dining partner, you order about six different items to share. You start with the charcuterie platter, brimming with pate, rillettes, and cured meats that are all prepared in-house. Depending on what day it is, you might get salami, pancetta, lardo, or chorizo. If you’re adventurous, try munching on the crispy salt and pepper tripe. You then savour standout mains such as smoked short ribs with pomegranate sauce, and an incredibly succulent pork belly served with melon and onion. You round off your meal with chocolate salami and salted caramel ice cream before making your way over to the adjoining bar at the red and gold-hued Vagabond salon for a nightcap.
If you’re wondering where to eat when you’re visiting the National Gallery, Julien Royer the former star chef at Jaan recently opened his much-anticipated restaurant, Odette. Named after Royer’s grandmother, this modern French restaurant aims to offer an elegant dining experience. Odette takes pride of place in a lofty space in the former Supreme Court. The restaurant is co-owned by Wee Teng Wen, who established hotspots like The Black Swan. Royer’s philosophy is to respect the ingredients’ seasonality and use them at their peak, which he learnt from his grandmother when he was growing up on a farm in Cantal, France. For his new restaurant, Royer spent a lot of time sourcing small producers that could supply high-quality ingredients.
Your tasting menu will include signatures such as the Heirloom Beetroot Variation comprising salt-baked beetroot with Stracciatella “Artigiana” burrata, along with beetroot in different textures and temperatures such as beetroot meringue, beetroot jelly, and even beetroot sorbet. You’ll also get to enjoy the 55′ Organic Egg, a comforting pine-smoked organic egg partnered with root vegetables, artichoke chips, parsley sponge, pancetta, and truffle. For your main, you tuck into the charcoal-grilled guinea fowl, accompanied by Cevennes onion, Celerisotto (diced celeriac cooked like risotto), and laced with sauce “Albufera” finished with a rich foie gras truffle sauce. As you sit back and appreciate the historical setting, sip some bubbly and plan for your next visit.
Top chef Andrew Walsh, who hails from Ireland, has launched Cure, his own restaurant at the bustling Keong Saik area, following his success helming Esquina, one of Singapore’s most popular restaurants. Walsh has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in Dublin, London, and New York, and now hopes to offer a stylish bistronomy concept to diners in Singapore. To him, Cure is all about simple yet creative and flavourful cooking topped with finesse.
You can experience innovative modern European fare woven with some Asian influence in the menus here. Walsh uses seasonal ingredients for his ever-changing menu such as venison, soy mushrooms, blackcurrant, and cocoa. You’ll sample dishes like cured salmon with oyster emulsion, beetroot, and crispy skin, or try his take on the Irish staple of bacon and cabbage presented as a starter of freshly baked sour dough served with bacon butter and fermented cabbage. Walsh works with local and global food producers to source his ingredients. For instance, he gets greens from Edible Gardens in Singapore, and sources pork from Suffolk and oysters from Galway Bay.
The top chef with a heart has initiated a movement called Hospitality against Hunger with local charity Food Bank Singapore that distributes food to the less fortunate. You’ll be served house snacks and have the option of contributing towards this good cause.