Catfish at Gemmill Lane is a fish and seafood restaurant serving an Asian fusion menu. Andrew Walsh, the chef-owner of Catfish, begun his tutelage at Esquina under Jason Atherton who, in turn, was Gordon Ramsey’s protege. Leaving Esquina, Walsh started Cure (one of my favourite restaurants in 2015), Butcher Boy, and Bao Boy. Walsh is assisted by his head chef, Erik Gustafsson, at Catfish.
Although the menu at Catfish is sectioned into “snacks,” “small,” “fish,” “meat,” “veg,” and “dessert,” in reality the dishes are done communal style. Estimate to order 2-3 dishes per person.
From the “snacks” section of the menu, we had the crispy fish skin with curry mayo ($8) and catfish taco ($7 per piece). The former is wholly dependent on the dip. The latter, the taco, comes in a crispy hard shell with umeboshi (pickled Japanese plum) and hazelnut. The dominant flavour here is sweet–and I don’t like sweet food when it should be savoury. Only desserts should be sweet.
From the “raw” section, the sunseeker oysters ($42, 6 pieces) are pathetic and miniscule. They should have rejected their supplier when they receive the goods.
From the “small” section, the exorbitant toast ($58) comes with a smidgeon of uni and caviar followed by sesame prawn. If this is umami, I could accept the price, but it’s not. The ingredients, strange bedfellows, don’t even complement one another.
Also from the “small” section, the grilled octopus leg ($28) is good but too salty. (Many dishes we ate that night were overly liberated with salt.) The leg itself is tender and pairs well with the grass-like chimichurri.
From the “fish” section, the whole Sichuan BBQ snapper fish ($48) has no ma-la flavour at all. The skin is overly charred, so it becomes bitter. It is also too salty. The saving grace is–the menu calls it–the “laksa” sauce, which isn’t a laksa sauce at all. It tastes more like sriracha mayo.
The best dish that night, roasted cauliflower ($14), is coated with a creamy wholegrain mustard sauce. Unevenly salted, the top is too salty. It is better with a squeeze of lemon, the acidity undercuts the jerlat-ness of the sauce.
The potato puree ($16), topped with ikura and kale, could have been great if they only fill the bowl with potato crisp. The crisps used to scoop up the puree are fun and carb-by (thus tasty). But they only gave 5 or 6 crisps–for what? Imagine how glorious this could be if they stick it full of crisp and customers use crisps to scoop the puree.
We were too full to order desserts but there is another reason why I didn’t want any dessert: I was disappointed in the food. With each new restaurant Walsh opens, I feel that the standards go downhill. Cure was excellent, Butcher Boy was good, Catfish is mediocre. I didn’t want desserts because I didn’t want to be disappointed further. I have no desire to try another new restaurant by Walsh.
Including really expensive alcohol (a glass of beer for $16?! and highball for $22?!), we spent about $350 for three persons. It is too expensive for average food. There is a reason why on the Friday night we were there, the restaurant in prime area couldn’t pack a full house when their neighbour restaurant was bustling.
5 Gemmill Lane Singapore 069261
t: +65 6226 1395
Lunch: M-F & Sun 12pm-3pm
Dinner: 6pm-10.30pm daily
Decor / ambience: 6.5/10
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–L’Angelus, Club Street: There Are Reasons Why It Is One of the Oldest French Restaurants in Singapore
–Naga Imo, Club Street: Omakase on the First Storey, Izakaya on the Second
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.