I recently read an interview with Spa Esprit's CEO and founder, businesswoman Cynthia Chua, and found the article really inspiring. I also learned about how she decided to start up Open Farm Community, which strangely enough seem to be a combination of business acumen and good timing. I was glad to have read that, because it gave me more insights to this delightful new restaurant that opened up at Dempsey which has a farm-to-table philosophy that I agree with! That being said, OFC did really make quite an impression when I visited it a few months back for a lunch tasting.
|Source: Open Farm Community|
The place is situated on a tiny hill area, and upon walking in, you see that it has that rustic charm to it. The chalkboard out front indicated what was fresh for the day (pretty cool!). The interior was airy, bright and definitely had that Spa Esprit signature touch to it.
There was about 12 of us, a big group, so we had plenty of food to taste! We started with 6 appetizers to taste. They are:
- Seared (sustainable) tuna with green papaya and jicama salad, fresh coconut and dashi vinegar ($26) - No. 2 on my favorites list. This was simple despite the ingredient list, but very fresh-tasting with a nice play on different textures. The tuna was light and had the texture of tender chicken. 4/5
- Chilled avocado and ginger soup with poached yabbies and fresh radish ($20) - Yabbies are freshwater crayfish from Malaysia, which surprisingly tasted like lobster. While the avocado and ginger soup had the Thai Tom Kha broth base, the soup was mild and too quiet for me. The flavours can definitely come out more. 2/5
- Coal-baked omelette with smoked haddock, tarragon and grain mustard mornay ($24) - My absolute favorite on the list, the organic eggs were cooked so perfectly. Top it with the bechamel sauce, and I am home. The haddock did not really make an impression though, but all is forgiven for how well all of them came together. 4.5/5 (must order, to share at least among 2, for it is a big portion!)
- Fermented carrot 'tartare' ($24) - This I don't get. Carrot is just not a great vegetable to be made into a tartare, despite the complicated cooking process of fermenting the baby carrots in a nuka-bed of roasted rice bran, kombu, salt and miso. The price is also quite hefty. Give it a miss! 2/5
- Freshly shucked oysters with parsley and chardonnay vinegar sago pearls ($58/dozen). Again, quite a hefty price tag for almost $10 per oyster. Maybe I am not too much of a connoisseur, but I felt that these Gallagher Irish oysters were just average tasting. The tapioca pearls on top of it was interesting, but not enough to push it to outstanding. 2.5/5
- 'Hail Caesar' house-smoked chicken, 5J Jamon, horseradish caesar dressing and romaine lettuce ($22). Instead, maybe get the salad. I really liked the 5J Cinco Jotas Jamon Iberico, which is a type of cured ham produced mostly in Spain, either made from black Iberian pigs or crossbred pigs with at least 75% Iberico breeding. The iberico, tender chicken breast and organic eggs elevated a simple Caesar salad to one which is dressed with more attention. 4/5
Here's the young Chef and the talented team, whipping up the food as we speak!
We then took a tour to the 'cafe/shop' at the side of OFC. They have some organic foodstuffs and even toys that can be purchased. Not forgetting some coffee from Common Man.
Then it is onto the highlight of the lunch for me. 6 different types of handmade pastas! I love pastas, and these really blew me out of the water with how good they are. If you are not getting to the end of this post, just remember, OFC pastas are a must-try. They are, from top left to right, then bottom left to right:
- Pumpkin & pine nut tortelli with local yabbies & minden pesto ($24) - the butternut pumpkin, pine nuts and chicken mousse sautéed basil pesto stuffing made for a lovely surprise as you bite into the tortelli. It was not overpowering, but just the right amount. I could finish the entire dish myself because it's just so addictive. 4/5
- Strozzapreti with 48-hour barolo braised oxtail, parmesan wafers & wild thyme ($26) - The oxtail was so soft and tender, it just melted in my mouth! I liked the combination of that with the hand-rolled pasta which apparently is also called a "priestchoker" or "priest strangler" in Italian, as an elongated form of cavatelli. 4/5
- Squid ink taglierini with ‘inferno’ sauce, calamari, asparagus & chilli padi ($26) - The inferno sauce is no joke. Super spicy, so be warned! I was too distracted by it to really judge the rest of the dish, but I think for spice lovers this is one you got to order. 3/5
- Mud crab spaghettoni with thai curry sauce, crunchy yellow squash, coconut, crispy shallots and Thai basil ($28) - I liked the fusion of pasta with Asian flavours. The mud crab bits were really generous, and the thick spaghetti was not too hard to bite on. It gave the sauce the room it deserves to be savoured in. 4/5
- Rigatoni, local mushrooms, smoked pancetta topped with stilton & balsamic reduction ($26) - Yummy mushroom pasta can do no wrong. The blue cheese topping was also a nice balance to the mushrooms mixed underneath. Notice a purple leaf? These herbs/flowers all came from the garden just right outside! 4/5
- Potato dumpling gnocchi, shredded pork sausage, sun-dried tomato jus & fresh fennel ($26) - I think this was surprisingly my favorite of the bunch. It was just so nice and chewy with the premium UK shredded pork sausage while flavoured with simple but aromatic herbs fresh from the garden. 4.5/5
Lastly, we had a sampling of 5 main dishes before they group went on to try 4 desserts (which I didn't manage to try). They were:
- Roasted baby chicken, braised leeks with hazelnut butter & wild watercress salad ($28)
- Charred S.A. lamb rump with garden peas, bacon, lettuce, mint, whipped mash & a rosemary thyme jus ($32)
- Coal-baked barramundi with cucumber coleslaw, roasted eggplant & a fresh mint dressing ($26)
- Roasted goldband snapper with ratatouille ‘a la Provençale’ & wild rocket salsa ($28)
- Roasted mangalica pork belly, apple & ginger salad, sautéed bok choy with a spring onion & soy jus ($34)
And to be honest, I was too full to really give these mains a chance by the time they got to us. So instead of reviewing them individually, all I can say is that the fish dishes did much better than the meat ones, which I found to be generally quite dry. And in general, the pasta dishes did much better than the mains. This was the general impression I got, but perhaps I have to go back and give them a second chance (and also try the desserts!).
And that's it for the review of Open Farm Community! Generally more hits than misses, and if you could spare a lazy afternoon, do go there for a nice brunch and coffee amidst the greenery. There's even a little farm tour if you ask nicely, I reckon. Get the omelette, and any of the pastas and you won't be disappointed. I hope OFC will continue to do well so that we can enjoy more of their freshly grown vegetables and herbs on the table soon.
Open Farm Community130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819
Mondays to Fridays: Noon to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 11am to 10pm
Thanks to OFC and Bless Inc. for the invite!