665°F: Stakes Are High With Yet Another Steakhouse
The dainty waitress extends the intimidatingly large water vessel across my plate in an attempt to refill my water, from my left side.
Um, not once, but twice.
This excruciatingly deliberate action is taking place just as I spiked a half of my de-shelled tiger prawn and am just about to spoil my palate with that same morsel. Remember the last time you witnessed a trolley full of cheeses roll past you after engorging in a decidingly disgusting amount of food at a champagne brunch? No? That’s okay. It feels a little something like this. That rapacious craving in sight and you’re indignantly denied access.
Foremost, 665°F is goosing sky-high expectations with its elevated location—level 38 of the new and very swanky Andaz Singapore, and follows up with rich interiors combining suede, copper, seductive shades of mahogany and swinging globe light instalments. Let’s not forget the eye-catching Pira Oven that graces the centre of the open kitchen. It’s magical.
For a joint that’s a couple of days old, I made my excuses—only to be rudely awakened by the soulful albeit tackless crooning of “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. Then the limelight was stolen by Whitney Houston, her call to the dance floor inciting a little head-bob action amongst the diners. Seriously guys? For a steakhouse that’s fit for the covers of Vogue with equally meticulous plates, music curation could use more contemplation.
Then there’s the menu, which, aside from that Mac and Cheese, revels in the expected trappings of luxury. There’s a whole dover sole, wagyu tomahawk and truffle shavings. Of course. 665°F emulates a classic New York Steakhouse with its dishes not gone through culinary lionization. With no gilded crutches to lean on, the kitchen focuses on bringing out the best in their halal-certified prime cuts and sustainable seafood.
The meal kicks off with what might be the best bite of beef carpaccio I’ve ever tasted. It’s a verdant, springy mix of celeriac, sliced beef, superabundance of truffle shavings and olive oil. Indulgent doesn’t do it justice, especially for a Monday night. Stupid ridiculous is more like it.
Then, there are Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes. The kitchen unifies the familiar surf and turf dish with an accompanying spiced pepper dip that’s good with the Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare as well. Here’s the thing about the perfectly molded tuna tower chocking up a $48 bill: It’s mind-bendingly good, anchored by creamy avocado and calibrated with sweetness, salt and acid till perfection.
If there is a line of advice to follow here, it might be wise to go hard on the appetisers. The kitchen delivers strongly, and you’ll be riding high on dopamine overload. The pressures to continue the successful run is not easy to pull off with the mains. The ability to coax shining qualities out of the freshest produce with the pira oven, weighing heavily on the shoulders of the kitchen staff who shy away from the hard glances of the diners eager to exercise fork dexterity.
The plates I fell in love with the most were faithfully simple, and not beef-related. A stunningly good Patagonian Toothfish shows off an unctuous filet of white fish that’s highlighted by showers of lemon thoughtfully tucked away in cheesecloth. Later, the Dutch Milk-fed Veal Chop can be described as tableau vivant. Blessed with additional scores of marbling and fats, the slices closest to the bone are downright extraordinary. Bathe it in some of that ultra-rich béarnaise sauce to find nirvana. Thank me later.
There’s room for improvement, most notably the grass-fed, dry-aged John Stone Ribeye. The meat is by turns chewy, dry and sans the quintessential crust, one would imagine the pira oven be capable of administering. Its accompaniments—béarnaise, green peppercorn and mushroom sauce perk the dish up a bit, but the whole arrangement comes off as more one-note than a crescendo.
From the sides, pay no attention to the Mac and Cheese and vegetable dauphinoise, they are nothing but distractions. Order the mushrooms—sautéed with parsley, garlic and shallots in a heart-stopping amount of butter, it’s decadent and very good.
Finish with the Ivory and Bitter Chocolate Mousse (if and only you’re with a party of 3 and above). “Desserts at 665°F are not meant to be finished”, laments the pastry chef. I’m honestly not a fan of food wastage and halfway through, you’ll start to find fault with the size of portions especially after getting a gist of the quality delivered. Putting aside the gimmicky theatrics of spoon versus chocolate shell (works wonders if you’re dying to express your grunts towards your hard knock life), it’s (pun-intended) an empty shell filled with a melange of white and dark chocolate mousse perked up with smatterings of passionfruit. Underwhelming.
665°F has gone off the script a little where operations are concerned. That can be rectified. However, I do remain sceptical about the kitchen’s ability to grasp the doneness of their mainstay steaks. Bless their hearts but for the time being, the other proteins have my vote.