A Local Garden Affair
It’s all about supporting local this year in Singapore, especially with the ongoing nationwide SG50 celebration. While others enthusiastically produce items that’s uniquely Singapore (think SG50 fishcakes), Open Farm Community serves food that's grown 5 minutes from where you're dining, making your dish uniquely Singaporean.
This hidden gem is SPA Esprit Group’s newest initiative with Tippling Club’s celebrity chef Ryan Clift to promote local farming, with an effort to add a rustic touch to our fast paced city. From homegrown herbs to freshwater fish, OFC takes pride in using locally sourced fresh ingredients to whip up creative dishes.
The entrance to Open Farm Community can be hard to spot amongst the lush greenery along Minden Road near Gleneagles Hospital, only because it’s pretty much like a secret garden on its own. In a concrete jungle like Singapore, such a dining concept is refreshingly appealing to us city dwellers; even the short walk from through OFC’s spacious compound was a therapeutic one for me.
After tasting a 20-course (yes, twenty) meal next to its open-concept kitchen, here are some personal favorites that you mustn’t miss out on.
- Starters -
Chilled avocado & ginger soup with poached yabbies & fresh radish ($20)
Call me sua ku (ignorant), but what looked like a warm bowl of thick, creamy soup totally caught me off guard when I took a sip of it - it was cold?! For someone who has never tried chilled soup, it’s quite a refreshing change.
Dip in some warm pita bread to go along with it and your stomach will be all warmed up for a feasting.
Fermented carrot ‘tartare’ with all the traditional condiments ($24)
I'm not a fan of anything fermented, but the selection of seasonings served with the ground baby carrot and organic egg yolk was simply too intriguing for me to resist. And here comes the fun element: you get to mix in the dressings and herbs according to your own preference!
While the end result didn’t turn out pretty, every spoonful was so fresh and exotic I found myself digging for it again and again. For the less adventurous ones, have it together with some warm oven-baked bread with curry oil for a more toned-down taste.
- Pastas -
Mud crab spaghettoni with thai curry sauce, crunchy yellow squash, coconut, crispy shallot thai basil ($28)
Every Singaporean would pick up the familiar fragrance of Thai curry sauce in this pasta like I did. A rare guest in the local pasta scene, spaghettoni is a thicker version of spaghetti that has a chewy texture similar to udon’s.
If you’d like a change from conventional pastas, the Southeast Asian twist and freshly caught mud crab from Indonesia in this spicy pasta will win your heart.
Rigatoni, local mushrooms, smoked pancetta topped with stilton & balsamic reduction ($26)
Mushroom fanatics like me must not miss this pasta. I’d call this a legit mushroom party if I could. Tube-shaped rigatoni is yet another uncommon ingredient you’d see on pasta menus in Singapore. Well tossed in butter and smoked pancetta, these locally farmed mushrooms are some of the freshest ones I’ve ever tried.
- Mains -
Mangalica pork collar, Asian BBQ glaze, corn & speck ragout with pickled cucumber ($34)
This fist-sized pork collar might seem too small at first, but trust me when I say that this portion is just right to fully favour this Hungarian Mangalica pork served with Asian bbq glaze with sweet corn and speck ragout. In fact, actually popular for its high quality fat, something I only managed to understand after having it literally melt on my tongue - such bliss.
Coal baked barramundi with cucumber coleslaw, roasted eggplant & a fresh mint dressing ($26)
This was a dish that barely left me any impression of its taste, but I do remember how the chunk of sea bass was pan seared to almost perfection. Worth a try if you’d like a taste of the Middle East with the generous serving of baba ganoush, a Levantine dip of roasted eggplant mixed with onions, yogurt, curry and various seasonings.
Charred S.A. lamb rump with garden peas, bacon, lettuce, mint, whipped mash & a rosemary thyme jus ($32)
This 160g worth of Australian lamb rump would please any carnivore. Mutton has always been my least preferred meat, yet this lamb rump cooked sous-vide managed to score some brownie points from me. Perfectly pan seared to bring out a smoky charred flavor, every bite of the meat was filled with moisture and tenderness.
- Dessert -
By the time desserts were served, I secretly thanked myself for holding back on all the pastas and mains so as to save space for these instead. I’ve had my fair share of disappointing experiences with pretty looking desserts that taste nothing more than average, but OFC’s sweet treats didn’t let me down.
Caramelized mango with textures of coconut ($17)
Accompanied by coconut sorbet, coconut meringue and coconut flavored tapioca pearls, this caramelized mango is definitely a personal favourite, says me who was never a fan of coconuts.
The playing of food textures in here was brilliant - the sorbet’s light taste was a refreshing addition to the mango, which might have been too sweet on its own.
Lemon tart with basil ice-cream ($17)
At the end of the day, the much-raved about lemon tart still topped the desserts list! Needless to say, this tart’s made to be picture perfect with the complementing shades of yellow and green.
Take a bite of the pastry and you’ll have smooth piped lemon curd gushing out between the crispy sable biscuits, followed by an outburst of citrusy flavors so delectable you’d have to taste it yourself. The scoop of basil ice-cream well balanced the lemon’s sourness, making it a dessert that’s easily liked by even the pickier eaters.
Though slightly on the pricier end, I foresee myself going back to Open Farm Community again and again just for the great dining environment and very thoughtful menu. OFC seems like a versatile place that fits for all occasions; be it a night out with friends for some cocktails, a casual tea break with a good cuppa coffee, or a relaxing family brunch on a weekend.
OFC also brings like-minded people together through urban farming workshops, events and activities in its outdoor recreation space, including their community gardening sessions held on the last Saturday of every month. Click here to find out about more events you can take part in!
Pet owners will be glad to know that the outdoor dining area is animal-friendly, so bring along your furkids next time for a day out in the sun! Parking is available for free.
By bus: Alight at ‘Opp Singapore Botanic Gardens’ (SBS Transit 7, 75, 77, 105, 106, 123, 174) which is opposite Gleneagles Hospital. Walk along Napier Rd towards Holland Rd, then turn left onto Minden Rd. Continue walking for 5 minutes and Open Farm Community will be on your right.
Address: 130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819
Opening hours: Monday – Friday: Lunch - 12pm to 3pm, Dinner - 6pm to 10pm / Saturday/Sunday/PH: 11am to 10pm
Tel.: 6471 0306 (Reservations available)
This post was brought to you by Open Farm Community.