Cheek by Jowl
I was quite surprised that the fine dining restaurant Sorrel closed few months ago, which has a quite nice reputation in town. Not long after Sorrel shut down, a modern Austalian restaurant called Cheek by Jowl took over Sorrel's old location. Cheek by Jowl means ‘side-by-side’, which indicates a meaningful throwback of Chef Rishi Naleendra and his wife, who works together with him now. Before i left for Tokyo last August, i don't think there were any modern Australian restaurants caught my eyes in Singapore, maybe i didn't pay attention to, or maybe there was none. Although the fine dining restaurants i visited during my last AU food trip was overall disapponiting, i am still quite keen to try this young Australian restaurant house in CBD area, very casual setting and offers offordable lunch course as well as an a la carte menu, sounds a great lunch place for people who working in CBD.
Date: May.19. 2016 (Lunch)
Address :21 Boon Tat St, 069620
Cost: Lunch $30, $38++; A la carte $6~$58 per dish; Chef's menu $88; Vegetarian menu available
The ambiance of Cheek by Jowl is modern and relax, there are 10 tables-seating as well as a 6-seat-counter. The 8-seat bar outside is quite nice for a after-work drink. But i definitely recommend the counter seat where you can have a view of the semi-open kitchen.
Chef-owner Nishi has a strong background from Australian. He started his culinary career at Taxi Dining Room in Melbourne from a demi chef to a sous chef. Later Rishi was offered a job as chef de partie from Tetsuya's, one of the top restaurants in Sydney. His culinary skills was again expanded when he worked at the famous Yellow by Brent Savage as a pastry chef. Nishi never stops challenging himself, he decided to move to Singapore with his wife and finally brought the birth to his own place, Cheek by Jowl.
Cheek by Jowl offers affordable Lunch Menu at $30++ and $38++ for 2 and 3 dishes respectively. A la carte menu is available for both lunch and dinner, all the dishes are reasonabley priced: small bites around $6, appetziers around $20, main dishes range from $20 up to $58 for rib eye, and desserts at $15 (all net price). Vegetarian menu is also avaialble upon request in advance. If you prefer a full experience, don't forget to request the Chef's Tatsing Menu upon reservation, 5 dishes at $88++.
To start the meal, the fresh oyester topped with smoked tomato granita is very refreshing and opened my palates. The homemade smoked tomato franita has a lovely tomato flavor which balances well with the umami taste of oyster.
Followed by another light dish that matches the heat in Singapore, the pickled king fish was tender and has a clean flavor. Paired with cucumber puree and pickled cucumber and radish to enhance the texutures, the yuzu broth brought a sourness to again refreshed me up.
Beetroot and goast cheese are always best friends. This was not my first time to see this combination in Singapore, Esquina, JAAN, Odette,etc also served similar dishes. Chef Nishi's work was satisfying too. On a bed of whipped goat cheese was roasted beetrot, its sweet flavor works well with the pickled beetroot on the top, loved the textures of crunchy, smooth and creamy, with some crispiness from the toasted grains.
I rarely order Barramundi because it is a quite cheap fish in my mind (sorry for that), i decided to give it a try as a signature dish at Cheek by Jowl. It unexceptedly changed my view of barramundi since then, which is widely used in Australian cuisine. The fish skin was slightly burnt and so crunchy like crackers, the flesh underneath was succulent and rish in oils, definitely worth a try.
A meal is incomplete without desserts. Here, i had a seasonal dessert of poached rhubard, ginger caramel with lingonberry ice cream and roasted white chocolate granita. It was a nice balanced dessert no matter in textures or flavors. Since this is an Australian restaurant, i odered a cup of flat white to wrap up. Chef Nishi's wife Manuela works as a manger in the restaurant, and she made the coffe for me. Satisfying endling.
The food at Cheek by Jowl was flawless, accompany with sufficient service, relax and comfortable ambiance, the overall experience was satisfying. Of course you cannot compare it with more fancy fine dining restaurant such as Odette, JAAN, Les Amis and such, but (around) $50 per head for food at this good quality, there's nothing i should complain about. You will definitely get what you paid for :)