CURE: On The Value Of Snackage
For Chef Andrew Walsh, snackage is a matter of pride. Leading up to the main event, you’ll be treated to a windfall of morsels so delicious that you’ll start to wonder if this is meant to serve as a delightful preamble, or a sign of things to come. Whatever the case, we would advise you to embrace the transient nature of the curtain raisers. They are, most certainly, a compelling reason enough for you to visit CURE—a tried and tested restaurant that dishes out ‘bistronomy’ vibes fortified by high quality produce, without the fine dining gentrification.
It is 7:30pm on a Thursday evening, and CURE is deep in the weeds. Occupying a table in the corner of the room, a ravishing looking pair of ladies are perched at the edge of their seats, nibbling away at their dishes whilst occasionally partaking in a sip of clear wine accompanied by the mandatory giggle and hair toss. At the pass, Chef Andrew Walsh is fastidiously slaving over several exquisite plates of amuse-bouches to be enjoyed in succession. It’s headed towards you just as the sommelier pours a cloudy Christopher Hock Kalkspitz—a rebellious spirit laced with bread notes and zesty lemons into your long-stemmed glass. Your interests are piqued by what appears to be linzer biscuits, could that be a dessert? Clearly, you didn’t get the memo regarding Chef Andrew’s wacky and re-inventive ethos, the treat exploding with fortitude and tickling every region of the tongue. Rich chicken liver pâte was thrown into sharp relief by a surrounding ‘dam’ of parmesan cheese sable, the unsuspecting smidgen of raspberry jelly offering the barest hint of acidity.
The next snack is just as manicured; sesame seed custard sits in a shimmering round silver tin, showered with heaps of mustard seed caviar cured in a sherry vinegar and chives. Hoist them upon your choice of Autumn Chip, a November hued pile of fallen leaves in the shapes of potato, sweet potato, lotus root or nori and ferry them straight into your mouth. Chef Andrew backs it up with a rather anonymous-looking beige custard housed in a lop off egg shell. Dig a little deeper to uncover its secrets—a congruous mix of smoked potato puree and crème fraîche pockmarked with scatterings of chicken skin crumbs and sourdough. Here on out, you would think that there is a change in chapters, however, the ode to snacks endure and the final bowl of ‘Singapore Laksa’ provides a feisty slap of spice and lime leaf piquancy that latches onto strands of poached squid noodles. A Singaporean chef could not have adapted that better, which says a lot.
The fringe movement of plant-based eating is given a crack at by Chef Andrew who has newly introduced a five-course plant-based menu that draws influences from his philosophy of root-to-stem cooking. A subtle but no less delightful tart houses pumpkin puree that has developed a skin from some last minute salamander action. The order of the day is ‘true bistronomy’ here and in all old-world elegance, the dish is completed with a pumpkin seed pesto that is composed tableside, bringing some sunny qualities to the dining atmosphere. My favourite vegetable is put in the limelight and further on a pedestal, imbued with smoke, richen with sweet miso and flecked with housemate togarashi. If you’re sticking to the regular menu, you might want to consider this dish à la carte.
Chef Andrew has a good sense of the classics that make dining in his restaurant not such a wacky experience, but he astutely incorporates unexpected twists to keep diners constantly on their toes. Case in point, the Beetroot Cured Salmon with crème fraîche and paper thin Irish Potato Flatbread which can be likened to ghee laden Roti Canai, a stupendously good vehicle for the intensely pink slices of gravlax. The Foie Gras Custard was perhaps the menu’s most robust and gratifying dish, its generous flavours showcased in such a way that it still holds some finesse, topped with slices of plum, a pile of almond crumble and a trio of lovage leaves. You might already concede defeat by this course, owing to the extra luxe factor derived from the emblematic snackage. But, hear me out, a well-judged fillet of Black Bass awaits. It nestles amongst romesco rice and charred fennel, the innocent stack topped with sublime whorls of frothy garlic milk. It’s an umami bomb, and in that moment, a cloudy Kalkundkiesel Blanc is a crucial partner in crime.
Beef Short Rib Pastrami wears such obscene shades of pink and red within that its mandatory to be cloaked modestly with shavings of kohlrabi. It tastes like something you’ll derive at a super fine dining establishment, only that its slightly more benevolent portioning doubles the pleasure-filled moments, primed with spring onion oil and an intense apple spice rum jus.
Great memories are fostered with the puddings. The Autumn Persimmon is obviously served to please during the chillier seasons, and I made do with the gentle hum of the air-conditioning overhead. A just-sweet-enough vanilla rice pudding is vivacious on the palate when sworn in with goat cheese ice cream, and shouts comfort when thrown together with translucent wisps of thinly shaved persimmon and spotted with roselle gel.
The final act is presented in the most whimsical manner. Guinness ice cream sandwiches followed by chasers of homemade Irish Cream. Essentially, it’s a more mature version of the regular cookies and milk. Chef Andrew continues to dazzle with his healthy disregard for pricing structure with the imperceivable amount of snacks throughout the meal. In a recent New York Times article, “36-hours in Singapore“, CURE was pegged as the Keong Saik road standout for its smart prix fixe menus (3-courses dinners at $95++ on weekdays, 5-courses dinner at $120++ on weekdays/weekends). I couldn’t agree more with this bestowal and urge you to visit for a casual, non-pretentious dining experience with close ones.
21 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089128, 6221 2189