I wasn’t going to blog between Christmas and New Year but two occasions have impressed me enough to share them with you. Both have black at the absolute core of their being. I know black is not technically a colour, and this season is all about colour, but both these reviews left me reeling from the experiences.
The New Black
The New Black is an audacious new kid on the block in the constantly evolving world of Singapore coffee houses. It’s a place for connoisseurs and amateurs alike and you’ll find a team of coffee professionals in charge of your experience.
The concept outlet occupying a modern space on the corner of Upper Circular Road and North Bridge Road actually bombards you with colour when you enter. The brightly backlit photos of coffee purveyors from around the world are striking in their simplicity and invoke curiousity. My first thought was that I wouldn’t be at all happy having my face plastered across the giant wall of a coffee shop, but the effect is great and brings personality to the concept which could otherwise seem quite sterile.
I should add at this point that my visit to The New Black was instigated through a friend who knows the head of Vim & Vigour, the PR firm managing the launch of The New Black in Singapore. I arranged a meeting with her and arrived early so as to take the opportunity to question the staff before my meeting began. Both of the staff certainly knew their coffee, from recommending what type of beans to the type of brew that would please best. They were also particularly chirpy and engaging which I always find a breath of fresh air in Singapore.
For my first coffee I tried a flat white in the Los Pirenos blend from El Salvador. A flat white is my favoured way to enjoy coffee first thing in the morning, a strong coffee but enjoying the creaminess of the milk. It was made perfectly and I was happy to pay the $6.96 for this cup (payment via card only). I was then treated to a few different styles of coffee and tea in sample sizes. I mention this because although I paid for my full size coffee I did take the opportunity to sample several other styles whilst on my visit.
There is no doubt that there’s a hint of hipster about the whole concept of The New Black but at the core is a genuine dedication to producing the very best coffee that is available. Beans are meticulously sourced and the ‘Director of Coffee’ (I so want a business card with that name on it one day!), Will Frith, has tirelessly researched and helped to develop The New Black experiment.
I’d add that there’s an element of obsessiveness about the dedication. And there’s no harm in that. The operation is slick, the staff have been supremely well trained and the coffee is undoubtedly superior. Other partners in the venture are equally passionate about the product and brand and it’s evident in the high standards and attention to detail throughout the flagship store.
And there’s certainly not many places around where you can try a coffee brew for $18 if you have some spare cash!! (I didn’t try this one, the beans are produced in extremely small quantities, hence the high price tag!).
The New Black
1 Upper Circular Road, Singapore
Nox – Dine in the Dark
I finally had reason and good fortune to visit the remarkable Nox – Dine in the Dark. An experience not for the faint hearted that’s for sure! We’ve had friends from Australia staying over Christmas and they wanted to treat us to a unique dinner experience so Nox was a clear contender. I’d read good things about Nox and I figured it would be fun to do in a group of four so off we went.
Meeting in the bar prior to dinner we were introduced to the very helpful staff at Nox. Customer service and training are obviously part of the package here and it was a pleasure to learn about the concept from the enthusiastic staff. The bar itself is modern and comfortable and it is here that you’ll learn about what’s in store for your meal. The bar staff are not sight impaired, whereas the wait staff in the actual restaurant are all sight impaired.
I have to say that we were all a little nervous at this point, the whole concept of entering an unknown world was quite bizarre and one of our group was distinctly uncomfortable about it. We were committed though so we entered the ominous looking door and grabbed hold of the shoulders of the person in front of us and climbed the stairs into…..black. Pitch black. Nothing to see at all. We were each described where to sit, where our cutlery, glass and napkins were and then we sat. The table was very small and the chairs comfortable and within a couple of minutes I felt at ease and I’d identified all the bits I needed and was ready for the next phase.
We elected for food and wine pairing so our first course arrived with a side of white wine. There is no mention of the kind of food you’re eating, so it’s utterly up to you all to discuss between yourselves and guess what morsels you’re consuming. The basics like seafood, meat, some veg, were relatively easy to distinguish, but details like what type of fish or meat were much more difficult. I’m not sure I appreciated the wine as much as I should have, what I particularly noticed was how cold it was in contrast to the food we ate. I guess it was something to do with the lack of visual aids.
By the time the second course arrived we were all feeling a little more comfortable and by the end of dessert we were almost giddy with the experience. We had a good 20 minute chat after the meal just discussing the concept and how we felt and reacted.
The courses come in four dishes each, so there are actually 12 dishes in all to remember and by the end all of these had merged in together for me. I realised that I’m a completely visual person and that without the signals of colour to aid my memory I was useless. Obviously I couldn’t take any photos either and I don’t want to ruin the surprise for anyone who will visit soon (the menu changes every two months).
The staff sit you down after dinner and discuss each and every plate that you’ve eaten and enjoy laughing at your reactions when you discover things you had no idea about! We were also blown away by our lovely server, Halimi, who had a wonderfully positive message and helped us to thoroughly enjoy the experience. I’d highly recommend Nox to anyone who is a little adventurous and inquisitive, however if you’re afraid of the dark it might be one best avoided.
Nox – Dine in the Dark
269 Beach Road, Singapore
phone +65 6298 0708