Open Farm Community: In the Weeds.

Disclaimer: In case you had the impression that I was going to slam Open Farm Community's garden nosh, no chance; by "In the Weeds", I meant the state of your poor stomach as it churns up its indignation in view of your unsuppressed gluttony at the table. Point is, you can't help it - food at OFC beckons with a spellbinding light that rendered me a minion, the fork doing relentless runs between the beautiful crockery and my mouth.

Open Farm Community plays a familiar game, the hipster playground that has accidentally allowed you in - rampage its grounds with a ping pong table (that could incidentally also double up for a beer pong table) in a vibrant shade of yellow on the porch; yet still retain a bit of its verdant nature with sprawling green pastures sporting an extensive spectrum of herbs and spices that would eventually end up on your plate in one form or another ~ Walk through the first extension of the establishment and you'll find memorabilia and cutesy baby-related merchandise from Tinydipity, there, traverse pass the covered corridors to the inner sanctum; a glasshouse-esque setup with an open-kitchen style pass; the orgy of chefs threading in tandem making for a fascinating sight. 

That's until the food starts spilling out onto the tables...

This feast is going to hurt like a motherf***** , and I'm referring to the kneecaps after a punishing trip to the gym later to make reparations for the binge. Let's first run through the debauchery... starting with appetisers, the prettiest plate of Freshly Shucked Oysters (32 for 1/2 dozen/ $58/ dozen), I've seen yet - parsley, chardonnay vinegar and sago pearls adding a prickle of tartness to its plump personality. Slip and slide, in five minutes, you will want another dozen.

Having the entire lineup of starters at our disposal, I'm going to avoid being long winded, so let's call a spade a spade. A quick toss up later, the Fermented Carrot "tartare" ($24) stands out as a strong contender, Just like a traditional tartare sans the beef, minced fermented carrot fills its shoes and one-up its meaty correspondent. A pungent horseradish caesar dressing does somersaults on my palate simultaneously with the crunch of fresh romaine lettuce in the 'Hail Caesar' ($22). Self explanatory, this Caesar salad is everything that your regular dish is not; cause this one is fit for scrupulous dictators and food snobs, or whatever you may call them. House smoked chicken meets 5J jamon (fried till paper crisp) and frickin' delicious Caesar dressing perfumed with horseradish and nuances of anchovy. I was smitten, nurturing a secret crush on the chef calling the shots at the pass, sporting a spiked up mop of luscious brown hair, he was tall and broody. Wait, what.. so this chef can cook. Who is he anyway? 

His name is Daniele Sperindio. You'll read later on my "8 Affordable Date Night dinner places" here that he also spearheads the kitchen over at Open Door Policy at Tiong Bahru. Having been rooted in the culinary scene at a tender age of 13, Chef Daniele worked his way through numerous restaurants in Italy before moving on to Paris and Monte Carlo. From there, his nomadic roots and unwavering spirit brought him to the US where he worked in fine dining restaurant LL Gabbiano in Miami, Florida. Since 2012, he has resided in Singapore, in a bid to explore the complexities of Asian flavors and culture, holding the fort at Alkaff Mansion before joining ODP in early 2014 as Head Chef.

There is little egotism in Mr Sperindio's cooking. His peculiar idea of cooking aimed at pleasing people's palates rather to reflect his own glory. One of these aberrant offerings include the Chilled Avocado and ginger soup with poached yabbies and fresh radish ($20) , made with yabbies sourced from our neighbouring coast of Malaysia, the vibrant green chilled soup resembled an avocado milkshake of sorts imbued with hints of spicy ginger for a good balance.

Fermented Carrot Tartare
Chilled Avocado and ginger soup with poached Yabbies and fresh Radish

Egg aficionados revel in this Coal-baked omelette with smoked haddock ($24), the tarragon and grain mustard mornay sauce adding a suitable richness to the runny mixture that warrants for a quick return with freshly baked pita pockets.

'Hail Caesar' house smoked chicken, 5J jamon, horseradish Caesar dressing, and fresh romaine lettuce
Seared Tuna with green papaya and jicama salad, fresh coconut and dashi vinegar

How do you describe the drink offerings? It's festive and very alike the rest of its garden-esque themed menu. Cocktails, concocted by Tippling club's Kamil Foltan thread in the same direction as the rest of the farm, floral and herbaceous with a spring in its step. The Smashing Good Thyme ($18) delights with a pleasant combination of barcardi rum, fresh lime, green peas, yellow chartreuse and thyme. I officially see chartreuse in a different light. Or, you could always run for the sanity (i beg to differ) of the wine list, a good selection of 9 varieties ranging from Australian Sauvignon Blanc to Italian Benanti to tickle your fancy, and many more options by the bottle should you need an excuse not to head back to work after a 'business lunch' . *ahem*.. Been there, done that.

Rigatoni, local mushrooms, smoked pancetta topped with stilton and balsamic reduction

Of course, Chef Daniele being Italian, there are the pastas. Do not miss out on the Potato dumpling Gnocchi ($26) , and you'll appreciate the time-honoured tradition of a good moist pork sausage accompanying the vivacious sun dried tomato jus and fresh fennel on the plate. The Pumpkin and pine nut tortelli with local yabbies and minden pesto ($24) may fit into your Sunday mornings, it's al dente pasta encasing a sweet and mildly spiced filling of pumpkin. the concentration and pepperiness of the pesto conveying the natural sweetness of the perfectly cooked yabbies.

As for the rest of their pasta offerings, there seem to be minor disputes over the type of homemade pastas employed in them. Not all, highlighting the delicacy of its mingled sauces like the Mud Crab Spaghettoni ($28) for example, thick coarse strands of hybrid pasta drawing attention away from the ambrosial Thai curry sauce and the delicacy of the mud crab chunks dwelling in between. I would have much preferred a thinner flatter pasta in the Strozzapretti with 48 hour barolo braised oxtail ($26) as well; the rich brew could have used a little help for better adherence to. But that's just my personal preference calling the shots.

Strozzapretti with 48 hour barolo braised oxtail, parmesan wafer and wild thyme
Squid Ink Tagliatelle with 'inferno' sauce , calamari, asparagus and chili padi
Potato Dumpling gnocchi, shredded pork sausage, sun dried tomato jus and fresh fennel
Mud Crab spaghettoni with Thai curry sauce, crunchy yellow squash, coconut, crispy shallot Thai basil
Pumpkin & pine nut tortelli with local yabbies and minden pesto

Charred S.A. lamb rump with garden peas, bacon, lettuce , mint, whipped mash and rosemary thyme jus
Moving on to the subject of mains. Being in the saddle of 5 courses in total; self control is crucial and one can afford to be more finicky with her choices. The table is jammed packed of the heaviest ceramic earthenware one can find, and immaculately plated, each and every protein calls out to you. You make room because you live by rules, and missing out on a single dish would amount to petty crime.

One of the more memorable mains is the Roasted Baby chicken ($28), I wouldn't put it at the top of my list, but I enjoyed the way the chefs used braised leeks with hazelnut butter to ground the dish, giving a more earthy flavor to the white meat. If you have a penchant for Middle Eastern cuisine, set your sights on the Coal-baked Barramundi ($26) with cucumber, coleslaw, roasted eggplant with fresh mint dressing, the unification of cool mint creme fraiche like dressing, augmenting the sweetness of the barramundi, the moat of baba ganoush below taking all willpower to instill the act of sharing with the rest of the media invitees. Yes, I just want to bathe in that smoky goodness. The weakest dish of the lot was the Roasted Goldband Snapper ($28) which was cooked just a wee bit past its prime.

The piece de resistance, is the Roasted Mangalica Pork Belly ($34), you'll be a fool not to order this dish as it's certainty as a marvel of porcine craftsmanship is set in stone. Succulent slabs of Hungarian pork belly roasted till it yields to the fork with zero contention, melts like butter in the mouth. The side of apple and ginger salad administering acidity to the luxuriance of the protein. 

Roasted Baby Chicken
Coal Baked Barrumundi with cucumber, coleslaw, roasted eggplant and fresh mint dressing
Roasted Goldband snapper with ratatouille 'a la provencale and wild rocket salad
Roasted Mangalica Pork Belly, apple and ginger salad, sauteed bak choy with a spring oinion and soy jus
Do not skip desserts! Despite my exploding belly and slight blurry vision from the onset of food coma, the "impending doom" of sweets will surely introduce this last burst of fire that would discount all sensibility in a bid to shovel down more desserts into the nooks and crannies of your stomach. Besides, it would be a total shame to waive off desserts seeing how much rewards and praise I'm going to bestow them with. Starting with the Orange Meringue Pie with citrus salsa ($17), what I love the most being the citrus imbued chocolate cookie crumbs below the cool orange curd. Then there is the all too familiar Caramelized Mango with textures of coconut ($17), a little steep on the price tag given that most of the ingredients boil  down to something all a little too familiar on the palate, but those buttery lobes of caramelised mango are prone to set off wars over the table tops.

The Kitchen has devised a Hot & Cold Chocolate cake with chocolate sorbet and mint ($17), a pretty as a picture, combination of microwave chocolate sponge, carrying waves of sensory pleasures in its wake, paired with the classic combination of mint infused shards of meringue, a rich chocolate sorbet rounds up the posse in a salacious gangbang of sorts. But the smackdown for me, would lie in the Lemon Tart with Basil Ice Cream ($17) -  a meticulously planned finale with sour lemon creme and vanilla bean creme layered between tender planks of sable breton - the refreshing heap of basil ice cream drawing references to the lush garden settings outside. It was exactly what I felt like eating.

Half an hour later, I was stumbling out of the green corridor. 'May the Lord have mercy on my gut.', I prayed fervently.

Fundamentally Flawed dined as a guest of OFC and subsequently took the next two days to recover from her induced food coma (no kidding).

Open Farm Community
130 Minden Road
t: 6471 0306

Operating Hours:
Mon - Fri: 12pm - 3pm; 6pm - 10pm
Sat/Sun: 11am - 10pm

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Wonderfully written review and I can't but agree with everything. But shouldn't we keep it a secret so that we can get a table?