14K is a huge fan of Chef Daniel Sia of The Disgruntled Chef at Dempsey. He gushed, “I’ve been to the gastrobar several times already. I must bring you there one day.” That conversation happened 6 years ago when The Disgruntled Chef just opened.
Only 40% of restaurants make it past the first year of operations. Clearly, the 6 year-old Disgruntled Chef must have done something right. They serve European cuisine with Asian touches, using French cooking techniques.
The weekend brunch set is priced reasonably at $32++ for two plates and $39++ for three. A la carte is also available. There are small plates, as well as big.
The small plates are rather magnificent and tantalizing, leaving you to desire for more. The bbq pork belly bao ($10) has kimchi—appetizing. Baked bone morrow ($18) is always awesome, like fats on sourdough. The truffle mac & cheese ($18) can easily be found at many places, but it is not easy to do well. At most places, it is always baked too dry. But this version is nicely caramelized on top, but still moist with 4 kinds of cheeses, speckled with black truffle, and sweet with crayfish.
Those small plates in the previous paragraph are good, but these are great aka must-order: the truffle bikini ($10, above) comes in a 3-piece bites. It’s a really atas grilled brie cheese sandwich, zeng with black truffle and iberico ham. It’s umami heaven.
The other amazing dish, crispy lamb shortribs ($21), is Asian-inspired. The lamb ribs are first sous vide, then deep-fried and sprinkled with cumin—a Chinese-influenced dish—which is then paired with yogurt and spiced pumpkin puree. It’s so tender it falls off the meat. Not at all gamy. I didn’t care for the dip, which dilutes the superiority of the ribs. By itself, it is perfect. We heard that even people who don’t like lamb like this. This is their bestselling dish for 6 years, and it is deserving of the honor.
The only thing that I didn’t like comes from the big plate menu: duck and charcoal waffle ($36), which might have been inspired by the famous London restaurant. The duck confit and waffle are good on their own, but they don’t go together. The truffle butter doesn’t help.
From the big plate, the Spanish crackling suckling pig ($68) is as good as it gets: crispy skin, tender meat.
Candy floss, homemade avocado ice cream, espresso:
The sticky toffee pudding ($14) is divine. The vanilla ice cream is rich, and the pudding is very sweet, but not too sweet to be jerlat. The churros bowl ($14, below) is a cute way to eat ice cream.
Eating so many dishes at The Disgruntled Chef demonstrates to me what Chef Sia is up to. He wants to present comforting, classic food that is eternal and perennial. The food here exceeds my expectations. While some of the dishes are classics, and classics may become boring, The Disgruntled Chef does the classics par excellence; the restaurant gives us the best versions of classics. With the contemporary decor and excellent service, this restaurant deserves to go on for another 60 years.
The Disgruntled Chef
26B Dempsey Road, Singapore 247693
T: +65 6476 5305
T-Sat 12pm-2.30pm, Sun 12pm-4.30pm
T-Th & Sun 6pm-10.30pm, F & Sat 6pm-11.30pm
Overall rating: 3.688/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.