SPRMRKT kitchen + Bar: sprawling grounds and potent cuisine

I get asked this question a lot. "Where's a good restaurant that you've eaten at recently", people trying to fleece information off you in order to avoid a disastrous dinner date later. Maybe fleece is too bold a word to use since I'm almost always willing to share. In fact, if you had asked me (nicely), where should you embark on your next romantic dinner date. I would have this one suggestion: SPRMRKT Kitchen + Bar at STPI.

Traverse past the casual cafe downstairs and climb the stairs up to the SPRMRKT Kitchen and Bar, here, the vibes are ominously different, pastel pink hues peppered with glints of gold and chic marble are a sure sign that the meal is going to be good. The menu is a brainchild of local chef Jonathan Ong who mines his overseas kitchen experiences for neglected pleasures and fusion indulgences. This is supported by liquid courage curated by Analogue Wine Merchant that organises tasting sessions every Wednesday from 5 to 7pm.

The last time we visited SPRMRKT, we scarfed oysters down like it was the end of days, that's because their Canadian oysters and Australian Oysters go easy on the wallet at $3 each and are blessed with an alluring plumpness that would have put even Yang Gui Fei to shame.

Sashimi could just be a matter of shopping and sliced. At SPRMRKT, it's more than just that. Fluke is cured in sweet potato chili oil ($17) for a signature red rim, this is draped over mounds of pickled shallots, avocado and jalapenos. A lot had happened to this fluke, but the flavors were restrained and very agreeable.

Another delightful dish is the Fettuccine with Squid Ink, Tiger Prawn, Chili, Bacon and Egg ($24). Bouncy prawns cooked to perfection, bend over strands of pasta coated in a lush blend of crustacean butter and smoky bacon oil. I would have this again and again if I had the chance. The Smoked Fish Pate ($15) falls in the same vein, except that reality presides its humble image. Scoop up the creole spiced creamy haddock pate with wisps of smoke in its wake on grilled bread. You would know with one bite, that a very happy chef helms the kitchen.

Some things like the Mussels with Rice Stick Blue Lip Mussels ($23) work best as punctuation marks between sips of wine. Blue lip mussels (a rarity in its own) is doused in a creamy fumet with bacon bits over rice noodles. Super fresh stuff prepared in a simple fashion to highlight its provenance.

And where main courses are concerned, I would strongly recommend the Rangers Valley T-bone steak ($16/100g). Fanned out in fastidiously sliced pieces, each sporting the same shy pink hue in its center, you know that the juxtaposition between the slightly charred dry rubbed crust and tender insides would be great. And it is. Let's not forget the side of Brussels Sprouts with Sambal Mayo; in the heat of the moment, I declared that it was better than any dish I had tonight at SPRMRKT Kitchen and Bar. I am pretty sure I meant it. If more serious hunger calls, order the Spanish Octopus ($65), the price may be a bit hefty for some but trust me, in the face of tender octopus forcefully blackened on its sides for a slight tinge of bitter, served with Asian twisted Romesco sauce, water spinach, bulgur and burnt fruit, this is sure to put everyone at the table in good spirits. 

Desserts on the other hand meander between extraordinary and plain meh, with the main voice being that of American classics, deconstructed and gone rogue. My votes go to the Broken Apple Pie, featuring a very potent bourbon vanilla ice cream alongside deeply caramelised apple and various textures sprawled across the curved bowl. While the Lemon popsi'cured also rings it its own bunch of citrus-loving fans with a piquant combination of meringue, lemon curd and citrus sabayon and biscuit crumbs on a stick, it proves secondary when the sweeter option of cocktails placed strategically at the exit, are in plain sight. 

Round off your night with a mixed drink or two done up by the cheerful barmen, Andy Lim. Some drinks like Resentful Florist ($21) which is a concoction of cognac, elderflower liquer, dry vermouth and grapefruit bitters exhibit so much restraint and elegance that one can't help reach out for the cocktail menu again in high hopes. And fret not, Andy rarely disappoints.

SPRMRKT Kitchen and Bar has enough gut and soul to give most celebrated restaurants in the city a run for its money. I don't mean that they should be deserving of a Michelin star but hey, if all pans out well, you might just be looking at a formidable contender in a year. Celebrate a first date, an anniversary or a new job at this joint, or just heck it and celebrate good food, that's what life is about, isnt' it?

SPRMRKT Kitchen and Bar
41 Robertson Quay
t: 9736 4170

Operating Hours:
Mon - Fri: 11 30am - 3pm; 6pm - 10pm
Sat: 9am - 4pm; 6pm - 10pm
Sun: 9am -6pm

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