Open Farm Community in the heart of Singapore introduces a new agriculturally charged menu, cementing its commendable experiential mix of refined gastronomy and horticultural hub.
Open Farm Community’s award-winning 35,000-square-foot food garden looks to completely shroud the 120-seater dining space within a tall mass of green. The entire verdant setting is rather therapeutic though, almost like being in a kampung or the crisp countryside. Free-ranging chickens can also be heard clucking around the grounds.
But we’re actually in the heart of very-cosmopolitan Singapore. Open since mid-2015, Open Farm Community (OFC) has managed to help many Singaporeans make a more meaningful connection with the food they consume. The greenhouse-styled restaurant’s farm-to-table ethos continues to take root, but there has been other growing changes cropping up recently, besides their fertile foliage.
Late last year saw the innovative kitchen team introducing a revamped menu that pays homage to local produce and flavours. In line with the restaurant’s philosophy of garnering a greater appreciation for food, chef Ryan Clift created a menu focused on ethically sourced, seasonal produce that are available from the garden or within a 400km regional radius.
The new menu is filled with food that is fresh, flavourful and familiar but with the finesse and creative twist chef Clift is known for.
For instance, a steak tartare marinated with homegrown ginger chilli, spring onion and coriander puree, topped with garlic crouton and an organic egg yolk, makes for a fusion-type appetiser; while the tempura Jurong frog legs suffused in root vegetable curry and OFC garden curry leaves continue the route of delivering tasty rustic sophistication.
Another highlight is the locally-sourced pink red snapper, carefully roasted and served on a bed of pickled cucumbers, a calamansi and sesame cucumber salad, plus a special spread of OFC’s innovative roselle and hibiscus ketchup, which tastes oddly similar to cranberry sauce.
Asian touches persisted all through to our final course, where we were served a rich pandan and banana custard with ginger biscuit, a dollop of sugarcane sorbet, freeze-dried bananas and garden flowers.
The experiential blend of refined gastronomy and urban farmland makes OFC a fresh and revolutionary force to be reckoned with. When people asked Cynthia Chua, founder and managing director of Spa Esprit Group, why she chose to go back to the basics with farming at the launch of OFC, she said: “Go and chart the food movement.
“In the past, people hated the idea of knowing what was going on in the kitchen. Now, we have become obsessed with knowing the production of food and buying local. You can see that movement backwards.”
OFC has effectively propelled the movement of supporting and buying backyard produce in Singapore, falling back on and being proud of traditional tastes and ingredients that are close to home — the ultimate meal time homage.
Cynthia Chua is the founder and managing director of Spa Esprit Group, which has 17 brands in its portfolio, including OFC, 40 Hands, Common Man Coffee Roasters, Ding Dong and Tipping Club. You can read our interview with her here.