I was once told that the true mark of a genius is polymathy, then Chef Manel Valero must be one. He studied painting in Barcelona and left for Beijing to work in a Spanish restaurant. In 2012, he came to Singapore to help open FoodBar Dada. The graffiti at Moosehead is a collaboration between Sticker Lady SKLO, and him; the music here is his own selection (he is a DJ too!). Moosehead is established by father and son duo, Glen and Daniel Ballis. Together with Glen, Chef Manel creates a menu focussing on Mediterranean cuisine with a twist of global flavors.
Bacon-wrapped chargrilled dates
The menu changes daily, depending on the ingredients available that day, but there are some favorites that remain. The tapas-sized dishes range from $8 to $35 (I thought they could be less pricy), and the chargrilled dishes were stars, bold, playful, and daringly over-charred to produce that smoky aroma that I loved so much.
I recommend these: The bacon-wrapped chargrilled dates ($8) were immediately salty, smokey, and crunchy with burnt ends, which mellowed into the sweetness of dates. Wonderful contrast in flavors and textures. Burratina ($18, above) had a fruity undertone, and went extremely with grilled vine tomatoes ($14) and the over-toasted (which I liked) Turkish bread ($8).
The grilled octopus ($35, above) was by far my favorite meat of the night: an amazing texture that was tender, not mushy, with tingly red bell pepper that complemented, not overpowered, the lightness of seafood. The chargrilled Secreto Iberico ($28) was not bad too, wasn’t gamy nor greasy.
There were some dishes that worked although they didn’t leave an impression: asparagus in garlic miso ($14), grilled avocado, ajoblanco, puffed quinoa, salmon roe ($18), and chicken bulgogi ($18). But I didn’t like the crispy spiced pigs ears ($16, above), overly spiced and choking; and Kobe beef onglet ($34, below), a pity to cover a piece of good beef in a too-sweet sauce.
I highly recommend the chilli pineapple popsicle ($14), which had a tinge of chilli padi that burned in the throat in a sexy 50 Shades of Gray way, not in an inferno of LOTR’s Eye of Sauron way. It came with Gula Melaka foam and banana cream to undercut the spice, and chocolate “soil” to liven it. Altogether a complex and fun dessert.
What I liked about the food was also what I liked about the entire setup: they are edgy, they do what they like, but they are also comfortable, respectful, cosy, and unpretentious–a delicate balance of opposites. After a while, I felt as if I was protected in a bubble of glow, as if I was eating among friends at an artist’s home, but not the kind of avant garde artist that you don’t understand the art. You’ll appreciate the craft, but you won’t notice it–that’s the beauty of Moosehead.
110 Telok Ayer Street, Singapore 068579
T: 6636 8055
M-F: 12-2.30pm, 6-10.30pm, Sat 6-10.30pm.
Rating: 3.559/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
ps: Thanks Mandy for the invite.