Singapore curry

Singapore curry

One of the great joys of Singapore is finding any style of food you want with the reasonable expectation it’s going to be top notch – from humble hawker delights to the finest of fine dining. It was with significant hopes we trundled down Tanjong Pagar Road and to the newly minted incarnation of the Tippling Club.

With expat British/Australian chef Ryan Clift presiding (ex Vue de Monde) we wended our way into a bright, bustling dining room abutting the open kitchen. The Tippling Club relatively recently moved into these new digs and the location seems to have struck a chord – the bar area was full and a steady stream of patrons flowed into the main dining area. Given the chef’s pedigree, Greedy Girl supposes it wasn’t too surprising that the crowd sounded overwhelmingly Australian.

Ordering a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut, we considered our options. Tippling Club has two tasting menus – five or 10 courses plus treats. Having cancelled our first attempt to get to the restaurant because of some tummy woes, we opted for a conservative approach and went for the ‘Classic’ five courses. Sorted – well, almost.

A short while after placing our order, the server returned. The advertised venison dish was not on offer and would be replaced with pigeon. Greedy Girl emitted an audible sigh. She’s never met a pigeon she really wants to eat. Was there an alternative? When a dish from the longer menu, a pork belly and lobster concoction, was suggested, she assented eagerly – even after being warned the size of the dish was rather smaller than the pigeon. No problems there.

Whether because of teething problems with the air-con or the proximity to the open kitchen and/or floor to ceiling French doors we were sitting next to, the temperature in the dining room fluctuated throughout the evening. Greedy Girl started off shivering and then was looking for something to fan herself with at various junctures. While a fun-looking place, it was also a bit too boisterous to really relax in as a table for two. Greedy Girl commented that it wasn’t the sort of venue she’d cope sitting in for, say, five hours, a la Attica to savour 10-plus courses.

The pacing of dishes here was fairly rapid fire. Like Vue de Monde, most of the food was presented and explained by a chef to augment the rather economical descriptions on the menu. First up we enjoyed a selection of snacks.

This was a Singapore curry (pictured above). The glass was sealed with a little metallic top that needed to be peeled off. It was fragrant, tasty and the texture provided by puffed rice on the top was delightful. Delish. Greedy Girl got every skerrick out of the bowl and would have been happy to mop with bread – if there had been any. She estimates it’s the first restaurant of this style of food she’s been to where no bread was on offer.

Next up were smoked and chargrilled red bell peppers with a soy and wasabi paste. It was a first for Greedy Girl. She’s never before eaten a dish with giant tweezers. She gobbled it down, loving the heat of the horseradish and the crunch of the peppers. Gluttonous husband was less enamoured, tasting little other than charcoal.

smoked and chargrilled red bell peppers

Smoked and chargrilled red bell peppers

Our final ‘snack’ was a plate cleanser – clear tomato gazpacho with a basil-infused straw. We were advised to drink the broth in one long draw, to ensure the basil flavour was worked through. It was a very pleasant slurp. A good start.

gazpacho with a basil-infused straw

Gazpacho with a basil-infused straw

Sipping on our champagne, the server came back to give Greedy Girl more information about her replacement dish. Rather than have the dish from the other menu, she said the pork belly would be accompanied by the same elements as the pigeon. Greedy Girl couldn’t get her head around that but just nodded. Substituting venison with pigeon was not entirely outside her imagination – both being very strong, gamey elements, but pork belly? She’d just have to wait and see.

First up in our menu proper was an omelette. The omelette had been ‘liquified’ and reconstructed, topped with smoked eel, crispy shallot rings, confit shallot, pimpernel (not scarlet!) and a chive oil. It was an attractive looking plate. Greedy Girl heartily dismembered it to try to get pieces of all the elements but the omelette proved to be a bit sludgy. On the initial tasting she felt that the dish lacked seasoning but salty flavours seemed to build in the mouth. A reasonably enjoyable dish.

'liquified' and reconstructed omelette

‘Liquified’ and reconstructed omelette

Next up were razor clams. In a very organically-shaped bowl, the Scottish razor clams and herbs were presented at the table and the chef poured over a Brittany garlic broth. He said the garlic had been blanched three times to remove any traces of acidity. The herbs included parsley chips and a wild garlic leaf and there was also parsley chlorophyll in the bowl that started to infuse with the broth. It was a bit too dominated by the broth. The clam flavour was overwhelmed to the point that it really only provided texture.

Scottish razor clams

Scottish razor clams

Next up was a treat – crispy duck tongues. These were served with celeriac ‘mock gnocchi’ that had been set with methyl cellulose, an enzyme apparently naturally occurring in carrots that gels at 57 degrees, goats’ curd, quinoa and ‘salty fingers’ the herb sitting on top. The dish had a lot going for it. The gnocchi were light and fluffy, the curd had a nice tang and the quinoa gave additional texture. The herb didn’t offer much except a nice colour counterpoint.

crispy duck tongues

Crispy duck tongues

Our final savoury course was up next. Gluttonous husband had the pigeon. This was served with salsify, a rocket puree, mock onion ring and a burnt butter (noisette) jus. Gluttonous husband persuaded Greedy Girl to take a taste. It was possibly the mildest pigeon she’d ever tasted. Gluttonous husband said the breast of pigeon was cooked perfectly – soft and tender and he pronounced it the nicest pigeon dish he’s sampled. The rocket puree was rather bitter on its own but worked extremely well with the dish.

Pigeon with salsify

Pigeon with salsify

Greedy Girl was given the pork belly. Something had been lost in translation. This was obviously not a piece of pork belly with the same accompaniments as the pigeon as our server had earlier advised. It was Iberico pork belly with a medallion of lobster, pork scratchings and a sauce Nantua – a classic French sauce for crayfish/lobster. It was a very pleasant dish and Greedy Girl was relieved to have the pork belly dish as the chef had envisaged it.

Iberico pork belly

Iberico pork belly

The pacing of dishes was fairly quick – we asked to have enough time to finish the champagne before the dessert was served. This was a take on an old British favourite – Terry’s chocolate orange. The plate was home to both a chocolate sorbet and a sticky ganache, topped with chocolate and orange meringue. It was a lovely dessert – not too rich and far from being too sweet.

Terry's chocolate orange

Terry’s chocolate orange

We were done. We paid the bill and headed for the door.

Greedy Girl is struggling to give an overall opinion for the Tippling Club. There’s a lot of skill and technique in the food but none of the dishes (apart from the curry ‘snack’) really gave a wallop of flavour. It was all enjoyable but not a rave.

Tippling Club

38 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore


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