The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar

The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar opened recently up at, you guessed it, Dempsey. Google it and you end up at a site called COMO Dempsey. The ‘COMO’ is part of the COMO Hotels & Resorts group – the one I fell in love with after a trip to their Cocoa Island resort in the Maldives. So it makes perfect sense that this new ‘lifestyle destination’ space has been so well executed.

The space sits just behind/beside where Huber’s previously was at Dempsey, with the easiest entry being from Dempsey Road. The black and white buildings up here were previously used as storage sheds for the British Army. COMO occupies the entire length of one of the long buildings, and The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar forms a good half of that space.

The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar is the hub and is a great space for dining or sipping on a few cocktails. The restaurant seats around 75, plus space at the bar for another dozen or so. There is also a verandah area for drinks outside – so I guess if the weather weren’t as hot as it is right now you could sit out there! The interior has been tastefully decorated with black and white tones, befitting of the building, and simple yet stylish furnishings.

For my Thursday afternoon visit I was surprised that I couldn’t make a reservation for the time I wanted so two of us settled for an early lunch. Seatings are fixed and we were allocated an hour and a half. Which was fine because service was swift and indeed they did want the table back for another reservation. So they must be doing something right to be booked up and taking second sittings at lunch time.

The food at Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar is supervised by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The somewhat unique element of the cooking is that rich meat stocks and creams are abandoned in place of intense flavours from vegetable juices, light broths, herbal vinaigrettes and fruit essences. Now if I had read that before I visited I might think that sounded boring. But since I have eaten there I can wholeheartedly say that the food is anything but boring.

There are two set lunch menus, one at $40++ for two courses or $48++ for three courses. The other is $60++ for two courses and $68++ for three courses. Portion sizes are reasonable and I like the concept of giving you the two entire menu choices rather than the addition of $10++ etc if you choose the more expensive items. This way, it’s clear cut from the beginning.

Both of us went for the $40++ version, in my case because I actually preferred the choices. There are only two choices each for appetiser, entree (American language) and dessert. Like I said though, there are another two choices for each on the $60++ version. We were offered bread (at no extra charge) and took them up on it. Four lovely chunks of home made bread appeared. Looking glossy, from a dollop of oil no doubt, the bread was light and almost sweet. Walnuts added a lovely crunch.

For appetisers both of us went for the tuna tartare, served with creamy avocado, spicy radish and a ginger marinade. There was a citrus element to the marinade as well and it had a lovely umami burst of flavour. Really delicious. The size was spot on, enough to make you feel like you’d enjoyed a starter but not enough to become filling. The other choice was burrata with lemon jam, oil and pepper. Which did sound lovely but we were both lured by the tartare.

For mains E went for the parmesan crusted chicken, served with artichoke and lemon basil sauce. I went for the spice crusted snapper, served in a sweet and sour broth speckled with vegetables. I didn’t taste E’s chicken but she was very happy with her choice. Again, portion sizes were spot on.

My snapper was quite perfect. Cooked to a flakey perfection, crusted with middle-eastern type spices the fish was tender  with subtle flavour and great texture from the crust. The broth was a meal on its own. I couldn’t get enough of it. The sweet-sour combination was simply perfect, mouth-wateringly addictive and I had to ask for a spoon to get every last drop out of the bowl. We had been brought a couple of extra pieces of bread by this stage, but I ate them before I could mop up my bowl 🙁

We skipped dessert but we did give the coffees a try. I was impressed that my order of a macchiato was clarified as a shot of coffee with foam (correct) and the coffee itself was good. At this point we were gently reminded that our reservation was only until 1:45pm so we finished up and took a look around the space.

Located in the same building but slightly partitioned off is Ippoh tempura bar, and further along is Candlenut, formerly at Dorsett Residences in Chinatown. Until I saw the space in person I didn’t really get it but the three spaces work well together. So now I’ve got three reasons to return.
The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar
17D Dempsey Road, Singapore
phone 1800 304 5588
Reservations necessary, click on their website above

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Penilaianmu: MagBe