With a generic name like Wine & Chef, I didn’t expect it to be so good. It’s opened by SG Wine Cellar and has 400 wines mostly from Italian family-owned boutique wineries. Housepour wines are only at $6++ a glass, and bottles start from $25++.
Steamed black Chilean mussels in chicken broth, Chinese rice wine, ginger, garlic, chilli, shallots, cilantro, lime ($18++)
We sampled 6 types of wines and liked one more than the next. Franciacorta, an aperitif, is known as the “queen” of Italian bubbly. A second fermentation occurs in the bottle, which results in fine bubbles. La Montina Franciacorta ($49+) is bright and fruity with a nice sour bittersweet finish. My favorite, Cavalier Bartolomeo Altenasso Barolo DOCG ($59+), is a rare red wine from grapes at a specific Piedmont vineyard; it’s oaky and opulent and not dry. (I don’t like dry wines.) Dessert wine: wine connoisseurs cringe at the description of “jammy” in wines but we love the sweetness in Beppe Marino Bramusa Brachetto DOC, another Piedmont wine. It’s frizzante (lightly sparkling) with notes of berries.
Blue Swimmer crab meat hokkien mee, seafood broth, linguine, tiger prawns, black mussles, squid, pork lard, dark soya sauce ($26++)
While the restaurant offers the usual charcuterie, cheese, and grilled meats, Chef Wilson Ang, whose experience includes DB Bistro, Spruce, and Fordham & Grand, has created a brilliant mod sin (modern Singaporean) cuisine to go with the wines.
Organic homemade soya milk, fresh eggs, and soya sauce are steamed into tofu and century egg ($6++, above). It’s doused in century egg yolk sauce, sesame dressing, and extra virgin olive oil; topped with crackers and coriander. It sounds very complicated, but it’s wonderful, light and appetizing. I could eat one on my own.
This is Mr Fitness’s and my favorite dish for the night: salmon confit “risotto” ($18++), which is inspired by our local hawker fish porridge. The Norwegian salmon is cured for 24 hours in soy sauce and coriander puree before cooking. It’s on a mascarpone barley with lemon juice and zest, and topped with ikura, tobiko, and snowpeas. It’s amazingly complex and delicious. The snowpeas give a nice crunchy texture, offsetting the tenderness of the fish. The fish is too soft and lacks structure but nonetheless it is tasty. It’s piquant with bursts of ikura umami.
The curry pork knuckle is priced at only $20++!! We had to double-check the menu to see that we weren’t dreaming. It’s good for 2-4 persons to share, depending on whether you’re ordering other dishes. The creation comes from a happy accident when curry was spilled onto leftover pork knuckle.
The pork knuckle takes 36 hours: it is marinated in a spice mix for 12 hours and then sous vide-d for 24. It’s then deep-fried to intensify the flavor. Of course, since curry is drizzled over it, don’t expect a super crispy skin. But there is an excellent contrast between skin and meat. The thick curry itself also takes 3 days to cook. To undercut the richness, it comes with homemade achar. It’s an excellent dish to share with friends. Very shiok.
Venere rice pudding ($8, or pulet hitam)
The dishes we ate are surprisingly delicious and each one pairs well with wine, which the sommelier, William, can recommend to you. But if you only want one bottle, definitely try the Cavalier Bartolomeo Altenasso Barolo ($59+). Wine & Chef is likely to be on our “Best Casual Restaurants 2017” when we write the list at the end of the year.
Wine & Chef
7 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089115
tel: +65 6221 9279
M-Sat 10am-11pm, Sun 10am-5pm
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.