Media usually write on new restaurants but recently, some have written on Prime Society, a cornerstone of Dempsey since 2007. The reason? Head Chef Dallas Cuddy has introduced a new menu, for sharing among families and friends.
Chef Cuddy, who worked at several Michelin restaurants before, said, “I think about food all the time, before I sleep and when I woke up.” His passion shines through in the food, everything is made from scratch! By “everything,” I don’t mean just the sauces, seasonings and dips. I also mean the food. The bacon and tuna are cured in his kitchen, the preserved lime for the grilled corn ($9) takes 6 weeks to be ready, and–get this!–he explores Dempsey to pluck herbs for his dishes! Herbs in Dempsey! That’s as organic as it can get! For instance, for our dessert, he said, “You see this wood sorrel here? I just got my chef to run out and pluck it 30 seconds ago. It’s very fresh.”
Strictly speaking, these “tapas” should be considered as starters. Among the three we tried, cured tuna (pictured below, $16), raw wagyu ($16), and razor clams ($26), the clams were our favorite. It was topped with jamon crumbs (ham crumbs with texture of bread crumbs) and layered with mussel foam. The dish came across as very Asian–Chef Cuddy worked at a one Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant, Nobu, before–and the textures were great.
The wagyu (pictured below) and tuna, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette and cherry vinaigrette respectively, came across a bit sharp. In general, we thought the “tapas” were innovative but could do with less sauce and let the ingredients speak for themselves.
The point of Prime Society is always the steak, isn’t it? It aims to serve affordable steaks without compromising on the quality. Having tried the tri tip cut (250g – $90) of a 550 days grain-fed full blood wagyu from Mayura Station farm at South Australia, and the flat iron cut (250g – $48, pictured above) of black angus from Tasmania, Australia, both Chiobu and I preferred the wagyu. It could be because of the cut. The flat iron cut from the shoulder of the cow, also known as oyster blade cut, usually for stews, was a bit tougher.
The tri tip cut (pictured above) was as savory as it was tender. The marbling (9+) was quite perfect, smooth but not excessively fatty or oleaginous.
For sides, all at $9 (sharing portion), our favorite was baked cauliflower (above), charred at the edges, with a generous dollop of sour cream and a bit of lime. But everything else was good too: grilled corn, brussel sprouts with bacon, and spiced fries.
Chiobu’s and my opinion differed on the desserts. She didn’t quite like them but I thought they were beautiful, bold, strong and full of character. The coconut, pomegranate and reduced milk ($15, above) was a strip of coconut panna cotta on filo pastry, topped with pomegranate seeds and coconut crumbs. The milk was reduced in a pressure cooker and then made into dulce de leche ice cream. The intense chocolate pudding ($15, below) was very dark and salted lightly to bring out the sweetness from the bitterness of chocolate. It was paired with desiccated white chocolate and honeycomb. Both desserts, to me, were perfect: there were complexities of tastes and textures in each dessert, ever-changing with each bite. But be warned that the chocolate pudding is very, very intense and could be shared between 2-3 people.
Overall: playful food, classy ambience. There is a reason why it still pulls in crowds after all these years, and why the media still write on the restaurant.
10 Dempsey Road
T: 6474 7427
Ratings: 3.188/5 stars
PS: Thank you, Puneeta and Chef Cuddy, for the hospitality.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.